The 50th Malaysia Day had been the most troubling Malaysian anniversary since it was declared a public holiday four years ago, for only two days earlier, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had virtually renounced his reformist credentials as Prime Minister for all Malaysians as well as the torch-bearer for national transformation, whether governmental, political or economic.
Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Najib’s announcement of the RM31 billion Bumiputra Economic Enforcement Plan two days before Malaysia Day was “a very lucky day” and “the most-awaited event”, and it is understandable why Muhyiddin was so elated, for it marked the triumph of his “Malay first, Malaysian second” stand and the ignominous trouncing of Najib’s 1Malaysia policy in less than four years.
It was in March 2010 that I challenged Muhyiddin and all the Cabinet Ministers at the time whether they fully supported Najib’s 1Malaysia Policy, reminding them that the goal of 1Malaysia as spelt out by the 1Malaysia Government Transformation Programme Roadmap was “to make Malaysia ….a greater nation: a nation where, it is hoped, every Malaysian perceives himself or herself as Malaysian first, and by race, religion, geographical region or socio-economic background second and where the principles of 1Malaysia are woven into the economic, political and social fabric of society”.
I had specifically asked Muhyiddin and all the Cabinet Ministers whether they were prepared to declare that they were “Malaysian first” and their race second.
There was total silence from all the Cabinet Ministers at the time after Muhyiddin had declared that he was “Malay first” and then only a Malaysian.
It is pathetic that in the past four years, there was only one UMNO Minister, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, who dared to publicly declare that he is Malaysian first and Malay second.
Even Najib himself had never ever declared that he is “Malaysian first, Malay second” despite his proclamation of the 1Malaysia signature policy in the past four years.
In fact, in July 2011, Najib dodged the question when asked at the Malaysian Students Leaders’ Summit whether he was prepared to state that he was Malaysian first and what he thought of Muhyiddin’s infamous remark of being “Malay first and Malaysian next”.
Najib did not answer the question, saying: “I don’t want to respond in a way that will divide me from my deputy. 1Malaysia is our guiding philosophy. It does not matter what you say, just as long as you follow (the 1Malaysia concept).”
The Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Plan is Najib’s double-barrelled repudiation of his two most important policy formulations after becoming Prime Minister in April 2009 – the New Economic Model (NEM) which promised a needs-and-merit based transformation of the affirmative programme to uplift the quality of life of the low-income 40% of the households, regardless of ethnic groups, and the 1Malaysia Policy based on the concept of fairness to all where no group would be marginalised and support and opportunities are provided on the basis of need and merit.
The Bumiputra Economic Empowerment Plan is a sad commentary on the dismal failures of Najib’s 1Malaysia Policy predicated on the basis that the principles of 1Malaysia with Malaysians regarding themselves first as Malaysians and by race, religion, region or socio-economic status second are woven into all aspects of Malaysian nation-building policies as well as in the economic, political and social fabric of society.
The Bumiputra Economic Empowerment Plan must be faulted on two grounds: the marginalisation of the non-Malays in Malaysia and the continued hegemony of Umno-putras to be the main beneficiaries of the RM31 billion Bumiputra Economic Empowerment Plan as during the years of New Economic Policy (NEP) creating fortunes and wealth for the UMNO few in the name of the upliftment and advancement of the bumiputra many but who remain in poor in the low-income 40% of Malaysian households.