Najib’s New NEP: Step Forwards or Backwards

by Koon Yew Yin

42 years after the New Economic Policy (NEP) was launched by his father, Tun Abduk Razak, Prime Minister Najib Razak has now followed in his father’s footsteps with a new national policy specially aimed at enhancing Malay participation and control of the economy and which is expected to run into the year 2020.

There are many reasons to fear the worst from this new national policy. Firstly unlike the NEP which was initiated following the racial riots of May 1969, this policy is clearly linked to Najib’s fear of losing his position as president of UMNO in the coming UMNO general assembly elections. Najib has also made references to the fact that the new policy is to reward the Malay voters who supported UMNO during the last elections but this appears less strong a reason than his own survival as UMNO leader.

Secondly, unlike the NEP which was at least endorsed by a larger multi-racial grouping in the form of the National Operations Council, the main catalyst for the so-called Bumiputra empowerment policy has come from Malay pressure groups such as the Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM), Perkasa, right wing Malay media and bloggers and their god father, Dr. Mahathir. In fact the MTEM has claimed the credit for the new policy. Completely side-lined even though the nation is not under emergency rule has been the cabinet as well as Parliament.

The apparent failure of the ruling BN coalition of parties to even be minimally consulted on the new policy speaks volumes of how much respect Najib has for his non-UMNO BN colleagues and for the principles of parliamentary democracy. It also shows that Najib – despite all the rhetoric of 1Malaysia and the inclusive scope of the New Economic Model – is prepared to sacrifice the interest of the non-Bumiputra component of the country’s population to secure his own and UMNO’s Malay interest.

Thirdly, the policy appears to be an open-ended one. Its range of initiatives is the entire range of socio-economic sectors where UMNO’s leadership feels that the Malay position needs to be strengthened – equity ownership, business, human capital, housing, state institutions, private sector jobs, etc.

Fourthly, even though the policy talks about Bumiputra and Malay empowerment, it is clear that the main beneficiaries will be UMNO members in the business community. According to media reports, the new initiatives will amount to $31billion worth but this is likely to be an under-estimate. We can expect the figure of government expenditure on the new policy to run into the hundreds of billion by the year 2020.

Impact of the New NEP

Will this massive reallocation of public funds on a racial basis bring about positive benefits? What is likely to happen with the implementation of the new policy? Policy analyst, Dr. Lim Teck Ghee, who in 2006 exposed the government’s fiddling of the corporate equity statistics to under-estimate Malay share as well as recently also exposed the fiddling of crime statistics, expects the racial and political manipulation of official statistics to continue.

He also had this to say to an online news portal (Malay Mail Online)

“It looks like the New Economic Model which was supposed to set the strategic policy direction for the country until 2020 and to de-emphasise ethnic based economic policies has now been effectively abandoned.

“The emphasis on prioritizing the bumiputra agenda is politically motivated and racially skewed. It is aimed at ensuring that there is no challenge to Najib in the next UMNO general assembly and beyond, as well as to trump the opposition. As to it being a reward for Malay voters, this is simply an excuse. If Malay voters had deserted UMNO during the last elections, the same pro-Bumi policies would still have been set out with the justification that the Malay voters will need to be won back to UMNO.

“The enlargement of pro-Malay economic policies (other Bumiputra will only benefit marginally) will worsen the rent seeking, patronage and other opaque government procurement and engender even more cronyism and corruption. Efficiency, competitiveness, merit-based reform will take second place and the losers will be the larger population and the country. Poor Bumiputra (as well as non-Bumis) need greater access to capital, education, housing and business opportunities but we have seen how UMNO’s leaders and cronies have in fact monopolized the opportunities during the past 40 years of the NEP. We can expect the same situation to continue.”

Various independent Malay analysts have expressed the same opinion. Respected pollster Ibrahim Suffian has put it succinctly, “He is shoring up support of the Malays, particularly business people and contractors,” he told AFP. “He’s appealing to the base.”

Wan Saiful Wan Jan of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs has similarly said that Najib’s reluctance to dismantle the affirmative action policy would harm Malaysia’s economy in the long-run.

According to him, “it will definitely have a negative impact on the economy. The announcement … further enhances the role of government in the economy.”

In the next few months and years, the ripple effects of Najib’s sucker punch to the nation’s socio-economic development will become clear. Slower economic growth, loss of business confidence, deterioration in the business and social institutions of the country – these and other negative impacts can be expected.

Just a few days earlier, UMNO veteran and Minister of Tourism and Culture told an online news portal that Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz called on Malaysians to think themselves as Malaysian first. Nazri should have addressed his Malaysia day wisdom to his boss in UMNO rather than to other Malaysians.

  1. #1 by Di Shi Jiu on Monday, 16 September 2013 - 1:03 am

    This “new” NEP is no different from the old NEP.

    It just involves handing out wads of easy money. This has not worked before and it ain’t gonna work now.

    I find it strange that, according to UMNO/BN and their rabid bumi NGOs, ordinary everyday non-bumis who have never been given any such easy money are said to be doing very well.

    So, I am curious, why doesn’t UMNO/BN emulate these non-bumis?

  2. #2 by Noble House on Monday, 16 September 2013 - 4:57 am

    42 years ago, the NEP was initiated when UMNO lost its footings and holds onto political power following the May 13th incident. Fast forward to the present 2013, Najib launched a new version of the NEP for fear of losing his position as president of UMNO in the coming UMNO general assembly elections.

    The question that begs answering is: “Why are the Malays still so far behind despite all the affirmative action after more than 50 years of UMNO’s rule?” The effect of reverse discrimination resulted from affirmative action policies created?

    How will these be measured with the national transformation agenda and how will they benefit the national economy on the whole?

    Yes, Mr Prime Minister! We hear you loud and clear. At least, we don’t have to listen to anymore of those “1Malaysia” and “Prime Minister for all Malaysians” crap from UMNO B.

  3. #3 by lbn on Monday, 16 September 2013 - 6:04 am

    This is a very selfish act to make the malays to depend on the government because of the hand out and to show they’re helping them. This act shows they’re helping the malays. If you were a malay, who will you vote come the next GE? NEP hasn’t work and the same can be said here.

  4. #4 by yhsiew on Monday, 16 September 2013 - 7:34 am

    There will be no end in sight for the country to escape out of the middle income trap as a result of selfish and irresponsible leaders who are only interested in their own well-being and not that of the country.

  5. #5 by tuahpekkong on Monday, 16 September 2013 - 11:57 am

    None-Malays voted in droves for the BN in the 1999 GE and why were they not rewarded accordingly then? Without the Chinese votes the PM himself would have lost in Pekan in 1999. Where is the reported amount of RM 30 billion going to come from? We know that the Government’s financial budget is already tight. Would there be further reduction in subsidies or the curtailment of some budgeted development allocations just to raise the required fund which would most likely benefit only a small group of well-connected people? UMNO has no respect for her BN colleagues. They carry much less weight than right wing Malay groups like MTEM and Perkasa.

  6. #6 by sheriff singh on Monday, 16 September 2013 - 2:37 pm

    Najib’s latest NEP – the New Ethnocentric Policy.

  7. #7 by Bigjoe on Monday, 16 September 2013 - 5:31 pm

    Anyone realized realized calling a new NEP, means New New Economic Policy??? – after the NEP, Mahathir changed to NDP and then somehow people remember its still NEP..

    There is no modifying, bettering, improving the NEP. In reality the NEP was NEVER a success, it was NOT A FAILURE BY SHEER LUCK. It was NEVER going to achieve what it promised – IT WAS AND NEVER POSSIBLE – for the govt to deliver what it promised – equality in absolute between the races..

    So what we have is a relapse, not a big but still a relapse of old addiction because its politically necessary for those in power. BUT its still a relapsed on old addiction and can only get worst, there is just no such thing as a “little relapse” in addiction. And worst, Najib, and pretty much the rest of the leadership line-up in UMNO, are worst possible people to ever change back its course.

    THIS is what we are and until the addiction kills us, nothing will change.

  8. #8 by rockdaboat on Monday, 16 September 2013 - 11:12 pm

    Ha ha ha, migrating to wheel chair?

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