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After the bumi congress

  • Umno and PAS are getting so desperate now that they will resort to any dirty trick imaginable. Photo courtesy: Bernama

Sin Chew Daily

The Bumiputra Congress and "Melayu Bangkit" rally respectively organized by the Pakatan Harapan government and Jaringan Melayu Malaysia, JMM (with Umno as the mastermind), have achieved their intended objectives.

PH has used the congress to appease the Malays while Umno has successfully raised the sense of crisis among its supporters.

Let's first talk about the bumi congress. Tun Mahathir did not announce any plan to help the bumis but instead warned that the government would cancel the contracts awarded to bumi contractors who later resold the contracts to non-bumis for a profit.

The prime minister also urged the bumis to change their attitude, work hard and seize the opportunities instead of relying solely on the government.

Tun Mahathir, nevertheless, still retains bumi protectionist policy. For instance, he warned that Malaysians could be driven into rural areas or even forests if three million Chinese nationals were allowed to buy properties and reside here.

The congress passed resolutions covering four areas, including the establishment of a bumi education fund to provide assistance to bumi students based on family income, background and ability.

It also proposed that the government expand financial assistance to bumi SMEs to help them venture into new areas.

As the congress was organized by the Economic Affairs Ministry, we cannot rule out the possibility that the government may implement some of the proposals.

The bumi congress was held largely on political consideration, to offset the racist strategies of Umno and PAS and to prove to the Malays that the PH government has not overlooked the rights and interests of Malays, and that the new government is led by Malay leaders, not DAP.

Unfortunately, the congress fell short of providing effective solutions to boost the competitiveness of bumiputras. By right the new government should offer incentives to promote joint ventures among the races or at least encourage large corporations or GLCs to assist budding Malay businesses.

If Tun Mahathir really wants to see bumis succeed, he should have removed the protectionist measures so that young Malay businessmen can compete in a globalized world.

Protectionism will not help a person or company grow, the national car project being the best example. Proton has been unable to compete with foreign carmakers despite three decades of government protection. It is impossible for the government to protect the company forever.

Mahathir is worried that Malaysians will not be able to compete with three million Chinese nationals who are diligent, smart and business-savvy. The thing is: how are we going to improve ourselves in the absence of competition? The government needs to lift Malaysians' competitiveness. We must not be contended with "kampung champion" forever!

The bumi congress also proposed that the government reform the existing education system based on the national education philosophy and implement single-stream education. This nevertheless contradicts PH's stand on a diversified education policy.

Mahathir says the government will no longer answer to all the demands from the people even if this means it will lose the next election, while PKR's incoming president Anwar Ibrahim promises to work with cabinet ministers to ensure that underprivileged groups irrespective of race will get the assistance.

Meanwhile, the "Melayu Bangkit" rally in Pasir Salak, Perak, was nothing more than a gathering of seditious discourses. Pasir Salak was a historical landmark where the Malays confronted the British colonial government, and Umno believed it could reignite the Malays' fighting spirit by holding a rally there.

As a matter of fact, Umno is dancing to the tune of PAS, which organized the 200,000-strong Fastaqim 2.0 rally at Pantai Tok Jembal near Kuala Terengganu on September 30 last year. In the end, PAS wrestled the state administration from Umno in GE14.

In the "Melayu Bangkit" rally, Umno leaders targeted their wrath specifically at DAP, arguing that the Malays had lost their right to rule and that the Malay leaders in PH were merely DAP puppets.

The rally also passed an eight-point declaration, including rejecting government recognition of UEC certificate.

Umno and PAS are getting so desperate now that they will resort to any dirty trick imaginable. As the ruling coalition, there is no need for PH to lower itself to battle the opposition parties. PH is no match for them when it comes to aggressiveness and conservatism.

PH should instead harness the opportunity to lead the rural Malays out of the box towards a more pluralistic and progressive new Malay politics.

Malaysians voted for PH in hope of ending Umno's racist politics in creating a New Malaysia fair to all Malaysians irrespective of race. Consequently, the Malay leaders in PH must be unwavering in their stand, or they will be held back by the opposition.


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