Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bumiputra equity, Part 2

In an about turn, think tank Asli has retracted its controversial report on the state of Bumiputra wealth in Malaysia. Malaysian blogger jeffooi has captured the latest twist quite well.

The person who crafted the report -- Dr Lim Teck Ghee (pix) -- has resigned in the wake of the retraction. Asli is seen to have caved in to pressure from Malay politicians, including PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and nemesis Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who questioned the veracity of the report. Incidentally, Asli is run by Mirzan Mahathir, the eldest son of Dr Mahathir.

The government dismissed the report as it has always used par value, instead of current market prices, to calculate the level of Malay ownership in the corporate sector and the economy since the Bumiputra policy kicked off in 1971 to redress the country's wealth imbalance.

While Dr Lim's figure of 45 per cent seems a tad high (it is above the policy target of setting aside 30 per cent of the economic wealth for Bumiputra), the government's own tabulation of 18.9 per cent seems to be way too low.

Dr Lim has done the honourable thing, but it's truly sad that there is no room for true intellectual debate or discourse in Malaysia without politics getting into the way.

One should always remember Dr Lim's parting words:

I hope the public space opened up by the Centre’s work on this particular, as well as other important, issues will be expanded on and vigorously defended by others. It is the fundamental right of the Malaysian public to question all government statistics and policies, more so when these are not transparent or defensible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the last time a government official tried to influence academic studies in HK, all hell broke loose. read my other blog on it.