Retrospective 51% Bumi rule on freight firms ‘unconstitutional’, says Guan Eng

 PETALING JAYA: Lim Guan Eng says he rejected the proposal to enforce the 51% Bumiputera ownership requirement for freight forwarding companies when he was the finance minister in the Pakatan Harapan government.

The Bagan MP told FMT that the proposal to enforce the requirement had been raised during his tenure, but he did not approve it.

“I rejected the proposal on the basis that it cannot be applied retrospectively.

“That is unconstitutional and unfair to the companies.”

Lim Guan Eng.

He said should any freight forwarding company owner suffer losses in complying with the new 51% Bumiputera ownership rule, then the government would be liable to compensate them.

“It is unfair to those who have built and invested in the companies over many years based on existing conditions only for them to be abruptly changed without due recourse.”

Lim added the move would also send the wrong signal to investors that government policies can be changed at a whim.

He said investors want policy certainty, consistency and clarity.

“A failure to ensure this will discourage investors and Malaysia will lose out in competitiveness to other countries.

“I hope the finance minister will do the needful.”

Yesterday, an association of freight forwarders urged the government to clarify its position on Bumiputera equity in logistics companies, with only months left before the year-end deadline.

Federation of Malaysian Freight Forwarders (FMFF) president Alvin Chua proposed that the requirement – calling for 51% Bumiputera ownership of their companies – be deferred to the end of next year.

In a letter dated Sept 18 to the government, Chua said the finance ministry had stated in January that all Customs brokerage licence holders must comply with Bumiputera equity requirements, but did not set any figure.

Licences registered before 1976 do not have a Bumiputera equity requirement, while a 30% quota was imposed on those registered between 1976 and 1990. A 51% Bumiputera requirement was required for licences registered after 1990.

No Bumiputera equity is required for licences held by integrated international logistics service providers.


What Is The Real Agenda Of Enforcing The 51% Bumiputera Equity In Fowarding & Logistics Companies ?

The only options the Non Bumi busines owners have is either to appoint a Bumi partner who is going to take over the company ( 51% ) that was built through hardship and struggles over the years or to close business because they cannot obtain/renew license.

Are you trying to wipe out Non Bumi business owners in this industry by next 5 years ? What are the other industries you are aiming at?

If you want to statistically increased Bumi business owners , mould them and give them more incentives and opportunities ( as though whatever that is being allocated is not enough ) and not by killing or stealing the Non Bumis hardship. This is not how you grow.

Almost zero proposals can succeed in government approval without Bumi Holding in the company , the first question ask is – Is It A Bumi Company ? Why ? Isnt there are other criteria you would like to check other than race? Arent Non Bumis Malaysians enough to qualify for tenders , projects , contract and licenses ?

In January 2021 , MOF issued a letter to state that all custom licenses must comply with Bumiputera equity requirement , but no percentage of Bumiputera equity requirement was specified.

Logistics companies have slowly built up their business over a lengthy period as compared to other industries as the industry fragmented and highly competitive. The sudden decision by MOF in 2021 for all customs licenses to comply with Bumiputera equity requirement ( 51% ) would pose immense difficulties to the logistic companies.

It appears that company would have no choice but would be compelled 51% equity to the Bumiputera investors.

The questions is , within this short timeframe frame and difficualt prevaling economic conditions , would there be Bumiputera investors wanting to buy over 51% equity ?

And , if present logistic companies are compelled to sell a majority share to Bumiputera investors , it would mean that the government is telling us to sell our business to Bumiputera or close down our business.

Selling 51% also would mean the present owner can no longer control or run his business.

If we can’t find Bumiputera to actually invest in the companies before the deadline of 31/12/2021 , it means that all the logistic companies with custom licenses would could down.

The coverage

87 percent of Malaysian-Indian kids experience racial discrimination in schools

 Just how bad is discrimination in Malaysian schools?

According to a study conducted by two youth movements set up to address identity-based discrimination in Malaysia's education system, one in every two children faces some form of discrimination in schools.

Sekolah Semua and Architects of Diversity, through its nationwide study titled 'Discrimination in Education' surveyed 2,441 respondents.

What does discrimination mean?

Before we dive into the nitty gritty details of their findings, let's learn what their definition of discrimination is.

Any unequal treatment, exclusion, lack of access, preference, or harassment done based on a person's identity is defined as discriminatory according to both organizations.

Yes, this includes race, religion, skin color, belief, gender, language, geography, socioeconomic status, physical disability, mental disability, and sexual orientation.

What did the survey unearth?

Out of the total sum of respondents, 36 percent of children revealed that they have experienced verbal discrimination.

21 percent have experienced harassment, ostracism, or some form of bullying.

18 percent revealed that they were even denied access to opportunities because of their identities.

Malaysian Indian children get discriminated more.

Malaysian Indian children, 87 percent of them, experience the most in terms of race-based discrimination in schools compared to other races.

They also suffer from the highest rate of verbal discrimination (54 percent).

40 percent of them revealed that they were denied access to opportunities because of their racial background.

Are Malaysian kids aware of what discrimination is?

Part of the survey's questionnaire hoped to learn if kids know what discrimination is.a

So they were asked if they had reported perceived discrimination incidences to the authorities.

This is where it gets troubling. A majority 54 percent of respondents said they didn't report such incidences to their parents, teachers, school administration, or the police.

61 percent believed that reporting wouldn't have made a difference.

The 48 percent who did report revealed that no investigations or action was taken to address the discrimination they faced.

Both Sekolah Semua and Architects of Diversity said further research needs to be done to better understand discrimination in Malaysian schools due to the current survey's retrospective nature and limitations.

"Anecdotally, many of us know of Malaysians that have faced negative and harmful experiences in schools because of their race, gender, and other identities," Jason Wee, the co-founder of Architects of Diversity said.

"With the results of this survey, we hope that Malaysia as a country can start to better confront our discrimination problem."

Regressive matriculation policy perpetuates discrimination

The perpetuation of this deeply flawed and racially discriminatory policy is cause for a sense of betrayal amongst democratic Malaysians 

Decades-old racial discriminatory policies regarding enrolment in public institutions such as the matriculation programmes would continue.

The reality is that even within the national education system, non-bumiputera suffer discrimination such as in access to scholarships, special schools and tertiary institutions. For decades we have witnessed the annual spectacle of non-bumiputera with straight As being rejected for entry into the courses of their choice at public sector universities. 

At the same time, there is an extensive provision for bumiputera education. There are fully residential elite Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) (Mara junior Science Colleges) in the fully residential schools. 

These schools have been almost exclusively reserved for Malay-Muslim students with perhaps a few token non-bumiputera who excel in sport to add glory to the schools. Non-bumiputera students are largely excluded from other elite schools such as the Royal Military College, the Aminuddin Baki Institution, matriculation courses and the Malay College Kuala Kangsar despite the fact that these institutions are all funded by Malaysian taxpayers.

There are two streams for entry into the public universities. One is through the matriculation 12-month programme and the other is through the 18-month and much more stringent STPM programme. The matriculation programme is mainly reserved for Malays although the government only began offering 10 percent places for non-bumiputera students in 2003. 

The university entrance criteria are not transparent and appear to be based on arbitrary factors. The same lack of transparency applies to the eligibility criteria involved in the selection process for the choice of courses, award of scholarships and loans for study. 

Preference for admission into public universities is reserved for the bumiputera, with the other 19 public universities having an overwhelming Malay majority in their enrolment. And it cannot be overstated that all of this is funded by all taxpayers.

There is also discrimination in the allocation of students to competitive courses. Only a handful of seats in medical faculties of the public sector universities are made available to non-Malays. For example, only a small number of places were allocated for non-Malay students regardless of their qualifications.

The Malay-based parties and their legal advisers arduously try to avoid this inconvenient truth: the quota system that has been practised in the country since 1971 was never part of the 1957 independence agreement. It was through the terror unleashed by the May 13 incident that the country was presented with a fait accompli by the new Umno ruling class who proceeded to amend Article 153 with a new clause (8A):

“…where in any university, college and other educational institution providing education after Malaysian Certificate of Education or its equivalent, the number of places offered by the authority responsible for the management of the university, college or such educational institution to candidates for any course or study is less than the number of candidates qualified for such places, it shall be lawful for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong by virtue of this article to give such directions to the authority as may be required to ensure the reservation of such proportion of such places for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may deem reasonable; and the authority shall duly comply with the directions.”

This is the “quota system” we have lived with for the last forty years or so and which has created so much acrimony for that length of time. Strictly speaking, if we were to go by Umno’s “social contract” at independence in 1957, that “social contract” certainly does not include Clause 8A of Article 153 since this clause was introduced 14 years later.

And if we scrutinise this Clause 8A more closely, we will see that it is definitely not a carte blanche for the blatant racial discrimination as is the case of enrolment at institutions such as UiTM. The pro-bumiputera enrolment policy at UiTM and for the matriculation courses make a mockery of the quota system itself and the justification of any affirmative action.

Compared to the affirmative action policies of other countries, for example, the US, we find some glaring inconsistencies in this country:

1. The beneficiary group in Malaysia happens to be the politically-dominant and majority Malay group while the most obvious beneficiary group in any affirmative action ought to be one whose people have been historically discriminated against such as the Orang Asli;

2. Any preferential treatment for any group should be followed by specific goals, quotas and sunset clauses rather than the “never-ending policy” of the NEP in Malaysia;

3. The definition of “the Malays” being an under-represented group is imprecise and flawed when any Muslim who is not ethnically Malay can claim to be a beneficiary;

4. Affirmative action should be extended to all discriminated groups, for example, women and other marginalised groups.

This gross racial discrimination in the Malaysian education system is one of the biggest obstacles to national progress and development. 

Education is the crucial institution for developing an inclusive society that is just and tolerant, that respects diversity, equal opportunity and participation of all peoples. Our national education philosophy calls for developing the potential of all in a holistic and integrated manner, so as to produce individuals who are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced and harmonious. 

This will never materialise when racially discriminatory policies abound. The government’s call for promoting integration by doing away with vernacular schools rings hollow when there are institutions such as UiTM.

It is time for the new education minister to turn his attention to equitable education access for all citizens to our national institutions, to think of ways to develop quality institutions, national integration and academic freedom. To start with, he should review and reform our policy of student intakes at all levels of colleges and universities, including the matriculation programme, with the aim of striking a balance between fair representation of ethnic groups, special assistance for the B40 regardless of ethnicity while maintaining academic excellence of all our institutions.

With such an inclusive vision and policy, Harapan could facilitate the growth of an education system that proudly welcomes its richly diverse peoples equitably, empowers all poor out of poverty and taps into the talent of all its citizens for the good of all:

“Ensuring that each individual has an equal opportunity for educational progress remains a challenge worldwide. Sustainable development emphasises inclusion and equity as laying the foundations for quality education. International human rights treaties prohibit any exclusion from, or limitation to, educational opportunities on the basis of socially-ascribed or perceived differences, such as by sex, ethnic/social origin, language, religion, nationality, economic condition, ability. Reaching excluded and marginalised groups and providing them with quality education requires the development and implementation of inclusive policies and programmes”. 

Racism in the Framework of Malaysia’s Education System

It all started in 1969, although many would say it started years earlier. The Bumiputra population made up of Malays and other indigenous groups were continuously economically marginalised. In general, they were poor, uneducated, and lived in the rural, undeveloped areas of Malaysia. Understandably, they developed an underlying social grudge. This tension erupted into what is now known as the 13th of May 1969 racial riots, where enough blood flowed freely in the streets that severe actions had to be taken by the government to pacify the Bumiputra community. And so, the country was introduced to several affirmative action policies.
One of these policies saw quotas and scholarships given exclusively to the majority ethnic group to improve their opportunity to receive higher education and ultimately equalise the financial standings of all ethnicities. Over time, these policies have changed in one form or another, yet the principle remains the same. Non-Bumiputras have a far more difficult time furthering their education, regardless of whether they deserve it academically or are struggling financially.
This Matrikulasi is a pre-university program that is widely recognised as a fast track to entering the country’s leading universities. Students need only to pay a small registration fee and the rest is government-funded. Only 10 percent of the spots to this advantageous program go to non-Bumiputra students who are usually of Chinese or Indian descent. They are forced to fight for a space in this program or struggle to find for the funds for private universities.
It is clear that these affirmative action policies that impact the ability to attend university ought to be need-based rather than race-based. Many organizations are calling for this move towards meritocracy rather than race when it comes to admission such as the Malaysian Academic Movement (MOVE) and the National Patriots Association who have both given statements calling out the government.
So why is Malaysia still promoting this policy that goes against the democratic and racially tolerant country which they wish project to the world? Like most confusing realities in Malaysia, you can always trace it back to a game of politics.
The race-factors which subsidize the journey through university education have far-reaching effects such as receiving a well-paying job and entering the workforce earlier. The Malay community does not wish for affirmative action to be abolished and for their privileges to be stripped away. The Malay people make up 60% of the Malaysian population, which means satisfying them can secure the vote of the majority when the next elections roll around.
When Mahathir began to take action with regards to the pledge that he made during his election campaign, to ratify a UN treaty against racial discrimination, all it took was some pressure from the Malay community before he swiftly backed out from ratifying the treaty. Despite his promises to be a fair prime minister with a new coalition that cares for all ethnic groups, he continues to use affirmative action for political gains.
No one denies affirmative action can be advantageous to stabilize a county and fix inequality, but only when it is truly necessary. There was a time when this policy made sense in the social and political framework in the country- that time has long passed.

If action is not taken soon, the future for all Malaysians is worrying. Some non Malays may have decided to stay in the country despite his disappointment in the way the government treated his hard work and real need, but there are others who would not think twice before leaving and seeking a new place to study. And if the top students are so discouraged that they make a hasty exit from their homeland, the brain drain that is already occurring will only get worse. The result will be harsh for the economy and the workforce. Malaysia needs to re-look at these policies, and the government ought to make changes now so that the right to education will no longer revolve around one’s race.

A Review of Malaysian education and quota system

If there is one other thing that I am passionate about, it is education. Education is the bedrock of progress in society. So today, I want to walk all of us down the memory lane of Malaysian education.

For my generation, Malays that grew up in the late 60s and 70s, the emphasis on education by our parents cannot be understated. It was not just any education, it was secular education.

Our parents saw that in order for their children to attain a better life, for Malay society to progress, secular education is key. They want their children to grow up to become teachers, lawyers, engineers, medical doctors and the likes.

The government then, saw that too. Malays, who were basically rural and agrarian, needed to be modernised and urbanised, they said, and so, they started us young.

The government realised that rural children needed to be taken out of their “natural surroundings” of Malay society and placed them into a secular educational environment with emphasis on learning modern knowledge. So, at around the age of 12, the best of us, mostly, were plucked out of our mainly rural surroundings and placed in the so-called elite boarding and semi-boarding schools in order to drum modern education into us.

In those days, do not forget, our education and curriculum were not far removed from that of our ex-colonial masters, the British.

Hence, in my opinion, started the great Malay education revolution. Our liberal and progressive leaders, thinkers and policy makers in the 60s and early 70s realised something profound – that if Malay society is to catch up with their other fellow Malaysians, their children need to be educated in modern secular thought and knowledge.

They went about implementing this for Malay children by ensuring that primary secular education was mandatory and widespread and those with potential were placed into not just modern secondary secular education but were taken out of rural mindsets.

This was not about creating quotas for Malays, this was about creating a mental revolution at the foundational level for Malay children, in their primary and secondary education. Giving them as best as a modern education so that they can have the opportunity to compete for places at tertiary institutions, on par with non-Malay students.

We succeeded beyond expectations. How do I know this? Because the best of these Malay children then were able to be placed after “O” levels and later SPM – not STPM, not matriculation – into overseas institutions of higher learning. They were competing for positions in colleges and universities overseas against local and international competition, not here in Malaysia, but over there in developed foreign lands, mainly in the UK, US and later Australia. They not only entered these institutions on merit but also graduated on merit. They had no back doors to enter from and yet enter they did.

At that time, we created Institute Teknologi Mara (ITM) for lesser qualified Malay students to provide diplomas, rather than university degrees for those less qualified. This was mainly staffed by foreign teaching talents to supplement our lack of qualified resources.

Again, this is not about quota. This is about recognising that lesser Malay students cannot compete with the best of the non-Malays at local universities on merit but could graduate with diplomas for technical and vocational professions. Mind you, a minority of these diploma holders were late bloomers, and went on to obtain degrees as well as post graduate degrees after their diplomas or even after a period of work – on merit. I am the living proof of this.

But then, like most stories, the middle part is a mess. Hubris set in and our policy-makers went hog wild championing their race. What was then an attempt at levelling the playing field at foundational levels (primary and secondary schooling) and promoting Malays to the next level on the basis of merit, whether through university or technical/vocational route, we decided to send as many Malays through into university to socially engineer Malaysian society and have Malays dominate the next level regardless of capability.

Therein lies the root of our failures today.

It morbidly reminded me of the quote Samuel L. Jackson’s character from that scene in Pulp Fiction, “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men”.

Malay leaders, either for their need to champion their race or to cling to power, decided that instead of promoting the people by giving them tools to succeed on merit, to leap frog those among us who are not capable so that we can dominate the levers of society!

Therefore quota based on racial make-up favouring Malays were implemented for local universities to the point that the Malaysian-Chinese population had to build its own tertiary institution in the form of Tunku Abdul Rahman College to cater for their educational needs, which for the longest time was not allowed to confer degrees even when they merit it.

The UEC (United Education Certificate) is not conferred the accreditation for domestic university entry because of pure racist politics. This is to ensure that places are primarily available to Malays, qualified and mostly unqualified – plain and simple. When it is accepted by foreign universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, and our Malaysian students can enter universities in the UK, US and Australia on our Malay-language based certificate of SPM, what is the issue with respect to UEC in its home country?

Even the vocational and technical school of ITM, in the misguided hubris of racial pride was turned into a university. In an instance, a once competent vocational college that took on second tier students was transformed into a university. Why? It had a real purpose and function for a real segment of the student population. Why turn qualified diploma holders who can enter the right positions in the job market into unqualified degree holders who are unemployable?

And we therefore populate our domestic tertiary student population with a bulk of unqualified majority race. Yes, I said it – unqualified by merit by denying those who are more qualified because of race.

To make matters worse, (Datuk Seri) Najib Razak, the then Education Minister, in the late 90s practically de-regulated tertiary education and made it an industry. We increased the number of public universities while maintaining a quota system based on favouring the majority race.

Our third world country, with limited quality teaching resources, now opens up numerous public universities that can only fill up its teaching positions, again heavily favoured by a majority race-based recruitment quota, by those who came from its own non-merit based university graduates. What on earth could go wrong?

That basically sums up the

history of our Malaysian race-based education policy and subsequent civil service recruitment and promotion policies and then the government-linked-companies (GLC) creation. Malaysian race

politics in education, ladies and gentlemen, made simple for your understanding.

An artificial graduate population dominated by the majority race, that is largely unemployable in the private sector has to then be absorbed into the civil service and GLC.

So what are the consequences? Devastating. The laments that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad keep making about Malays still not being able to compete till today has its roots in this race-based discriminatory education policy and that which extends into our civil service and GLCs. And he wonders why the machinery of government today is worse than it was when he first became the Prime Minister of Malaysia in 1981.

Birds of the same feathers flock together, Sir. If you fill up your tank with sludge, sooner or later algae will fill it up and rise to the top. And they make more algae.

Race-based quota system in education and in recruitment need to stop. We must insist that our government take the lead. It is not about the loss of opportunities or placement of one race against the other.

The government needs to understand and insist its people understand that the country cannot afford to be negligent in this. We need to rectify past mistakes. Quotas in education do not work.

They ultimately wreck our administrative capabilities, our economy and eventually, our education. It becomes a vicious cycle that spirals downwards.

We should prepare our children to compete at foundational levels (primary and tertiary). After that let merit wins the day. Let those that qualify fill the right places in education. Those that qualify to be in universities get into universities. Those that qualify for vocational schools go for vocational places. Those that don’t qualify for either should find their right places at work after secondary education. No more quotas.

I have a bit to say about affirmative action. Firstly as I said, do it at the foundational levels. Secondly, any affirmative action at tertiary levels or at the work place must be on minority allocation. That means, as a rule of thumb, affirmative action cannot be more than 10% of the total on the basis of giving opportunity for the less fortunate. At the end of the day, even the less fortunate upon being given the opportunity must perform on merit.

The nation needs to progress on merit because the world works on merit. No one gives two hoots about our place in the sun. We therefore need our best to take us to be the best.

We are Malaysians. We need the right qualified people in the right places irrespective of their race, religion or creed. We need the right people to administer, manage and lead the nation in education, the civil service and the private sector, so that we can be more than we can be.

We need Malaysians to help other Malaysians irrespective of race. That can only happen when truly qualified people hold the right positions. It starts in education.