Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on Tuesday announced plans for a “New Economic Model (NEM),” raising prospects of a fair deal for all racial groups. The “NEM roadmap for the future” would now be blueprinted, Mr. Najib said in a policy speech at an investment seminar in Kuala Lumpur.

The hallmark of the earlier New Economic Policy was an accent on affirmative action for the benefit of the majority-Malays and other sons of the soil for setting right some historical economic imbalances.

The NEM, he said, was being designed to “change the perception that non-Bumiputeras have not benefited from the progress made to date, although facts and figures show otherwise.” Malay-Muslims and Malaysia's indigenous people constitute the majority Bumiputeras, while ethnic Chinese and people of Indian origin are the main minorities.

A renewed affirmative action policy would form an integral part of the proposed NEM, with the focus being the raising of income levels of all disadvantaged groups across Malaysia's multiracial spectrum, said the Premier. The affirmative policies as implemented so far did not benefit those who needed them the most among the Bumiputeras.

“While the original policies are still relevant, it is time to review their implementation. We will chase the same goals but transform the way we do things,” he said. The new model would be based on the possibility of raising the per capita income of all Malaysians from $7,000 now to $15,000 by the end of this decade.

S. Subramaniam, a high-ranking ethnic-Indian Minister in Mr. Najib's Cabinet, later told The Hindu from Kuala Lumpur that the three “important principles” of the planned NEM were higher incomes for all over time and inclusive as also sustainable economic growth. It was now emphasised that the people of all races “have every right to realise their potential and make a contribution” to Malaysia's growth story, said Dr. Subramaniam.

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