Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Equal opportunity should be a law

by Karen Arukesamy and Hemananthani Sivanandam">

PETALING JAYA (Feb 9, 2011): Equal opportunities for all Malaysians should be made into law, and not merely reflected through the forming of a commission.

"We should have more than just an Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC). We should have a law to say that we all have equal chances," Malaysian Institute of Corporate Governance president Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas said.

He said that a law should be in place so all economic activities should reflect the racial composition of the nation at all levels.

Megat Najmuddin was commenting on claims by the National Economic Advisory Council (NEAC) member Datuk Dr Zainal Aznam Mohd Yusof on Tuesday that the government caved in to pressure groups and removed the EOC from the New Economic Model (NEM).

Zainal had alleged that Perkasa and other right wing groups were totally against Part One of the NEM, which contained the EOC proposal dropping the 30% bumiputra equity ownership.

He was "unhappy" with the final version of NEM and charged that the government had no political will for change.

However, yesterday in theSun, Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali denied pressuring the government on the NEM proposals, but said the group merely submitted their own recommendations which focused on retaining the 30% bumiputra equity.

While agreeing with Zainal on the fact that the EOC proposal should not have been dropped, Megat Najmuddin said the government should focus on developing sustainable economic policies.

"If you want 1Malaysia and equal opportunity, it should also be in terms of education such as the vernacular and national schools. It should reflect the racial composition. People should think and act as one, otherwise 1Malaysia will merely be a slogan," he said. He also said politicians should stop politicising everything.

Megat Najmuddin said the government should have a clear agenda before forming commissions and committees and it should not "flip-flop" in its decisions.

"It looks bad (on the government) if you change your mind after facing political pressures," he explained.
Malay Chamber of Commerce president Syed Ali Alattas said the chamber strongly supported the NEM but was not very concerned about the 30% equity matter.

"There is nothing to be upset about whether or not the 30% bumiputra equity is retained because we have not reached that target anyway.

"If we have reached the 30% target and it was removed, then we have something to be very upset about.
"Don’t blame anybody else. We should ask ourselves why we haven’t reached that target," he said after a press conference today.

Syed Ali said the NEM has one main agenda, namely, to improve the livelihood of the bottom 40% of the population.

"What I am angry about is not the talk about removing bumiputra equity but the fact that we have not done enough to improve the bumiputra stake in the country’s economic pie," he said, adding that all parties should work together with the government to achieve the target of a high-income nation.

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