Guan Eng alleges protectionism for certain groups in 12th Malaysia Plan

The Bagan MP questioned Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s sincerity and commitment to the ‘Malaysian Family’. — Picture by Hari Anggara
The Bagan MP questioned Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s sincerity and commitment to the ‘Malaysian Family’. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — Opposition lawmaker Lim Guan Eng claimed that the government was continuing a protectionist policy for certain groups in the 12th Malaysia Plan instead of moving towards inclusiveness to all communities, which was promised as part of the institutional reform agenda.

The Bagan MP questioned Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s sincerity and commitment to the “Malaysian Family”.

“That states like Penang are denied any projects announced by the Prime Minister in his speech in Parliament and the refusal to state how much each state will be allocated as done by previous five-year Malaysian Plans.

“To deny Penang their rightful development when Penang is the third largest tax contributor is simply not right and unacceptable,” Lim said in a statement today.

He expressed concern that the states that were not aligned to the federal ruling parties were being denied development funding under the 12MP.

Singling out the government’s recent announcement to increase the Bumiputera stake in freight forwarding companies to 51 per cent under 12MP, Lim said such measures only highlighted the extent of injustice and discrimination.

“How can the Prime Minister convince the rakyat about the sincerity and commitment to his Malaysia Family concept that is inclusive and unites all Malaysians when he talks of protectionist policies for bumis but not for non-bumis vis-à-vis foreign ownership.

“The exemption granted to foreign International Integrated Logistic Services (IILS) from complying with the 51 per cent bumi equity but requiring Malaysian-owned IILs to give up their shares and ownership control, only highlights the extent of such discrimination and injustice.

“Or are foreigners considered more a bigger part of the Malaysian Family than non-bumi Malaysians,” he said.

Lim then gave another such example of non-inclusiveness, citing Ismail Sabri’s announcement on the sale of Bumiputera shares or companies to be offered only to other Bumiputera consortiums, companies or individuals.

“Does this mean that listed companies in Bursa Malaysia will have two categories of shares whereby non-bumi and foreign owned shares can be transacted openly without restriction, whilst bumi-owned shares only amongst bumis?

Citing corporate equity holdings data, Lim said Bumiputera shares was 17.2 per cent, with non- Bumiputera 25 per cent while 45.5 per cent was held by foreign entities and 12.3 per cent were nominee shares as of 2019.

“If bumi shares are to be ring fenced to ‘protect’ bumi shares, then the failure to do the same for Malaysian owned shares vis-a-vis foreign owned shares raises questions as to why the government is not interested in protecting ‘Malaysian’ shares.

“Again this raises the question whether non-bumi Malaysians are lesser members of the Malaysian Family compared to foreigners,” he said.

Lastly, Lim urged the government to implement poverty-alleviation or income enhancing policies equally to all regardless of race or religion as every Malaysian including those native to Sabah and Sarawak will be supportive of such efforts.

However, he noted that the government was seen attempting to hide the poverty and income levels of Orang Asli and the native population of East Malaysia on concerns that it would inadvertently reveal lower and higher rates as compared to the Malays.

“What Malaysians want is equal opportunity in education, economy and employment so they can realise their full potential and enjoy success with hard work.

“Unfortunately the 12MP falls short in inspiring a brighter future for our children where the country remains blighted by the Covid-19 pandemic and economic recession,” he said.

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