Low Bumiputera participation in business is bad for the country's attempt to forge unity, image and wealth distribution, said Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan.

NONEHe said that in the Klang Valley, only 15 percent of retail shops are operated by Bumiputera, while the rest are operated by the Chinese.

"It is not a good statistic from a national economic distribution level," he told a press conference in Seremban, according to Sin Chew Daily.

He said that the situation was the same in major cities across the country except for Kelantan and Terengganu.

He said that he needed to point this out because the current scenerio was not healthy for the country's economic development.

"When the tourists visit Malaysia, they might ask: Are there only Chinese in Malaysia? Where are the Malay, Indian, Kadazan and Iban shops?"
'Chinese are first-class citizens'
In view of this, Ahmad said that Lim Kit Siang's claim that BN treats Chinese as "third-class citizens" were untrue.

"The Chinese had become first-class citizens long ago. If not, they would not have 85 percent business ownership. And among the top 40 Malaysian tycoons, three quarters are Chinese," he said.

In contrast, Ahmad Malays lack the capital, business culture and suitable locations to do business. He said Malays also prefer to be employed and thus starting a business upon graduation is not a first choice.

As such, he said other states should follow the footsteps of the Negeri Sembilan Development Corporation in building a business platform for Malays.

He said that Malay business ownership must improve from 15 percent to 30 percent and hinted that some government agencies such as the Urban Development Authority (UDA), Mara and other state-level agencies were not up to the task.