Guan Eng: 12MP still playing the race card

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Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng today asked the government if foreigners are more a part of the “Malaysian Family” compared with non-Bumiputera Malaysians.

He said the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) continues to play the race card when it comes to poverty and economic development issues, which cut across racial lines.

“How can the prime minister convince the rakyat about the sincerity and commitment of his Malaysia Family concept that is inclusive and unites all Malaysians when he talks of protectionist policies for Bumi but not for non-Bumi vis-à-vis foreign ownership?” he asked.

“The exemption granted to foreign international integrated logistics services (IILS) from complying with the 51% Bumi equity but requiring Malaysian-owned IILS to give up their shares and ownership control only highlights the extent of such discrimination and injustice.

Lim Huey Teng/Reuters

“Or are foreigners considered more a bigger part of the Malaysian Family than non-Bumi Malaysians,” the DAP secretary-general said in a statement.

The Federation of Malaysian Freight Forwarders, representing more than 1,500 logistics companies, recently sent a letter to International Trade and Industry Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali asking for clarification on the Bumiputera equity requirement, which will compel companies to sell 51% equity to Bumiputera investors.

Touching on the issue of reserving transaction of shares to the Bumiputera, Lim questioned if this would mean that shares of companies listed on Bursa Malaysia will now have to be classified into two categories, namely one where non-Bumiputera and foreign-owned shares can be transacted openly without restriction and the other where Bumiputera-owned shares can be transacted among the Bumiputera only.

“Many Bumi have complained to me that this will make their shares either not being able to be sold for lack of buyers or sold to politically connected Bumi cronies at way below-market rates, incurring huge losses for the very same Bumi that the government is supposed to protect,” he said.

Lim said as of 2019, in terms of corporate equity holdings, Bumiputera shares were 17.2 %, with non-Bumiputera at 25% while 45.5 % were held by foreign entities and 12.3 % were nominee shares.

“If Bumi shares are to be ring fenced to ‘protect’ Bumi shares, then the failure to do the same for Malaysian-owned shares vis-a-vis foreign-owned shares raises questions as to why the government is not interested in protecting ‘Malaysian’ shares,” he said.

“Should not the government be focused on increasing Malaysian-owned equity when foreigners own the biggest chunk at 45.5% of listed corporate equity?

“Again this raises the question whether non-Bumi Malaysians are lesser members of the Malaysian Family compared with foreigners.”

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said while tabling the 12MP on Monday that an equity safety net framework will be introduced to enable the sale of Bumiputera shares or companies to other Bumiputera consortia, companies or individuals.

Lim said the government should implement equal poverty alleviation or income enhancing policies to all, regardless of race or religion.

He said there should be no discrimination with different policies according to race for the poor.

“Every Malaysian, regardless of race or religion, will support efforts to eradicate poverty, which are mostly from the Bumi and the native population in Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.

“Why then is the government hiding the poverty and income levels of Orang Asli and the native population of the Dayak, Iban, Melanau, Kadazan Dusun Murut and Bajau in Sarawak and Sabah?” – TMI