Nov 20, 2006

Not True That NEP Benefits Only Those On Top, Says Najib

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 20 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak Monday dismissed the notion that the New Economic Policy (NEP) only benefited those at the top, saying that the policy had greatly changed the socio-economic status of the people in the country.

The deputy prime minister that in terms of eradicating poverty, the government had succeeded in reducing the poverty rate from over 50 per cent prior to the introduction of the NEP to five per cent now.

"So, I totally reject the contention that the NEP has benefited only certain groups," he told reporters after opening the "International Conference: Ibn Khaldun's Legacy and Its Contemporary significance," near here.


He said that under the NEP, poverty eradication was not focused only on the Malays because it had also created many opportunities for the non-Malays to the extent that many non-Malay corporate leaders had become rich during the period of its implementation.

"Many non-Malays have received the spillover and contracts from the government and also certain approvals," he said.

Najib said this when asked to comment on a claim by Penang Education and Economic Planning Committee chairman Datuk Dr Toh Kin Woon that the policy was only for the elite, especially those who are close to the leaders.

Dr Toh made the claim at a forum in Penang yesterday which was also attended by representatives from the opposition parties.

The NEP was introduced in 1970 with the objective to eradicate poverty and restructure society. It ended in 1990.

Acknowledging that there were several weaknesses in the implementation of the policy, Najib said the government had tried to correct this, especially regarding approaches which were unsuitable and which did not bring about the desired results.

"But to reject the NEP, to say that the NEP is only for the rich and for certain individuals, is not acceptable," he said.

Asked about the Umno general assembly last week, Najib said the party's supreme council was looking seriously into the wisdom of having the entire proceedings telecast live in future after many people felt that the move was not appropriate because they got distorted views.

"Yes, there were several speeches which can be regarded as extremist but we cannot assume that one or two speeches reflect Umno's stand," he said.

Several Barisan Nasional (BN) component leaders were reported to have expressed unease over the emotional speeches by several delegates at the five-day assembly which ended last Friday.

Najib said the members should have abided by Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's speech which reminded them that Umno was a party which led all races in the country and that Umno held strongly to the principle of power sharing and consensus in the BN.

"As long as the BN consensus is still our thrust, the BN components should not worry that we will implement extremist policies that can affect the interests of any race," he said.

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