Needs-based, not race-based


GABUNGAN Bertindak Malaysia (GBM) welcomes the pledge made by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to accelerate the transition from race-based affirmative action economic plans to those that are needs-based when he becomes the prime minister.

The New Economic Policy (NEP) was launched in 1971 with the twin objectives of eradicating poverty irrespective of ethnicity, and restructuring society to eliminate the identification of race with economic functions.

Despite the noble intentions and the relative success of the NEP, it is perceived to have deviated from its original mission. The NEP became a justification for cronyism that allowed the previous ruling party to consolidate its political support.

This has resulted not only in the abuse of the nation’s resources but, more importantly, also manifested in ethnic polarisation and institutional racism.

The NEP has been successful in supporting the emergence of a sizeable professional and managerial class in the Malay community.

In fact, the income disparity ratio between the bumiputra

and Chinese communities has narrowed by 2014 to 1:1.38, according to the 2016 Khazanah Research Institute report.

However, overall household income inequality in Malaysia is a cause for concern.

The income share of the bottom 40% (B40) is 16.4% compared with 46.2% of the top 20% (T20) households.

Almost 12 million Malaysians are trapped in the inter-generational cycle of poverty and inequality. Poor and low income households, from all ethnic groups, lack the capability to overcome the multi-dimensional disadvantages they face on a daily basis.

Hence, it is crucial to switch to needs-based affirmative action to ensure that all Malaysians from B40 households be given appropriate assistance to improve their livelihood.

Needs-based affirmative policies would subsequently help narrow not only inter-ethnic income disparity but also the growing intra-ethnic disparity within the bumiputra community.

A needs-based policy paradigm is critical for engendering national unity.

It would signal to all Malay-sians the need for inclusiveness, and empathy for and solidarity with fellow citizens who are disadvantaged due to their socio-

economic origins.

In this regard, GBM reiterates its call made in 2014, for the establishment of an independent Social Inclusion Commission mandated to have oversight on all matters related to poverty reduction, income inequality, marginalisation and social inclusiveness.

ZAID KAMARUDDIN

Chair of Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM)

On behalf of the following endorsing member organisations:

All Women’s Action Society (Awam), Engage, Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH), Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (Kami), LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLG), Monsoons Malaysia (MM), Negri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall (NSCAH), Partners in Community Organising (Pacos Trust, Sabah), Persatuan Penduduk Petaling Jaya (MyPJ), Pusat Komas, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM), Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Tindak Malaysia, United Chinese School Alumni Associations of Malaysia (UCSAAM), Universiti Malaya Association of New Youth (Umany)

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