Najib: Bumi agenda not ‘zero-sum’, won’t sideline others

By Ida Lim
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak Najib also took a swipe at the Opposition for objecting to the Goods and Services Tax. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — The federal government’s blueprint to uplift the Bumiputera community is not at the expense of Malaysia’s remaining ethnic groups, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.

He said there was still a need to make Bumiputera interests the country’s “main agenda”, justifying this by highlighting that they currently make up 68.6 per cent of the country’s 31.7 million population.

He also cited the Federal Constitution’s Article 153, and said this included the special privileges of the Malays and Bumiputera community that “must be protected, must be preserved and must be defended forever”.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government should consequently not only keep fighting for the interests of the Malays and Bumiputera, but should continue to uplift it as a “national agenda”, Najib added.

“However, the government is always mindful that in fighting for the Bumiputra agenda, it does not mean that we can simply take the rights of others. Instead, in parallel, the government should look after the legitimate interests of the races in this country.

”In short, when we champion the interests of the Bumiputra, it’s not a zero-sum game, (where) non-Bumiputera will face a deterioration in their economic position,” he said during the launch of the second edition of the government’s Bumiputera Economic Transformation Roadmap.

In the same speech, Najib referred to the New Economic Policy (NEP) his late father and second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein had launched in 1971, describing it as an “instrument to balance” the income gap between ethnic groups that contributed to the 1969 race riots.

”In reality, although this policy had officially ended in the early 1990s, but in reality, not only the spirit, but the principle and philosophy of the NEP continues to burn and breathe and continue to be carried out to this day,” he said.

Among other things, Najib also highlighted that the Bumiputera community is projected to account for 69.1 per cent of the overall population in three years’ time and 70.7 per cent by 2030.

He further said the government has managed to lower the poverty rate in Malaysia from 49.3 per cent in 1970 to 3.8 per cent in 2009 and 0.6 per cent in 2014.

Later in his speech, Najib again reiterated that the federal government will continue to fight for the Bumiputera community’s interests while championing the interests of all Malaysians to ensure peace and prosperity.

Najib said when launching the second roadmap dubbed the Bumiputera Wellbeing Transformation that it would involve enhancing the community’s ability to compete.

”In awarding contracts or tenders, I wish to stress that if we choose the right Bumiputera, in other words we don’t choose friends or cronies, or even acquaintances, it would surely be Bumiputera based on merit and capability,” he said.

”This will ensure contractors succeed in completing projects according to schedule and comply with the budget of the construction cost fixed,” he added.

He said that Bumiputera companies in the past were associated with bloated contracts or substandard work, but said their work quality and performance were now high and comparable to non-Bumiputera companies and international firms.

He said that Bumiputera firms have, to date, participated in “Carve Out and Compete” businesses worth RM54.24 billion, which amounted to 47.2 per cent of the business value.

According to him, the Carve Out and Compete policy gives Bumiputera firms the chance to compete among themselves for contracts from the government, government-linked companies and private sector based on merit, track record and ability to deliver.