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Monday, 11 August 2008

Re thinking the NEP

Each time at the UMNO general assembly, some people will always play the NEP card. NEP is understood as only one thing. Protection of Malay rights. Speaker after speaker will warn delegates that the NEP is under threat.

Call me simplistic or na├»ve- but I have always thought of a' right' something you fought for. Can something you receive free be thought as a right? To me that’s a gift- something you have title for the time being. Pardon my ignorance.

That which you have acquired through your own efforts, is something nobody can take away. Example-education. What you have acquired, you will carry to your grave. No power can take it from you. Even if you are stripped of all titles, you remain an educated person. A title on the other hand which is given by another person can be taken away from you. A datukship for example can be revoked. After revocation, if you were an uneducated person, you remain as what you are- an imbecile.

The NEP is a CONCEPT or an IDEA you fought for. That’s an accepted. It was set up post 1969 in response to economic disparities between the various races in Malaysia. The overriding objective was national unity which can only be achieved if the various races in Malaysia are able to share its economy fairly.

Pieces of legislation, article 153 of whatever, are legislative devices to protect the idea that is fought for- the NEP. It is the idea of the NEP that must be retained and fought for over and over again, not article 153.

1) It shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article.

(2) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, but subject to the provisions of Article 40 and of this Article, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall exercise his functions under this Constitution and federal law in such manner as may be necessary to safeguard the special provision of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and to ensure the reservation for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak of such proportion as he may deem reasonable of positions in the public service (other than the public service of a State) and of scholarships, exhibitions and other similar educational or training privileges or special facilities given or accorded by the Federal Government and, when any permit or licence for the operation of any trade or business is required by federal law, then, subject to the provisions of that law and this Article, of such permits and licences.

(3) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, in order to ensure in accordance with Clause (2) the reservation to Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak of positions in the public service and of scholarships, exhibitions and other educational or training privileges or special facilities, give such general directions as may be required for that purpose to any Commission to which Part X applies or to any authority charged with responsibility for the grant of such scholarships, exhibitions or other educational or training privileges or special facilities; and the Commission or authority shall duly comply with the directions.

(4) In exercising his functions under this Constitution and federal law in accordance with Clauses (1) to (3) the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall not deprive any person of any public office held by him or of the continuance of any scholarship, exhibition or other educational or training privileges or special facilities enjoyed by him.

(5) This Article does not derogate from the provisions of Article 136.

(6) Where by existing federal law a permit or licence is required for the operation of any trade or business the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may exercise his functions under that law in such manner, or give such general directions to any authority charged under that law with the grant of such permits or licences, as may be required to ensure the reservation of such proportion of such permits or licences for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may deem reasonable, and the authority shall duly comply with the directions.

(7) Nothing in this Article shall operate to deprive or authorise the deprivation of any person of any right, privilege, permit or licence accrued to or enjoyed or held by him or to authorised a refusal to renew to any person any such permit or licence or a refusal to grant to the heirs, successors or assigns of a person any permit or licence when the renewal or grant might reasonably be expected in the ordinary course of events.

(8) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, where by any federal law any permit or licence is required for the operation of any trade or business, that law may provide for the reservation of a proportion of such permits or licences for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak; but no such law shall for the purpose of ensuring such a reservation-

(a) deprive or authorise the deprivation of any person of any right, privilege, permit or licence accrued to or enjoyed or held by him;

(b) authorise a refusal to renew to any person any such permit or licence or a refusal to grant to the heirs, successors or assigns of any person any permit or licence when the renewal or grant might in accordance with he other provisions of the law reasonably be expected in the ordinary course of events, or prevent any person from transferring together with his business any transferable licence to operate that business; or

(c) where no permit or licence was previously required for the operation of the trade or business, authorise a refusal to grant a permit or licence to any person for the operation of any trade or business which immediately before the coming into force of the law he had been bona fide carrying on, or authorise a refusal subsequently to renew to any such person any permit or licence, or a refusal to grant to the heirs, successors or assigns of any such person any such permit or licence when the renewal or grant might in accordance with the other provisions of that law reasonably be expected in the ordinary course of events.

(8A) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, where in any University, College and other educational institution providing education after Malaysian Certificate of Education or its equivalent, the number of places offered by the authority responsible for the management of the University, College or such educational institution to candidates for any course of study is less than the number of candidates qualified for such places, it shall be lawful for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong by virtue of this Article to give such directions to the authority as may be required to ensure the reservation of such proportion of such places for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak as the Yank di-Pertuan Agong may deem reasonable, and the authority shall duly comply with the directions.

(9) Nothing in this Article shall empower Parliament to restrict business or trade solely for the purpose of reservations for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak.

(9A) In this Article the expression "natives" in relation to the State of Sabah or Sarawak shall have the meaning assigned to it in Article 161A.

(10) The Constitution of the State of any Ruler may make provision corresponding (with the necessary modifications) to the provisions of this Article.

It’s the irrational and emotional attachment to the NEP that is being stroked. It is worked to a feverish pitch leading sometimes to equally bizarre display of brinkmanship. A ketua pemuda unsheathing the Malay dagger the keris, some young youth leaders proclaiming war against non Malays, someone insisting that Malays must be given more than 30%. In other words, depending on how one says it, it all boils down to this fact. One would rather be given life’s sustenance free rather than fight for it .

Of course the majority of the delegates will devour the prognoses of the doomsday-sayers. That would cause their blood pressure to go up. It would lead some people to pour out their anger and frustration. It’s always someone out there who’s snatching up Malay rights. And all those incitement will work the UMNOniks to a political frenzy.

Almost always, the focus of attention is securing a 30% share in the wealth of the nation. It has become an obsession. The success of the Malays in economics is measured by this iconic figure., get 30% or perish. Get 30% by whatever means necessary.

The NEP must be understood as what it is. An economic blueprint to enable Malays to get an even stake in the economy. By of course actively participating in the economy. You don’t legislate participation as much as you don’t legislate the necessity for people that they must work. The desire to work by come from within. By the need to accomplish something. By the need to acquire something.

You don’t legislate the need. But you will create awareness of the need. It boils down to this simple observation. You give a person a gold coin where he had none before, he will come back to ask for more. Why? Because he has attuned himself to a new acquired standard of living. You have created a person who waits for his economic succour and you have created an external agent that finds itself in a locked-in mode seeking ways to find more to give. It will be a never ending circular tale.

When we suggest that Malays adopt a new line of thinking, i.e. empowering themselves through increasing their capabilities, that suggestion is not inconsistent with the aims of the NEP. Rather, we would think, such an attitude and such a mind set is a sine qua non for the successful realisation of the NEP.

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