KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s prime minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim said Friday (Jul 26) that Pakatan Harapan (PH) will steer Malaysia away from race-based economic policies towards a needs-based strategy, in a move that might put an end to decades of preferential treatments given to the bumiputra.
Speaking to reporters after the Malaysian Economic Symposium 2019, the Port Dickson Member of Parliament said affirmative policy, which began as the New Economy Policy (NEP), is “obsolete” and must be removed, Malay Mail reported.
A needs-based policy will replace the race-based approach, he said, while stressing that the bumiputra’s constitutional rights will not be jeopardised.
“The Prime Minister made it very clear that the NEP must be seen different from the special Malay privileges enshrined in the constitution," Mr Anwar was quoted as saying.
He added: “I’m not here to question what has been enshrined in the constitution, including privileges and quota."
“Our understanding after 61 years of independence (is that) we need to create this awareness that all Malaysians should be seen as one community with equal rights and privileges.”
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The Parti Keadilan Rakyat president, who heads a parliamentary caucus on reform and governance, said he has been tasked with expediting the preparation for a new economic policy that is not based on race.
He said he is committed to reduce inequality and elevate the position of the poor, as well as to rein in “unbridled capitalism” of advancing conglomerates at the expense of the vast majority.
He stressed that it is not an “Anwar’s programme”, but an effort spearheaded by PH under the leadership of Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali had said back in March that a new Malay economic policy that prioritised growth and guaranteed equality and shared prosperity would be formulated.
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Meanwhile, in his Friday speech, Mr Anwar took aim at the urban elites for demanding that PH abolishes the NEP, while turning a blind eye to poor Malays and bumiputra.
The urban elites included wealthy individuals, business conglomerates as well as economists and analysts, he said, according to the Malaysian Insight.
“The urban elites love to hear about how we want to dismantle affirmative action policies but they don’t want to do anything to deal with the inequality in the country,” he was quoted as saying.