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Najib to end the NEP - can or not? (ref. malaysiakini)

With Deputy PM Najib Tun Razak having an insurmountable lead in the UMNO nominations (Malaysiakini's report), it seems likely that he will be the next UMNO president and Prime Minister. He comes out with this daring statement while speaking to Bloomberg:

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is ready to end the special privileges for the Malays, but stressed that this must be done gradually.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, the Prime Minister-designate said "if we do not change, the people will change us".

"In the not-too-distant future, we will see all the elements of the New Economic Policy being replaced." He didn't say when that might occur.

"It's a huge challenge," Najib said in the interview yesterday. "There must be this political will and desire to change within Umno. I don't think we can expect people to look at us in more favourable terms unless we change, unless we rectify our weaknesses."

The Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition used the scrapping of the NEP as a campaign pledge to inflict record losses on the ruling Barisan Nasional in the March general election.

The NEP was devised by Najib's father, Tun Abdul Razak, when he was Malaysia's second prime minister to boost the Malays' economic status — through job allocations, cheaper homes and other benefits — in a country where ethnic Chinese had long been more prosperous and remain so. About 65 per cent of country's 27 million people are Malay.

According to Bloomberg, by offering to scrap the NEP, at an unspecified time, and replace it with a needs-based system, Najib is moving closer to the stance of opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who also supports a system based on economic need.

Anwar is trying to seize power but said on Wednesday he is finding it difficult to woo ruling coalition lawmakers to his side.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi plans to step down in March and has named Najib, his deputy, as his successor. Abdullah sped up his planned 2010 exit from the political stage as racial tension increased.

Some analysts Bloomberg spoke to expressed doubt that Umno, the leading party in the ruling coalition, is ready to give up a programme that helps its members. Political consultant Karim Raslan said Umno hasn't fully accepted how much it needs to change.

"I don't see enough frankness in terms of challenges facing the party," Karim said. "Many of the party leaders feel that by replacing Abdullah they will overcome these weaknesses. I have to disagree with them. I don't see many signs of revival," Bloomberg quoted him as saying.

Najib's family has held top positions in politics and business for generations. His father led Malaysia from 1970 to 1976. Najib's cousin is the current education minister. His younger brother Nazir Razak runs the country's second-biggest bank CIMB Group Bhd.

Abdullah picked Najib to succeed him despite misgivings by some over controversies surrounding the deputy prime minister.

Najib has denied suggestions that he is linked to the murder of a Mongolian woman in 2006, and that he had an affair with the victim. A political analyst who worked for Najib is on trial for abetting two police officers in the murder.

Anwar also has accused Najib of profiting from defence contracts and of being behind criminal charges that the opposition leader had sex with a man. Anwar denies the sex charge, and Najib denies both being involved in bringing the case against his opponent and making money from defence contracts.

Bloomberg also quoted former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as saying that Najib has to explain all things that are said about him. "Unfortunately, we don't have any other candidate. We have no choice but to choose Najib," Dr Mahathir said.'

In the interview, Najib called the allegations against him baseless.

"I'm telling you, I wouldn't stay in office a day longer if I knew I am involved in these allegations," he said. "There's no proof, no basis. I can sue people, but it's going to be a tedious process in court."

Isn't this the same Najib that waved that infamous Keris? Has he really changed or is this just talk?


amoker said...

'not too distant' should be qualified. when? another 100 years ? the deal is for 30 years and should be stopped immediately.