Dr M: Scrapping race-based policies will lead to chaos
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — It is better to slow down development than to scrap race-based policies and risk ethnic clashes in the country, Tun Dr Mahathir has said.
The former prime minister, in making the case for the continuation of such policies, wrote in a blog posting here that taking away racial consideration when doing business would not necessarily guarantee development.
He asked if racial considerations in the controversial New Economic Policy (NEP) had truly posed a hindrance to the country’s economic growth.
“The world has admitted that multiracial Malaysia grew faster than other developing nations that did not have the problem of race to consider,” he said.
The NEP, put in place in 1971, officially ended in 1990, but many of its programmes are still being continued.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said he plans to remove subsidies and many Bumiputera quotas under economic reforms, but the prime minister’s efforts have received notable opposition from Malay rights groups.
Chief among Najib’s detractors appear to be Dr Mahathir himself, who has repeatedly argued for the continuation of race-based policies under the NEP, warning there would be an escalation in ethnic tension and division if they were to be dismantled.
Writing once in an earlier blog posting in 2010, Dr Mahathir had said: “I may be labelled a racist but fear of the label will not stop me from working for what I think is good for the country.
“Nothing will be gained by dividing the people of Malaysia into poor Bumis and rich non-Bumis. The time is not right for disregarding the disparities between the races in the interest of equity and merit.”
The country’s longest-serving former prime minister, who still wields influence in the ruling Umno, continued to stress this point in his latest posting.
“It is true that if the problem of race does not haunt Malaysia, development would speed up.
“But when the distribution of wealth is so wide between the races, there is a large possibility hostilities would occur between the rich and the poor,” he said.
Such hostilities, added Dr Mahathir, would later ensue in tension within the community and lead to chaos and rioting.
This in turn, he said, would frighten away investors and businesses, further stunting the country’s economic growth.
“Therefore, it is better that development is slowed slightly than destruction to occur because of such rioting,” he said.