Who squandered the national wealth on prestige projects while neglecting the poor? Who bailed out crony businessmen by writing off billions of ringgit, asks P Ramakrishnan.
Of late, the pressure is building up to convey the impression that the Malays are poor because of the non-Malays. It is trumpeted that the non-Malays are enriching themselves at the expense of the Malays.
This erroneous and mischievous line of argument is deliberately pushed to achieve two objectives: One, to get the Malays riled up and to create hatred for the non-Malays as the source and cause of Malay poverty. Two, this is a ploy to consolidate the position of these hate-mongers so that they can be accepted as the defenders of the race and champions who would deliver the Malays from their wretched situation.
But these extremist elements do not reveal how they have benefited from the policies of Umno that were meant for the welfare of the majority poor Malays. They do not reveal how the benefits have gone to the crony corporate figures and the well connected political elite irrespective of their ethnicity.
They do not disclose how billions of ringgit had been squandered to rescue the failed ventures of their elite group. They do not disclose how billions were pumped into Bank Rakyat and Bank Bumi to sustain them. They do not disclose why Mirzan Mahathir’s floundering and debt-laden shipping empire had to be bailed out with our national wealth. They do not disclose why Tajudin Ramli’s stake in MAS was bought over for RM8 per MAS share when the market price was only RM3.62.
Likewise many other individual Malays have benefited enormously. They don’t lose out when their businesses fail but they gain in spite of their failure. Contracts, licences, AP permits, new shares and whatnot are grabbed by these individuals for themselves and their families. The poor majority Malays do not benefit from these policies.
It was recently disclosed that out of RM54 billion in shares allocated for Bumiputeras, only RM2 billion were still in their hands. What has happened to the RM52 billion that cannot be accounted for? RM54 billion is a colossal sum of wealth that has been dished out. How did RM52 billion disappear into thin air?
After 40 years of NEP, it is absolutely unacceptable that the deserving poor have not benefited in the way it was intended. Sometimes we wonder if the Malays are kept poor simply and deliberately to get their votes by blaming the non-Malays for their abject situation.
Over the last 40 years, successive Umno presidents and deputy presidents served as prime ministers and deputy prime ministers wielding great powers, influencing policies and determining the fate of the Malays. Every Education Minister since Merdeka has come from Umno. Every Finance Minister after Tun Tan Siew Sin has been an Umno man. Every Rural Development Minister has been an Umno man. The Cabinet was dominated by Umno leaders. How is it that with this heavy representation of Umno leaders in the Cabinet the vast majority of Malays have remained deprived and desperately poor? How did Umno, ever ready to advance Malay interest, permit this neglect?
The Umno-dominated Barisan Nasional holds the purse strings of the national wealth. Why wasn’t this wealth distributed to the poor as well? Why did the greedy grab everything? Was this done without the knowledge of Umno leaders?
Don’t blame the non-Malays who have no say in the policies of the government; blame it on Umno. Who squandered the national wealth on prestige projects while neglecting the poor? Who bailed out crony businessmen by writing off billions of ringgit? It is Umno and nobody else! If the Malays are poor, it is because of Umno. Don’t blame it on others.
There is a serious lesson to be learnt from John F Kennedy’s view: If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
P Ramakrishnan is president of Aliran
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