NEP abused but must continue: Mahathir

Posted February 14, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR – Former Malaysia Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has conceded that the New Economic Policy (NEP) had been abused by the Malays for quick gains but argued for the continuation of the controversial programme, the malaysiakini news website reported.

Addressing some 2,000 people at a symposium on the Malay dilemma on Saturday, Dr Mahathir said: “I am embarrassed. I often defend the NEP but I realise that many of the opportunities awarded through the policy have been abused by the Malays.

“If not, we could have already achieved the 30-per-cent targets, if not more. We often do things that defeat the government’s efforts to bring progress to the Malays,” he said, referring to the goal of bumiputeras, or sons of the soil, achieving a 30-per-cent share of the economy.

But despite its flaws, Dr Mahathir was adamant that the NEP should continue as revoking the policy would mean that all Malays would lose out, including those who may need help, malaysiakini reported.

“The problem is not the policy but the implementation. (It should be that) if they abuse, they don’t get anything anymore,” he told reporters after the function.

Dr Mahathir said that Malays have abused their privileges by selling off permits and licences awarded to them under the ethnic-based affirmative action scheme.

“They receive approved permits (for automobile dealerships) and sell it, they are awarded contracts, they sell it. Quick gains don’t last. Whose fault is it? It is ours.

Calling for unity, he also urged the exclusively Malay crowd to stand up for their rights and not be scared of being called racists for doing so, malaysiakini reported.

“They say Malays come from India, Bugis, Sumatra, Turkey, etc, so we are also pendatang (migrants) and some of us are afraid to be accused of racism so we keep quiet.

“(But) we fulfil the definition of a Malay, that is to speak the Malay language, practise Malay customs and Islam … It is the same in other countries, too, where migrants learn the language, culture and some even change religions to be known as the people of that land,” he was quoted as saying.

He said that defending Malay rights does not mean taking away from other races “who had worked hard for what they have”, but to take what “rightfully belong to (Malays) … in their original land”, malaysiakini reported.

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