Anwar -No to race based policies;Bumiputeras privilages been abused to enrich cronies

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KUALA LUMPUR,— Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim pledged today that a Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government would put an end to race-based policies as he said the current preferential treatment for Bumiputeras had been abused to enrich cronies.

He also promised a “new phase of competitiveness and open tenders” to help Malaysia regain its edge, as part of PR’s alternative Budget 2013 proposals he unveiled in Parliament today.

“Race-based policies must end…we will continue to help the poor to get “kemudahan” like microcredit. Who benefits the most? The Malays. They have the most people, so even if you give help to an Indian person, it won’t affect the majority who are Malays,” he told reporters today.

PR’s Budget proposals, which include promises to raise disposable income by cutting car taxes, abolish road tolls and waive student loans, were announced today ahead of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s official announcement on Friday of the government’s plans for spending and taxes next year.

PR’s proposals will put pressure on BN as the country braces for what is expected to be its most keenly contested general election in the next few months.

Najib also is expected to announce equally populist policies on Friday as he seeks to lead his Barisan Nasional (BN) to a strong mandate and will need to aggressively court voters to his side.

Najib is expected to announce more cash handouts for the poor and introduce policies to help Malaysians afford homes.

Anwar said today that Bumiputera policies had been abused to enrich a minority of Malaysians, and appeared to take a swipe at his old nemesis Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Now the children of a former PM control billions of rights for petroleum. Bumiputera rights have to benefit larger numbers of people. Does this mean therefore ignoring poor marginalised communities? No. That’s why our proposals take into consideration the need for qualified Bumiputeras to compete. Malaysia cannot regain its competitiveness if we do not move to enhance its competitiveness,” he said. – MI