The Malaysian Reserve

Data on Bumi equity ownership needed to assess NEP

Gomez has also called on the govt to be transparent and clear in setting a new direction for GLCs in the country (Pic: TMRpic)

By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By TMR

Any plan to continue or discontinue the New Economic Policy (NEP) must be based on data that represents the successes and failures of the scheme since its introduction in 1970.

University Malaya political economist Prof Dr Edmund Terence Gomez (picture) said the objective cannot be met as the Bumiputera equity distribution figures have not been available since 2008.

Based on currently available statistics, Bumiputera ownership of share capital in limited companies has grown from 1.5% at par value in 1969 to 21.9% in 2008.

Over the same period, Chinese ownership grew from 22.8% to 34.9%, while Indian ownership increased from 0.9% to 1.6%.

Foreign ownership in local equities, however, has declined from a high of 62.1% to 37.9%.

“I want the new government to disclose the Bumiputera equity distribution figures which the previous administration stopped distributing after 2008.

“That is extremely important because the Bumiputera Economic Congress is coming up, and we have to look at these figures and study what went right and wrong before we start debating on where we move from here,” he told reporters after the launch of a new report by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), which he authored with his team of students.

“We were very critical of the previous government for not issuing these figures, including members of the current government.

“Now that they are the government, they have the responsibility to tell us what these figures look like,” Gomez said. He added that there has to be a proper re-tabulation of the figures which is based on market value.

“There is a lot of work to be done here and this is linked to issues involving government-linked companies (GLCs),” Gomez said.

In his presentation of the new IDEAS report, Gomez provided important insights into the scale and scope of GLC involvement in the economy, drawing attention to the need to institute urgent reforms, to ensure that these firms function properly and in a transparent and accountable manner.

In his 14th General Election campaign, Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad referred to the GLC system in Malaysia as a “monster” that has to be dealt with to ensure the economy functions well.

However, since winning the May 9 election, the PM has not instituted a reform committee to review the issue.

Instead, the Dr Mahathir-led government created the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MEA) where many of these GLCs were parked.

Other controversial issues have since emerged, including the appointment of politicians to the boards of directors of statutory bodies and investment holding companies, such as Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

As such, Gomez has called on the government to be transparent and clear in setting a new direction for GLCs in the country.

“There has been a reshuffling of the assets. How many of the assets today have been transferred to the MEA and which assets have gone to the PM’s Department? Has the PM’s Department become even bigger?

“I’m not raising these points to cause doubt over Pakatan Harapan, but they should tell us. Who is taking charge and why are they taking charge? If there is a logic to it, please tell us what it is,” Gomez said.