KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia needs an economic model which can ensure economic growth that is accompanied by fair distribution of wealth, said Umno Deputy President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
He said the inequality that existed in the society currently was frightening with the economy of the Malays still at a critical level, apart from various challenges facing them in continuing with their economic agenda.
“We (the Malays) are competing in an economy which is more open. We are facing an ideology of equitability which opposes implementation of all the Malay agenda.
“Under the various instruments of international free trade agreement, our country is pressured to no longer practice the policy of protecting the interests of bumiputera.
“Purportedly, a policy like this hampers economic development and retards the market, despite this policy having been used by the developed countries for more than half a century before they achieved the developed status,” he added.
He said this in his speech at the simultaneous opening of the Wanita, Youth and Puteri Umno assemblies at the Putra World Trade Centre here tonight (last night).
Malaysia, he said, was also going against the flow of global capitalism and free market ideology that were increasingly widening the gap of inequality and requiring an approach, policy and strategy that were more effective in narrowing the gap between the races and classes.
Elaborating on the economic gap, Muhyiddin said based on the data by the median monthly household income of bumiputera was only RM3,282, which was still low compared with the Chinese at RM4,643 and the Indian (RM3,676).
He said out of the 40 per cent households with the lowest income, 75.5 per cent of them were bumiputera.
The bumiputera continued to be treated unfairly in the private sector, he added.
“A study carried out by Dr Lee Hwok Aun and Dr. Muhammed Abdul Khalid in 2012 found that for every Malay graduate called for an interview in the private sector, an average of 5.3 Chinese graduates was interviewed, although they all had the same qualification.
“The official data also shows a high unemployment rate among the bumiputera workforce, which is 70.3 per cent, including unemployed graduates of 66.9 per cent,” he added.
Muhyiddin said based on a study by economic experts, the bumiputera workers received a salary of 20 to 40 per cent lower than the non-bumiputera in the private sector.
Apart from the economic gap among the races, he said, the country was also experiencing a huge gap between the rich and the poor, and among the ethnic groups in the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak, the urban and the rural community and between company chief executive officers, senior management and workers.
All these, if allowed to continue will adversely affect the country’s economic performance, he added.
Hence, he said, the need for the bumiputera agenda to be made a national agenda, and policies and strategies to bridge the economic gap to be made the main thrust of the 11th Malaysia Plan.
“The bumiputera agenda as a national agenda cannot be implemented in a small scale or in isolation from the main frame of the country’s economy. It has to be carried out in an inclusive and comprehensive manner, and transcends all economic sectors,” he added.
He also recommended that a new National Economic policy to be drafted to drive the equitability initiative.
Muhyiddin said focus and priority should also be given to training programmes aimed at enhancing the skills of bumiputera workers, apart from improving the subsidy mechanism, addressing discrimination in the employment sector, to fine-tune legislation, regulation and enforcement against foreign workers.
He said policies on workers’ salaries should be introduced, besides having a more structured taxation mechanism, increasing incentives to enable families to increase their income and providing a conducive ecosystem for the rural students and the urban poor.– Bernama