Malaysia

Anwar says to strike balance between market economy and Occupy Wall Street

May 04, 2013

 

Anwar says the government’s current affirmative action programmes are obsolete and harmful to the country’s competitiveness. — File picAnwar says the government’s current affirmative action programmes are obsolete and harmful to the country’s competitiveness. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, May 4 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has said he intends to dismantle the current Bumiputera policy and replaced it with more ethnically neutral and targeted social programmes if his Pakatan Rakyat (PR) wins power tomorrow.

In an interview with the Financial Times published today, the opposition leader said the current system was racially divisive.

“I consider it obsolete and harmful to the country’s competitiveness,” he said of the government’s current affirmative action programmes.

The Bumiputera policy has been criticised for being abused by politicians to benefit cronies and associates at the expense of poor Malays.

While Barisan Nasional (BN) has defended the system — pointing out that a large Malay-Bumiputera middle class has emerged as a result — Datuk Seri Najib Razak has also acknowledged the need to roll back the policy.

The Umno president has asked voters for a mandate to push through what he says are even more reforms.

BN has called PR’s election pledges reckless. They include free education and lower fuel prices.

In response, Anwar told the Financial Times that his policies as prime minister would be to “strike a balance between market economy and Occupy Wall Street.”

Occupy Wall Street was the protest movement that emerged in 2011 against social and economic inequality, as well as the undue influence of businesses in government, particularly of the financial services sector.

In his interview with the Financial Times, Anwar also pointed out that PAS — one-third of the three-party PR pact — had a right to advocate Islamic rule.

But that right did not mean he backs Islamic law, he said.

“I am not here to dispute Quranic laws, but we cannot compel non-Muslims to comply and we are bound by constitutional guarantees.”

BN and PR are almost evenly tied to win Election 2013 with the economy the main issue ahead of tomorrow’s elections, according to a survey by the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research.

The respected pollster found that 42 per cent of the voters surveyed agreed that PR should be given a chance to govern the country against 41 per cent who felt only BN should govern Malaysia.

It added that four per cent of the voters refused to respond while 13 per cent of the voters said they “did not know”.

“Based on the survey results and the assumption that the election is free and fair, we estimate that neither Barisan Nasional nor Pakatan Rakyat were in the lead as at 9.30pm on May 2, 2013.”

Some 13.3 million Malaysians, including 5,200 abroad, are eligible to cast ballots for the 222 federal and 505 state seats, excluding Sarawak’s 71 state seats which were decided in 2011.