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Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 15th August 2010: 

Is the New Economic Model (NEM) a myth or a reality - is it still at "trial balloon" stage?

Recently news headlines on the New Economic Model (NEM) have suddenly dominated the media like "IMF asks Malaysia to take 'decisive' action on reforms" and "Najib tells Chinese to lead reforms under NEM, 10MP" in the past 24 hours.

References to NEM appears to have come into vogue again, coming out from the shadows from where it had been banished when the Tenth Malaysia Plan was unveiled in June in Parliament.

These beg the question whether the New Economic Model, announced by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on 30th March this year is a myth or reality.

The NEM has been described as one of the four critical pillars of Najib's National Transformation of Malaysia, representing the ambitious Economic Transformation Programme to transform Malaysia by 2020 into a developed, competitive and high income economy with inclusivity and sustainability.

The fourth pillar, the Tenth Malaysia Plan, which was adopted by Parliament in early July, is to operationalise the NEM in the five years from 2011-2015.

However, strident objections from rightwing extremist groups to the NEM, particularly to its biggest idea to begin the dismantling the New Economic Policy (NEP) with the implementation of transparent and market-friendly affirmative action, which will transition from ethnic considerations to emphasize the lower-income 40% of households have led to Najib distancing and even dissociating himself from the NEM.

This was why before he presented the Tenth Malaysia Plan in Parliament in early June which is to operationalise the NEM, Najib made the shocking statement that the NEM is not the Government's "final stand" but merely the "trial balloons" of a group of experts from the global market's perspective.

Is this why when the DAP National Publicity Secretary and MP for PJ Utara, Tony Pua made the proposal for the removal of bumiputera discounts for luxury homes and commercial property to improve competitiveness and restore investor confidence while retaining the seven per cent discounts enjoyed by Malays and other bumiputeras for homes below RM500,000 - which is fully in line with the Biggest Idea in the NEM for needs-based affirmative action policies - Najib's Umno Cabinet Ministers were in the front line among Tony's critics and detractors.

The time has come for Najib to declare unequivocally whether the NEM with its Biggest Idea to replace ethnic considerations with needs-based affirmative action policies is still a myth or reality - whether it is still at the level of "trial balloons" or whether it has the full and commitment of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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