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Why the thunderous silence by MCA, Gerakan, MIC, SUPP Ministers and others from Sabah and Sarawak after the Cabinet meeting yesterday over the Asli report controversy over 45% or 18.9% bumiputra equity ownership as this is not a bumiputra but a national issue affecting all Malaysians?

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Paliament, Thursday) :  Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar has disclosed   that the Cabinet yesterday accepted the apology extended by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI) for its report on 45% bumiputra equity ownership.


In today’s Utusan Malayia headlined “Kabinet terima permohonan maaf ASLI”, Syed Hamid expressed satisfaction with the ASLI statement and gladness that the issue would not be dragged on further.


Another Minister who spoke after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting was the Minister for Agriculture and Agro-based Industries, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. He  said ASLI’s  apology and retraction of the controversial report, which he had earlier dismissed as “rubbish”, was proper although it was late, but this was better  as ASLI itself had admitted the wrong methodology used to evaluate bumiputra equity ownership.


What cannot escape notice is the thunderous silence by MCA, Gerakan,  MIC, SUPP  Ministers and others from Sabah and Sarawak after the Cabinet meeting yesterday over the ASLI  report controversy over 45% or 18.9% bumiputra equity ownership when this is not a bumiputra but  a national issue affecting all Malaysians and future generations.


If these Ministers agree with Muhyiddin and Syed Hamid and what the duo said reflected their  stand in the Cabinet yesterday that the report of ASLI’s Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) on  “Corporate Equity Distribution: Past Trends and Future Policy” was “rubbish”, let them have the courage of their conviction to speak up publicly to justify their position.  If they had disagreed, having different views, let them speak up too.


Or is their silence the latest proof of their marginalization in the Cabinet and the highest decision-making councils in the Barisan Nasional government – where they dare not and cannot express their views on important national issues with far-reaching consequences for the nation and future generations!


Umno Youth deputy leader Khairy Jamaluddin had also spoken yesterday, deploring that “damage is done already” even with the apology and retraction of the ASLI report.


Is this also the view of the MCA Youth, Gerakan Youth, MIC Youth, SUPP Youth and all other Youth wings of the Barisan Nasional apart from Umno Youth, or are they all so marginalized that  like their parent bodies and national leaders, they dare not have any views of their own which are different from Umno and Umno Youth?


In fact, MCA, Gerakan, MIC and SUPP Ministers and their youth leaders should learn from the example of  Professor Dr. Lim Teck Ghee.


Dr. Lim has acted most honourably and in the highest intellectual and scholastic traditions when he stood by the CPPS report and resigned as CPPS director “to defend the position and integrity of independent and non-partisan scholarship”. 


Dr. Lim must be applauded and emulated by all Malaysian scholars and intellectuals when he said that “it is better for people to do things based on principle rather than on any other agenda”.


Independent and non-partisan scholarship in Malaysia has become an almost extinct breed in Malaysia, which is the root cause for the plummeting in international rankings of Malaysian universities to the extent that the nation’s erstwhile premier university is struggling to avoid the ignominy of being knocked out of the World’s Best 200 Universities Listing  in the annual Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) World University Ranking.  In the just-released THES 2006 Ranking, University of Malaya was ranked No. 192 while University of Singapore was ranked No. 19 although both universities had a common birth.


ASLI President Mirzan Mahathir yesterday reiterated that he stood by his statement that the methodology used in the CPPS study was flawed.  He said that as president of ASLI, he was able to take a stand.


The question is whether Mirzan took a stand as an Umno politician or as the leader of a think-tank, and if the latter, what is the basis for his belated discovery that the methodology in arriving at the CPPS figure  of 45% bumiputra equity ownership was wrong while the methodology in arriving at the official figure of 18.9% by the Economic Planning Unit was right?


Yesterday, I had asked whether Mirzan’s personal and unilateral  retraction of the CPPS study  “Corporate Equity Distribution: Past Trends and Future Policy” also meant withdrawal by ASLI of all the  seven key recommendations of the study, which I had reproduced.


The CPPS study on corporate equity distribution was only one of the five studies forming ASLI’s  proposals on “Fostering Resilience and Excellence to Meet National Aspirations and the Global Challenge”  for the Ninth Malaysia Plan which was submitted to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet in February this year.


The other four studies were:


  1. Towards a More Representative and World Class Malaysian Civil Service.
  2. Achieving Higher Performance in Tertiary Education.
  3. Ensuring Effective Targetting of Ethnic Minorities: the Case of Low Income Malaysian Indians.
  4. Towards Equity for Bumiputera Minorities: The Case of the Penan.


Today I want to specifically ask whether ASLI still stand by  the seven key recommendations of the CPPS study on “Towards a more representative and world class Malaysian civil service” or whether it has also repudiated them and  cast them  into a limbo.


The seven key recommendations “Towards  a more representative and world class Malaysian civil service” are:


  1. A representative civil service is needed to ensure equity amongst all races. Civil servants significantly influence the formation and implementation of public policies. Therefore, all races have to be sufficiently represented in the civil service if they are to be fairly served.
  2. A non-racially biased civil service is imperative to promote national unity. The presently non-representative civil service alienates the under-represented races both symbolically and substantively .  The unifying potential of national schools is also under-realized because pro-Malay and pro-Muslim practices by predominantly Malay management staff discourage non-Malay attendance.
  3. A more representative civil service through greater emphasis on merit would also enhance the capacity and performance of the civil service in terms of policy effectiveness and service delivery.  Better civil service performance is needed for meeting citizen expectations and national competitiveness in an increasingly global and borderless international environment.
  4. A fuller merit system, with less ethnic preference, is necessary to enhance equal opportunity in recruitment and career advancement.  This will attract talent and motivate staff from all ethnic groups and help to improve civil service performance.
  5. A “60-40” intake plan is proposed in which annual intake of fresh graduate recruits would comprise 60% of Malays and 40% of non-Malays.  This intake ratio will bring about a sufficiently representative civil service after 30 years.
  6. The Public Service Initiative (PSI) will be a largely private-sector-funded scholarship and outreach programme with the purpose of attracting quality non-Malay candidates to serve in the civil service upon graduation.  This will help to realize the twin objectives of a more representative and capable civil service.
  7. As constitutional guardians of the merit system, public service commissions at federal and state levels should be made more racially representative.  When a commission has a Malay chairperson, a non-Malay should be appointed as deputy chairperson. Similarly, when a non-Malay is the chairperson, there should be a Malay deputy chairperson.  Reconstituting the Public Services Commission and the Education Service Commission is especially important, as these commissions exercise jurisdiction over the largest number of civil servants.


Are these seven key recommendations on  “Towards a more representative and world class Malaysian civil service”, like CPP’s seven key recommendations on “Corporate Equity: Past Trends and Future Policy”, now buried and dead or had they been actively pursued by Cabinet Ministers, whether Umno, MCA, MIC, Gerakan or  SUPP in the past eight months since their submission in February this year?


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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