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Sunday, August 28, 2011

To Mahathir, Anwar is still a he-devil

Sulaiman Kamal | 12:10 AM | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Growing up under his leadership, one tends to have utmost fear for this man. 22 years as Prime Minister, his fame or infamy has stretched far and wide. When in power, many a Malay looked up to him with pride and respect. Sad to say, the moment he was out of power, even his deputy - the extra mild Abdullah Badawi - turned on him.
His latest article attacking Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim for denigrating the New Economic Policy failed to make much impact. In the past, Malaysians would have read with eyes agog at his unrestrained criticism of Anwar, who during the 1990s was popular enough to overthrow him.
But now, ex-premier Mahathir Mohamad only draws a yawn. Most Malaysians have already formed their opinions of the NEP and whatever Mahathir says will not change their minds. Even the Malays, who are in two minds about the NEP, are steadfast in their differing views. Some Malays insist that the NEP be maintained as it is, while a similar number insist that it be revamped to help more lower-income Malays rather than benefit only the rich Malays and the Chinese tycoons connected to Mahathir himself.

Still a he-devil
In Mahathir's eye, Anwar is still a devil and busy lying to the people that the NEP only benefits the BN cronies and that the contracts, Approval Permits and licenses given out in the name of affirmative action invariably involve corruption. He also said Anwar made it sound as if the NEP did not benefit the Malays and other Bumiputera at all, just the UMNO elite and their 'friends'.
Gripe as Mahathir may wish, the statistics from his own government show that Anwar is also right, perhaps even more right than he is. Many experts will agree the NEP did benefit many Malays and Bumiputras in the country. But as Anwar pointed out, when one compares against the overall Malay and Bumi population, those who benefited work out to a miserly fraction. In many of his speeches, Anwar often quoted government figures showing that 96 per cent of the poorest people in the country are actually Malays. And the NEP has been in existence since 1971 or for 40 years. How can Mahathir, a doctor by training, fail to grasp this piece of simple math?
The only explanation may be that Mahathir is still 'politicising' against his former deputy, despite having sacked him, chased him out of their party and jailed him for 6 years. How did the blood between the two men become so bad? Some say it is guilty conscience on Mahathir's part for the 1998 sodomy charges. True or not, it appears Mahathir's dislike for Anwar has only grown stronger and not weaker with the years.
Non-Bumis were sidelined
In his latest article posted on his chedet blog, Mahathir said that every Malay child is helped in his education with free text books and often with free meals. Schools are built in the remotest areas where before there were no schools. Hostels are built for mostly Malay and other Bumiputera children so that they can live a better life and are able to study in better surroundings then in their homes in the villages.
But in doing so, Mahathir is also admitting that he has marginalized the non-Bumiputras in his effort to prop up the Bumiputras in the country. Why? Are non-Bumis lesser beings that are not deserving of governmental assistance? What happens to the poor non-Bumis who are also in need of assistance? And all this while, the country thought that BN was developing the country for all Malaysians, and not just for the Bumiputras.
Mahathir goes on to say that for the qualified, tertiary education is readily accessible with huge numbers of scholarships. As a result many of the children of poor families or of families unable to pay high fees now hold university degrees and are highly qualified professionals. As an example, he states that where before only 5% of the doctors in Malaysia were Malays and Bumiputera, nowadays 40% of the profession are Malays.
If this is so, did the NEP benefit the Bumiputras at the expense of the Non-Bumis? And was this the NEP's intention? Did it get side-tracked along the way by unscruplous politicians? These are all questions that have been asked many times before and until now, no answers have been forthcoming from Mahathir. All he has provided are half-answers in the vein of his latest article - either using Malay supremacy as his defense or as a basis for attacking his favourite targets, such as Anwar or the DAP's Lims.
No wonder the 85-year Dr M has lost his audience. The only times that he stirs interest these days is when he espouses the racist rhetoric of extremist Malay groups such as Perkasa. With his vintage wit and his courage to simply 'hantam' (wallop), his spin or version of a particular event or issue is in a class of its own. He now entertains Malaysians, rather than serve a role as an advisor, elder statesman and someone for all Malaysian to turn to in any hour of darkness. Very likely, he may be the one creating the darkness, his crtics make no bones about saying. This is the extent of cynicism that Mahathir now draws.
The numbers cannot lie, Mahathir may
Other boasts made by Mahathir to attest to the NEP's effectiveness include the Bumis' share of corporate assets. He said today, more than ten and half million (10,500,000) Malays and other Bumiputera hold shares in these unit trusts with total holdings valued at one hundred and thirty-five billion (135,000,000,000) Ringgit. This is a direct benefit from the NEP. The unit trust makes up a substantial percentage of corporate wealth held by the Bumiputera, he added.
"Felda too has been nursed until it has become the biggest plantation company in the world. The settlers have much higher incomes while their children are much better educated. All these are due to the New Economic Policy. Microcredit is extended to the smallest village enterprises and this has helped tens of thousands of Bumiputera villagers, especially the women in business.
There are now thousands of Bumiputera businessmen who benefitted from the importation of used and new cars, from becoming agents and vendors to the national car projects and also in the oil and gas business as a result of the NEP.
The best of them have grown big, some very big, becoming car dealers and assemblers, housing developers, steel fabricators, boat and ship builders, IT, transportation, ports and shipping, food and cosmetic manufacturers and many other businesses," wrote a still passionate Mahathir.
So thanks to the NEP, the bumiputras have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Then why are they still left far far behind compared to the non-Bumiputras who had to struggle without government assistance?
And can someone explain why the non-Bumiputras who form in total only 33 per cent of the population can manage to hold 82 per cent of the equity in corporate Malaysia? How can 67 per cent of the Malaysian population - the Malays and the Bumis - hold only 18 per cent after 50 years of affirmative action? Shouldn’t the figures be the other way around or did someone miscalculate? What went wrong? Surely, not bad math again.
An insult to the Malays, a back-stabber to the non-Malays
The fact is that although Mahathir may harbour noble ambitions for the Malays, his effort have failed to alleviate the lot of the majority of Malays and Bumiputras in this country who are more or less still in square one, unable to move forward while on the other hand we have a handful of super rich Malay individuals who think of nothing other than how to protect their ill-gotten wealth from overflowing to the Malay masses.
Many Malays in this country are truly insulted by Mahathir, who still continues to tell the world that the Malays are weak and helpless. We still need crutches to walk, we are still handicapped and need government assistance in the 21stcentury. And the best part is, the non-Malays actually believed him to the extent that they stupidly voted the BN all these years, while he stabbed them in the back. If you doubt this, just ask Ling Liong Sik and Chan Kong Choy - two former MCA ministers in the BN Cabinet and better hurry while they are still free men.
Mahathir also went on to tell the Malays that the non-Malays in this country are Supermen, capable of controlling the wealth and power in this country as they already hold more than 82% of the country’s wealth. Malays must be on guard, do not be too friendly with them or else one day the carpet will be pulled from under their feet.
How on earth are Malaysians going to unite with such political charlatans around!

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