Nov 21, 2006

NEP an Umno gimmick to rob Malays: Anwar

(MalaysiaKini) PKR advisor Anwar Ibrahim - the target of attacks at the recently concluded Umno general assembly for questioning the New Economic Policy (NEP) - has reaffirmed the opposition party’s position that the policy be abandoned.

The former deputy premier described the Umno general assembly, which concluded last Friday, as a platform for ‘fanning racial sentiments’.

He was speaking to reporters during a Hari Raya open house at his residence in mainland Penang's Kampung Cerok Tok Kun yesterday.

Anwar was attacked by Umno delegates for criticising the NEP, a race-based affirmative action policy which the ruling party considered as essential in eradicating poverty, in particular among rural Malays.

During the assembly, the prime minister and Umno president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had said that the term ‘NEP’ should no longer be used although two of its prime objectives - the eradication of poverty and the restructuring of society to enable equal opportunity for all races - would be continued.

Anwar said the assembly was "a sham" and that the proceedings were racist in nature in an attempt to shore up grassroots Malay support for Umno.

This, he said, was to deflect the people’s attention away from more contentious issues such as the NEP, inter-faith dialogue and the state of the nation’s economy.

“Several within the Umno leadership are fanning racial sentiments so that discussion on the NEP is sidelined. What I attack are not the programmes that assist the Malays. What I attack are leaders who rob from the Malays. The NEP is used as a tool to benefit leaders, their families and their cronies,” he said.

“The New Economic Policy is now becoming a gimmick for those in power in Umno to virtually rob wealth opportunities for themselves,” he added.

Anwar blamed Umno, in particular the Umno Youth, for convoluting the development agenda by creating scapegoats.

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