KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak must clarify if he has given up on the original New Economic Model (NEM) after announcing fresh fiscal measures to raise the Bumiputera community, DAP’s Lim Kit Siang said today.
The opposition lawmaker pointed out that when the prime minister mooted the NEM three years ago, the policy report acknowledged “the excessive focus on ethnicity-based distribution of resources has contributed to growing separateness and dissension”.
“Najib should state whether he has finally given up the ghost of the NEM, as he lacks the political will and leadership to defend the NEM and stay the course so that the country could get out of the middle income trap when confronted with opposition and resistance from within his own ranks in Umno,” Lim said in a statement today.
Najib, who is also Umno president, is facing party elections in December.
Yesterday, he unveiled a revamped NEM that is set to provide the dominant Bumiputera community access to over RM30 billion in loans, financial aid and contracts.
Previously, Najib who is also finance minister, had said the NEM would replace the pro-Bumiputera affirmative action from the now-defunct New Economic Policy (NEP) in favour of meritocracy.
Political observers saw the move as an attempt to fortify Najib’s position within the largest component party in the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition and appease Malay voters who have showed the most support for Umno in the May 5 general election.
The leader of the Malay party has also traditioally been the choice for prime minister.
“Because of opposition from racist and chauvinists, Najib had abandoned the idea of an Equal Opportunities Commission.
“Has he now abandoned the entire NEM with regard to a needs-and-merit based transformation of the affirmative programme, to promote building of capacity and capability, focusing on the low income 40 per cent of the households?” Lim asked.
The Gelang Patah MP also pointed out that the NEM had identified the “political will and leadership to break the log-jam of resistance by vested interest groups and preparing the rakyat to support deep-seated changes in policy directions”.
“It called for political will and leadership to put emphasis on coherent explanation of the vision and agenda of the NEM and transformation process and ‘to put in place a critical mass of bold measures’ to ‘create an unstoppable wave of support from all segments of society for this vision’,” he said.
The veteran politician said when the NEM was unveiled in March 2010, “the country was warned of the dire consequences of the failure to undertake a major economic transformation”.