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News & Events

[ 24-09-2013 ]
In Friday sermon, JAKIM endorses new Bumiputera agenda

Muslims performing prayers at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur. — AFP pic

Muslims performing prayers at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur. — AFP picKUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 — Malaysia’s federal Islamic authority today stamped its seal of approval on the new Bumiputera Agenda set to offer the community tens of billions in aid and contracts, urging Muslims with its Friday sermon to seize the opportunities presented.

In the sermon, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) warned that a failure to take advantage of scheme would allow “others” to reap the benefits that are being lavished upon the Bumiputera community.

It then thanked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for unveiling last week the Bumiputera Economic Empowerment agenda, which extends and widens the country’s decades-old pro-Bumiputera affirmative action.

“With this, the mimbar (pulpit) again calls for us to berjihad (engage in a holy struggle) to improve our economic status and the country’s by taking the opportunity and grabbing the chances that have been prepared in the Bumiputera Economic Empowerment. 

“Remember, if we still fail to take this golden opportunity, surely others will receive the benefits and we will continue living backwards and looked down upon in our own native land,” JAKIM warned in the sermon, which is available on its website.

The sermon lauded Najib’s “bold” move in pushing for the Bumiputera agenda to help the local Muslims prosper economically.

“The pulpit also takes this opportunity today to express its appreciation to Malaysia’s prime minister for this bold step in carrying out a big shift for the advancement and prosperity of the Muslims,” it said, less than a month before Najib defends his post as the president of the Malay-based party Umno.

The sermon praised the Bumiputera economic agenda, saying that it was the “best way” to defend the Muslims’ well-being while also ensuring that everyone gets equal opportunities to succeed and enjoy Malaysia’s prosperity.

JAKIM said the economic plan was a challenge to the Muslims to work harder and be at the forefront of the country’s economy.

“Therefore, it is our responsibility as Muslims to strive earnestly and tirelessly to grab the opportunity prepared by the rulers to improve ourselves and defend the survival of Muslims in this beloved homeland,” it said.

The Malays, who are defined in the Federal Constitution as those professing the faith of Islam, are the country’s largest ethnic group.

The Malay community, which is also part of the Bumiputera community or “sons of the soil”, has been the recipient of decades-old affirmative action policies to uplift their economic standing.

Right-wing Malay groups have often accused the ethnic Chinese minority of dominating the country’s economy and wealth.

Critics have attacked Najib’s recent announcement as a reversal of his 2009 promise to dismantle race-based economic policies by introducing the needs-based New Economic Model (NEM).

But he was forced to launch a stripped-down version of the NEM after the policy was criticised by pro-establishment supporters.

Najib’s NEM was initially meant to replace the approach used in the New Economic Policy (NEP), which was introduced by Najib’s father and the country’s second Prime Minister Tun Razak Hussein.

Introduced in 1971, the NEP had an ambitious and noble goal to redress the socio-economic gap between townspeople that were largely Chinese, and the rural Malays and other Bumiputera, within the span of two decades. It ended officially in 1990, but the key aspects of its affirmative action plan remain in place in various forms years later.