Affirmative action policy to continue based on needs, not race, says Anwar

(From left) PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, Dewan Rakyat speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof and Backbenchers Council chairman Johari Abdul speak to reporters after the ‘Malaysian Economy Symposium: Present and The Future’ at Parliament today.

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR president Anwar Ibrahim today said the affirmative action policy will be continued after he takes over the premiership, but based on needs rather than on race.

He said the New Economic Policy based on needs under Pakatan Harapan is already being implemented by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and “I will continue and accelerate the process further”.

“The old affirmative action policy, which is about 60 years, is obsolete and should be dismantled but replaced with a firm commitment based on needs involving the government and private sector.

“The policy should be seen as one community with equal rights, including for those from the rural areas and the poor in every aspect from education to employment.

“We should not see whether he is Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban or Kadazan … everyone should be given a help,” he said after his closing speech at the “Malaysian Economy Symposium: Present and The Future”, organised by the Caucus on Reform and Governance and the Backbenchers Council at Parliament today.

Anwar gave an assurance that the dismantling of the NEP did not mean that the poor, especially those in the rural areas and the urban poor, would be neglected.

He also said that despite the affirmative policy being on a needs basis, rather than based on race, “the rights of the Malays and Bumiputeras enshrined in the Federal Constitution will be respected and honoured”.

The NEP was first introduced in 1970 as part of a package of measures after the race riots of May 1969. It officially ended in 1990, but race-based policies continue to this day.

The NEP had sought to eradicate poverty and restructure society to eliminate the identification of race with economic function in order to create the conditions for national unity.

Asked to comment if the PH government practised hypocrisy in moving certain GLCs like Khazanah and Petronas from the finance ministry to the economic affairs ministry and then placing them under the Prime Minister’s Department, Anwar said: “I don’t believe so because Khazanah and Petronas are national holdings. Some of the decisions may require the prime minister to decide.”