- POSTED: 12 Sep 2013 21:50
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Malaysia's prime minister is expected to announce measures intended to raise ethnic Malay participation in the country's economy on Saturday.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's prime minister is expected to announce measures intended to raise ethnic Malay participation in the country's economy on Saturday.
The anticipated change has created a buzz among Malaysians and some people wonder if it will run counter to the 1Malaysia policy that promises equal opportunities for all.
Through affirmative action policies, the Malaysian government's target has been to achieve 30 per cent equity ownership for ethnic Malays.
After more than four decades, however, they still own less than 24 per cent of the country's equity and only 5 per cent of Malaysia's properties.
Also known as "bumiputras" -- a Malay term that literally means "sons of the soil" -- ethnic Malays comprise over 60 per cent of the population.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Najib Razak is expected to unveil a new strategy to expand the bumiputra economic participation in a more pervasive and effective manner.
Malay Economic Action Council’s (MTEM) head of youth cluster Sharizal Shaarani said: "Those things, those levels of equity and all those various ratios, let's leave it to the economists to decide.
“I'm in business and if you look at the statistics today, 90 per cent of the bumiputra SMEs (small and medium enterprises) are micro and small. And that is quite worrying. What we want to see is… 50 per cent of enterprises, bumiputra enterprises, (to be) of medium size by 2020."
The minister in charge of economic planning Abdul Wahid Omar believes that help will be given to bumiputra SMEs to grow their companies.
Mr Abdul Wahid, who is a minister in the Prime Minister's Department, said: "The issue, I think, typically bumiputra companies have got very little access to capital. I think their network and reach are not as good compared to non bumiputra businessmen."
However, he believes all applications must be based on merit.
Political observers say Mr Najib may be putting at risk his own 1Malaysia policy that promises equal opportunities for all, regardless of race and religion.
Now, the devil's in the details. Malaysians will be listening in closely to Mr Najib's announcement on Saturday.
Malaysian officials say the focus of the people should not be on the numbers or quotas, but rather on growing the economic pie.
However, that may be easier said than done with the government cutting spending to consolidate its fiscal position.