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Market liberalisation can improve bumiputera wealth: DAP

PETALING JAYA, 30 Oct 2009: The failure to achieve 30% bumiputera equity ownership after nearly 40 years of the New Economic Policy proves that regulations will not necessarily increase bumiputera wealth, DAP Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara Tony Pua said.

He said if the current bumiputera ownership was 19%, as cited by some groups, it would mean it has remained stagnant since the 1990s.

Pua, formerly the economic advisor for DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, said in a press statement that in order for bumiputeras to acquire a meaningful 30% of the nation’s wealth, it was critical to liberalise the capital markets and attract global capital.

Liberalisation, he said, would attract talent and result in corresponding economic effects.

Pua stressed that taking progressive and deliberate steps towards liberalising the financial markets would allow for a more dynamic economy accompanied by greater wealth creation.

“It will ultimately benefit the bumiputeras as they form the majority of the population. A more liberal market will also catalyse a more productive workforce who will in turn be able to compete on an equal footing in a globalised economy,” he said.

Pua, who is currently DAP national publicity secretary, was responding to PAS Youth, which had protested against the suggestion to abolish the 30% bumiputera quota.

PAS Youth chief Salahuddin Ayub had said bumiputera ownership was only 19% currently and that the 30% equity share must be retained and defended “even if the target has been reached”. 

Pua also said Malaysia’s goal of becoming a regional financial centre since the 1980s was “in tatters” because the country had lost out to many other regional financial centres. 

He noted that the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange, as late as 1993, was the second largest stock exchange in Asia-Oceania (excluding Japan). But, he added, Malaysia was today no longer in the top 10, losing to financial markets in Singapore, India, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

“As a result, not only are foreign companies not interested in the Malaysian stock exchange, Malaysian companies are similarly heading offshore to more attractive financial markets.  Ultimately, the losers are Malaysians themselves,” said Pua.

On another matter, Pua said PAS was misguided in its objection to Low Siew Moi’s appointment as Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) acting general manager.

“As the Selangor menteri besar has stated clearly, she is the most qualified person to fulfil the role at this point of time.  By that, it means that she will be able to manage PKNS in the most effective and efficient possible manner, which will ultimately benefit the coffers of the state,” he said. 

Pua said given the Pakatan Rakyat government’s people-centric policies, the poorest in the state, most of whom are bumiputeras, will benefit most from such gains. 

“The race of the general manager should not be in question at all. It is disappointing that objections have come purely from a racial and not from a qualitative perspective. PAS in these instances, should not miss the woods for the trees,” he said.

Pakatan Rakyat comprises Parti Keadilan Rakyat, DAP and PAS.




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