NOT JUST ECONOMIC, BUT THEIR WELLBEING, HAPPINESS TOO
Through BETR2.0, the empowerment of Bumiputera has been elevated to a new level
THE main distinction between the recently launched Bumiputera Economic Transformation Roadmap 2.0 (BETR2.0) and the first one introduced in 2013 is that the focus is now more towards the people’s wellbeing and not just the economic achievements of Bumiputera.
This to me is nothing short but refreshing and holistic.
Beginning with the New Economic Policy (NEP), which was introduced about 45 years ago by then second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, who is also the father of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the issue of Bumiputera has become one of the main features of Malaysia’s economic management until today.
NEP was set to overhaul the economic system in the early years of independence, which had created economic dualism, wide income inequality and ethnic division.
As with other developing countries at the time, it was apparent that the “trickle down” effect of this system, known as laissez faire economics, did not work the way the theory behind it had predicted.
Thus, NEP was designed with a two-pronged strategy: to eradicate poverty regardless of race and restructure society so that any particular race is not being identified with a particular economic function.
Eventually, the ultimate aim was to achieve national unity.
Even though NEP had theoretically ended in the 1990s, the spirit and philosophy of it, that is growth with equity, continue with other subsequent long-term development policies, such as the National Development Policy, Vision 2020 and, currently, the National Transformation Programme (NTP).
In 2010, under NTP, Najib introduced the New Economic Model (NEM), which has included a new approach to the Bumiputera agenda, in line with the changes of socio-economic issues of Bumiputera from the 1970s.
Under NEM, the notion of “market-friendly affirmative action” was introduced.
At that time, the idea was still not well understood and, expectedly, had created confusion among the people.
Later, some details, and specific programmes and initiatives were needed to make it truly transformational so that the people can understand and reap the benefits.
Towards this end, in 2011, a roadmap to empower Bumiputera was launched, and in 2013, the Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Plan was announced.
Clearly, all these measures have shown many successes, such as the creation of the RM108 billion initiative for Bumiputera, especially through the “carve out and compete” programme, where competent Bumiputera will secure contracts through a competitive bidding process.
A total of 3,033 companies and 53,256 individuals have directly or indirectly benefited from this.
The Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit (Teraju) was introduced to lead, drive and coordinate many of the business opportunities created.
This clearly helped in terms of ensuring an effective delivery mechanism in place to avoid any possible leakages and abuse of power.
Now, through BETR2.0, the empowerment of Bumiputera has been elevated to a new level, where it is more holistic, inclusive and comprehensive.
It is the second phase of it, beginning from this year until 2025 with the new initiative introduced, identified as the Bumiputera Wellbeing Transformation (BWT).
What I find most interesting about this new initiative is the emphasis on culture.
Culture is fundamental as it is a reflection of our collective mentality and way of thinking.
And when we talk about culture, it is also about values. With the right culture, a first-class mentality will emerge.
This is what Bumiputera need, which will transform them not just economically, but also their wellbeing and happiness.
By 2030, Malaysia’s demographic structure will experience a significant shift, where it is forecast that 70.7 per cent of Malaysia’s total population are Bumiputera.
Hence, this Bumiputera agenda must be seen as a national agenda and a crucial factor for Malaysia to not just realise Vision 2020, but more importantly, to strive for the RM2 trillion economy 7 to 8 years from now.
And, of course, this will eventually set a solid foundation for the 30 years’ journey to 2050, when Malaysia is targeted to be in the top 20 of the world.
Even though NEP had theoretically ended in the 1990s, the spirit and philosophy of it, that is growth with equity, continue with other subsequent longterm development policies, such as the National Development Policy, Vision 2020 and, currently, the National Transformation Programme (NTP).
Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit (Teraju) chief executive officer Datuk Husni Salleh (second from right) and Economic Planning Unit deputy director-general Datuk Nik Azman Nik Abdul Majid (right) listening to a speech by Pemandu Associates vice-president Azman Hassan (left) during a workshop on the Bumiputera Economic Transformation Roadmap 2.0 (BETR2.0) at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre last month. Through BETR2.0, the empowerment of Bumiputera will become more holistic, inclusive and comprehensive.