05 April, 2010

Poor Malays VS Rich Umno

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.

THERE is an impression the Malays are poor because the non-Malays are enriching themselves at their (the Malays') expense.

This 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, to consolidate the position of the hate-mongers ,so that they could be accepted as the defenders of the race and the champions who would deliver the Malays from their wretched situation.

But these extremist elements do not reveal how they had benefited from the policies of Umno that was meant for the welfare of the majority poor Malays.

They do not reveal how the benefits have gone to their crony corporate figures and well connected political elite, irrespective of ethnicity.

They do not disclose how billions of ringgit had been squandered to rescue failed ventures of their elite group.

They do not disclose how billions were pumped into Bank Rakyat and Bank Bumiputera (now known as CIMB Bank) 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.

Contracts, licences, AP permits, new shares and what not 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 RM54bil in shares allocated for bumiputeras, only RM2bil were still in their hands. What has happened to the RM52 billion that cannot be accounted for?

RM54bil is a colossal sum that has been dished out. How did the RM52bil 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.

During the last 40 years, the Umno president and deputy president were prime ministers and deputy prime ministers wielding great powers, influencing policies and determining the fate of the Malays.

Every minister of Education since Merdeka has come from Umno. Every Finance minister after Tan Siew Sin was an Umno man. Every Rural Development minister was an Umno man. The Cabinet was dominated by UMNO leaders.

How come with this heavy representation of Umno leaders in the Cabinet the vast majority of Malays remain 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 the Umno leaders?

Who squandered the national wealth on prestigious projects at the neglect of the poor? Who bailed out crony businessmen by writing off billions of ringgit? It is Umno!

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

(P. Ramakrishnan is president of Aliran.)



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