Friday, January 2, 2015

Same old, same old from EPU on bumi equity

10:00AM Jan 2, 2015
By Lim Teck Ghee
COMMENT The Economic Planning Unit's (EPU) reply to the two recent Malaysiakini articles, 'Has 30pct bumi equity target been achieved' and 'Major flaw in computing bumi equity target', was to be expected.
Instead of addressing the substantive issue of government massaging of the corporate equity data through methodology subterfuge, and selective and disputable definition, there is a meaningless declaration of good intentions and how "the government is intent on reducing the socioeconomic imbalances and improving income of all Malaysians irregardless (sic) of race."

The EPU should revisit the messy history of the corporate equity controversy which goes back to 2006. It needs to inform the public of the progress it has made in improving the methodology for measuring the respective racial shares.

More important, the Prime Minister's Department needs to address various concerns I had highlighted in March 2007 in response to then prime minister Abdulah Ahmad Badawi's statement in Parliament that the government hoped to achieve the 30 percent Malay corporate equity target in three years (i.e. by 2010!)

At that time, I had pointed to these major issues:

"One is to ensure that during the remaining three-year life span of that condition, it is the bumiputera poor that will become the beneficiaries of the quota condition, and not the politically connected and already wealthy...

“The other is that the corporate equity condition is a small part of a large system of racially privileged entitlement. That larger system needs to be dismantled if the country is to go forward as a united and cohesive nation."

I had also noted:

"The best gift Pak Lah can give to young Malaysians on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Merdeka is to define a new and historic direction for the country in which all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, political affiliation, class and region, will be treated equally; and the poor and vulnerable are provided resources and special attention to help them improve their lives."

Musa Hitam on GLC's share

The public can understand why the EPU continues to ignore feedback from me and others who are seen as critics. But surely it should respond to its own past leaders.

Musa Hitam, former deputy prime minister, has recently gone on record to state that shares held by government-linked companies (GLCs) should be taken into account when calculating the bumiputera equity participation in the national economy.

According to the former deputy prime minister, corporate wealth owned by bumiputera may go beyond the 30 percent target set under the New Economic Policy (NEP).

He is also reported to have told the Sinar Harian forum on ‘Survival of the Malay economy’ last year that "Statistics can be twisted. If you want to talk about Malay participation, I would include the GLCs. They are part of the Malay agenda".

Dr LIM TECK GHEE is former World Bank senior social scientist, whose report on bumiputera equity when he was director of Asli's Centre for Public Policy Studies sparked controversy in 2006. He is now CEO of the Centre for Policy Initiatives.
~ Malaysiakini

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