For better and for worse, the system would have been in place for almost 40 years by the end of this decade, surely a period long enough for affirmative action to have continued uninterrupted.
Today, the figures show that bumiputras have made considerable inroads into the private sector and are considerably over-represented in government service at all levels.
The disparity in government is so great that it requires a balancing exercise to make the government and its associated services multi-racial again.
Malay and bumiputra living standards have risen very substantially over the decades and all of them have good access to the basic amenities of life, including education, although the overall standards of education have fallen.
In fact, there is an argument to be made that the Indians have probably become the most disadvantaged group in the country.
After almost 40 years, the field has been levelled to as much as can be done under social engineering without further debilitation.
It is time to put a stop to these affirmative policies and accept that the major races are already closer to equal footing, and put in place policies that help all the poor equally, irrespective of race.
If any one group predominates in the poverty category, that community would automatically be helped more in the overall effort to assist all poor.
Then, we also drop race-based policies and focus on policies that are Malaysian-based.
That is actually far more equitable than present policies under which many bumiputras who are being helped and given special concessions no longer need them, and there are other poor people, both bumiputras and non-bumiputras, who need the help more.
The shift is a major one from the previous concept of race-based socio-economic thinking, where if one talked about equality we thought about whether the races had the same amount of income or power, to take just a couple of criteria.
Instead, the focus must be to ensure that everyone enjoys equal opportunities under the law and are treated equally under the law, whether they come from different races and whether they are rich or poor.
That means not only doing away with NEP quotas but also oversight and control of all enforcement agencies through independent commissions and investigating bodies, as well as for an avenue for complaints to reach the top and to be investigated independently.
The rights of the citizen, no matter what his racial origin, must be held sacrosanct and anyone who violates that must be punished and investigated under the law.
To take a recent example, there is clear evidence to indicate that A.Kugan, who died under police custody, was systematically and brutally tortured with a hot iron and beatings while under police custody.
Can one reasonably expect the police to fairly investigate a case which involves up to 11 other policemen? Where is the system that takes care of such abuse?
There is a crying need to protect the rights of citizens at all times to ensure, in Voltaire’s words, that they are all equally free.
For that to be done, new laws such a race-relations Act to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on race should be enacted.
Equally importantly, they must be enforced relentlessly.
Economic equality between races is, at the end of the day, an elusive goal, but it is not dangerous so long as disparities are not a yawning chasm – they no longer are.
People have a right to achieve, and how much they choose to achieve.
Handouts don’t create equality.
The important things are citizens’ rights to education, to earning a living, to not be discriminated against because of their religion or skin colour or social background and to be treated equally under the law.
These must be enshrined and protected.
It’s very basic but ultimately, that’s what equality is all about.
IT IS TIME TO STOP BARISAN NASIONAL STYLE OF NEP