At a recent media conference for a forum organised by the Malay Economic Action Council, former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad shared his views on the country’s economy.
He said that while poverty affects all races in this country, the problem was worse among the Malays. He said many Malays were still so poor they were sometimes forced to sell their property, including land, in order to survive. [But why are so many still so poor after six decades of independence?]
Although more than half a century has passed since the 1969 communal violence, Mahathir is still bent on splitting our national economic concerns using race-based rhetoric.
I sometimes wonder what kind of nation Mahathir is dreaming about, when so many other leaders around the world are racing ahead with a ‘one-nation-one-people’ philosophy to rebuild their post-pandemic economies.
As long as Mahathir’s flawed legacies linger on – like the various race-based economic action councils and business centres that champion trade along racial and religious lines – we will never be able to attract ethical, forward-thinking investors to help uplift the people from poverty.
Mahathir claimed that Indonesia’s 270 million population size, lower production costs and attractive investment policies enabled it to draw big-ticket investors.
But does the former PM not realise the real reasons many investors are shunning Malaysia? When our race-based economic councils still use him to champion their outdated flawed racial agendas, then the situation looks even more pathetic.
What they don’t grasp is that it is stable politics, cleaner governance (to curb corruption) and a more open, inclusive and democratic political and economic environment that really attracts ethical investors.
The day we agree that our race-based policies are driving investors away will be the day the sun rises again on our shores.
So, Mahathir, please stop spinning your broken record! If Malaysia is ever to rise again as a regional economic tiger in this gloomy post-pandemic climate against a backdrop of a war in Europe, we need to stop replaying this broken record.