‘Bumi economy transcends party lines’

All are welcome: Asyraf Wajdi says leaders from Malay-based Opposition parties and non-bumiputra participants have been invited to the congress. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/ The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The Bumiputra Economic Congress 2024 that begins on Thursday will be different from previous congresses by including the non-bumiputra participants to ensure that economic issues affecting the Malays and the bumiputra are not discussed in isolation of the national agenda, says Mara chairman Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki.

He said leaders from Malay-based Opposition parties in Perikatan Nasional have also been invited to attend the congress as the issue of the bumiputra economy goes beyond party lines.

He said the objective of the three-day congress from Feb 29 to March 2 at the World Trade Centre here will be to prevent the bumiputra from being labelled as “those waiting for government contracts.”

The meeting is to find ways to make bumiputra the main stakeholders of the country’s economy, he added.

Asyraf Wajdi, who is also Umno secretary-general, said a series of engagements by the congress secretariat was conducted with stakeholders from five states over the past two and a half months.

“The congress will be attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will give a speech to set the direction of the congress.

“Everything that has been collated from the engagement sessions will be presented at the congress for further discussion.”

He added that about 5,000 participants will discuss how the bumiputra, especially the Malays, can be empowered to partake in the national economic pie and not be labelled as just professionals and experts in their fields in name only.

He said the congress will discuss issues on empowering the bumiputra economy.

On the second day, there will also be a session involving political party leaders from various parties, including non-bumiputra leaders.

“The agenda of empowering the bumiputra economy is not something that is different from the national economic agenda.

“The involvement of non-bumiputra is also needed as bumiputra form the majority of this multiracial country,” said Asyraf Wajdi.

He said this is the first time Mara has been given the honour to act as the main secretariat for a congress of this type, adding that the successes of Mara will be highlighted.

“We will talk about how Mara has managed to elevate the bumiputra in terms of education and entrepreneurship opportunities,” he added.

The public is also invited to visit booths at the venue.

During a symposium on the run-up to the congress here yesterday, panellists comprising bumiputra academicians and experts discussed education reforms, human capital, and the competitiveness of bumiputra entrepreneurs.

The discussion centred on the need to reform national schools; why Chinese vernacular schools are given government assistance; and the need for bumiputra graduates to cater to the needs of Malaysia’s industries.

Tan Sri Noor Azlan Ghazali, director of the Malaysian Inclusive Development and Advancement Institute at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, claimed that the bumiputra empowerment agenda is enshrined in the Federal Constitution and there was no need to be apologetic when championing the agenda.

“If 70% of the majority of the people of the country are empowered and successful, the rest of the country would benefit as well,” said the economist.

Asyraf Wajdi said the discussions during the symposium will be brought to the congress on Feb 29.

The first such congress was held in 1965.

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