KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 1 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad rejected today the perception that all successful Bumiputera businessmen only made it big due to government cronyism.
He said the government gave equal opportunities to the Bumiputera through various initiatives under when it introduced the affirmative action New Economic Policy (NEP), but only a handful were able to flourish.
“Everyone was given the same opportunity but this ‘envious’ feeling only occurs when you see some Bumiputera making millions, so you accuse the government of cronyism.
“Out of 100 people, maybe only four or five people achieved success, but these people will then be recognised as cronies.
“The ones who failed, although the number is significantly bigger, will not be perceived as such,” he told a Congress on the Future of Bumiputera and the Nation at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here.
He said the NEP may not have met its original goal to raise the Bumiputera stake in wealth but it had a fair share of success stories too.
Dr Mahathir said this included a significant increase in the percentage of Malay professionals over the years, thanks to the government scholarships given out.
“Although people say we don’t give out scholarships based on merits, we believe that those who came out in the second, third, fourth and fifth places deserve a chance too.
“They then come back with the highest accolades. Initially, only 2 per cent of doctors in Malaysia were Malays but now, the figure has increased to 40 per cent.
“This is a success on its own, seeing as even a prime minister with a heart problem had trusted these very doctors with his own health,” he said, referring to his own previous medical procedures at the National Heart Institute.
The Bumiputera congress today discussed the current state of affairs involving the demographic group that make up the majority of the country’s 32 million population.
It was also attended by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and PKR’s Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, among others.
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