By Dato’ Mohd Zaid bin Ibrahim
Tajuddin Rahman, a senior Umno MP has proposed that a new policy be enacted to help the Malays. The current National Development Policy, he opined, has not been successful, despite the current budget allocating RM11.4 billion for Bumiputra programmes. The attack on the National Development Policy is aimed at Dr Mahathir Mohamad who in the 1990s wanted Malays to excel through privatisation and to move the country towards commerce and industries. Tajuddin lamented the Malays are still poor and objected strongly to this policy of cash handouts made popular by Najib Razak. These cash handouts, he said, have not uplifted the Malays. Another Umno leader from Sabah criticised the small allocation for development for Sabah and Sarawak; he wanted more.
Tajuddin’s call for a new bumi policy begs this question: What more do these Malay heroes in Parliament want? What sort of special upliftment do they expect the Malays to get year in year out? A race-based budget is just not done anywhere else in the world – and yet the Malays are still poor?
The truth is Malays are not poor anymore. There are some who are but there are other poor people in the country too. Why not talk about them? If you drive from Penang along the North-South Highway ; you can count more than four hundred billboards depicting the success of Malay / Muslim products and businesses. The Malay Muslim direct selling companies selling Muslim products – textiles, cosmetics, foods, services, Aqiqah and many more – are generating revenue of billions of Ringgit.
How can you say Malays are poor? They received cash from the government at regular intervals. If you stop in Kuala Lumpur and play golf in the most expensive golf clubs in the country and ask the caddie master how many golfers are Malay, he will tell you more than seventy percent of them are Malay. You then drive south and stop over at Johor Premium Outlets in Johor Bharu. You will see those buying the Calvin Klein jackets, Hugo Boss shirts and Ferragamo shoes are predominantly Malay. Talk to the cashiers in the outlets, and you are convinced Malays are no longer poor.
The poor are not the Malays these leaders spoke about in Parliament but the poor quality leaders the Malays have elected, who regularly make silly decisions for selfish reasons. It’s the poor quality Ministers who asked for “extras” from government contracts, ostensibly to take care of party expenses that make us poor. It is ridiculous for the supplier of services to be asked to quote more than the cost he was willing to do, so that party members can be happy. It’s called “donation” in this country, but corrupt practice anywhere else in the world.
This government that frowned upon Najib’s kleptocracy is in fact equally dirty in their dealings with public money. Government contracts are freely awarded to cronies and helpers, so long as the so-called party expenses are taken care of. Its clear that Malay-based institutions are poor – in the sense of being devoid of decency and uprightness. The departments and Ministries are headed and peopled by Malays but they do not follow the rules. They followed what the ministers want, and we all are poorer for it.
The bureaucracy is bloated and is no longer affordable. It is also killing fresh initiatives but this government still recruited new staffs to make full use of public money for friends and neighbours to savour government expenses. Ministers, regardless of portfolio, are able to appoint the full works of Advisers and Directors – such as a Cultural, Financial, Economic Advisers, Sports, Medical and Unity Advisers – since they have to project the right image in all aspects of Malaysian life to foreigners.
Taking full advantage of public money without shame is what makes Malay institutions poor. Some of the Malays they talk about in Parliament are poor, but so are the Indians, the orang Asli, the Chinese and the Dayaks. Why talk of poverty as if others don’t matter?
I hope our members of Parliament do not use the word Malays and Bumiputras too freely without giving serious thought to their meanings and implications. Do not be afraid to speak the truth about the moral depravity of our leaders.
When leaders no longer care about honesty and integrity; they will cease to care about the interests of ordinary Malaysians who need help. No policy change can do much good. It will be just another wasted effort even if you replace development policy with something more esoteric.
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This post first appeared on Zaid Ibrahim‘s Facebook page.