DATUK IBRAHIM ALI’S WARNING
A FIREBRAND AND THE SERMON ON NEP JUSTICE
When Datuk Ali Ibrahim made that comment that selling off an MISC related company to non Bumi interests was, an unnecessary move and a departure from the essential objectives of the NEP, long knives were drawn in a fast and furious attempt to silence the man.
Datuk Ibrahim Ali, the Chinese and Indians consider to be a racist. Racist because his statements however provocative or crude at times, reinforces and embarrassingly reflects the social and economic disparity between the majority Malays and the non Malays. It does not stop there.
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.
Often he raises the subject of the NEP in its breach. He speaks out when lip service replaces real action on the ground. And who can blame the man for that. He speaks from a very large constituency in defence of their rights.
And considering the Najib Razak administration has been under immense pressure to dilute parts of the NEP, driven by the incessant demands of the Chinese and Indians to end it, the complaint by Datuk Ibrahim Ali over the MISC logistic sale cannot be said to be misplaced, outrageous or bigoted a sentiment. It is in fact a statement based on a set of valid arguments that needs to be heard, lest we forget our past. And only someone like Datuk Ibrahim Ali today has the profile, the courage and the willingness to tackle an issue as thorny as the NEP in Malaysia today.
Dr. Mahathir Mohammed we now know abandoned the Malays a long time ago in favour of the Chinese and a sprinkling of Indians. Abdullah Badawi is a non sequitur.
The current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been under an inordinate and unprecedented amount of pressure against which he patiently governs with little assistance from within and without UMNO.
THE MYTH OF THE FAVOURED BUMIPUTERA
The myth that the Malays are largely indiscriminately favoured in business, employment and education over the other races in Malaysia, is a much distorted and exaggerated proposition. The facts are conveniently ignored and quite at variance to whats often reported. But this is multi racial politics and the Malays are the ‘can’ the Chinese, upper middle class Malays and Indians kick down the road when things get tough.
Take for example the case of the lucrative residential and commercial developments sector. During the 1997 Asian currency crisis, a large number of residential and commercial property developments went under. Reportedly this was precipitated by 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? it was a well funded sector and generously funded with government money.
Each time a property developer in Malaysia wishes to secure funding for the construction of a building project they turn to Bumiputera’s to exercise their NEP special rights to book properties off the plan. That NEP entitlement requires builder developers to reserve a percentage of off the plan properties for Bumiputeras. That percentage of the development entitlement under the NEP exclusively reserved for Bumiputera’s, is then used by the developers to underwrite the feasibility of their projects.
When Bumiputera’s exercise that special right to their reserved percentage of a development, it secures for the builder the line of funding the builder require to progress their projects with the banks.
The project then becomes bankable and feasible, because Bumiputera pre sales supply and effectively underwrite the base level of funding for housing development and construction. Where this sector and its opportunities are concerned, the Chinese in particular have no complaints about how the NEP operates providing benefits to Bumiputeras.
Without Bumiputera input, into the initial stages of buying “off the plan” in many of the developments, a majority of these projects would not get off the ground. Yet the Chinese and non Bumiputeras continue to complain about this form of ‘favoured’ status the Malays enjoy which they say exists to their detriment.
On the one hand the non Malays are quite content to benefit from Bumiputera privileges when it underwrites their business success. On the other hand they constantly and unfairly 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 civilized, developed and developing 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 rights and 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 off its relationship with an opportunistic Tun Dr. Mahathir and remnants of the Tengku’s supporters in the reactionary quarters of UMNO. These reactionaries within UMNO (many now expelled) 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 the Najib government to put an end to the divisiveness of Mahathirism which has split the Malay communities into the uppity urban educated classes Dr. Mahathir favours and the rest. Datuk Ibrahim Ali has the trust of the rural Malays who rally to Datuk Seri Najib and himself because they 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 Perkasa re alignment with the current Najib government. Either ways the majority the Malays must not be taken for granted. And neither must the NEP continue to be abused.