Professor Shamsul Amri Baharuddin replies to the bumi equity controversy:
On Sept 27, 2006, malaysiakini published an article entitled 'Bumi equity: Prof disputes study' which totally misrepresented my opinion of what I have to say about the study conducted by Asli (Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute) entitled “Corporate Equity Distribution: Past Trends and Future Policy.”
When I was asked about my opinion of the report, my respond was brief and simple: “I don’t know about the study, I haven’t read it and I have no opinion to offer regarding its content.”
Therefore, I categorically deny that I said what I had purportedly said, including “the study did not contain accurate facts” and the rest of it. By the way, I am a lecturer in social anthropology and not in political science as reported.
It is unfortunate and a great pity that my purported comments have attracted many negative, even crass, reactions from a number of malaysiakini readers. They have the right to do so if those were really my statements. But they were not.
What I offered instead were some general comments on previous such reports on the New Economic Policy (NEP), and not this particular report by Asli.
The gist of my general comment was that some of the reports that offered evaluation on the NEP thus far are not only inaccurate but also biased.
For example, some Malay-based interest groups would claim that the NEP has been well-received by all Malays. This is simply untrue. The Malay response to NEP has been a highly mixed one.
I have researched and written extensively about this with concrete empirical evidence. Those interested are invited to read my book Rancangan Malaysia Kedua:Tujuan dan Pelaksanaannya (1977) and also From British to Bumiputera Rule: Local Politics and Rural Development in Peninsular Malaysia (1986).
I have argued that the nature of NEP’s implementation has been, to borrow Wertheim’s famous words, “betting on the strong few and not on the weak many,” especially NEP’s second objective “to restructure Malaysian society”.
I also mentioned in my general comments to malaysiakini then that from my close reading of the numerous reports and analyses by academicians and non-academicians on the NEP in the last 25 years, I noticed two clear patterns.
The first exhibits a polarised pattern between, on the one hand, pro-establishment and on the other, critical of the establishment. Within each approach I find there exists a number of schisms, often based on ethnic lines and sometimes ideological ones.
In this context, it is not surprising at all that some of the reports on the NEP were highly ‘ethnicised’ in the sense that the studies were not motivated by the need to seek the truth but often to fulfill the ‘ethnicised’ agenda of a particular group.
The second pattern also exhibits a polarised one between, on the one hand, to view Malaysia and its NEP from an “alarmist perspective” and the other from a “consensus perspective.”
To the alarmists, the NEP is perceived as something negative to the general good of the society hence it is said that it could lead to a massive dissatisfaction amongst the various ethnic groups, which in turn could lead to an equally massive ethnic conflict in Malaysia.
Those in favour of the consensus perspective argue that Malaysia, with its NEP, is a society continuously struggling to find a fulcrum and, since it has to contend with a moving one, it is experiencing an almost perpetual state of ‘stable tension’ underlined by an unending negotiation to seek consensus-based solutions.
As such, in my opinion, some of the reports on the NEP had to be viewed with a dose of skepticism for methodological and epistemological reasons.
Therefore, I have indeed nothing to say about the Asli report as reported by malaysiakini, but got plenty to comment on published and unpublished reports and analyses on the NEP.
Finally, I definitely would like to obtain a copy of the Asli report and offer my genuine comments if I am given the chance, but perhaps, it will not be in the distorted and sensational form that appears in the article.
Malaysiakini declares that it is standing by its reporter and will not retract its report. However it has, out of fairness, published Professor Shamsul’s reply today.
Do you accept Professor Shamsul's clarification that he wasn't commenting on Asli's report but rather, the NEP in general when he was asked for his views by the reporter on Asli's finding?