Letters - Inclusive policies will pay off

PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak is right to "uplift the bumiputras to a respected level in society". In fact a great deal has already been achieved by the government over the years especially since 1970.

He also emphasised this important government commitment, at the opening of the Bumiputras Education Tour (JPB) 2017, at the Bera district council field on Saturday.

His noble goal is "to help students from low-income families and rural areas, to enter higher education institutions".

The public and especially the non-bumis will ask the vital question – Will the JPB programme include bright but poor and urban non-bumi students as well, or will it be exclusively for the bumis? If the JPB programme is to apply exclusively to bumi students, then we are planting the seeds for disunity and a failing state.

I agree with the prime minister that Malaysia is not a failed state as of now. But we can become a failing and even a failed state, if our public policies continue to be race and religious-based and not income and need-based. So it is essential that our prime minister and government fully clarify this sensitive issue to all Malaysians.

The PM is laudable when he says that that the government "strives to ensure that no student is deprived of the opportunity to further his or her studies due to poverty".

But we all know of many really poor and bright Malaysian youth and especially non-Malays and non-bumis who are deeply frustrated because they have been excluded from educational opportunities. Instead many and more non-bumis have not been included, under government policies to help the poor, regardless of race.

After all that was the original intention of the New Economic Policy, as I remember it from 1970. We have become unnecessarily exclusive for the Malays and bumis and have sadly marginalised many poor but bright non-Malays over the years.

I must stress that this exclusive policy will further undermine our strained national unity and national well being, peace and prosperity. From now and onto TN 50, we must become more inclusive and less exclusive, or we will become more and more a failing state and then a failed state.

Mr Prime Minister please lead us once again, like our beloved founding fathers did, along the path of national unity, and inclusiveness.

Please pursue income and need-based policies, rather than race and religious-based concerns and issues, that will slowly but surely ruin our beloved country. We have to be more inclusive to ensure greater progress, peace and sustainability.

That should be your grand legacy, like that of our illustrious prime minister and your late dear father, Tun Abdul Razak.

It is a great challenge but can be achieved under the national cry – Malaysia Boleh!

Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam
Asli Centre for Public Policy Studies