Institutional abuses are the problem, not racial inequality, says think tank

Cenbet says government leaders must be honest about abuses that have contributed to the disparity in economic development.

PETALING JAYA: Think tank Centre for a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) has questioned the prime minister’s remark that the achievement gap between races is partly to blame for the country’s inability to attain developed nation status, pointing the finger instead at institutional abuses.

Cenbet co-president Gan Ping Sieu said many multiracial countries, including Singapore, had achieved developed nation status with racial inequality posing no issue.

“It is not inequality among the races that hampers our effort to achieve developed nation status, as opined by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday.

“It is the institutional abuses leading to the entrenchment of a political patronage culture, government leakage and indiscriminate social handouts that are to blame,” he said in a statement today.

Mahathir had mentioned Malaysia’s multiracial nature, saying some races have progressed while others have been left behind.

He also said it was unfortunate that the achievement gap between certain races was so large, to the point that it created an imbalance between the rich and the poor.

But Gan said an “ecosystem that thrives on whipping up racial and religious issues” had been allowed to take root, creating division among the people.

“Government leaders, past and present, have to look hard and honestly at past policies and deviations, and abuses that contributed to the disparity in economic development.

“After the New Economic Policy and other similar iterations, the government should realise that such policies have not achieved the desired results.”

Adding that the wealth disparity within the Bumiputera community is among the worst, he said help should be given to all disadvantaged groups regardless of race or religion.