Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Business and Racial Chambers

Business and Racial Chambers

The Malaysian electorate had demonstrated greater maturity during the last general election in choosing not to vote blindly along racial lines as goaded, and instead had made a serious attempt at voting out racialism.

It therefore appears reasonable to expect all existing racially divided organisations to take cue from this magnificence and do some soul-searching to see if they too can do away with the racial tag wherever it is practicable. Ofcourse it is not possible for all situations but I believe a serious voluntary attempt should be made at dismantling the racial divisiveness in organisations that seem to be needlessly divided by race.

A case in point is the commerce and industry organisations. At the national level, we have the “The National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia” (NCCIM). The stated objective of NCCIM is to help represent the numerous interests of the Malaysian business community domestically and internationally. A key objective as proclaimed is to promote Malaysian exports and investments abroad, as well as to help create a conducive climate in Malaysia for foreign investors. It is a noble objective and there is nothing racial here.

The current five members of NCCIM include the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) and the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) that too are non-racial in nature.

However, there are three other organisations as named below that are divided along racial lines, just like the Alliance Party of yesteryears:

  1. Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia (MCCM);
  2. The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM);
  3. Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (MAICCI);

My question is this racial division still necessary today? Are our businesspersons and industrialists incapable of managing their business affairs except along racial lines? Is it not possible to have workable commerce and industry chambers without the racial tag?

The broader issue is how would the nation achieve integration, teamwork and synergy if we continue with such racially segregated organisations? Is there any overwhelming argument in support of continuing with such segregation?

Is it possible for NCCIM to address this matter by opening its doors to only multi-racial organisations and to do away with race based member organisations?

NCCIM may even find it more conducive to operate without the racial bickering that comes along with racially divided organisations as we have seen over the last 50 years of racially divided political parties and in the government they formed.

Further more when one looks at the Committees through which NCCIM operates, we find that they cover Human Resource Development & Training, Trade & Industrial Policies, Fiscal & Monetary Policies, Regional & International Affairs, Public Relations, Management & Steering, Finance and Bumiputra Participation. It is rather strange that despite the presence of three racially based organisations, there are no committees on Chinese and Indian participation. Does not that invite the question that NCCIM does not care about Chinese and Indian citizens?
Would it not be far better not to have racially motivated committees and instead have a Committee that encourages participation of all Malaysians?

Malaysian economy is export driven and therefore we need all the resources that we can get to emerge competitive in today’s globalised business world. Business organisations too have a responsibility to keep transaction costs low so that Malaysians remain competitive.
Would NCCIM and the Chambers of Commerce take the lead in showing the way for other organisations in Malaysia? Would the three racially divided chambers become a single organisation for all Malaysians?

(For further information on NCCIM, please visit its website at:

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