When affirmative action doesn’t work, it’s time for a new solution

Ahmad Mustapha Hassan
The Ant Daily

OUTSPOKEN: The above was taken from part two of an article by Tanner Colby which discussed the affirmative action in the US to uplift the minority communities that had been marginalised, especially the African-Americans.

He did a study on this and wrote a book about the history of the colour line and the effort to erase it. He came to this final conclusion, “Affirmative action offered the illusion of reparative justice wrapped up in the rhetoric of empowerment, but its net result was to absorb and neutralise black demands for equality, not fulfill them.”

Quotas were imposed on college admissions and also on employment. This brought about corruption in the system.

Another American researcher and author, Thomas Sowell, an African-American, came to this conclusion:

• Encourage non- preferred groups to re-designate themselves as members of preferred groups to take advantage of group preference policies

• Tends to benefit primarily the most fortunate (eg Black millionaires), often to the detriment of the least fortunate among the non-preferred groups (eg poor whites)

• Reduced the incentives of both the preferred and the non-preferred to perform at their best – the former because doing so is unnecessary and the latter because it can prove futile – resulting in net losses for society.

He concludes: “Despite sweeping claims made for affirmative action programmes, an examination of their actual consequences makes it hard to support those claims, or even to say that these programmes have been beneficial on net balance.”

In Malaysia, affirmative action was implemented through the New Economic Policy in 1970 and was to run for 20 years but was continued by changing the nomenclature to the New Economic Plan. It has been over 40 years since this programme took effect and the result is very much to be desired.

Whereas in other countries, the agenda targeted the minorities like those in the US and India but in Malaysia, it was meant to cover the majority ethnic community ie the Malays and the Bumiputeras.

This group is in itself not homogenous in its economic needs. But as the agenda targeted the community as a whole and in general, the goal area was never the receiver of the benefit of this action.

The main purpose of the action was to bring about wealth distribution whereby the Malay/Bumiputera community would own 30% of the national corporate wealth. This would mean the rural population would be left out from this exercise. Only the urban and the top strata of the community would gain.

The Malay/Bumiputera community could be classified into the following categories:

• The first group would comprise the ruling class, the bureaucrats, and the landlords of the padi and other areas

• The second would be the traders, teachers and other medium income group

• The third the poorest and the last class would comprise the dispossessed padi farmers and the fishermen

Thus it can be seen that the economic needs varies from one class to another. The last class would fare the worse.

Those already rich as espoused by Sowell who previously would not identify themselves as being Malay/Bumiputera during the colonial era, suddenly came out to be known as Malay/Bumiputera once the NEP came into being. Most of those of Muslim Indian origins identified themselves as Malay/Bumiputeras.

As for the policy itself, it concentrated more to benefit the first group of Malay/Bumiputeras.

Some of the requirements were as follows:

• It wanted listed companies on the KLSE to allocate 30% Bumiputera shares. A certain percentage of new housing in any development is to be sold to Malay/Bumiputeras and also to provide these buyers a 7% discount.

• Government tendered projects must go to Malay/Bumiputera companies.

• Approved Permits (APs) would be given to Malay/Bumiputera companies to import vehicles. The AP at one time was worth RM35.000 if sold in the open market.

From the above, it can easily be seen that the third group of Malay/Bumiputera was completely left out.

To satisfy the anger of the dispossessed Malay/Bumiputera farmers, the government embarked on opening up new land areas. This was put under the charge of an agency known as the Federal Land Development Authority or Felda for short. But it was not possible to cover the needs of all.

In Kedah, an agency was created to redeem lands that had gone into the possession of landlords. But the scheme failed to bring about owner/farmers as it did not meet the actual needs of the tenant/farmers. The scheme was short of what was needed.

Although affirmative action did not work to alleviate the economic condition of the majority of the Malay/Bumiputera group, it was maintained as a political tool to create the illusion that the Malay/Bumiputera community will fall for.

There is no desire at all to actually improve the economic status of the majority and instead religion and ethnic sentiments are used to control their emotions and thinking.

Ahmad Mustapha Hassan is a former press secretary to second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and the writer of the book, “The Unmaking of Malaysia”.

  1. #1 by worldpress on Sunday, 7 December 2014 - 12:48 pm

    Solution is replace those corrupted people who are wasting our times in quarrel, draining money to somewhere, inefficient, mess up the society, community.

    WE ARE WASTING TIMES on those matters were not happen before 1968.

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