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Najib aims for 'market-friendly' affirmative action

By Tuesday June 16th, 2009 No Comments

KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 — The government’s new economic model (NEM) will contain some of the affirmative action elements of the expired new economic policy (NEP), but it will be adjusted to the realities of a global marketplace.

The NEM is aimed at helping Malaysia catch up to high income countries such as South Korea and Singapore by transforming the economy to become more competitive; one that is based on skilled and highly paid workers.

One of the burning political issues that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will have to deal with in the pursuit of the NEM is the nation’s decades-old, ethnic-based affirmative action policy.

The controversial policy is fiercely defended by many in his own party, Umno, as necessary for the wellbeing of the Malay community, but which critics see as a euphemism for cronyism and racial discrimination, and contend that it has made the nation’s economy inefficient.

Since taking office, Najib has lifted ethnic quotas on a few select sectors and today, promised further adjustments to affirmative action policies.

“There is no more NEP technically speaking, only elements of affirmative action. Even that, we are trying to make sure it is more and more attuned to the dictates of the market; in other words, our domestic policies will be more and more market friendly,” he told reporters when asked about the fate of the NEP under the NEM.

He added that the government is identifying new growth sectors but the services and financial sectors will “figure prominently” in the NEM.

The central strategy of the NEM is to improve the quality of human capital, and a special cabinet committee headed by the deputy prime minister has been established to spearhead the initiative.

A new economic advisory council will also be established and will work with the Economic Planning Unit to come up with specific policies and programmes for the NEM.

Source : Malaysian Insider

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