By: Nurul Anuar Kari
Among issues that will be the focus by delegates and the people in the coming UMNO (United Malays National Organization) General Assembly 2012 is the Bumiputera economic achievement and planning.
It is nothing new that the economic aspect of Bumiputra, that form the majority group in the country, has long been moved by the government since independence. However, the achievement is still unsatisfactory.
The question was put before Chief Executive Officer of the Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera (TERAJU), Husni Salleh, to see how far has the Bumiputera economic planning been achieved after the body was formed over a year ago.
He stated that TERAJU was set up in February 2011 and after six months, the agency published a book on Roadmap of Bumiputera Economic Transformation in November last year.
“After the launch of the book, only then we start to implement various programmes to expedite the Bumiputera economic development to achieve the target for 2020.
Unfortunately, the current information are old data of around 2008, and as such we have made our own studies on the Bumiputera economic development,” he said.
He said current data shows that Bumiputera equity is 23.09 percent or RM 167 billion, up to 2010. However, the public must see far beyond that in the aspect of education, salary, and other factors that has impacted the Bumiputera economy.
He said that the Malays should not be tied to just the equity as it was an old approach under the previous policies, or shares for Bumiputera which would not stay long when shares given to them were sold but they fail to enjoy the expected gain.
He is of the view that other aspect must also be taken into consideration like the number, revolving capital as well as the listing of Bumiputera companies on the stock exchange.
“Around 37 percent of small and medium scale industries owned by Bumiputera and out of that, 80 percent are small enterprises which don’t have high capacity to absorb many workers”.
He said as such the Malays joined the non-Bumiputera company but their pay were still very low compared with non-Bumiputera. This was the cause of unfairness due to the poor business ecosystem.
He also lamented at some Bumiputera companies that obtained certain projects but “distribute” them to the non-Bumiputera companies where 90 percent of the gain and experience enjoyed others.
Husni said that Bumiputera staff in Multi-National Corporation (MNC) which provide high salary, were also very low.
He added that there were racial segregations in recruiting staff with Chinese bosses prefer to take the Chinese to work in the MNC while the Bumiputera chief executives tend to take the Malays.
The civil service cannot be taken as a yardstick to compare the strength of Bumiputera staff because government couldn’t afford to give them high salary, he said.
As such, he said, the High Performing Bumiputera Companies (TERAS) was initiated so that capable Bumiputera companies could compete with other Bumiputera companies as well as non-Bumiputera companies.
“Before, the programme stressed on quota, by focusing on the 30 percent equity but TERAS is hoped to be able to exude that sense of love where it they will find it hard to dispose the Bumipuera assets.
“Individuals many sell their shares at any time but those who owned and managed the companies will retain the majority shareholding of Bumiputera,” he said.
He said competition among Bumiputera was not to kill one another but to grab the RM 14 billion worth of opportunities provided by the government.
Besides competing locally, Husni also touched on spreading the wing to foreign market by Bumiputera companies through the introduction of special programme as there is only five percent of Bumiputera revolving capital obtained from export or oversea operations.
“We cannot wait for them to learn to compete with each other locally before thinking of the prospect of taking them overseas. All must move in tandem. Look for strategy, better technology and look for foreign business partners. It is not wrong to do business partnership with foreigners in areas of looking for technology transfer because it is also a strategy for competition,” he said.
He said the problem was, there were not many Bumiputera who have good strategy while some hope the government provides them with business strategy to compete with foreigners.
For him, one of the best strategy is for the small Bumiputera companies to work together and form a bigger venture and enhance their capacity as one entity.
He said to avoid the Bumiputera rely totally on the government, TERAJU had interacted with local banks because they found to provide little loans to Bumiputera companies due to certain problems.
With the help of TERAJU, Husni said SME Bank provide Bumiputera Thrust Fund totaling RM500 million while other banks were expected to follow suit with similar programme.
“After only four months almost half of the fund was approved while more than 70 percent of the applications have been approved with grant totaling RM180 million under the Dana Mudah Cara (Easy Facilities Fund) for investment in 29 projects valued at RM 1 billion”.
With the cooperation between TERAJU and the main players of the Bumiputera national agenda, he hoped that many new programmes could be initiated to change the Bumiputera economic environment towards sustainability and exclusivity.
Footnote: This opinion article has been displayed in an online mainstream mass media, Utusan Malaysia, English Edition, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 3th December 2012. It is also able to be searched at: http://ww2.utusan.com.my/utusan/special.asp?pr=theMessenger&y=2012&dt=1203&pub=theMessenger&sec=Features&pg=fe_02.htm [accessed in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia: 4th December 2012].
Nurul Anuar Kari is a journalist of the Utusan Malaysia newspaper in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and the author can be contacted via e-mail at: email@example.com