NOT JUST ECO­NOMIC, BUT THEIR WELL­BE­ING, HAP­PI­NESS TOO

Through BETR2.0, the em­pow­er­ment of Bu­mi­put­era has been el­e­vated to a new level

New Straits Times - - Opinion - The writer is di­rec­tor of the Asian Re­search In­sti­tute of Bank­ing and Fi­nance (ARIBF), Univer­siti Utara Malaysia

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).

PIC BY FARIZ ISWADI IS­MAIL

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.

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