Aug 27, 2010

Tun Mahathir fires off NEM missive to PM Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad continued his defence of the pro-Bumiputera New Economic Policy (NEP) today and denied it had impeded growth, even as the Najib administration prepares to gradually reform the system which has been blamed for the country’s lack of competitiveness.

The former prime minister added that he had written to Datuk Seri Najib Razak to offer his advice and let him know what he thought of the New Economic Model (NEM).

However, Dr Mahathir said he did not expect Najib to consider his recommendations.

“I have already written to him [with] my comments, actually. I have also written to (Datuk Seri) Idris Jala. I have given my view so it is up to them to consider my advice or not. It is just my views,” he told reporters at the National Mosque here.

Dr Mahathir stressed that he had no political vendetta against Najib but was instead being critical of Umno and some of the PM’s reforms as a member of the public.

“Everybody has their weaknesses and the prime minister has tried his best, but I am only voicing my opinion on matters which I do not agree on.

“I heard that he wants public feedback on the budget. I am also the public,” he said.

Dr Mahathir has appeared to be critical of Najib and Umno in recent remarks, suggesting recently that the ruling party was weak and mismanaged.

The feisty ex-premier had also mocked proponents of meritocracy this week, calling them racist and decried Malays who supported meritocracy as having misplaced pride.

His comments come after recent remarks by top Malaysian banker Datuk Seri Nazir Razak — the CIMB group chief executive and the brother of the PM — who said that the NEP had been “bastardised.”

Nazir has been pushing for reforms while Dr Mahathir has been putting his weight behind right wing Malay groups such as Perkasa, who believe Bumiputera quotas were a “right” of the Malays.

Today, Dr Mahathir denied that the NEP had been an obstacle to the country’s development.

“The accusation that the country cannot grow because of NEP is not true because with NEP, this country has [grown] much faster than other developing countries. So you cannot say that the NEP is an obstruction,” he said.

Dr Mahathir then reiterated his warning that Umno risks losing support from the Malays if the party continues to neglect the community.

“Now there are so many Malay NGOs which are taking up the problem faced by the Malays. They have lost confidence with Umno’s ability to protect their rights,” he said.

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