Article 153 enforces the idea behind the NEP. That is, the group most disadvantaged economically must be given assistance to catch up. Hence the provisions of the law provide for favours to be given to Malays as regards government positions, licenses, permits, educational placements and so forth.
Article 153 is often used as justification for an idea that has preceded it and those that follow it. Overall, the IDEA is to help the Malays catch up with the other economically advanced groups notably the Chinese. But article 153 also provides for the protection of the legitimate interests of other races and that legitimate interest I should think, pertains to matters of economy. Hence for example, if the Indians are falling behind in terms of economics, then article 153 can also be used to justify corrective measures.
Ok, you are given a legal standing to carry out corrective measures. The measures will take the form of, but not limited to the avenues that have been spelt out. Government posts, licences, permits, quotas, university and educational placements, scholarships and educational assistance, whatever businesses where permits and licences are required. You have a host of other avenues to implement the NEP, FIC, Privatisation, Public Procurement Policies and so forth. These are all legal devices to execute the NEP.
The heart of my argument is this. The whole business of linking the NEP to article 153 smacks of an attempt to link success or failure of NEP, NDP. NVP and policies of the same genre, to the LAW. You have a situation where it leads you to adopt a rule by decree or fiat. This to my mind is a faulty argument. The success or failure of NEP and its successor policies are not a question of law alone but MORE of FACT. NEP has failed generally because of the FACT, not the LAW.
Article 153 is prosaic. It’s there, more or less set in place. On the other hand, the IDEA represented by the NEP is dynamic and undergoes constant emphasis all the time. its constantly evolving. The idea is rendered workable by people- the implementers, private sectors, the common people. Hence instead of focussing our attention to the law, its more beneficial to look at the elements that make the idea of NEP workable.
All those elements that are to be protected by article 153- what do they need? They need application and execution. And this is the crux of the problem. We need quality people, determined and dedicated to carry out the policies. We need people, the Malays who are not culturally enervated to respond and work the system. As they say in law- the question of law is for the judges to consider, but the question of facts is for the jury to consider. Now, if that comparison is applied, my argument is the question of article 153 is for the theorists to consider, the implementation, the execution i.e. the facts are for the people to consider. The NEP has failed mainly in the fact department.
The thrust of my argument is that instead of falling back on a legalistic approach, perhaps we need to re-focus our mind to the facts of implementation. We bear our mind on advancing economic productivity of the Bumiputera, on increasing Bumiputera capacity via education and training, on the adoption and spread of modern technology, on market efficiency and competition in a largely private sector regime, and on a business friendly government.
Meaning while secure in our belief that there already exists a legal framework to support NEP which is necessary but never sufficient , the success of NEP rests on our efforts to carry out changes in the transformation of social institutions and attitudinal change.
Therefore I am not going into the technicalities of the NEP. That can be done by those economic researchers in EPU or UPEN at state levels or by the Rais Sanimans of our country. Or they can be discussed with incisive characteristic by eminent participants in the coming forum by ANSARA.
Really the drive to see the NEP through must come from the leadership. At the head is of course the political leadership with the correct cultural milieu.
The reason why I say this , is that by and large you can see our leadership in two kind of settings. One is formed of the placid and almost other worldly cultural setting. People are relaxed and languorous , take things easy with no sense of urgency. You know the Ghandian saintliness type that has reached his apogee. Much like Morarji Desai who preferred to spun his loin cloth and experiment with esoteric medicine. That kind of leadership will never see its society up and about with a sense of urgency.
The other kind of leadership more predisposed to success is the builder type. The one like who has just gone through a war and must now rebuild. The types found after the war that devastated Germany and Japan. This kind of cultural milieu produces the hardworking, intense and hard driving types.
That is the kind of leadership Malays need.