PETALING JAYA, Oct 14 (Sin Chew Daily) — The income disparity between the Chinese and Malays is narrowing, says Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz.
In an interview with Tan Sri Johan Jaafar during a Sinar Harian live session, Zafrul said the number of Malay professionals had increased over the years, giving rise to widening income disparity within the Malay society.
On whether the New Economic Policy (NEP) is successful, Zafrul said all aspects should be taken into account, not only the 17% equity ownership held by bumiputras instead of the 30% target.
Zafrul said there was still room for improvement for the NEP but the number of professionals such as doctors and engineers had increased, meaning their incomes had improved too.
Zafrul said it was a tough question to answer when he was asked when Malay entrepreneurs could be groomed.
“There are many successful Malay entrepreneurs. But whenever they are struck by a crisis such as financial crisis, COVID-19 outbreak or others, they are unable to make a comeback.
“The highlight here is to offer support system. We should provide them a supportive ecosystem,” he said.
Many non-bumiputra companies have good ecosystem, he said.
Some view that Malay entrepreneurs cannot have a good ecosystem because are were overdependent on government support.
“We are dependent too much on aid. The government assisted the Malay entrepreneurs at the initial stage but they should be on their own after that,” he said.
Zafrul pointed out that while the government offered an umbrella for the bumiputra entrepreneurs, they should find their ways to leave the umbrella, but many simply continue to sit under the umbrella.
Asked when would bumiputras or Malays no longer need umbrellas, Zafrul said this was another difficult question to answer.
The Malays should change their mindset, he said, adding that this will probably happen in the next generation of Malays when they become more open and creative.
On the 12th Malaysia Plan still gravitating towards helping the Malays or bumiputras under the Keluarga Malaysia spirit, Zafrul explained that this would be like a family and that the gap between family members should not be too big.
“We hope to narrow the disparity among the ethnic groups and create a fairer platform for all to compete,” he said.
Bumiputras make up 70% of the country’s population and this is an important point, he concluded.