Discussion on Malaysian politics has always been centered along racial line – ie how to protect the interests of Malays, Chinese and to lesser extend the Indian – but not the Dayaks or the natives of Sarawak?
Yeah, let’s grab their lands, while we still can shall we!
It is to everyone amusement, really, why the so call Dayak leaders (Jabu, Masing, Mawan) keeping an ‘elegant silence’ on this matter – although it could mean death or alive to their communities – literally. Did they not feel the Dayaks also been marginalized, threatened all along?
Whose faults were that? NEP, NDP or Razak, Mahathir?
In a close examination of Malaysia’s development policies, particularly the NEP and NDP, Associate Prof Dr Madeline Berma found that these policies had in fact benefited the Chinese more than the Dayak and the natives of Sabah (recently termed as bumiputera minority) although they are the target group under the two policies.
In an article ‘Towards The National Vision Policy: Reveiw of the New Economic Policy and New Development Policy Among the Bumiputera Communities In Sarawak‘ she said sufficient evidence showed that the government had succeeded in reducing poverty by increasing Malay and bumiputera minority income level.
“However the government has achieved little success in redistributing wealth to the bumiputera minority (Dayaks) as reflected in their limited control and ownership of physical capital (machinery, real estate), corporate equity and human capital (education and skills).
According to her, the pro-bumiputera (Malay) economic policy of distributing income appeared to be coherent and succeeded in the initial years, because the majority of poor are bumiputeras.
But, moving forward, the real challenges for Malaysia government is no longer about forming an economic policy that centered around political rhetoric of improving inequality – ie., between bumiputera (Malay) and non-bumiputera, but more on addressing the widening gap between bumiputera (Malay) and the non-Malay bumiputera.
As Dr Madeline argued in her article by focusing on inter-ethnic inequality, current policies will lead to widening inequality within the bumiputera; the very community that these policies aim to support and protect, and give ‘preferential treatment’.
The continued used of ethnicity as the foundation of economic policy is no longer coherent. Continuing the pro-Malay oriented economic policy would apparently lead to internal contradictions and tension within the bumiputera community.
Chinese and Malays the biggest beneficiaries of NEP, NDP
In Sarawak, it was the Malays, Chinese and the Melanaus closely linked to Taib who benefited the most from economic growth during the NEP and NDP period of Razak and Mahathir premiership.
In fact, government policies appear to be bias against bumiputera minority in public sector, employment and business support according to Dr Madeline, who is a professor of economic at UKM.
“While an increasing number of bumiputera majority (Malay) have entered the modern and lucrative sectors in Malaysia, the fact remains that economic growth during NEP and NDP period did not equally benefit the majority of natives in Sabah and Sarawak.
“They continue to predominate the less lucrative sector of agriculture in the rural areas. More glaringly is the failure of government assisting bumiputera minority to own corporate equity as allocated to the Malays.
One can say that the sectoral restructuring of the NEP and NDP only flowed one way. These two policies succeeded in moving the Malays into urban commercial sectors where they were once under-represented but hardly succeeded in moving non-Malay bumiputera out of sectors where they are over-represented (agricultural).
The gradualist approach of the goverment toward non-Malay bumiputera economic development, if not properly adressed can and will frustrate the nascent of bumiputera minority who felt they have not benefited from the policies that were designed to uplift them.
Many non-Malay bumiputera in fact resentful that they receive much less than what they desire and believe they deserve.
Get rid of the term Bumiputera
Perhaps as an attempted to conceal this widening disparity government classify the various ethnic group in this country officially into bumiputera and non-bumiputera. The Malays and the indigenous communities of Sabah and Sarawak are classified as bumiputera.
Such classification gave the impression that government policies are neutral – it has similar effect on all bumiputera groups irrespective of their ethnic background.
This effect is most evident in official statistics where the less economically advantaged non-Malay bumiputera are classified as bumiputera together with the Malays – who are economically advanced.
Methoporically, one can say that the non-Malay bumiputera is statistically invicible!
Owing to this classification and definitional ‘errors’ or ‘problems’ non-Malay bumiputera achievement is either over or understated, thus giving incorrect signals to policy-makers.
To be continued…