By Lee Wei Lian
KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 —The Malay community is too dependent on government assistance which is a big reason why they do not control the nation's economy said Tan Sri Datuk Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin today.
The deputy prime minister said however that he will agree to RM5 million in requested funding for the Association of Bumiputera Manufacturers and Service Providers Malaysia (PPIPBM) after they passed several resolutions at their AGM here today asking for more government financial aid for Malay entrepreneurs and added that the government would consider their requests for other forms of assistance.
This came after PPIPBM President Datuk Ab. Rahim Abu Bakar said at the post-AGM luncheon that the government market was still important for bumiputera entrepreneurs.
Muhyiddin (picture) said that Malays needed to have a more competitive spirit if they were to thrive in the world today.
"Carelessness and dependence on the government are the two main reasons that prevent the Malays from controlling the economy in their own country," said Muhyiddin at the post-AGM luncheon.
"We cannot be too engrossed and ignore the requirements of the global era because nearly 80 per cent of Malays are in the bottom 40 per cent of wage earners in the country."
The deputy prime minister however was careful to outline numerous government initiatives to assist bumiputeras and stressed that despite allegations the government had neglected the bumiputera agenda, the Najib administration had established several new initiatives such as Teraju that managed to boost Malay corporate wealth.
"We are on the right platform and we facilitate (Malay businesses) but we need bumiputeras to stand forth and compete," he said.
Ab. Rahim said in his speech earlier that the association was not trying to take advantage of the upcoming general election by asking for new forms of assistance but pointed out that most of the voters in the country were Malays.
He also stated the association's "commitment" and "support" for the Barisan Nasional administration.
Malays and other bumiputeras form the bulk of the country's population but are still seen to be lagging behind economically despite decades of race-based government assistance and preferential treatment.
While critics of the race-based policies say that they create a dependency syndrome among bumiputeras and distort the overall economy, proponents say that it is required in order to help the bumiputeras catch up with the Chinese and Indians who are perceived as more economically advanced.
The Najib administration had early on promised to reform the economy and make race-based assistance more "market-friendly".
These include lifting of equity quotas in selected sub-sectors and new public listing of companies as well as efforts to make tenders more transparent and merit-based.
He also introduced bumiputera private equity firm Ekuinas and property trust Amanah Hartanah Bumiputera (AHB) in an effort to make affirmative action more effective.
The liberalisation initiatives however ran into resistance from Malay hardline groups who appear insistent on maintaining the status quo despite the prime minister's vow that he would not back down from reforms.
Some decisions including the privatisation of several former government held assets to a select few Malay businessmen also appear to fly in the face of the administration's efforts to promote transparency and competitiveness.