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The lingering ghost of NEP

  • Over 90% of Chinese voters rejected BN in GE14 because they saw no future under the NEP and believed PH could end the inequality.

By TAY TIAN YAN
Sin Chew Daily

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad concluded that "Chinese Malaysians are rich" after seeing so many wealthy Chinese Malaysian students in London.

So he confirmed that the government needs to help the Malays in order to avoid conflicts with richer ethnic groups, in particular the Chinese.

Mahathir should have visited London regularly, but I'm not sure whether he has noticed that most of the passengers onboard the London-bound MAS flights are actually the Malays!

He also won't miss seeing Malay faces in London's most celebrated shopping areas of Knightsbridge and Bond Street.

So, what is our conclusion? That all the Malays are rich?

Sure enough we won't draw this sort of conclusion. Perhaps we may claim that the Malays we see in London's streets are the nouveaux riches who have benefited tremendously from the New Economic Policy implemented since the 1970s. But, by no means they represent the majority of Malays.

We are also not going to say that the emergence of these Malay nouveaux riches will trigger conflicts with other ethnic groups in the country.

There are many Chinese Malaysian students in London, and the best explanation we can offer is that some Chinese Malaysian families are indeed better off, but not all of them.

Moreover, they normally do not have large families, and are tightening their belts just to make sure their children could gain access to high quality education.

Many Chinese Malaysian students overseas have to take up part-time jobs to partly pay for their tuition fees and day-to-day living expenses. They might be doing the unglamorous dish-washing chores in back kitchens during the bitter cold months of winter.

Many of them have been learning to stand on their own feet and fight the discrimination under NEP in hope of changing their destinies.

We cannot deny that there was justification to the NEP when it was first planned. Its objectives were to restructure the society and eliminate poverty irrespective of race.

Basically, it was supposed to be an affirmative policy meant to rectify the wealth gap in our society.

Unfortunately when Mahathir was the prime minister in the 80s through 90s, the NEP began to drift away from its originally intended objectives to tilt overwhelmingly towards helping the Malay community, overlooking other underprivileged groups in the country, including the Chinese, Indians and indigenous peoples in East Malaysia who need a hand from the government.

Since then NEP has become a protective shield for Malay supremacy that accords special treatment to the Malays in many areas from the education, economy to public services sectors. Those with political and economic connections have been able to accumulate considerable wealth and resources.

NEP has since evolved into a tool for the distribution of political resources, with the politically well connected getting the lion share of the wealth.

Holding the reins of this country, Umno unashamedly monopolized the distribution of economic interests in the name of defending Malay supremacy. This marked the start of Umno's decline while reinforcing the Malay crutch mentality.

From GE12 to GE14, Chinese Malaysians displayed their increasing distaste for inequality under NEP, not so much because they hated Umno or BN per se. Many of them blamed MCA and Gerakan for BN's unfair policy.

Over 90% of Chinese voters rejected BN in GE14 because they saw no future under the NEP.

These people supported PH whom they believed could bring such inequality to an end.

Most Chinese Malaysians are not against the government's affirmative policy, but they hate to see it being exploited to advance the Malay supremacy and cronyism agendas.

Mahathir's latest statement has brought back to life the haunting ghost of racist NEP, much to the frustration of many who have looked to him for the return of civil justice.

 

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