By LIM SUE GOAN
Translated by Soong Phui Jee
Sin Chew Daily
It is again time for the annual Umno general assembly and this time, due to the impending general election, the assembly is expected to strengthen some political strategies to consolidate the party's base.
Prime Minister and Umno President Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched a Bumiputera Economic Transformation Roadmap on the eve of the assembly to tell the Malay community that Umno has never given up defending the rights of Malays and Bumiputeras.
However, since the BN government is now committed to promote economic transformation, would strengthening the Bumiputera equity policy contradictory to it? As the world economy is heading towards a recession, would it bring a negative impact to highlight a racial policy?
Deputy Umno President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin denied that the the 1Malaysia concept is contradictory to Umno's struggle but stressed that the 1Malaysia concept does not mean that Umno has given up its original struggle and Malays should not think that they have been abandoned.
Umno leaders must strike a balance between the implementations of the 1Malaysia concept and the Malay agenda to avoid taking one into consideration to the neglect of the other. They should also prevent the confidence of foreign investors from being affected by the Bumiputera equity quota or it will hinder the implementation of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), as well as the achievement of a high-income economy.
How is Umno going to achieve the 30% of Bumiputera equity quota this time? It is impossible for Umno leaders to repeat former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's practice of blindly issueing stocks. Instead, they should focus on implementation and the identification of potential Bumiputera enterprises.
The current Umno leadership has its own set of strategies to implement the Malay agenda. Najib launched the Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera (Teraju) on 8 February 2011 and said that five Bumiputera companies were expected to be listed in Bursa Malaysia this year.
In August, a fund of RM2 billion was allocated for the development of Bumiputera companies.
In the Budget 2012, Najib announced that the government will allocate RM200 million to guide 1,100 high performing Bumiputera companies with potential to be listed on Bursa Malaysia through Teraju.
On 26th this month, the Bumiputra Economic Transformation Roadmap was launched.
The Bumiputra Economic Transformation Roadmap is more ambitious as it aims to help 1,100 Bumiputera companies to become world-class enterprises by 2013 though three major strategies, namely reform of policy instruments and rationalisation of delivery system; strengthening education and building capabilities; and acquiring, creating or developing businesses with sufficient scale.
The government also sets up the Yayasan Peneraju Pendidikan Bumiputera targeting to build a RM500 million fund within five years to fund 12,000 Bumiputeras, to improve their educational standard.
Najib knows that there is not much time left for Umno to implement the Bumiputera agenda because the world economy is deteriorating and national resources are consumed each year. Therefore, instant-effect solutions are included in the roadmap, hoping that they could bring results in a short time. If the roadmap does not work, it will slow down the pace of transforming the country into a high-income economy.
Most importantly, are the Malays ready to make changes? Do they know the urgency of it?
Obviously, Umno leaders know that it does not meet the global trend to talk only about racial agenda and thus, they hold an international forum in the conjunction with the party's general assembly. The Umno's greatest challenge at the moment is, how should it achieve the goals of its struggle while leading the Malays to the international arena?