Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chinese traders want Bumi equity removed

By By Syed Jaymal Zahiid in

KUALA LUMPUR: The MCA-organised Chinese Economic Congress in its declaration today called for the gradual removal of the 30% Bumiputera equity despite calls by hardline Malay groups that the race-based affirmative action policy be maintained.

The congress said this was "in line with the promotion of good governance and greater transparency" and that the "gradual removal" of the race-based quota must coincide with the practice of an open tender system to level the playing field.

Bumiputera equity quota has been at the centre of the nation's economic dilemma.

While some believe that the rights are enshrined in the "social contract" and the Federal Constitution, others are of the opinion that the policy is a hindrance to economic growth and encourage corruption. It is also blamed for the Malays' inability to compete commercially.

The congress also echoed MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek's earlier call for a more inclusive policy pertaining to non-Bumiputera participation in government-linked companies (GLCs).

This is also another sensitive matter to hardline Malay elements in the political mainstream where many feel GLCs are the exclusive rights of the Malays, with minimal participation of other races.

But Chua, who read out the 12-point declaration, said the radical approach was pivotal in realising Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's all-encompassing 1Malaysia concept.

"The congress urges the government to practise inclusive policies by liberalising the GLCs to include more multi-ethnics boards of directors and workforce within the GLC eco-system and to award contracts to best qualified local companies regardless of their equity composition," read the former health minister.

Balancing act

The demands made by Najib will place him in a difficult decision-making process where he needs to balance out between maintaining the government's core Malay support or risk losing Chinese votes. The Chinese form the country's second biggest electorate.

Chua, in his closing speech, said jokingly that his meeting with Najib at the congress this morning was met with a sigh, where the prime minister hoped that the outcome of the forum will not "put him in more trouble".

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