Theft by whatever politically correct name is still theft. It is the taking away of something that belongs to someone else without the voluntary consent of that someone.
Theft can be ‘legalised’ by the stroke of a pen – by producing a written document, be it a law, regulation or order compelling the owner to give up the whole or a part of his property to somebody else.
Even if that somebody else to whom the lawful owner has to surrender a part or a lion’s share of his or her property pays for it, it does not change the fact that the owner had to part with his possession without his free will.
Theft by the man in the street is carried out stealthily. If caught and brought before the law, the thief has to pay a price, either a fine or prison term or both.
Theft by people in the corridors of power is done ‘legally’ by using their status and power to make a law, regulation or order to compel the rightful owner to give up something that he or she owns, in whatever quantity, upon pain of losing everything if that law, regulation or order, however unjust, is not complied with.
This is the scenario that freight forwarding companies are facing today – give up 51% of what you own or lose everything as licences will not be approved or renewed. They are thus being held to ransom, a criminal offence in other cases, but justified here by a piece of paper bearing some powerful person’s signature.
Concealing this ‘theft’ behind the concept of promoting “bumiputera equity” does not make it any less a theft.
Where is the moral standing or “maruah” of the engineers of this theft? The theft is significant as 51% ownership represents the lion’s share in a company providing the fortunate bumiputeras effective control virtually overnight.
Yes, the new owners will be from among the elite well-connected bumiputeras, as it will cost millions or possibly hundreds of millions of ringgit to pay for the 51% equity. The average bumiputera cannot come up with that kind of money.
So for whom is “bumiputera equity” if not the rich and well heeled with the objective of making them even richer! How does this benefit the ordinary Pakcik Ali and Makcik Kiah living in the kampongs?
The privileged class rub shoulders with those who hold power and they can easily ‘kau tim’ and influence these leaders to make directives legalising plans to rob the non-bumiputeras by designing robbery schemes and giving them nice sounding names to justify the thefts.
Questioning such devious schemes is easily turned into political hot potatoes by labelling the critics as anti-bumiputeras, anti-nationals, anti-development and racists. Race and religion are used as bulwarks against the voices of disagreement and dissent toward such unjust schemes.
One needs to be conscious of which class of bumiputeras the government is targeting when it talks of raising their status. The reality is the existence of a small elite class at the pinnacle, a large middle class and an even larger class of low-income bumiputeras.
Today, it is the freight forwarders; who will be targeted tomorrow? Is any flourishing business safe from the hands of the plunderers using ‘legally sanctioned’ methods to justify their immoral intentions, by passing laws, regulations or orders which legalise the unethical.
Commenting on the Bumiputera Malaysia Finance Limited (BMF) scandal that cost the country billions of ringgit in the 1980s, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the then-Prime Minister, cynically remarked: “It may be morally wrong, but it is legally right.”
What is morally wrong must be legally wrong as well.
Theft is morally and legally wrong, so why is a certain kind of theft being legalised by calling it promoting “bumiputera equity” or by any other politically correct name?
Bumiputera privileges must not be extended to legalise thievery of what rightfully belongs to the minority ethnic groups acquired by the latter through their own hard work.