Malay Chamber of Commerce objects to split up of MARA

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia (MCCM) has joined the Opposition leaders chorus of objection against any plans to carve out Majlis Amanah Rakyat’s (Mara) units under several ministries.

The Pakatan Harapan government reportedly plans a revamp of Mara’s main activities through the concept of “isolation and absorption’ under several ministries, namely the Rural Development Ministry, Economic Affairs Ministry, Education Ministry and Entrepreneur Development Ministry.

The chamber’s Research and Development Foundation (YKPD) chairman Datuk Dr Syed Ali Al-Attas said, should the function of Mara be divided among several ministries, it would be difficult to focus on implementing programs that involve the bumiputra agenda.

He likened it to detaching limbs from a body and eventually crippling it.

Given Mara’s status as a statutory body under the law, any changes to Mara should be brought up for debate in Parliament.

Quoting the late former prime minister Tun Abdul Razak, that Mara is “a government within a government”, Syed Ali said it should be maintained as a single agency under the purview of one ministry to continue the Bumiputra Agenda as espoused by the Bumiputra Congress 1965. He also welcomed the revival of the Entrepreneur Development Ministry which previously oversaw Mara.

Mara is currently under the purview of the Ministry of Rural Development.

Meanwhile, council member Datuk Dr Mohd Ghazali Md Noor said the only revamp Mara should possibly undergo is to transform it into a corporate body and a strategic polling company.

According to Ghazali, the government should in fact, find ways to expand the scope of Mara and empower it to lead the Malays and bumiputra’s to a new future.

“Why change something that works? Instead we should empower Mara by giving it more allocations and authority to enhance what it has already done, which is right and has given positive results to the country especially for bumiputras and rural development,” said Datuk Nasri Nasrun, deputy president of MRSM Malaysia Student Association.

He added that to drive the agenda to develop the community further, it is essential to house the entrepreneurship, educational and investment arms under one roof.

Deputy Chairman of YKPD Datuk Seri Syed Hussein Al-Habshee said housing the education arm under the Education Ministry would mean that Mara will have to follow policies which are for all races.

“Mara itself has proven to be a successful organisation with zero debt and has helped the Malays and bumiputra’s on record. Since its inception we have only seen its successes and why don’t we just enhance its success?” he added.

The chamber will submit a memorandum to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the matter.

Established on March 1, 1966 as a statutory body by an Act of Parliament as a result of the first Bumiputra Economic Congress resolution in 1965 – the Council is responsible for developing, encouraging, facilitating and fostering the economic and social development in the federation, particularly in rural areas.