The government should consolidate its Bumiputera-led institutions and focus on improving their performances, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said yesterday.
When touching on the topic of the prosperity of the majority community, Anwar said strides should be made to improve these existing agencies first before considering new and alternative solutions for affirmative action policies.
“We need to strengthen the existing industry, while ensuring interracial ties are not complicated further, which would raise tensions without clear solutions for the Malays and Bumiputeras themselves.
“And as such, I ask for the prime minister and the government to consolidate and strengthen the existing Bumiputera institutions first, and this is an important challenge to overcome as our history [with these institutions] is disgraceful,” he said.
Anwar suggested the government appoint the brightest Bumiputera individuals and those with relevant experience to manage these agencies and institutions.
“Those with a record of embezzling the Bumiputera funds, let it not be because of political consideration and cronyism that positions are given straight to them and at the same time sacrificing the name and reputation of the Bumiputeras, while our slogan is still for the Malays and Bumiputeras” he said in Dewan Rakyat.
As an example, Anwar cited how it was revealed in a bipartisan meeting with Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz that banks under the purview of Bumiputera led institutions were financially incapable to offer loan moratoriums to their borrowers, as opposed to commercial banks here.
“It is because of the damage that has happened in the system, the infidelity that has happened without action being taken, besides just changing the management,” he said of the condition of these banks.
The Port Dickson MP claimed how Bank Islam, a subsidiary of Tabung Haji, were RM2.2 billion deep in overdue debt, then mentioning findings within the Auditor-General’s Report as reasons behind the inability to rake in profits.
“This was due to irregularities arising from weak client origination and organisation, credit structuring, inadequate accounting monitoring and ineffective problem recognition and related processes,” Anwar said were the weak points of Bank Islam.
In contrast, the former finance minister pointed out how Maybank reported RM1.96 billion in profits, CIMB Bank with RM1 billion, Public Bank at RM1.38 billion, RHB Bank at RM701 million, and Hong Leong Bank with RM2.8 billion in profits.
“And these are profits made during the Covid-19 pandemic. So how can we have a bank continued to be managed by a Bumiputera with minimal monitoring from Bank Negara Malaysia?
“These institutions need to have minimal political intervention,” he added.
This is in light of the government’s recent proposal requiring freight forwarders to meet the 51 percent Bumiputera equity participation.
This requirement has been alleged as an opportunist act by the administration, with Tengku Zafrul earlier in the day saying an exemption period for freight forwarders to meet this 51 percent threshold has been extended until December 2022.
Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman had earlier questioned this policy, expressing scepticism that raising the percentage would effectively translate to widening business ownership within the Bumiputera community.
Former health minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad was also critical of the policy, claiming how those within the Malay business community had related to him their unhappiness at the measure, and asserting how some had called it “suicidal” for the business ecosystem.