Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Malaysia's Mahathir divides again...

Najib's recent liberalisation of the financial sectors and the rolling back of Affirmative Actions have found himself in the bad books of the grand old man of politics; Mahathir Mohammad. Mahathir in his blog said that after 39 years of NEP (affirmative action policies for the majority malay population) malay share of corporate pie remained at 20% while chinese was at 50%. Bumiputera property holdings are only at 15% while the rest are held by Non-Bumiputeras.

At first glance, I would dispute those figures for it is hard to believe that of all the shareholdings of Public Listed Companies held by Bumiputera's cannot account for 20% of total equities? I believe there was some questions raised as to how thsese figures were achieved which led to the resignation of Dr Lim Teck Ghee when he did a study a few years back.

However, my contention is that Dr Mahathir once again is sowing seed of dissension and suspicion instead of building bridges of unity. The BN under his watch was infamous for "dividing and ruling". His statement is irresponsible and his analysis of the situation dangerously simple. If after 39 years of the NEP, the economic pie of the Bumiputera still only hovers at 20% and the Property holding at 15%, then there is possibly two reasons:
1) That Mahathir's book "The malay dilemma" is true and that malays as he says it are LAZY, FATTENED by an abundance of food under the tropical sun..
2) That the NEP has been ineffective and abused.

I say that point number one is totally untrue for it is proven that there are very bright malays and many who have become outstanding entrepreneurs in their own right. If given the right environment the malays can succeed with hard work like every other race.
How any malay can accept his derogatory description of their own race is beyond me. He of all people a man of indian descent!!

That the NEP has failed and instead bred a generation of "Malay Dilemma" malays is perhaps nearer to the truth. A type of self-fulfilling prophecy. The NEP is not a total failure as there have been some who benefitted judging from the increase of middle class malays in the last 39 years. The problem with the affirmative action program under the BN rule, however, is that it has been tied to political affiliation (like every other government policy). Help and aid especially in the last 10 years, have gone to party faithfuls and UMNO warlords. This help and resources have not effectively trickled down to the rural poor malays. The poor shall remain poor and if NEP was to continue another 20 years, the figures will remain the same if not worsen. If the people is not changed, The NEP or whatever affirmative action program the government calls it will fail and the number of Zakaria mansions and Toyo properties will increase while the majority of rural malays remain poor.

Not opening up the market is living the life of a hermit in a coccoon and our neighbours like Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand will supercede us by 2020. Insisting on the 30% equity for public listed companies will only retard Malaysia's growth and KLSE. The way I see it Najib has little choice. However, liberalising without a clean up and change of guards may see greater abuse and deteriorating living standards for all especially the rural malays. BN will then wield their racial card when the pie gets smaller and this does not bode well for the future of Malaysia.

There has to be a change, if not 2012 then sooner.


Every Square Inch said...

If Malaysia does not adopt a true meritocracy, it will fall farther behind in the global economy. Mahathir's comments are sad and reveals his lack of vision and integrity

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