A FIREBRAND AND THE SERMON ON NEP JUSTICE
When Datuk Ali Ibrahim made the “Perkasa” comment that selling off an MISC related company to non Bumi interest was an unnecessary move and a departure from the essential objectives of the NEP, long knives long were drawn in a fast and furious attempt to silence the man who the Chinese and Indians consider to be a racist. Racist because his statements however provocative or crude at times, is a statement that reinforces the disparity between the majority Malays and the non Malays. It does not stop there. Blogger Gopal Raj Kumar writes ..
Datuk Ibrahim Ali makes a lot of people across the political spectrum uncomfortable when he brings into focus the stated objectives of the NEP (New Economic Policy) that favours the Malays (or Bumiputera’s over non Malays) in a form of positive discrimination or Affirmative action sanctioned by the constitution. Often he raises the subject of the NEP in its breach where lip service replaces real action on the ground. And who can blame the man.
And considering the Najib Razak administration has been under considerable pressure to dilute parts of the NEP especially where the Chinese and Indians are concerned, the complaint by Datuk Ibrahim Ali cannot be said to be misplaced, outrageous or bigoted a sentiment. It is in fact a statement based on a set of valid arguments.
THE MYTH OF THE FAVOURED BUMIPUTERA
The myth that the Malays are largely favoured in business, employment and education over the other races in Malaysia is a much distorted and exaggerated proposition. The facts are conveniently ignored.
Take for example the case of the lucrative residential and commercial development and construction sector. During the 1997 Asian currency crisis, a large number of residential and commercial property developments went under reportedly because of the Asian currency crisis (precipitated by George Soros’ hedge fund shorting of Asian currencies). But was that the real reason for the collapse of that burgeoning commercial sector?
Each time a property developer wishes to secure funding for the construction of a building project they turn to Bumiputera’s to exercise their rights to that percentage of the development exclusively reserved for Bumiputera’s under the NEP. When Bumiputera’s exercise that right to their reserved percentage of a development, it secures for the builder the line for funding they require to progress their projects. The project becomes bankable and feasible because Bumiputera funding for housing is an almost guaranteed proposition. No complaints there about the NEP from an almost Chinese dominated sector.
Without the Bumiputera input into the initial stages of buying “off the plan” many of the developments Malaysia is witness to which forms the backbone of its domestic economic growth would not get off the ground. Yet the Chinese and non Bumiputeras continue to complain about this form of ‘favoured’ status the Malays enjoy.
On the one hand they are quite content to benefit from Bumiputera privileges when it underwrites their business success. On the other hand they join the chorus of slandering government and the Bumiputeras for maintaining and continuing to implement the NEP which they say discriminates against Non Bumiputeras.
MALAY MONEY UNDERWRITING CHINESE PROSPERITY
During the term of Tun Dr. Mahathir and before (during the time of the Tengku Abdul Rahman), the profiteering by mainly Chinese businesses at the expense of the NEP and the Bumiputeras was legendary. It was during the time of the Tengku and especially Tun Dr. Mahathir that the Chinese benefitted most at the expense of the Malays. All this too aided, abetted and underwritten with state funds, without checks and balances, without proper state approval but with the express blessings of Tun Dr. Mahathir.
Datuk Ibrahim Ali is no fool. He is a kind of phenomenon which the Malays have experienced every once in a generation in much the same way they had Dr. Mahathir Mohamed and Anwar Ibrahim, two ‘champions’ of the Malay cause in an era gone by. Whilst it is undeniable especially in Tun Dr. Mahathir’s case that there was more progress in social, economic and educational terms for the Malays, an equal amount of this progress can be said on closer analysis to have been superficial and a smoke screen that covered an even greater benefit to the Chinese and Indians. It was sleight of hand politics.
Behind the smoke screen lay the fast track development of people like Anand Krishnan, Vincent Tan, Yeoh Tiong Lay, Eric Cheah and a host of other ‘self made’ (more like Mahathir made) billionaires. Each of these individuals and the many more (too many to name here) were secretly funded by the Mahathir government and to a lesser extent the Tengku before that.
HOW UNIQUE IS THE NEP? HOW VALID IS DATUK IBRAHIM ALI’S PROTEST?
The NEP has at its core a policy most developing and civilized developed industrialized nations has for its natives. In Malaysia it is the Malays.. In the US it is the first nations (the North American Indian tribes) in Canada their own native American tribes, in Australia the Aborigines or Kurri people and so on and so forth.
Datuk Ibrahim Ali’s recent protest against the sale of a MISC subsidiary to a non Bumi company should not be taken lightly. This is a warning sign that Dr. Mahathir himself waived in front of the Tengku all those years ago demonstrating a level of Malay discontent likely to precipitate a crisis of the proportions the country was witness to at 13 May 1969. It could well happen again.
Today’s Malays are a more sophisticated bunch than their predecessors in the fight for rights, 1969 and prior. Their radicalization is the direct result of neglect of their needs, their exclusion from the benefits of the NEP which was generously showered over a narrow church of urban middle class and politically connected Malays and their Chinese connections for decades.
As always the Indians (Tamils) do not warrant mention for their inherent ability to make themselves irrelevant, inconsequential and undeserving of any assistance from a BN government they continually show a disloyalty to. The Tamils have a rich history in squandering the opportunities they are given and destroying the opportunities that are presented to them on a silver platter.
HOW VALID IS THE LAZY MALAY -ENTREPRENEURIAL CHINESE DICHOTOMY?
It is important to fund NEP based Bumiputera businesses and to provide the training and funding for them to succeed. There is no guarantee of success based on race as Dr. Mahathir has often tried to advocate on behalf of the Chinese.
If the Mahathir advanced fictitious theory about race based business successes were indeed the case, then Tun Dr. Mahathir would not have had to fund Yeoh Tiong Lay, Anand Krishnan, Tony Fernandez, Eric Cheah, Vincent Tan and the other non Bumiputera “business geniuses” who the Tun has often held up like the Tengku as being a natural phenomenon in business successes.
If they were indeed that good they would have not needed a Malay government using Malay money to underwrite and guarantee their successes without competition.
It won’t be long before Perkasa shakes their relationship with an opportunistic Tun Dr. Mahathir and remnants of the Tengku’s supporters in the reactionary quarters of UMNO. These are the pimps of Malaysian society. They pimp off the Malay people and expect Malays to succeed where others don’t.
Ibrahim Ali has to be more pro-active and work more closely with government to put an end to the divisiveness of Mahathirism which has split the Malay communities into the uppity urban educated classes he favours and the rural Malays who are forced to eke out a living on their own sans the NEP.
The rural Malays especially have had in previous governments been forced to sacrifice their benefits under the NEP in order that their urban cousins and their Chinese and Indian sleeping partners prosper at their expense.
The current government can only bend backwards so far before its patience breaks and opens the way for a Pekasa re alignment with the current Najib government. Either ways the majority the Malays must not be taken for granted. And neither must the NEP continued to be abused.