The Pakatan Rakyat manifesto is needs-based rather then race-based, with the aim of every household earning an income of at least RM4,000 a month within five years after it comes to power.
This, PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli (right) said, will lead to the possible phasing out of the controversial New Economic Policy (NEP) which has yet to obtain its objective of Malays and bumiputera having a 30 percent stake of the economy since the policy was introduced 40 years ago.
“We have to make sure the whole economic policy benefits the needy group and obviously they will eventually attain the economic standing that was the original intention of the NEP,” he said.
“The approach is different as it is going to move from race-based to needs-based economic policy and that will automatically phase out the NEP.”
People, he said, should start looking at household income rather than race.
“We are not against the NEP but the market mechanism under NEP did not go well although its intentions were noble, and we incorporate this in our policy where we will include fairer and effective means,” he said.
PAS central committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the model follows the social market economy where we believe in the market but also in looking after the social welfare of the people.
He emphasised that this does not mean moving away from affirmative action but prioritising policies to reach a wider spectrum of people and this, he said, is also viewed positively in Islam, that is in having a vibrant economy but at the same time the state looks after the people’s needs.
The NEP was introduced in 1970 following the aftermath of the May 13 riots. However, the target of Malays and bumiputera attaining 30 percent equity of the economy which it set had not been met.
RM4,000 household income is attainable
On being asked whether the RM4,000 monthly household income targeted by Pakatan is utopian as alleged by some critics, Rafizi said the target is attainable by the end of five years.
Rafizi added that at present the household income of RM2,500 is not far off and this can be raised following an increase in the minimum wage to RM1,100.
He added that Pakatan is not leaving the small- and medium-sized industries in the lurch to implement this as it proposes to set up a RM2 billion fund for the implementation of the minimum wages, where companies could use the fund to help them pay their workers.
By raising the lower bracket, the other brackets would eventually or gradually be raised, he added.
Rafizi also said that it also proposes to reduce Malaysia’s reliance on foreign labour and have the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia dropouts to be retrained to possibly take over the jobs.
“The problem in Malaysia is that we have many school leavers who after their SPM found it difficult to get jobs, and even if they want to work in factories the wages offered are low as some are offered starting pay of RM600.
“Hence, they do not want to enter the workforce and remain jobless. What we propose is to retrain them by setting up a fund and using the National Service Training fund of RM1 billion to retrain them to gain jobs,” he said.
With this, Rafizi said they could enter into the workforce and contribute to the overall household income with the working parents to contribute to the overall RM4,000 monthly income for a household.
However, he admitted that when the foreign workers leave it will take some time or adjustment time before the present locals will take up the jobs.
The PKR director of strategy said the wastage and leakages under the BN government would be better spent in helping train school-leavers to get decent jobs and contribute to their households.