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Will Anwar roll back Mahathir's bumiputera policies?

COMMENT | PKR president Anwar Ibrahim’s statement that he will accelerate the transition from race-based affirmative action economic plans to one that is needs-based when he becomes prime minister will only be credible if he tells us what he intends to do with Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Bumiputera Agenda announced at the Bumiputera Congress last year.

We are by now all too familiar with “bumiputera doublespeak”.

In his keynote address at the 2018 Bumiputera Congress last September, Mahathir questioned critics of affirmative action policies aimed at helping bumiputera businessmen and tried to justify his past actions by saying those labelled as cronies were actually those who were successful.

There was a touch of irony in the fact that the congress coincided with the 20th anniversary of the dramatic sacking of Anwar Ibrahim as the Deputy PM for his allegations of cronyism and nepotism against the government of Dr Mahathir.

In 1998, Anwar alleged that Mahathir had a penchant for awarding huge state contracts to his cronies.

As recently as 12 Feb 2015, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang said it was during Mahathir’s 22-year tenure as prime minister that Malaysia first “began to rot”, thanks to corruption and rampant power abuse.

He pointed out that it was during the Mahathir administration that the latter “single-handedly destroyed the independence, impartiality and professionalism not only of the judiciary, but also of other important national institutions like the police, the Election Commission, the anti-corruption agency, and the civil service.”

The academic Barry Wain wrote in his biography of the ‘Malaysian Maverick’ that during the Mahathir administration, there was a wholesale distribution of tens of millions of shares in Bursa Malaysia under the guise of NEP to cronies.

So, it is patently untrue what the prime minister claimed, that those labelled as cronies were actually those who were successful.

During the last Bumiputera Congress, Mahathir announced his intention to privatise our national asset, Khazanah to “bumiputera entrepreneurs” and that the process has started.

This national asset belongs to all Malaysian taxpayers and there is no reason to privatise the GLC.

Thus, if Anwar is to be believed, he must tell us first what he intends to do when he becomes PM, namely:

  • Will he carry out the Bumiputera Agenda of the last Bumiputera Congress?
  • Will he privatise Khazanah and other GLCs to bumiputera entrepreneurs?
  • Will he emulate Nelson Mandela by changing the racial policies at UiTM and other MARA institutions to make them more inclusive as he has just vowed to do?

KUA KIA SOONG is the adviser of Suaram.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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