Malaysia’s Bhumiputhra policy that favours the Malays and the indigenous population (tribes) over the minority Chinese and Indian population is justiciable because the Malays are poor, former Malaysian Premier Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, considered as the father of Modern Malayasia, told reporters on Thursday.
The Bhumiputhra policy gives preferential treatment to Malays when it comes to issues such as jobs in the state sector, land purchase and education.
The Malays and the Chinese comprise the two largest segments of Malaysia’s population, with the ratio being something like 50:45, in that country of a nearly 25 million strong population.
“There needs to be a distribution of wealth, not necessarily equitably,” Mahathir said.
He said that because Malaysia followed the Bhumiputhra policy, it escaped racial tensions which beset other South-East Asian nations during the East Asian (E.A.) crisis.
In Sri Lanka the predominant minority population are the Tamils (both Indian and of Jaffna origin). They however comprise not more than 20% of the island’s population. The majority Sinhalese comprise over 70% of the population.\
He said that Sri Lanka was ahead of Malaysia at the time of independence, but it was its three decade old war that brought it down.
Mahathir said that there needs to be a role for both the minorities as well as for the majority for the island’s development. He said that he saw a visible improvement in the lives of the people because of the war win.
He said that they spurned the I.M.F.’s hand of help during the E.A. crisis because the Fund wanted to have a grip on Malaysia’s economy.
Mahathir said that the way forward is to encourage foreign investments because the danger of being dependent on loans is the possibility of falling into a debt trap like what happened to Greece.
He said that it was not oil which ensured Malaysia’s prosperity, but foreign investments, foreign capital inflows and technology transfers, plus their “Look East” policy, where they took Japan and South Korea as role models, and not the West, which was the case in the past.
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