By HASNAH JUSID
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 -- The time has come for Bumiputera to be actively involved in the business and modern agriculture sector to enable them to bridge their current income gap with other ethnic groups.
Economic analyst Prof Emeritus Dr Barjoyai Bardai said Bumiputera should not feel satisfied with the assistance provided by the government but instead strive to get involved in the business sector which has been made easier with the advent of the internet and e-commerce.
Speaking to Bernama recently, he said only 10 per cent Bumiputera households are currently involved in businesses, with about 90 per cent of them participate in micro-business which are considered to be less successful.
The Bumiputera according to him, should venture into the modern agriculture sector which could potentially generate high income without involving large sums of money, such as the rice planting system using System of Rice Intensification (SRI) already practised in Indonesia.
“Indonesia with over 240 million people is a rice-exporting nation while Malaysia with only 33 million population imported rice because our rice bowl only produces about five tonnes of rice per hectare, whereas in Indonesia they produced 15 tonnes per hectare,” he said.
In May this year, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad introduced Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, a new policy to provide a fair standard of living to all Malaysians.
The new policy which was formally launched by Dr Mahathir today was designed to develop Malaysia sustainably and equitably across all level of the value chain, class, race and geography, thus creating a sense of harmony and stability among the people.
The government has outlined at least seven strategic thrusts, among others, restructuring and improving the business ecosystem; inclusive regional growth, generating new growth sectors; enhancing talent reformation and national resources; and improving the labour market and employee income.
Meanwhile, Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM) chief executive officer Ahmad Yazid Othman said the government need to set a new benchmark on how to measure the success of Bumiputera economy to help the government in formulating appropriate policies.
These include value-added as key parameters, household income, salary and employment, educational achievement and intra-racial distribution.
This is because the 30 per cent target on Bumiputera equity ownership as set out in the New Economic Policy (NEP) to gauge the group’s economic achievements have been inaccurate, unclear and difficult to measure -- leading to leakage, corruption and cronyism in the form of “Ali Baba” practices.
“Equitable income among races can only be achieved in 2046 if there are no new policies and initiatives which can be measured,” he said.
However, he said, the emphasis on Bumiputera does not mean the government is sidelining other races.
Efforts to uplift the ethnic group according to Ahmad Yazid is needed as the Bumiputeras still lag in terms of income, wealth and economy.
The 2016 Household Income Report according to him, showed cumulatively the wealth gap between Bumiputeras and other ethnic groups has reached more than RM1 trillion since 1992.
Meanwhile, Malaysia-China Business Council (MCBC) director Datuk David Chua said economic and business opportunities should be explored and developed for all races to ensure all Malaysians shared the nation’s prosperity.
“We have identified areas where we can create a multiracial business, create the cluster and provide opportunities for all, regardless of race,” he said.
Malaysian Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI) secretary-general Datuk A.T Kumararajah said he hoped the government would intensify non-racial economic and business activities for all to enjoy the country's wealth.