HOW and why are policies on Bumiputeras being labelled as racist; when and who started this stereotyping move; what will the future be if this is not effectively remedied by the current government?
Most Malaysians know the history of how and why this labelling happened. They also know who started it and when. The reason is to promote hatred and prejudice against Bumiputeras.
Advocates of this politics wanted Malaysia for all Malaysians, especially in the context of equal rights in the Federal Constitution. They also call themselves liberal democrats. But their political agendas are laden with race-based motives in defiance of the social contract that our forefathers had agreed upon before our independence.
It is a fact that Bumiputeras are sons of the soil and the biggest population in Malaysia. Up to July 14, 2017, “Malaysia has an estimated population of 32 million with 28.7 million citizens and 3.3 million non-citizens. Of this total, 68.8 per cent are Bumiputeras, 23.2 per cent Chinese, and seven per cent Indians and others”.
It is also a reality that Bumiputeras are the most economically backward citizens. Based on statistics in 2008, “Bumiputera ownership of share capital in limited companies has grown from 1.5 per cent on a par value in 1969 to 21.9 per cent in 2008”.
Within the same period, “Chinese ownership grew from 22.8 per cent to 34.9 per cent, while Indian ownership increased from 0.9 per cent to 1.6 per cent. Foreign ownership in local equities, however, has declined from a high of 62.1 per cent to 37.9 per cent”.
This is a paradox. Bumiputeras as the majority population and the core nation, only control a meagre portion of the country’s national wealth. This does not reflect justice and equality as stated in the universal human rights doctrine.
Ironically, at the moment there are polemics that the Pakatan Harapan-led government should do away with affirmative policies for Bumiputeras. This is because the New Economic Policy and other related policy on education, are considered racist policies.
These polemics are contrary to the findings in many security studies which concluded that “economic development policy contains national security factor, and national security must be viewed as a major goal of economic policy”.
More precisely, “national security is a critical component of a country’s economic planning” (Ethan B. Kapstein,  in Economic Development and National Security).
If a majority of component parties in the PH government are insistent on doing away with Bumiputera policies, they should realise that PH’s legitimacy will be at stake and this may consequently jeopardise Malaysia’s national security.
It is praiseworthy of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman and prime minister to say he is willing “to be accused as a racist for exposing the fate of Malays and Bumiputeras”. Dr Mahathir also explained that “it is neither racist nor wrong to fight for Malays and Bumiputeras, who are separated from the other races by a wealth gap”. Economic disparity with a racial context is a dangerous combination which must be avoided.
“Race can’t be changed but the gap between the poor and the rich can be narrowed if not eliminated. It would be irresponsible of us if we do not try to avert racial riots (due to economic inequality) by at least narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor,” said Dr Mahathir.
Similarly, it is also politically correct for Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Bersatu president, to announce that his party “will be devising a new Bumiputera agenda which will truly help Malays and Bumiputeras economically”.
He had said that “the Bumiputera agenda pushed by Bersatu will be based on an equitable shared prosperity principle and no group will be left behind”.
What Dr Mahathir and Muhyiddin said are new narratives on the Bumiputera agenda. Being the only Bumiputera-based party, they expect the multiracial components in the coalition to support them in the interest of PH legitimacy and Malaysia’s national security.
For the PH majority voters, it is high time that they made some adjustments to their universal doctrines and principles of justice in Malaysia to protect PH’s survival and Malaysia’s national security.
Datuk Ruhanie Ahmad is a former member of parliament for Parit Sulong, Johor (1990-2004)