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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Oct 5: Senator Robert Lau has described the Finance Ministry’s policy of enforcing 51 per cent Bumiputera equity on freight forwarding companies as an attempt to ‘enrich a few well to do and connected Bumi folks’ which will not benefit those on the ground especially the lower income B40 group.
The policy, he pointed out, is not the way to help the Bumiputera especially the natives of Sarawak and Sabah as well as the Orang Asli.
“Those Bumiputera who can buy 51 per cent stake will not need assistance. How much capital required by these lucky few Bumiputera be required to pump in to acquire the 51 per cent stake?” he asked during his debate on the motion of thanks for the Royal Address in Parliament in Kuala Lumpur today.
He also questioned how many forwarding companies will be affected and how many Bumiputera will directly benefit by becoming shareholders.
“More importantly, how many B40 Bumi folks and the natives of Sarawak will be able to own these 51 per cent shares (sic) based on the data from Inland Revenue Board?” he asked.
Lau stressed that an arbitrary act and a quick fix will not tackle the root cause as he was certain that such opportunity “will never get to those on the ground floor, in the street, queuing up early morning just to open an account at BSN (Bank Simpanan Nasional) so as to receive the financial assistance”.
“It will go to those that are well connected and are already rich. It will not benefit those B40 who work as delivery riders.
“To put it crudely, this is an attempt to enrich a few. It will also exacerbate the gap between the rich and the poor which is a focus point to tackle in the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP),” he said.
This policy, Lau continued, is not in line with the “Keluarga Malaysia” vision as it will not make a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable Malaysia.
He urged the federal government to stay focused on the people’s aspiration and what the country stands for.
“One of the main tasks of the leaders of any country is to ensure the people have a good living standard. This can only be achieved through a strong economy. Almost one third of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s speech touched on issues regarding the economy,” he added.
Lau was pleased to note that the King has taken notice of the need to speed up development of Sarawak and Sabah.
He reminded the House that the first Prime Minister of Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman during his address at the opening ceremony of the Second Meeting of the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee held in Kuala Lumpur when he was out to court Sarawak and North Borneo (Sabah) stated that:
“One of the principal objectives in forming Malaysia is to further the economic development of the Borneo territories so that their standards of living and technical skills may be raised and a firm basis provided for accelerated economic growth.”
Lau expressed disappointment that after so many years, this promise has not been realised as what the people want is economic development and that opportunity is made available to all irrespective race or religion.
“The current health crisis has shown some of our weaknesses. Our national debt is high and we are over reliant on income from natural resources from the seas off Sarawak and Sabah. It is not sustainable.
“The day of reckoning will come. We must be honest and face up to reality. There is still time to change course.
“We have the right aims and vision of a ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ and ‘Shared Prosperity’. What we need is the will to carry it out. First we must really believe in it,” he said. — DayakDaily