Have courage to speak up against race-based policies, says MP

Setiawangsa MP and PKR organising secretary Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

KUALA LUMPUR: An MP has called on politicians to have the courage to speak up against race-based polices that have largely benefited the middle class Malays and not the poor as intended.

PKR organising secretary Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said a multi ethnic needs-based approach to solve poverty issues is needed to offer a sense of fair play among Malaysians.

“Unfortunately, not many politicians have the courage to do so,” the Setiawangsa MP said.

He said the New Economic Policy (NEP) and other policies to assist Bumiputeras have been helping the middle class Malays rather than the target group.

He cited the example of himself benefiting from NEP when he received a scholarship for Bumiputeras.

He said that out of 10 Malay recipients of the scholarships, most of them belonged in the upper or middle class and only one came from Felda.

“NEP was designed on a race-based approach. It created a Malay middle class, but as a result, their children are now getting most of the benefits from the NEP.”

Nik Nazmi said needs-based policies were needed and should be more skewed towards the B40 group rather than benefiting those in the middle and upper classes.

“They should actually help the urban and rural poor,” he said at a forum on “Budget 2020 –  Shared Prosperity Vision” organised by the Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) today.

He said although most of the poor now were still the Malay Bumiputeras, a needs-based approach would also benefit poor Chinese and Indian citizens.

The NEP was introduced by second prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein in 1971 following the racial riots of May 13, 1969.

The riots were deemed to have been caused largely by socio-economic imbalances within the Malaysian society, and the NEP was conceived with two aims in mind – to reduce ethnic inequalities and to eradicate poverty, irrespective of race.