Friday, January 25, 2008
Malaysia losing investment over pro-Malay policies
HONG KONG: One of Malaysia¡¯s leading opposition figures said
Thursday the country was losing out economically to regional rivals
because of long-running policies favoring ethnic Malays.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said Malaysia¡¯s ability
to attract foreign investment had been compromised by keeping the
country¡¯s affirmative action policies in favor of the Malay
¡°That policy is obsolete¡ We are losing our competitiveness.
Malaysia is less competitive than the 1990s,¡± Anwar, whose Keadilan
Party is formally led by his wife, told reporters in Hong Kong.
¡°Foreign investments, we have lost. Growth, we have lost.
Attractiveness, which is key to an emerging market, is lost.
¡°Not to China and India, but to Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia
because of our obsolete policies. If you persist in pursuing this
agenda, you do it not only at the expense of the Chinese and the
Indians, but also of the Malays.¡±
Malaysia has pursued the policies for Malays and indigenous groups
known as bumiputras since the 1970s to close a wealth gap with the
minority Chinese community.
In recent months, the government has been shaken by rare public
demonstrations that erupted in November, including against alleged
discrimination against Malaysia¡¯s ethnic Indians.
Anwar added that Malaysia¡¯s creeping ¡°Islamization¡± was also
turning away foreign investors.
Malaysia has experienced a string of religious controversies in
A Catholic newspaper was banned from using the word Allah, or
¡°God¡±, in its Malay language section, while a Hindu woman lost her
bid to stop the conversion of her child to Islam after Malaysia¡¯s
highest court ruled that her now-Muslim husband could convert their
Anwar added that an upcoming election, to be held in March, would be
crucial in determining Malaysia¡¯s future.
¡°Given free and fair elections, these elections will be a defining
moment for the country,¡± said Anwar, at a press conference
organized by the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission.
He added he thought his opposition Keadilan Party would damage Prime
Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi¡¯s United Malays National
Organization (UMNO) in the vote. UMNO has ruled the country for 50
Anwar said about 20 potential legislators running for his party were
prepared to stand down once he is able to take part in a by-election
after his ban expires.
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