Quotes: MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Malaysia shift on affirmative action angers minorities  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - AFP - 25/09/2013
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - AFP) The Malaysian government's new measures to benefit the Malay majority are angering the multi-ethnic nation's other races and raising fears they could accelerate a "brain drain" of talent heading overseas.

Prime Minister Najib Razak pledged in 2010, shortly after taking office, to reform controversial decades-old affirmative-action policies for Muslim Malays, seeking to halt a flood of minority voters to the opposition.

But he reversed course this month with a slate of new p erks to placate conservatives in his Malay ruling party who are upset over a weakened mandate he won in May elections in which minorities continued to snub Najib.

The move has angered non-Malays who complain of second-class status and led to accusations that Najib reneged on a promise of racial inclusiveness.

"Of course, I am very disappointed," said H.Y. Chong, an ethnic Chinese lawyer.

Chong decided after the Malay-led 56-year-old coalition government retained power in May that she would emigrate to neighbouring Singapore, joining a flow of educated Chinese and Indians that economists say threatens Malaysia's competitiveness.

"This proves Prime Minister Najib is further sidelining the non-bumiputra," she said.

Muslim Malays and smaller indigenous groups -- known as "bumiputra", or "sons of the soil" --- make up more than 60 percent of Malaysia's 28 million people.

Under the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), bumiputra have enjoyed quotas in university placements, housing, and government jobs and contracts since the 1970s to prevent business-savvy Chinese from completely dominating the economy.

Chinese make up a quarter of the population. Ethnic Indians comprise about eight percent.

The policies are credited with helping create a Malay middle class and maintaining harmony despite tensions.

But critics say they have become a millstone in a competitive global economy and are abused by the Malay elite.

Najib's new steps "throw acid" on the racial divide, said Malaysia politics analyst Bridget Welsh.

"This will only enhance the brain drain, including in the Malay community, as this policy is geared for the UMNO elite," she said.

The measures announced on September 14 include 3 billion to increase Malay corporate equity stakes, millions more to incubate entrepreneurs, and call on state companies to award more projects to Malay-owned firms.

Najib -- whose father Abdul Razak Hussein, Malaysia's second prime minister, launched the original system four decades ago after race riots -- said Malays still need help, noting Chinese out-earn them by 40 percent.

"This is always a delicate balancing (act) in Malaysia," Najib said in a televised interview at the weekend.

"My helping the bumiputra doesn't mean that we will exclude the others."

It comes at a tense time for race relations, however.

Facing ebbing support for the UMNO-dominated coalition that has ruled tightly since independence in 1957, Najib had earlier launched campaigns for racial inclusiveness and reduced government interference in the economy.

But Chinese voted in record numbers for a multi-ethnic opposition advocating an end to race bias.

Analysts warn Najib is now under heightened pressure within UMNO to abandon racial unity and focus on the Malay base.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim denounced Najib's move to once again wave the bumiputra flag, telling Time magazine it would cause Malaysia to "lose competitiveness because of the brain drain".

The World Bank said in 2011 that about 20 percent of Malaysians with a tertiary education leave the country, mostly Chinese, with perceived "social injustice" a key driver.

It "conservatively" estimated more than one million of Malaysia's best and brightest were working abroad.

Under UMNO the economy blossomed over the decades but concerns over a growing wealth gap are fuelling calls for affirmative action that is colour-blind.

The bottom 40 percent of households earned an average 1,847 ringgit (577) per month in 2012, one-seventh of what the top 20 percent made, government figures show. Many non-Malays are among those struggling to afford housing and other basics.

Even the meek Chinese and Indian parties within the ruling coalition -- which usually toe UMNO's line -- have raised eyebrows at Najib's bumiputra push.

Ethnic Indians are stuck in a "vicious cycle" of economic marginalisation and urgently need "strong affirmative action" of their own, said S. Subramaniam, deputy president of the Malaysian Indian Congress.

The policy shift also could send the wrong message to markets seeking continuity at an uncertain time, said Shankaran Nambiar of the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research.

Malaysia's economy has largely weathered the global slowdown.

But Fitch ratings agency in July lowered its Malaysia outlook to negative over expected slower growth, soaring debt and dwindling prospects for economic reform.

A feared global pull-out of funds from emerging markets in favour of recovering developed economies also looms.

"This could be confusing to the market," Nambiar said of the new steps.


 


AFP




  MENA News Headlines
 May 6 2015 - HE the Chief of Staff Meets French CommanderQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) HE the Chief of Staff of the Qatari Armed Forces Major General (Pilot) Ghanim bin Shaheen Al Ghanim met Wednesday with Chief of Staff of the visiting French Army General Jean-Pierre ...

 May 6 2015 - Croatian Deputy Prime Minister Meets Qatari AmbassadorQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia, Ranko Ostojic, met here on Wednesday with Qatar's Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia, HE Sheikha Moza ...

 May 6 2015 - Pakistani Army Chief of General Staff Meets Qatar's AmbassadorQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) Pakistan Army Chief of General Staff Rashid Mahmood met here today with HE Qatar's Ambassador to Pakistan Saqr bin Mubarak Muhammad Saqr Al Mansouri. Talks during the meeting focused ...

 May 6 2015 - Advisory Council's Services Committee MeetsQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) The Advisory Council's Services and Public Facilities committee on Wednesday held its first meeting during the council's 43rd regular session under the chairmanship of its rapporteur ...

 May 6 2015 - Municipality Minister Meets Tunisian Environment MinisterQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) HE Minister of Municipality and Urban Planning Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Khalifa Al-Thani on Wednesday met at his office with Tunisian Minister of Environment and Sustainable ...

 May 6 2015 - HE State Defense Minister Holds Meetings in TurkeyQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) HE Minister of State for Defense Affairs Major-General Hamad bin Ali Al Attiyah met Wednesday with Turkish Minister of Defense Ismet Yilmaz on the sidelines of the International ...

 May 6 2015 - Minister of Justice Meets Heads of GCC DelegationsQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) HE the Minister of Justice Dr. Hassan bin Lahdan Al Mohannadi met here on Wednesday with the heads of delegations participating in the first meeting of GCC officials for family ...

 May 6 2015 - Dubai's Jumeirah Group logs 5.2 percent revenue growth in 2014MENAFN
(MENAFN) Jumeirah Group, the Dubai-based hotel developer, recorded a revenue growth of 5.2 percent for 2014, marking a decline from the 8 percent reported a year ago, Arabian Business ...

 May 6 2015 - Two dead, 8 injured in Azraq - JordanJordan News Agency
(MENAFN - Jordan News Agency) Two citizens were killed and eight injured when two cars collided in Azraq town, north-east the Kingdom, Civil Defense Directorate said.Rescue teams in Zarqa governorate ...

 May 6 2015 - Israel test launches missile propulsion systemJordan News Agency
(MENAFN - Jordan News Agency) Israel tested a ballistic propulsion system for a satellite delivery Tuesday morning.A statement by the Defense Ministry said that the launch, conducted over central ...

more...


 






Google

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary


Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help