Equitable opportunities policy to reduce wealth, income gap

PUTRAJAYA: A policy to promote equitable opportunities in jobs and businesses has been proposed to reduce the income and wealth gap between bumiputra and other communities.

The proposal, which was revealed at the Bumiputera Economic Congress 2024 on Friday (March 1), comes as the convention revealed that as of September 2023, the monthly median wages of bumiputras were 45% lower than that of Chinese employees in the formal sector.

At the same time, the median monthly income of bumiputra households was 29% lower than that of Chinese families in 2022, according to the Statistics Department.

The proposed Equitable Opportunities Policy would emphasise that individuals and companies embrace the values of diversity, equity and inclusion, said Bursa Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar.

Abdul Wahid said the government should first encourage the private sector to support and adopt the policy which included ensuring that its senior management and board are made up of both bumiputra and non-bumiputra.

If the policy does not get adequate buy-in, the government can then consider implementing an Equitable Opportunity Act, said Wahid, who headed the congress' cluster on wealth creation and bumiputra corporate control.

“We propose that an equitable policy act be introduced. That is the first step. If the policy can be executed to give equitable opportunities to all Malaysians in business and employment, we would not need a specific act for it,” Wahid told reporters after presenting findings of his cluster.

“But the first approach is to have a policy that should be sufficient. If all Malaysians can embrace the spirit and intention of diversity, equity and inclusion, we can implement this policy.”

He added that the cluster had heard from individuals who felt that they were capable but were not given job or business interviews.

Such a policy would also set up mechanisms for individuals who felt that they were discriminated against based on ethnicity or gender to lodge formal complaints, he said.

“We are not saying that things should be equal but equitable. This includes practices in corporations where internal communications should be in either Malay or English and not in a language which makes some of the staff feel marginalised”.

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