Thursday, December 30, 2010

AFF Suzuki Cup Win & Public Holiday

PM Najib Razak has declared a public holiday on 31st Dec (friday) to celebrate Malaysia’s first ever victory in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup championship. His decision sounds rather outrageous to me.

Before I continue, I would like to congratulate the national team for winning the Asean cup for the first time in 21 years. It is an admirable performance. The national team should be encouraged to perform better in the future to recapture Malaysia's past glory.

Remember, the Malaysian national had achieved much more than this victory. We had won bronze medals at the Asian cup twice and qualified for the Olympics twice too! Our national team had made a mince meat of teams such as Japan and South Korea during their heydays.

The national team is doing a catch up now. We should celebrate their rise and hope that they could maintain their consistency to justify our investment and attention given to them.

However, the Asean cup is a good stepping stone but it is not an Asian cup or the World Cup. Is there a need to declare a public holiday?

My business contacts called me to voice their frustration. 31st Dec is a busy day for those in the events management, retail, F&B and service industry. Many companies are rushing for the financial year end closing. Most of them needed capacity manpower.

A public holiday is going to disrupt business operations and productivity. Those who wanted their staff to come back for work will have to pay triple for a day's work.

We should rejoice but not over doing it or doing it without understanding the full consequences. Is Najib implying that the national football team can now take a break too after winning the Asean cup?

It is just but a regional competition. True champions go back immediately to the training ground after a victory to ensure that they ironed out any remaining weakness in their game.

Najib should show a good example by urging Malaysians to strive harder to improve.

A public holiday? The Malaysian team lost 1-2 in Indonesia. An outright victory would have been more convincing for us.

Maybe we should declare more holidays too if Najib administration could bring several high profile corrupt culprits, murderers and rapists to face their punishment.

I would like to repeat again. It is good to encourage our boys in the national team to work harder and to win more honours but do not over do it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

More Hypocrites in Pakatan Compared to Barisan?

It seems to me that there are more hypocrites in Pakatan than Barisan. Remember ex-Pakatan MPs such as Wee Choo Keong, Zahrain, Tan Tee Beng and others? I believe these ex-Pakatan MPs had pledged their commitment to bring change to Malaysia when they offered themselves to the electorates in the last general elections.

They had criticized and deplored Barisan's excesses, weaknesses and ills. What had happened to these MPs? They are now Barisan friendly.

Remember another ex-PKR leader, Zaid Ibrahim? He did something honourable when he resigned as a minister to protest against the use of ISA against politicians and reporters. He had resigned from PKR after he was edged out from the party deputy president race.

Now, there is another PKR leader, N. Gobalakrishnan, who attacks his party for neglecting the Indian community and alleged that the community is suffering worse compared to during Barisan rule. Gobala was angry because another greenhorn politician/lawyer, Surendran, was appointed Vice President of PKR and not him.

The main problem with the ex and some current Pakatan leaders is a lack of sincerity in their struggle. Great leaders who had fought for a true freedom and liberation of their community and nation did not quarrel over political position or self interest.

Nelson Mandela did not fight against apartheid hoping to be made a president. Mahatma Gandhi did not oppose the British colonial power because he wanted to become a prime minister. Aung San Sukyi did not lead a democracy movement against the junta because she wanted to become a head of government. These leaders wanted to strive for something genuine - real democracy & justice - for their people.

What is left of the commitment to real change in these Barisan friendly MPs? Is Zaid willing to sacrifice his time, commitment and personal freedom to ensure that draconian acts such as ISA, OSA, PPA and others are repealed? Is Gobala willing to donate all his MP's earning to the poor Indians and stand up against the real oppressor?

At least Barisan leaders and MPs do not conceal their real intention. From Najib to Chua Soi Lek, they had admitted publicly that the race based political model is here to stay at least for another 100 years. At least Najib did not hide the fact that he was willing to dangle the financial carrot to lure voters to vote for his party. He did not hide the fact that NEM is the new NEP.

Barisan government did not and will not apologize for Malay supremacy, 'Allah' ban, corruption e.g. PKFZ and a lack of action against it, alleged tempering and emasculation of public institutions, custodial deaths, abuse of power, lack of accountability, poor management of public funds etc.

Hence, are there more hypocrites in Pakatan than Barisan?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Policy Unites People, Not Slogan

Academician and social activist, Wong Chin Huat, put this up on his Facebook:

‎1Malaysia is indeed political and unlawful to appear on billboard under current by-laws. Selangor should not back down on this but the solution should be to lift the ban on all political logos. Pakatan Rakyat should stand for more freedom rather than less. What's wrong with political billboard? Selangor should have put up anti-ISA and water right billboards instead.

I totally agree with Wong's observation. The Selangor government does not have to act in such an insecure manner. Conceptually, there is nothing wrong with the 1Malaysia slogan or logo. If it can be realised, it is actually good for the country.

However, it is a fact that slogan does not unite people, policies do. Until and unless the Barisan government amends/abolishes the race supremacy concept and race affirmative policy, there can never be real unity in the country.

It is simply asking the government to respect and accept the equal rights of all citizens regardless of race or creed. These rights are enshrined in the federal constitution. Granted, the federal constitution did make exclusive provision for the special privileges for the Bumiputeras but it was made in the context of their socio-economic status at the time when the constitution was drafted.

Even the NEP was a good policy. It had helped to alleviate many people out of poverty and create a larger pool of Malay-Bumi professionals and middle class.

Politics is the biggest evil. Race politics and self-interest had manipulated the policy and the special privileges into an imaginary "supreme" social status.

KPI Minister Koh Tsu Koon was wrong to say that 1Malaysia helps to unite people. It does not because slogan is just another slogan. What helps to unite people is enshrined in Koh's party constitution - the promotion of non-racialism and non-racial politics. As much as Koh is working very hard to promote the 1Malaysia slogan, he did not show as much enthusiasm and conviction in helping to promote the non-racialism spirit which was the bulwark of Parti Gerakan.

Similarly, the Pakatan state government should not ban the use of 1Malaysia logo on business related billboards. Two wrongs do not make a right. When the Barisan government bans any mention of Rosmah, Altantuya, Najib or any sensitive public issues on the national media, cartoon books, online etc., the opposition front had accused the Barisan government of being undemocratic. Strangely, it is now behaving like the opposite side.

Several activists and observers had criticized the Pakatan coalition and leaders for being too cosy operating in the same political mould created by Barisan. Pakatan state governments did not implement anything drastic, different or attempt to change the governance model left behind by the Barisan government.

Cut away layers of populist policies implemented by these state governments reveal nothing but the old way of doing things. There is a serious lack of innovation, creativity and enthusiasm shown by these new state governments.

The way forward is to be more open, flexible and accommodate differing political views and opinions.

Pakatan should focus on creating the same or even bigger momentum compared to pre-2008 general elections if it hopes to topple the Barisan. To date, the coalition is facing too many conflicting forces within its own ranks.

Even the civil society does not appear to give their full backing to the newly minted coalition unlike during the 2008 GE.

It is time for Pakatan leaders to perform a thorough health check. They should lose their arrogance, ignorance, complacency and lack of common sense.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Malay Intra-community Wealth/Equity Disparity: What Say Mukhriz?

Tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary has won the race to take over the Ministry of Finance’s (MoF) Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB), adding the northern port operator to his maritime logistics operations.

The influential businessman already owns Port of Tanjung Pelepas and Johor Port via MMC Corp Bhd, whose joint venture with Gamuda Bhd were also named Project Delivery Partner (PDP) for the RM36 billion Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project in Kuala Lumpur.

Syed Mokhtar also owns a slew of other businesses in the country and overseas. His companies have reported massive gearing from financial institutions. He is probably one of the most highly geared investors in the country.

Mukhriz had reportedly spoken about a need for paradigm shift in the Malay economy. Concentration of equity in the hands of a few may not be part of the paradigm shift he mentioned. How can the government create a larger class of Malay-Bumiputera business community if all major/significant privatisation projects are given to a select few?

Syed Mokhtar is a businessman/investor. Why doesn't the government consider giving the project to those who have actual experience in running a port or professionals?

Next, is it wise to pile up more eggs on Syed Mokhtar's already overfilled basket?

It looks like the government hardly walks its talk about reform of the economy.

What's Mukhriz's response to this issue?

Merry Xmas & Happy New Year 2011

Wishing you and family a blessed Xmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Malay Needs Mental Paradigm Shift as Much as Economy Paradigm Shift

Calling for a Malay economy paradigm shift, Mukhriz Mahathir said the economy of the Malays should be on par with other races to enable them to retain their present political power.

"If other races dominate the economy, it will not be impossible for their political power to see a sudden increase.”

In this regard, Mukhriz (left) said, the economy of the Malays must grow in tandem with the country's economy to prevent the economic gap between them and the non-Malays from widening.

Presently, he said, the Malays' economy grew between 2.3 and 2.5 percent compared with the country's 7.0 percent growth.

Mukhriz has made the right noise about a need to restructure the Malay economy. Unfortunately, he has chosen to paint the context in a racial frame.

Is Mukhriz more concern of the Malay economy not contributing enough to overall national economic growth or he is more concern about the growing political power of the non-Malay?

The prime concern should be focused on helping more Malays to occupy the middle class segment of the society, close the intra-community income disparity and enhance their competitiveness.

Hence, a shift of mindset should precede a shift in economy paradigm. The community should lose their sense of helplessness and over dependence on the government. This is easier said that done because politically Umno wants the community to depend on the party for wealth distribution and assistance.

It has the political game of the party. The more the Malays are dependent on the party the higher the likelihood for them to support the party in elections.

It should not take too long for the Malays to realize that their mindset and spirit have been imprisoned by their political masters. A lack of attention and purposeful action taken on the mayhem in Sarawak and the neglect of the poorest 40%, majority of which are Malay & indigenous people all over the country, will expedite the end of such mental tyranny which has kept the community from achieving its fullest potential.

If Mukhriz is seriously concern about his community, he should seek to unleash a mental paradigm shift of the Malays.

Mayhem in Sarawak But Silence in Putrajaya

Ex-Suhakam vice-chairman Simon Sipaun cautions that Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud will not hesitate to use the immigration powers of the state to keep out "prying eyes" from the state.

This is more a case of abusing rather than using the immigration powers of the state as intended under the federal and state constitutions, he added.

"It's a fact that Taib has a lot to hide.

"He has no choice but to appear to seek shelter behind the state's immigration powers," said Sipaun, who is currently one of the 12 advisors appointed by the King to the board of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Sipaun cited the proposed White Paper by the Sarawak state government as a blanket threat to Suhakam and activists like Lasimbang, among others.

The White Paper calls for "unhealthy politics" - meaning Suhakam, the MACC, NGOs and opposition leaders from Sabah and the peninsula - to be kept out of the state.

Taib has been accused by human rights groups in Sarawak for abusing various native rights and enriching himself and his family by grabbing state resources.

Sarawak Report has published endless of reports and findings about Taib's family astonishing wealth and abuses. These reports were made public even before Wikileaks stole the limelight from them.

What has the federal government done to these leaks and reports? Did Najib summon Taib to Putrajaya to explain these allegations?

Najib's administration has announced a number grand initiatives and acronyms e.g. KPI, KRA, ETP, NEM, GTP etc. It is admirable that he is trying to do something to help improve the situation.

However, there is a need of real consistency in his implementation and action plan. Without taking a firm action on the mayhem in Sarawak, it is difficult to convince the moderates and middle ground to support his government and to take his reform agenda seriously.

Go after the big fishes! Stop wasting so much time with race rhetoric and stop some of the culprits such as Utusan Malaysia and their lowly columnists from hijacking the real issues and agenda.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Parliament is Inflicted by Perak Disease

The motion to suspend opposition MPs Anwar Ibrahim, Karpal Singh, Sivarasah & Azmin Ali from parliament for six months is a prime example of abuse of parliamentary majority.

The motion would be passed effortlessly by Barisan's brute majority in the parliament. The consequence is severe and unfortunate for our parliamentary democracy.

The august house will now be inflicted by the Perak disease which has brought chaos to all sittings so far. Imagine what can a day long state assembly sitting can do to a healthy debate on important bills and budgetary decisions? Nothing. The parliament may well be going the same way if a GE is not called by the next sitting in March 2011.

If any, the Barisan government should rise above the APCO fiasco and provide a solid explanation to dispel what the opposition had claimed. Opposition leader Anwar had linked Prime Minister Najib Razak's '1Malaysia' to the 'One Israel' policy introduced by Labour Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak in 1999.

He said that the international public relations consultants, Apco Worldwide, who are well-paid PR advisers to the Najib administration, were behind both policies. When challenged to furnish proof of his assertions, the opposition leader, in a follow-up speech, gave a detailed exposition, backed by documentary evidence.

He adduced evidence that Apco Worldwide had been PR consultants to some of the world's more putrescent dictators, like the late Sani Abacha of Nigeria, and Hindu chauvinistic governor of the Indian state of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. (Terrence Netto. Mkini)

If the allegations against Apco were true, i.e. working with some of the most controversial regimes in the world, Barisan should justify to us why so much taxpayers' money is being used to pay Apco for some superficial PR consultancy.

If the Malaysian government behaves and governs fairly, there is no need to engage Apco in the first place. There are many more capable local consultants who can do better job than the likes of Apco. Why can't our top notch ambassadors and embassies overseas help to do the PR and networking work for the government? Aren't they paid and financed to do precisely that?

By using a brute parliamentary majority to suspend Anwar and three other MPs from parliament does not win Barisan any brownie points. It only proves the inferiority and guilty conscious of the ruling coalition.

Worse if Barisan uses this opportunity to pass any bills or amend the constitution since it has a mathematical two-thirds advantage in the house. That would tantamount to a rape of democracy.

How can Barisan help to restore our confidence in the coalition if it continues to behave this way?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

UMNO-nised History

Historical records had been manipulated by many great empires, dynasties and ruling regimes to depict only their greatness, legacy and contributions. History will continue to be manipulated by victors and autocratic governments to glorify their rule, fake their 'achievements' and hide their weaknesses and faults.

In a report front-paged in theSun (picked up by Malaysian Insider), textbook authors Dr Ranjit Singh Malhi and Ng How Kuen alleged that school history textbooks were littered with factual errors and distortions, adding that these failed to give fair recognition to the country’s non-Malay nationalists.

Dr Ranjit, who is currently an advisor to the ministry on history textbooks, also
claimed that secondary school history textbooks have been used to promote
political interests.

He further claimed that when he once pointed out the errors and distortions, a ministry official had labelled him as “anti-national”.

“Secondary school history textbooks have been used to promote political interests. It should be a scholarly pursuit and not politically-motivated.

“Five out of 10 chapters of the Form Four history textbook deal with Islamic history as compared to only one chapter in the earlier textbook. The intention of the earlier syllabus was to expose our students to World History,” he was quoted as saying.

Dr Ranjit added that historical personalities like Yap Ah Loy (third Kapitan Cina of Kuala Lumpur), Gurchan Singh (the “Lion of Malaya”) and Sybil Karthigesu were not given sufficient recognition in the local textbooks.

Ng added that in the stories on the country’s fight for independence, the contributions of the communists had been left out.
This is an old story. Current MCA leadership should be rapped on the knuckles for failing to push for a thorough review of the textbooks when the distortions and ill intention to manipulate history by some overzealous writers were detected during Ong Ka Ting's tenure as president.

I remember that Insap, the MCA think tank, and a few academicians were involved in the initial review. I had an opportunity to look at the F4 and F5 textbooks. To my horror, almost 5 out of 10 chapters of the World History textbooks were dedicated to Islamic history.

A friend of mine who is a partner of an established consulting firm here took a hard decision to send his child overseas after he found out about the history textbooks. His son was only 14 years old. He did not want his son to be part of a corrupted, politicized and distorted local education system.

Alas, MCA and Gerakan leaderships have remained staunch cheerleaders of UMNO. Both parties are still more interested to be part of UMNO's gravy train than doing something real and meaningful to ensure that Malaysia remains a healthy and progressive multiracial nation.

Both parties have recently complained about the big brother-small brother relationship in Barisan Nasional. Nothing much is going to change until both parties stand up and speak out against ongoing tyranny against multiracialism and the true spirit of nation building.

These history textbooks are tools for UMNO to propagate its Malay supremacy agenda which is totally misguided and dangerous.

Malaysia was never created as a Malay hegemony state. Had the past Malay leaders and nationalists wanted Malaysia to become a Malay dominated state and to propagate Malay supremacy, the federal constitution would have been worded very differently. However, thoughts were given to the role of Islam as an official religion and Bahasa Malaysia to play a role as national language because Malay will form a significant majority of the society.

MCA, MIC and Gerakan are becoming irrelevant and would face an imminent 'death' at the next general elections if they did not do anything to shift the balance of power to the centre in Barisan. They should have taken the 2008 GE outcome as an opportunity to push UMNO to abandon race politics and embrace a truly 1Malaysia spirit and create a multiracial single party Barisan Nasional.

It looks like they may have squandered the opportunity to force a permanent change in Malaysian politics and help to put an end to the divisive and problematic race based politics in Malaysia.

Regardless of the rhetoric, race based politics is so outdated and no longer welcomed in today's modern and multicultural society.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Anwar, Najib & Wikileaks

Subjudice or not, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim should know best that politics is nearly about perception. Wikileaks suggested that Anwar had walked into a trap.

The cable that dealt with Anwar’s sodomy case was dated November 2008 and said: “The Australians said that Singapore’s intelligences services and [Singaporean elder statesman] Lee Kuan Yew have told ONA in their exchanges that opposition leader Anwar ‘did indeed commit the acts for which he is currently indicted’.”

ONA stands for Australia’s Office of National Assessments.

The document also stated the Singaporeans told ONA they made this assessment on the basis of "technical intelligence”, which was likely to relate to intercepted communications, the newspaper said.

“ONA assessed, and their Singapore counterparts concurred, ‘it was a set-up job and he probably knew that, but walked into it anyway’,” the cable states.

Similarly, Najib had been accused of playing a part in the political conspiracy to set up Anwar and destroy his political career.

Najib's own controversy with the sensational murder of a Mongolian model, Altantuya Shaaribu, may turn out to be a heavy political baggage for him. French investigation on the submarines' kickback is still ongoing. It may disclose more than what the Wikileaks did.

Anwar's lawyers were quick to dismiss the expose by Wikileaks and claimed that it may be subjudice to carry the stories. Understandably, the stories on Anwar will do more to damage his leadership at a point when Pakatan is still wobbling and recovering from the internal conflicts of PKR.

PKR leaders should know that perception is key in politics. Moreover, they had tried to link Najib to the Altantuya gruesome murder with the intention of destroying his leadership integrity.

These controversies will not do both leaders any good. At this point in time, there is no indication that Najib is going to allow the Altantuya controversy to affect his leadership. His political baggage together with other controversies will be exploited thoroughly by the opposition in the next GE.

Anwar will face the same baptism of fire in the next GE. It has come to a time for Anwar to reflect on the survival and success rate of Pakatan in the next GE. He has been a target and will continue to become a prime target. This newly minted coalition especially PKR cannot be stuck in an individual quagmire for too long. To be successful and feature prominently in the Malaysian political landscape, PKR needs to grow beyond Anwar.

As long as the party feels that Anwar is the only capable PM material, it is likely that the party will follow Anwar's downfall if his opponents succeeded in tarnishing Anwar and his credibility.

Anwar should seriously consider taking a role of an advisor and rise above his desire to become the next PM. His party should focus on moulding and promoting other younger leaders, especially those with less baggage, to be prepared to accept the leadership mantle should Pakatan wins federal power.

If Anwar is unable to lose his marksmen, he may bring the whole coalition down with him. The next battle is going to be massive, crucial and survival threatening for Pakatan. It should shed as much baggage as it could in order to be more nimble, efficient and focused.

What Anwar has achieved is already history making. His next move will determine if his legacy will be embedded in a historic event which may change the shape and face of Malaysian politics permanently.

The next battle is a battle to select a lesser devil. Next, we will talk about good governance and visionary leadership. There is still a long way for Malaysia.

We need to get rid of institutional racism, corruption and abuse of power first before we can talk about sustainable development.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Malay Supremacy versus Malay Sovereignty

It is more appropriate for 'Malay supremacy' to be rephrased as 'Malay sovereignty' as the latter encompasses the position of the Malay rulers and their subjects and not just the purported master-slave relationship said the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar.

Sultan Ibrahim said that when the British gave independence to this country, they returned Malaya to the owners - the Malay rulers and their subjects.

He said this was because prior to the arrival of the British and the advent of the other races, the Malay states were owned by the Malay rulers and their subjects.

"Even before the Malay states were made a federation, the Malay rulers and their subjects have accepted outsiders as guests and given them the opportunity to earn a living and develop Malaya together.

"When the states became a federation, the rights of the other races were respected and safeguarded by the Federal Constitution," he said.

The rights of all Malaysians should not only be respected and safeguarded but they should regarded as equals without any prejudice.

It is important to note that a new nation was established after Malaya was granted its independence from the British colonial power in 1957 and when a nationhood, Malaysia, was created in 1963. Malaya was not returned to only to the Malay rulers and their subjects but to the people who had inhabited both Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak prior to independence.

The new nation was given a new form of governance based on parliamentary democracy. A federal constitution was drafted and adopted to recognize the formation of a federation, a modern nationhood and to formalize a legal status, citizenship, for all races who had pledged their loyalty to Malaysia.

Any politicians, individuals or persons who refused to accept the spirit of Malaysia's nationhood and the equal rights of all Malaysians accorded in the federal constitutions are the real traitors.

Within the federal constitution, the role of constitutional rulers, the status of Bahasa Malaysia and Islam as an official language and religion of the federation are undisputed. But the constitution is silence on the notion of Malay supremacy. There is no such thing as race supremacy in the constitution.

It is unfortunate that the current government which has ruled Malaysia since independence has refused to accept the original spirit of the constitution. The ruling regime has allowed its members and leaders to continue to misguide and misinterpret the constitution to create an imaginary two-tier citizenship.

The divisive categorisation of Malaysians into either non-Bumiputera or Bumiputera is politically motivated. As a result, Malaysia's social division has become more pronounced compared to the past. It is unfortunate that Malaysia's political development is lagging far behind its economic development. Racial politics and the divisive categorisation of Malaysians according to their skin colour is outdated and outmoded.

Any attempt to insist that the Malay is a far more superior race compared to others is going to jeopardize nation building.

Unbelievably, some in the ruling regime are still harping on race supremacy. In this era, skills and knowledge are the ones that determine superiority and supremacy. Not colour of the skin or heredity.

Why waste time on Malay supremacy or Malay sovereignty? We should be grateful of our Malaysian sovereignty and try to work together to build our Malaysian supremacy based on real skills and knowledge.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

NEP & NEM: The Reality of Race Quota & National Economic Competitiveness

Taking away race-based quotas could prove divisive
Aidila Razak Dec 7, 10 11:55am

The retention of 30 percent bumiputera equity in the concluding part of the New Economic Model, unveiled Friday, may have been a let-down, after its unequivocal call for the cancellation of race-based quotas in its first part, announced in March.

But according to Ratings Agency Malaysia chief economist Yeah Kim Leng (right), the National Economic Advisory Council was doing the right thing as taking such quotas away can be potentially divisive.

"As a pragmatic economist, I am hoping that (race-based quotas) are done away organically and not through policy because the issue is politically sensitive and racially divisive.

"It is best to let time and changing environments make it irrelevant," he said when contacted yesterday.

Echoing the NEM document, he added that taking the quotas away will only spark "unproductive discussion" and this in turn would raise political temperatures and scare investors.

At the same time, he noted that the key issue remains the implementation of the quota system whereby the challenge would be to introduce market-based elements to preferential treatment.

A quick way to start, he said, would be implementing open tenders for government and government-linked company procurements which are reserved for bumiputera small-medium enterprises.

He added that such policies would also foster greater inter-racial unity, as it would encourage more meaningful partnerships between non-bumiputera entrepreneurs to and their bumiputera counterparts.

Only this time it will be meaningful partnerships because in a competitive environment, only capable bumiputera entrepreneurs will win contracts.

We can't support 'rentier' behaviour

While political economist Khoo Kay Peng supports the move to extend assistance to the bumiputera entrepreneur community, he does not believe that race-based affirmative action should be phased out organically.

"I believe there should be a gradual timeline, because otherwise it would be like the New Economic Policy, which should have ended in 1990 but its spirit still lives on," he said.

Instead of leaving it to its 'natural progression', Khoo (left) said that targets should be set on a timeline with proper action points to ensure that the objective of affirmative action is met.

More importantly, he said, immediate targets need to be set because the government can no longer afford to support 'rentier' behavior which has developed over years of bad implementation of race-based affirmative action.

"There are many bumiputera companies which exist solely on government contracts, and they provide sub-par service which the government accepts and pays for.

"The government's expenditure is now RM180 billion a year. If we don't do it now, there is no guarantee that we can feed this patronage system for much longer," he said.

Implementation points missing

Despite the hue and cry by Malay rights groups like Perkasa over the retraction of race quotas, Khoo believes that such a move by the government will not be entirely be badly received by population as long as social safety nets are intact.

Further, there would be considerably less backlash if efforts are put into assisting bumiputera SMEs build their capacity while the quotas are being phased out.

"Look at it this way. The bumiputera community will wake up to the fact that after 40 years, they still make up 70 percent of the bottom 40 percent of the population.

"There are hardly any Malays in the electronics industry, for example...but one of the objectives of the NEP is to break the identification of race with profession," he said.

To encourage participation in certain industries, said Khoo, the government could look at providing micro-finance to bumiputera entrepreneurs.

"But make it compulsory for applicants to go for a series of training, for example, and then test their capabilities after that and award the loans to those who pass," he suggested.

These sorts of workable ideas were however largely absent in the 10-page chapter on narrowing the rural-urban, income and intra-ethnic disparity.

Both analysts find the fact that the NEM report was short on details not surprising, but for Yeah, this could give some leeway to the many government agencies to figure out how to implement the policy recommendations.

"The policy is there, but now to work out the right institutions and the right leaders to lead this," he said.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Better a 'Prostitute' Than a Racist: Say No to Racism!

Perkasa, ex-PKR Zahrain and Hishammuddin have criticized both Anwar and Wan Azizah for rejecting the 'ketuanan Melayu' concept. Perkasa Youth chief even went a step ahead by calling the PKR president a political 'prostitute'.

If Wan Azizah is being verbally abused and ostracised for rejecting institutional racism and mega hypocrisy, I would like to tell her critics that we would prefer to embrace a leader like than racial bigots like Perkasa leaders, Zahrain and Hishammuddin.

These bigots are certainly serving their own political interest and personal interest by claiming skin deep supremacy over other non-Malay Malaysians. The federal constitution is clear about equal rights for all citizens. What is the use of citizenship if all Malaysians are not legally, politically and socially equal?

Hishammuddin said PKR president Wan Azizah's statement on the subject clearly had political motives and was aimed at causing unease among the various races in the country.

"I would like to ask Wan Azizah and the PKR leadership, are they also rejecting the institution of the Malay rulers? What is being raised by PKR is clearly an attempt to belittle the Malays. We do not want the institution of the Malay rulers to be also belittled," he said in a statement.

Hishammuddin should not try to divert the whole attention and debate away from how Umno was trying to frame 'ketuanan Melayu'. It was not about the royalty. Their role has been clearly defined in the constitution. Malay rulers are respected for their symbolic prominence, reverence, and co-existence within the larger framework of a parliamentary democracy.

Wan Azizah and her party rejected the Umno version of 'ketuanan Melayu' which aims at deceiving the Malays about an imaginary supremacy. The truth is more than 96% of the poor are made up of Malays. Malays have problem holding on to the 30% equity since the NEP was implemented in 1970. Malays are still considered lagging behind the others in economic development and knowledge acquisition. Even Dr Mahathir conceeded that he was not qualified to study medicine.

Similarly, for the good of our Malay friends, we should reject the Umno's version of Malay supremacy too. They are merely using the special privileges, granted through a perceived constitutional supremacy, to enrich themselves and their relatives. Evidence are aplenty in Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. Meanwhile, the common Malays are left hoping for some crumbs from their 'Bapaks' (read Umno/BN).

It is a shame that some Malays and 'celup' Malays (e.g. Ridhuan Tee) have continued to blame the Chinese for all their miseries. They should remember majority of the Chinese do not have any blood relations with YTL, Berjaya, Genting, Malton, Public Bank or some other rich corporate founders.

Umno has an uninterrupted rule and dominance in the Malaysian politics since the independence. If it cannot help the Malays through the NEP despite being a self-proclaimed Malay champion, it is right time for the community to find a better champion. A true champion should be able to alleviate more Malays out from poverty and help them to acquire real knowledge and skills. Malays, under Umno rule, are merely 'jaguh kampung' (local hero).

Perhaps PKR Wan Azizah has a better plan for her own community. It is time we see more world-class Malay intellectuals and leaders.

Umno's 'ketuanan Melayu' is like smoking opium. It brings temporary ecstasy and joy but long term damage to the brain and body. It is time to treat the disease.