Quotes: US 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.


 






  MENA News Headlines
 Aug 22 2014 - Scottsdale Accident Lawyer Weighs in on Child Sports InjuryMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Scottsdale Accident LawyerWith at least 20 million children involved in organized sports activities injuries are very likely to occur. What legal options do parents have in cases of ...

 Aug 22 2014 - The bac rac Outstanding Innovation in Back Pain Relief raises 15k on KickstarterMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) bac rac the outstanding innovation in back pain relief has successfully raised 100% of its funding target in just over 2 weeks on Kickstarter the crowd funding website.bac rac has ...

 Aug 22 2014 - San Diego Segway Tours by Wheel Fun Rentals Offers 50% Discount to End the Summer SeasonMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) To celebrate the end of a wonderful summer season and the start of a new school year San Diego Segway Tours by Wheel Fun Rentals is offering a 50 percent off coupon to anyone who ...

 Aug 22 2014 - Ortho Back-Up Launches a New Episode on their Weekly Tips to Prevent Back PainMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Ortho Back-Up has launched a new episode on their Weekly Tips to Prevent Back Pain. The upcoming 6th episode is entitled Stretches for Your Back. This new episode is sure to give ...

 Aug 22 2014 - MrQuickPick Launches RideShare Partner ProgramMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) MrQuickPick the multiple award winning national car unlocking service has announced the commencement of their Partner Program that enables qualified Lyft and Uber drivers to offer ...

 Aug 22 2014 - Saudi - Agriculture sector advances 1.3Arab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) The Saudi stock market continued its positive movement and managed a fourth straight rise on Wednesday accumulating more than 56 points.The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) set out ...

 Aug 22 2014 - 20 Most Popular Family Cruise ShipsConsumer Reviews Reveal Most Popular Cruise ShipsMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Built in 2009 the Oasis of the Seas and her sister ship the Allure of the Seas are the largest cruise ships afloat. At a cost of $1.4 billion apiece these floating palaces weigh about ...

 Aug 22 2014 - Hollande: France armed Syrian rebels 'a few months ago'Arab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) SAINT-PIERRE France: President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that France had delivered weapons to rebels battling the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad 'a few months ago.'The ...

 Aug 22 2014 - Europeans in push for new UN resolution on GazaArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) UNITED NATIONS: Britain France and Germany have put forward key points of a new UN Security Council resolution on Gaza in a fresh bid to end six weeks of violence diplomats said ...

 Aug 22 2014 - Saudi - Woman kicked fined for trying to enter giraffe penArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) MILWAUKEE: A California woman who got kicked in the face after trying to climb into the giraffe exhibit at a Madison zoo has paid a fine and apologized.Police say 24-year-old ...

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

IPO News
Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

US Markets Details

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
Investment Game
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary

My MENAFN
Portfolio Tracker

Voting

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


 
© 2000 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help