'Govt's economic policy shows room for improvement but not a complete failure'
The government's economic policy, although not a complete failure, is in need of improvement to generate more Malay tycoons in the country.
According to Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd Economics and Social Finance chief Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid, the existing policies, such as the New Economic Policy (NEP) and the National Development Policy (NDP) need to be reviewed while also focusing on income and wealth distribution balance.
"Islamic economic systems such as zakat and waqf can actually be mobilised effectively to ensure a fairer distribution of income and wealth, besides it being complementary to the country's fiscal policy.
"These systems complement the country's fiscal policy and can be implemented by drawing upon Malaysia's practice of Islamic economics.
"These improvements are crucial for securing a dignified fate for the people," he explained to Sinar Premium.
On Friday, Sinar reported that Forbes Magazine 2023 had released a list of the 50 wealthiest individuals in Malaysia, and the Kuok Group founder Tan Sri Robert Kuok, who will turn 100 years old this October, has topped the list with a total wealth of RM54.3 billion.
However, only three Malay entrepreneurs were listed, namely corporate figure Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, who is in 11th place (RM7.3 billion); Weststar Aviation Services Sdn Bhd (WAS) owner Tan Sri Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim in 24th place (RM3.7 billion) and the country's leading banking figure Tan Sri Azman Hashim in 34th place (RM2.6 billion).
Therefore, to produce more Malay millionaires, Afzanizam suggested identifying bumiputeras who are in a good economic position and encouraging them to compete on merit.
He added that development programmes such as education, health, infrastructure and governance could also help improve the living standards.
He also underlined that the primary goal is to ensure prosperity for the people in various aspects.
"Opportunities for further education should be available for those who wish to pursue it, enabling them to enhance their economic status.
"Similarly, creating a fair, transparent, and competitive business environment is essential for individuals looking to start their own businesses," he said.
Supporting Dr. Afzanizam's viewpoint, Economic analyst Professor Barjoyai Bardai acknowledged that the government's economic policy cannot be deemed a complete failure, but it has not achieved overall success either.
"On the contrary, the policy need some changes to balance the success of entrepreneurs and corporate figures in this country," he said.
Barjoyai noted that the previous concept aimed to nurture potential entrepreneurs by equipping them with the necessary skills so they could mentor others once they achieved success.
"However, this approach did not yield the desired results. For example, during economic crisis, many Malay entrepreneurs struggled to compete in the market and fell behind due to inadequate preparation to face such challenging situations.
"As a result, only a few Malay entrepreneurs have emerged as prominent figures and joined the ranks of Malaysia's wealthiest individuals," he said.
He added that the process of developing successful Malay entrepreneurs should not be rushed but rather take place gradually over time.
"Efforts to nurture Malay entrepreneurs need to start from the bottom. Starting with attitude, culture and way of living. Avoid taking shortcuts by turning intrapreneurs (CEOs and company directors promoted to shareholders and entrepreneurs) into entrepreneurs.
"This is because intrapreneurs are not experts at risk management and can cause the Malay entrepreneurs to fail.
"The practice of rent-seekers or giving contracts to entrepreneurs with no experience in order to widespread commissions among Malay entrepreneurs should also be stopped if we want to produce quality tycoons," he explained.