One question for the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak following his announcement of the Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda on Saturday is whether he has finally abandoned the New Economic Model (NEM) which he announced three years ago on 30th March 2010.
The NEM admitted that “the excessive focus on ethnicity-based distribution of resources has contributed to growing separateness and dissension”.
NEM stated in Chapter 6 (p. 117):
“Existing affirmative action programme and institutions will continue in NEM but, in line with views of the main stakeholders, will be revamped to remove the rent seeking and market distorting features which have blemished the effectiveness of the programme. Affirmative action will consider all ethnic groups fairly and equally as long as they are in the low income 40% of the households. Affirmative action action programmes would be based on market-friendly and market-based criteria together taking into consideration the need and merits of the applicants. An Equal Opportunities Commission will be established to ensure fairness and address undue discrimination when occasional abuses by dominant groups are encountered.”
Because of opposition from racist and chauvinists, Najib had abandoned the idea of an Equal Opportunities Commission.
Has he now abandoned the entire NEM with regard to a needs-and-merit based transformation of the affirmative programme, to promote building of capacity and capability, focusing on the low income 40% of the households?
Chapter 7 of NEM warned: “The time for change is now – Malaysia deserves no less.”
When the NEM was unveiled in March 2010, the country was warned of the dire consequences of the failure to undertake a major economic transformation.
The NEM said:
“Our shortcoming are preventing us from getting out of the middle income trap. Almost all economies of South East Asia are poised to achieve high economic growth in this decade. But Malaysia runs the imminent risk of a downward spiral and faces the painful possibility of stagnation.”
The NEM rightly identified “political will and leadership to break the log-jam of resistance by vested interest groups and preparing the rakyat to support deep-seated changes in policy directions” as “the most important enablers” of the NEM.
It called for political will and leadership to put emphasis on coherent explanation of the vision and agenda of the NEM and transformation process and “to put in place a critical mass of bold measures” to “create an unstoppable wave of support from all segments of society for this vision”.
“The government must take prompt action when resistance is encountered and stay the course”.
Najib should state whether he has finally given up the ghost of the NEM, as he lacks the political will and leadership to defend the NEM and stay the course so that the country could get out of the middle income trap when confronted with opposition and resistance from within his own ranks in UMNO?