Musa Hitam: NEP’s ‘apparent success’ made Malays realise money was ‘ladder’ to political power

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Former deputy minister Tun Musa Hitam said the New Economic Policy led to money becoming the foremost factor in Malay politics. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Former deputy minister Tun Musa Hitam said the New Economic Policy led to money becoming the foremost factor in Malay politics. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 — The New Economic Policy (NEP) led to money becoming the foremost factor in Malay politics, said former deputy minister Tun Musa Hitam today.

He said this during his keynote speech for the “International Conference on Political Party Finance Reform in South-east Asia”, where he shared his personal experience with political financing, going back to his time as political secretary to former transport minister Datuk Sardon Jubir in 1964.

“Money, as we know it, was never an issue at the time. The spirit of sacrifice and enthusiasm was there based on the spirit of gotong royong or self-help. We were fighting colonialism, and after that, we were proud of independence or Merdeka.

“Going fast forward, the promotion of the New Economic Policy and its apparent success made Malays enter the modern world. That is, in realisation of money as the political ladder to climb to achieve power in government,” he said.

Musa also said that during his first stint as an MP, he realised that money was much needed for various events and donations, and once had to explain to his constituents that he was not the scion of a wealthy family.

“I never stopped reminding my constituents that if my explanation was not acceptable, then it would mean that I had to get funds from other sources, even illegal ‘under-counter’ contributions to fulfill their demands,” he said.

Speaking on the distribution of funds from state-level to constituency-level administrators Musa said: “I must admit that Umno and Barisan Nasional kept winning and maintaining power, money was never a problem”.

“But then, as is said often enough, power corrupts and more power corrupts completely. Inevitably implosion happens causing damages beyond repair,” he added.

The NEP was introduced in 1970, following the racial riots of May 13, 1969.

Aside from poverty eradication measures, the policy also introduced what has come to be known as “affirmative action” policies which pushed for greater Bumiputera wealth ownership, business participation, education and employment opportunities, as well as representation among high-level executives in the public sector.

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