KUALA LUMPUR: The requirement for 51% bumiputra equity in local freight forwarding companies will only enrich an elite group of cronies and the government must find a new solution that favours all races in Malaysia, said Anwar Ibrahim.
The Opposition Leader said history has shown that such policies will only benefit a few families and cronies, as he questioned whether the poor bumiputra community will benefit from such a requirement.
"It is undeniable that such policies only benefit a few families and cronies. What about the poor and unemployed who consist mainly of Malays?
"There must be a new approach. Don't follow the old ways. All races must be given space," he said during his speech on the 12th Malaysia Plan in Parliament on Tuesday (Sept 28).
The Port Dickson MP also said the present requirement of 51% bumiputra equity in local freight forwarding companies is flawed as it prioritises those with political influence.
"It will prioritise people who are unqualified and incompetent merely for political positions and secondly, we have indirectly denied the right of others."
Anwar then cited his experience as a university student listening to a speech by former premier Tun Abdul Razak Hussein on empowering bumiputra without sidelining other races.
"He said we must do what we could to help the Malays and bumi to empower them but we will not block or steal other citizens' rights," he recalled.
Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (Independent-Muar) interjected Anwar's speech and raised an issue regarding the sale of bumiputra shares or companies to fellow bumiputra consortiums, firms and individuals.
Syed Saddiq questioned how the new policy would help those who are poor across Malaysia and criticised the policy as populist.
The Muar MP also drew the example of the Mara Digital Mall, pointing out that the project had failed, with many shops having to wind down as a result.
He also said the new policy is unfair to non-bumiputra in Malaysia.
"Where is the fairness? It seems as though we are prioritising foreigners over our very own Malaysians simply because they are not born Malay and Muslim.
"I hope the government does not find a coward's way out over the matter because it will hurt Malaysians and national development as a whole."
Earlier, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said the Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit (Teraju) is conducting a study with regard to the issue of 51% bumiputra equity in local freight forwarding companies.
Tengku Zafrul said the rule is not a new one.
He noted that the Federation of Malaysian Freight Forwarders had appealed to the government for an exemption in 2016 when the policy was decided the year before.
He added that an exemption was given by the Finance Ministry to local companies with the status of international integrated logistic services provider until December 2020 and a second extension was granted until Dec 31, 2022.