The wake of so many Non Malays and Liberal Malays openly and bluntly questioning the New Economic Policy (NEP), CIMB CEO Dato’ Seri Nazir Razak yesterday made a scathing remark as “The NEP was bastardized”, thus insinuated that the socio-economic transformation plan failed to meet its objectives as set out 1971. He was a guest speaker at the MCA organised Chinese Economic Congress.
The Star report on the congress:
Sunday August 15, 2010
See diversity as strength, not a weakness, says CIMB group chief
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia needs to build on its diversity as its strength and review the affirmative action policy created under the New Economic Policy, said CIMB group chief executive officer Datuk Nazir Razak.
Saying that it would not be easy to review the affirmative action, Nazir said the NEP as it is known today is “so embedded in everything Malaysians do in every part of Government and business that it becomes a problem.”
“It is time to review and ensure that the implementation of affirmative action is consistent with what we need and what we want as an economy.Rapt attention: Nazir at the congress yesterday.
“NEP was a 20-year policy, and to me, the original aim was poverty eradication.
“Yet, there are so many aspects and so many policies that use the NEP’s name,” he told newsmen on the sidelines of the Chinese Economic Congress here yesterday.
It is blatant unfair for Nazir to speak against the NEP is this context, at the Chinese Economic Congress. The Malaysia economy had always dependent with the Federal Government as the main driving force. The first 50 years of nation-building process, Malaysians across the board were dependent on almost everything with regards to socio-economic development process as majority of Malaysians, especially the Malays and Bumiputera were deprived of infrastructure, education, health and socio-economic programs because of historical and geographical inherent issues.
NEP was launched by Prime Minister II Tun Abdul Razak Hussein in 1971 as an answer to grave socio-economic imbalance with a bold economic restructuring and transformation plan, to eradicate poverty and narrowing the socio-economic gap and standing between ethnic groups and the urbanites and rural folks. It is a part of an affirmative action plan involving socio-economic development programs which focused on infrastructure, education and socio-economic development which saw more opportunities being opened to the lesser privileged, particularly the Malays. NEP was a massive implementation plan that had been provided for the Malays and Bumiputeras as the majority and indeginous Malaysians, as per inscapsulated and enshrined in the Federation of Malaysia Constitution.
An economic graduate from the UK, Nazir Razak is undoubtably a product of NEP. The eco-system that was created particularly the on going stability and harmony between ethnic groups, which in turn allowed economic progression to flourish and thus strengthened the economy which include growth in the financial and capital markets. Nazir Razak benefitted directly from this stability, growth and opportunities that were opened up to him as a young investment banker. He was doing corporate advisory for CIMB; the right job at the right time.
At this raw age of early thirties, the rapid economic progress and bullish financial and capital market acitivities, which is translated in the form of the various IPOs, financing facilities and instruments being developed and marketed and termendous corporate advisory opportunities and deals that were opened up, Nazir was made the CEO of a fast growing investment bank. The growth and progression of then Commerce International Merchant Bankers Bhd. was meteoric and exponential that it was enable to ‘eat up’ Bumiputra Commerce Bank Berhad.
Then the whole group became CIMB Group and Nazir rose to be the CEO and eventually, a partial shareholder.
Needless to say, Bumiputra Commerce Bank Bhd. was a transformation from the original Bank Bumiputra Bhd., which was the ‘NEP Bank’ created in the 60s after the First Bumiputra Economic Congress held and discussed the serious lacking of the Malays in the position and role of the Malaysian economy and how it was very difficult for Malay businesses to have access to financial services, especially when all the banks then were either controlled by expatriates or the Chinese.
When Nazir joined and allowed to progress in CIMB, it was then part of Commerce Asset Holdings Bhd. ( an ‘UMNO-linked company’ – ULC), which was part of the web of ULCs such as Fleet Group, MRCB and other privately owned companies.
Nazir as the current CEO of CIMB still enjoy the ‘NEP’ eco-system that was created and grew to this level. CIMB is still the preferred Federal Government banker. In 2006, CIMB under his watch proposed that conglomerates that were created and formed as an NEP tool to address the Malay economy and provide a better distribution of wealth, Sime Darby, Guthrie and Golden Hope Groups be merged into one large conglomerate. CIMB’s special purpose vehicle Synergey Drive Sdn. Bhd. took the task to merge and rationalise these various conglomerates and earned a huge sum of fees from this mega-sized corporate exercise.
Didn’t Nazir personally “Bastardize the NEP”?
Questions often loom that had Nazir not been in the NEP-induced Malaysian eco-system, would he had the opportunity to bloom himself this far? Had he came back from England in the mid 80s and worked in Singapore, would he be the CEO of the second largest banking group in the regional financial by now?
Like it or not, Nazir benefitted directly or indirectly by the eco-system of Malaysia, which growth, progress and opportunities created enabled his personal faster-than-average progression and achievements. His stance is reflective of his Liberal Malay-ness, which inadvertently defies the aspiration of the Malay majority. Whether he agree or not, the socio-economic decisions that have been made so far would need to take the Malays’ interests into perspective
Nazir must remember, what ever he utter will indirectly reflect on his father, who was the architect and mover of NEP and his brother, who is the sixth Prime Minister and seventh President of UMNO. He should do his best to ensure that NEP worked better for the Malays, instead of bickering from a very narrow and skewed spoilt Liberal Malay perspective. This is more so with the New Economic Model now being planned. The Malays are already skeptical with the NEM and remarks like this, will not pacify the Malays closer in giving PM Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak the strong support he much needed.
Nazir to conveniently forget that it was the NEP eco-system made him the man that he is today, would probably earn him the title “Kacang lupakan kulit“. Just because he directly no longer require the bridge, he suggested that the ‘bridge be burnt’ for the many who have little choice but to be dependent.
It is very unfortunate for PM Najib to take the flak on the things that Nazir said and slight the Malays further.