Go beyond NEP and focus on all, says think tank

Yong (left) together with the panelists at the symposium in Kuala Lumpur today.

KUALA LUMPUR: A think-tank and research outfit today called for policies which are parallel to the aspirations of Malaysians, while not neglecting the B40, after the failure of the affirmative action policies.

The Institute of Strategic Analysis and Policy Research (INSAP) deputy chairman Dr Pamela Yong said Malaysia’s affirmative action policies contributed to dissension and discord rather than increasing social cohesion, but the way forward should be a focus on all Malaysians regardless of skin colour.

“What is more important today is to establish and develop long-term strategies and policies which are relevant to the interests and aspirations of Malaysians, while addressing the needs of the B40. This is what we at INSAP firmly believe,” she said.

She said success stories of the New Economic Policy were tied to the politically connected ones, instead of how the needy or talented had risen. They marginalised those really in need and helped created a ‘second class citizen’ culture in Malaysia.

Speaking at the opening of a symposium today entitled the New Government, New Policies: End of Affirmative Action?, she said Pakatan Harapan was nearly a year into governing, but Malaysians had yet to see the end of affirmative action as promised.

There could even a new affirmative action in another guise – a reference to Economics Affairs Minister Azmin Ali calling for a return to the Malay economic agenda after PH suffered two by-election setbacks recently.

“Currently, the national thrust is being given to uplift the B40 poor which is ideal and exemplary, but should this focus be skewed to aid just one ethnic group and marginalise other Malaysians, who may perhaps be in even greater predicament or have greater need of assistance?” she questioned.

For the Malays, affirmative action is a “social contract” and safeguarded by Article 153 of the Federal Constitution which lays down special privileges.

She said the pure intentions of the New Economic Policy had been diluted or distorted, with ‘favoured’ Bumiputeras reaping the fruits while the mass majority were left with slim pickings.

“Affirmative action’ was institutionalised and entrenched as a social contract that brought about complacency, dependency and an expectation of permanent entitlement,” she said.

She believed it will take an enormous amount of political will and tenacity to reform and revolutionise what has become institutionalised for so many years.