KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 — Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman today questioned the government’s plan to increase the Bumiputera stake in freight forwarding companies to 51 per cent under the 12th Malaysia Plan.
The Opposition lawmaker expressed scepticism that raising the percentage would effectively translate to widening business ownership within the Bumiputera community.
Instead, he suggested that the move may benefit only the elite few rather than enrich the community at the expense of the other minority ethnic groups.
“The reality is when we look at it, it is populist but it's not at all helping the poor Malays and it’s almost similar to the policies introduced in 2016,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat while debating the 12MP tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday.
He pointed to past efforts to bolster Malay ownership in the tech retail sector under the Barisan Nasional government and named the introduction of the Mara digital malls to counter the establishment of Low Yat — a tech mall in the city centre that was perceived to be controlled by a particular racial community.
“But look at its impact today. Many Mara Digital Malls have stuttered, companies have shuttered. Who is now left in the lurch? Mara. When the money could have been allocated to help poor Malay youths by giving them scholarships to go abroad and then return to serve the nation,” he said.
Syed Saddiq was also alarmed at the policy of mandating the sale of assets belonging to government-linked companies (GLCs) and government-linked investment companies (GLICs) only to Bumiputeras.
He asked the government to explain how the policy uplifts small businesses, farmers and fishermen.
“So, if this policy is continued, who is going to benefit? Cronies, family members or the rakyat who are suffering badly? This is such an unfair policy,” he said.
The former youth and sports minister asked the government if such a policy were fair to non-Bumiputera citizens.
“This is because this pro-Bumiputera policy exemption is given to foreign companies,” he pointed out.
He noted that PM Ismail Sabri acknowledged that non-Malaysians held a 45.5 per cent equity in Malaysian businesses.
“We are prioritising foreigners than our very own Malaysians just because they are not born into the Malay race and the Muslim faith,” he said in Parliament.
He urged the government to focus on capacity building as the best way forward.
“I hope that the Opposition leader can urge the government. Do not find this coward’s way out as it hurts Malaysians and the development of Malaysia as a whole,” he added.
Earlier during the Minister’s Question Time (MQT), Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz announced that the Finance Ministry (MOF) has recently extended for the second time, the exemption period for freight forwarders to meet the requirement of 51 per cent Bumiputera equity participation, until December 2022.
He explained that this was to allow the Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit (Teraju) to assess in-depth the participation of the Bumiputera community members in the logistics industry, with other stakeholders.
Tengku Zafrul said that the findings of the study would be tabled to the Cabinet to determine the direction of Bumiputera participation in the logistics sector, to enable the industry’s continued growth.
He was responding to former transport minister and Seremban MP Anthony Loke, who asked if the government is prepared to review the said policy, as the existing regulations are difficult to implement.