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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Najib’s Bumi Agenda divisive, unnecessary

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 03:48 PM PDT

Najib's newly announced Bumiputera Agenda overturns the New Economic Model (NEM), the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) and the Government Transformation Program (GTP).

By Ong Kian Ming, FMT

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced an ambitious and far reaching Bumiputera Agenda on Sept 14, two days before Malaysia Day.

Some of the highlights of this Agenda includes the setting up of a powerful Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Council, the announcement of an injection of 10 billion units of Amanah Saham Bumiputera 2 (ASB2), demands on GLCs and GLICs to increase Bumiputera property ownership and to increase their respective Bumiputera Vendor Development Programs (VDPs), 'carve out' policies to ensure Bumiputera participation in big projects such as the Menara Warisan and Rubber Research Institute (RRI) projects, the creation of yet another Bumiputera entrepreneurship fund entitled SUPERB and the creation of Bumiputera Development Units in all ministries to implement the Bumiputera Agenda initiatives.

This agenda overturns nearly all of the key aspects of Najib's transformation programs, namely the New Economic Model (NEM), the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) and the Government Transformation Program (GTP).

The strategy of the NEM was to use market friendly and transparent affirmative action programs that would focus on the bottom 40% of households in order to narrow disparities between the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural, the Bumiputera and the non-Bumiputera.

Najib's Bumiputera Agenda makes no mention of targeting the bottom 40% that was a key focus of the NEM.

What is more disappointing is the fact that Najib left out any mention the need to target the poor in Sabah and Sarawak, the vast majority of whom are Bumiputera as well as the Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia.

These groups were specifically mentioned in the NEM as well as the 10th Malaysia Plan.

Important structural recommendations made in the NEM were given to Pemandu to monitor and implement under the 6 Strategic Reform Initiatives (SRIs). Najib's Bumiputera Agenda contravenes the initiative to increase competition and liberalise key service sectors by once again restricting the players who take part in the marketplace.

Najib's Bumiputera Agenda contravenes the initiative to reduce the government's role in business by once again trying to influence the policies of the GLCs and GLICs.

Najib would do well to remember that one of the institutions which he named in his speech as a government creation – Bank Bumiputera – no longer exists because of mismanagement and misplaced government lending directives.

He would also do well to remember that the entity that replaced Bank Bumiputera – CIMB – is a Malay-Bumiputera-led organization that has become much more ethnically diverse in its make-up, has expanded aggressively around the region and is seen as a much better run bank with much less government intervention especially compared to its predecessor.

Influencing mega projects

Najib's Bumiputera Agenda contravenes the public service delivery initiative by adding another unnecessary and inefficient layer of bureaucracy that are the Bumiputera Development Units that will be created in all ministries.

This will inevitably slow down the decision making process as policies and plans are constantly evaluated on whether they will achieve the desired Bumiputera Agenda.

These units are totally unnecessary since if each ministry carries out their responsibilities efficiently and transparently, their actions would naturally benefit the majority of the population, most of whom will be the Bumiputeras since they form the 67.9% of the population as pointed out by Najib in his speech.

Najib's Bumiputera Agenda contravenes the public finance reform initiative by promising many billions of ringgit in new spending without a proper evaluation of whether funds in the past were properly spent or not.



The debate about Muslim women wearing veils is not complex. ...

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 09:58 AM PDT 

We're so alarmed that people are being prescriptive about what women can and can't wear, we've decided to prescribe what women can and can't wear. To ensure women are free to choose how to dress we will write into law precisely how they can dress. 

Dan Hodges, The Telegraph 

This morning Lib Dem Home Office minister Jeremy Browne has created a bit of a storm by saying that we need a "national debate" on the topic of Muslim women wearing of veils. His call was echoed by Tory MP Dr Sarah Wollaston, who said that "we must not abandon our cultural belief that women should fully and equally participate in society". Her colleague Bob Neil said, "I do think we need to have a serious conversation about it."

I respect all of those views. But they're wrong.

The debate about "The Veil", is neither necessary, nor is it complex. In fact, it's very, very simple. This is Britain. And in Britain you can wear what you want.

Obviously there are practical exceptions. I can't turn up to my local swimming pool and jump in with my clothes on, for example. When I tweeted about this earlier today a number of people asked: what about people going through airport security? And in that instance obviously veils should be removed. In the same way that when I pass through security, my shoes occasionally have to be removed. But that doesn't alter the basic fact that if I still want to wander round in my pair of battered Adidas Samba, I'm free to do so. And any women who wishes to wear a veil is free to do that too.

"You can't wear hoodies in shopping centres, or crash helmets in banks", some people have pointed out. Fair enough. When the nation is trembling from an onslaught of Burka-clad steaming gangs I may reassess my view. But until then the rule remains; we are a free society, and we are free to wear the clothing of our choice.

I understand those who express concern about the cultural implications of veils. Indeed, I share them. My wife and I regularly drive through Stamford Hill to see relatives. When we do, we invariably reflect on the local Hasidic Jewish community, and how great it is that London is so rich culturally. But it's noticeable that all the women, (and indeed the men), are essentially dressed in the same way. That's great to look at from the outside, and reflects a strong sense of heritage and identity. Yet it also reflects conformity. And conformity is a bad thing. It stifles personal identity, and by extension freedom.

But from my point of view, that's just tough. If I were to advocate passing a law that said Hasidic Jewish women should be banned from going out unless they're dressed in bright, vibrant colours, I'd rightly be regarded as having lost my mind. And it's no different to advocating we should start punishing women who decide to go out in a veil.

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