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Wednesday March 31, 2010

PM: Affirmative action a vital component in new economic reality

AFFIRMATIVE action will be a key feature in the New Economic Model and will be market-friendly, merit-based, transparent and needs-based.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said this was a “common-sense enhancement” of policies for a new economic reality where inclusiveness was a key component.

Najib said the Government was now dealing with 21st century problems that required fresh 21st century approaches.

“We will chase the same goals, but transform the way we do things. Our first priority must be to eradicate poverty, irrespective of race,” he said in his keynote address at Invest Malaysia 2010 yesterday.

New beginning: Najib arriving to deliver his keynote address at Invest Malaysia 2010 conference at Shangrila hotel in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Najib said the original objectives of the New Economic Policy (NEP) launched about 40 years ago with its affirmative action policies were still relevant. However, it was time to review its implementation.

The NEP, he said, had served the nation well by balancing the economic growth strategies of the country with the need to address structural inequalities and promote social harmony.

Najib said when affirmative action was implemented in a transparent, fair and empowering way, it would yield better results.

“For too long, the implementation of our affirmative action policies has not reached those who needed them the most.

“We can no longer tolerate practices that support the behaviour of rent-seeking and patronage, which have long tarnished the altruistic aims of the NEP,” he said.

Najib said the policy would include the development of a competitive and transparent tender process with set and clear rules for the whole bumiputra community made up of both Malay and other indigenous groups.

He said inclusiveness, where all Malaysians contributed and benefited from economic growth, must be a fundamental element of any new economic approach.

He said the renewed affirmative action policy would focus on the needs of all, including those living in the longhouses in Sabah and Sarawak and poor rural households in the peninsula who often felt disconnected from the mainstream economic activity.

“Fishermen, petty traders and small farmers also fall under this category and not forgetting the orang asli and low-income urban dwellers seeking out a livelihood in tough economic circumstances,” he said.

Najib said in assessing the results, fair distribution must encompass the whole spectrum of measuring wealth such as equity ownership, other financial and non-financial assets, and access to wealth-creating opportunities such as long-term concessions and contracts.

He said even when measuring ownership, it should go beyond equity to include other properties, business assets such as retail, landed properties, commercial building, intellectual property and other services as well as managerial positions.

“A valuable example would be the redevelopment of Kampung Baru, a holistic opportunity of wealth creation and value enhancement that goes deeper and well beyond equity ownership,” he said.

Najib said the ultimate goal was for no Malaysian to live in poverty.

“All will get the chance to succeed and share in prosperity. For those who struggle with low incomes and live in harsh conditions, we will always provide special support to help lift them out of the poverty trap,” he said.

> More stories on the New Economic Model (NEM)

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