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Najib should not force debate on corporate equity ownership underground causing four adverse consequences – reneging on Abdullah’s pledge of open society and transparent administration, going against the “first class mentality” objective of Ninth Malaysia Plan, undermining national unity by sowing distrust and suspicion and driving investors away
(Parliament, Friday) : Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should retract his comments yesterday on Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute’s (ASLI) Centre of Public Policy Studies (CPPS) study on bumiputra equity ownership,
Najib should not force debate on corporate equity ownership and distribution underground as it would cause four adverse consequences:
(i) reneging on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s pledge of an open society and a transparent administration.
(ii) going against the “first-class mentality” ethos and objective of the Ninth Malaysia Plan and 15-year National Mission to transform the nation into a knowledge-economy with world-class universities and world-class international competitiveness in line with a fully-developed nation.
(iii) undermining national unity by sowing distrust and suspicion both between Malays and non-Malays as well as among the Malays on an important national issue concerning the validity and legitimacy in extending the New Economic Policy from the original 20-year span to 50 years to 2020.
(iv) driving investors away because of worsening instead of improving “good governance” conditions, especially with regard to “voice and accountability, government effectiveness, regulatory quality and control of corruption” – which had shown to have deteriorated in the past ten years by the World Bank’s recent Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI).
When Najib said that there was no need for the government to prove the ASLI/CPP wrong with its estimate that bumiputra equity ownership was 45%, there is only one conclusion to be drawn by the 26 million Malaysians – that the government with all the vast resources at its command with an annual budget amounting to RM160 billion next year is incapable of proving the ASLI/CPP report wrong.
The next question is: Why then force the retraction and apology by ASLI President, Mirzan Mahathir for the CPP report which the EPU and government cannot prove is wrong when it came up with the 45% estimate for bumiputra equity ownership?
When Najib said that he hoped that the EPU’s figure “will be accepted and not disputed by anyone”, he is asking for blind faith from the to believe in the government figures, as he is as good as saying that the government is incapable or not prepared to publicly disclose the methodology and data used by EPU to prove to public satisfaction the correctness of the 18.9% figure.
It is time for a deep soul-searching by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet as to whether they are serious in wanting to nurture “first class mentality” to catapult Malaysia into a knowledge-based economy and society, for if so, then they must change their entire approach to the controversy over bumiputra equity ownership.
Instead of retreating into the bunker declaring that there is no need for the government to prove ASLI/CPPS study wrong and hoping that the EPU data will be accepted and not be questioned by anyone, the government should challenge and welcome all and sundry to prove the official data wrong, or better still, come forward to prove the ASLI/CPPS study wrong. Only then can the government qualify or be serious enough to talk about nurturing “first class mentality”.
What Najib said yesterday appears to be the beginning of a new “gag” on the debate on bumiputra equity ownership and distribution.
Can Najib explain why a debate on bumiputra equity ownership can result in “tension” and “conflict” when the objective is to establish the true facts – unless there is a possibility that the ASLI/CPPS’ 45% bumiputra equity ownership is closer to the truth than the EPU figure, raising the question as to where all the corporate wealth had gone to as the Malay masses had not benefited as evident in the greater intra-ethnic inequality between the Malay rich and Malay have-nots.
I am quite intrigued by Mirzan’s interview in the New Straits Times today where he said that although he had been given a copy of the CPPS study early this year, “I did not go through it in detail. It slipped past me.”
He said that when the controversy erupted, he spent two days reading it. Mirzan must be the slowest reader in Malaysia if not the world.
The report on “Corporate Equity Distribution: Past Trends and Future Policy” has less than 18 pages of texts – and not full texts as they also contain tables and charts – taking an ordinary reader half to an hour or a very slow reader not more than two hours. Mirzan however requires two days.
I am not interested in Mirzan’s reading speed but only in so far as it underlines the utter impropriety, under the circumstances, for him to unilaterally and arbitrarily retract and apologise for the study without consultation, consent or consensus whether by the CPPS director, Prof. Dr. Lim Teck Ghee, or the multi-racial group of scholars and consultants who contributed to the study, or the ASLI directors – just to salvage his political fortunes in Umno.
This is a major blow to independent non-partisan scholarship of excellence without which Malaysia cannot succeed to become an international hub of educational, research and development (R & D) quality as well as to the government’s declared goal to nurture “first-class mentality”!
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman