Economists hail move to wind down Mara Corp

PETALING JAYA: Several economists have given the thumbs up to Majlis Amanah Rakyat for its decision to wind down its corporate arm, Mara Corp.

Madeline Berma, a professor at Akademi Sains Malaysia, claimed that some of Mara Corp’s decisions had been politically motivated and not aimed at meeting socio-economic needs.

Berma said she believed Mara did not achieve adequate success in its mission to groom entrepreneurs because its methods did not encourage an independent spirit.

“The help given caused entrepreneurs to depend on Mara. It made them less competitive.

“Furthermore, some of the assistance did not reach their targets,” she told FMT.

Nazari Ismail of Universiti Malaya said winding down Mara’s commercial activities would reduce avenues for corruption.

He said it was always risky for government agencies to be involved in business activities because they would be using the public’s money.

Yeah Kim Leng of Sunway University said Mara needed to focus on education and training rather than getting involved directly in commercial ventures.

He told FMT it would be better for Mara to focus on empowering Malay entrepreneurs who are already keen in business by providing them the necessary support, networking and training.

“Mara needs to be more focused in its training because the government is already providing various schemes for Malay entrepreneurs,” he said.

An economist who did not want to be named said Mara Corp could succeed in becoming an educational and training centre for entrepreneurs, but only if those entrepreneurs already had proper short and long-term plans.

He also said Malay entrepreneurs needed to be taught to reinvest their profits instead of using them to buy big cars and other luxury items.

One of Mara Corp’s most spectacular failures was its attempt at running a digital mall, which it opened in 2015. It tried to compete with other computer shopping centres, but did not offer the unique experience to garner the required foot traffic.

Last Wednesday, Mara chairman Hasnita Hashim said in a letter to the prime minister that Mara was “winding down” its commercial activities. Observers saw this as a backing down from an earlier plan to close down Mara Corp, the announcement of which was met with protests by various Malay groups.

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