A comparative study of the business activity of the Malays and Chinese in Sarawak, East Malaysia
When the Malaysian Prime Minister announced throughout the country in November, 1989, that the New Economic Policy, which had been aimed at encouraging the Bumiputras of Malaysia divulge into business, had only achieved 19.4 percent success rate, few were surprised. This was because it had been known over the two decades of the New Economic Policy that the Malays had achieved little impact in the local entrepreneurial scene. What was surprising, was that no one questioned why the NEP had achieved so little, as compared to the hundreds of millions of Malalaysian dollars which had been allocated for the purpose of helping them become more entrepreneurial. It is the view of this researcher that the Malaysian government and publics still have not achieved the expected 30 percent NEP objective of Malay participation because the main issue at the heart of the matter, that is the fact that little is known about the characteristics of the Malays who have become entrepreneurs overnight, is not fully understood. This research, even though only focussing on Sarawak, is meant to act as the springboard for future research into understanding Malay entrepreneurial attributes and what more better way to do that other than by comparing them with the Chinese entrepreneurs in the state, whose successes in business have enabled them to dominate the state economy. Comparison of the business activity of the two races is the prime focus of this research and it is hoped that the results of this study will be useful for future policy makers as well as the entrepreneurial development programmes they design. Failure to do this will result in more wastage in the resources and manpower employed, largely because of duplication of the activities such as seminars, workshops and entrepreneurial courses which everybody seems to be organising but where nobody seems to be keeping record of who is organising what courses, who has attended what courses, who is or is not eligible to attend, or more importantly, even who can achieve the most benefit from what is being provided. This research reveals the similarities as well as the differences between the Malay and Chinese entrepreneurs in the study. These attributes are compared and analysed statistically to see whether certain characteristics (variables) for the two groups are positively or negatively correlated, and if so, how strong the correlation is. The analyses from the study is then compared to earlier studies which have all been done for the Malays and Chinese in Peninsular Malaysia. It is pertinent to note at this point that no study of this kind has ever been undertaken for Sarawak, and this study happens to be the first.