Graft and abuse can happen with or without NEP

 |Oct 22, 2016
Younger Malaysians are future leaders of the country.
Younger Malaysians are future leaders of the country.

Boo Su-Lyn wrote ‘Why we don’t need NCC2’ in the Malay Mail Online today.

While some parts of her article were pretty accurate, she was wrong in her assumptions regarding some other points.

Boo said:

The original NCC, led by the late Abdul Razak Hussein, was set up in the aftermath of the May 13, 1969 race riots.

It came up with the Rukunegara, while the National Operations Council (NOC) formulated the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971, ostensibly to eradicate poverty “irrespective of race” and to “eventually eliminate the identification of race with economic functions”, according to the Second Malaysia Plan (MP2).

That is correct.

The NEP was a two-prong attack or serampang dua mata to reduce the gap between the haves and the haves-not and to reduce the disparity between the different races.

Boo said:

Despite the apparently noble objectives of the NEP to reduce economic inequality, it has been abused to enrich the Malay elite while the poor across all ethnic groups remain poor.

The Bumiputera in Sarawak for example, such as the Bidayuh, still lacked tarred roads, schools and basic healthcare in their villages in Padawan in this day and age.”

Boo said the apparently noble objectives of the NEP.

Does she disputes the objectives of the NEP and suggests that the NEP’s objectives are not noble after all?

She did use the word “apparently”.

Then Boo says the NEP has been abused to enrich the Malay elite while the poor across all ethnic groups remain poor.

While it is true that some people have abused their power to make themselves, their family and their cronies rich, this would have happened anyway with or without the NEP.

For example, take the case of Mahathir Mohamad when he was prime minister for 22 years.

We all know that Mahathir, Daim Zainuddin and Anwar Ibrahim (all three of them) made their friends, cronies, family members, trustees, proxies, nominees, etc., very rich.

But it was not done under the camouflage of the NEP.

In fact, many of these people who Mahathir, Daim and Anwar made rich are not even Malays. Many are Chinese, Indians, and natives of East Malaysia.

They became rich not because of the NEP but because of abuse of power.

To say if there was no NEP they would not have been able to abuse their power is being very naive.

I am currently reading a book about British Malaya of the late 1800s to the early 1900s when the country first began to boom.

It was during this time (1850-1920) when there was mass migration of Chinese and Indians into Malaya. In 1909 the four northern states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and Perlis came under British ‘protection’ as the Unfederated Malay States – and not long after that ‘independent’ Johor became the fifth member of the Unfederated Malay States.

The railway line from Singapore to Thailand was built during that period and a second one to Kelantan soon after that.

Just like in the US and Europe, the railway brought progress to the whole country (before that you needed to travel through the jungle by elephant or to places as far away as Kelantan by boat).

Anyway, the point is, with progress came corruption.

It took a very strong-willed and highly-principled government servant or administrator to resist the duit kopi that the businessmen were offering to gain government contracts (lu tolong gua, gua tolong lu).

Even back in the late 1800s and early 1900s kickbacks and ‘commissions’ were already part of Malayan business culture.

It was considered biasa and not something out of the ordinary (in fact, it was luar biasa if you did not accept the commission).

Now tell me, who were these businessmen?

Were they Malays?

Was there already the NEP back in the 1800s up to the period of WWI and beyond? (The WWI to WWII period saw even more progress as Malaya boomed and contributed to one-third of UK’s economy while the west went into The Great Depression).

There is corruption and abuse of power since before the time of Jesus and in every country in the world (only the degree differs from one country to another).

Are you saying that every country has the NEP with which they use as the camouflage to perpetuate corruption and abuse of power?

Okay, so we abolish the NEP today.

Is Boo saying that overnight Malaysia is going to be squeaky clean that puts even Singapore to shame?

This is like saying that the only way to eliminate police brutality is to close down the police force and no longer have any policemen.

I suppose the only way to avoid marital problems is to not get married.

Boo then says: The Bumiputera in Sarawak for example, such as the Bidayuh, still lacked tarred roads, schools and basic healthcare in their villages in Padawan in this day and age.

What has that got to do with the NEP?

That is an issue of development.

Is not the development of state roads under the jurisdiction of the state government?

So what has the state government been doing the last half decade?

Why kill the NEP because the Public Works Department (PWD) in the state did not do its job?

Maybe we should end the practice of state jobs going to locals and bring in people from the federal ministry to take over instead if for 50 years the local Sarawakians cannot even give roads to their own people.

So is this Sarawak for Sarawakians mantra a good idea after all if, as Boo said, after 50 years the Bidayuh still lacked tarred roads, schools and basic healthcare in their villages in Padawan?

Boo measures the success or failure of the NEP based on how many Malays became millionaires.

I agree, Mahathir, Daim and Anwar made many Malays into millionaires and billionaires.

But they made even more Chinese and Indians into millionaires and billionaires.

These millionaires and billionaires were partly holdings their wealth on behalf of Mahathir, Daim and Anwar as trustees, proxies and nominees.

Mahathir is having about RM100 billion, Daim RM60 billion, while Anwar, the poorest of the three, is alleged to have only RM3 billion.

Whatever it may be this has nothing to do with the NEP.

Boo should not only look at the billions that Mahathir, Daim, Anwar and many others who are in power or used to be in power make or made. (who Boo incorrectly said was because of the NEP).

What about the five million Malays who enjoyed a higher or tertiary education because of Mara?

Yes, Malaysia currently has about 20 million Malays and five million enjoyed a higher and/or tertiary education because of the NEP.

When my father first built his house 50 years ago in the mid-1960s, you could count the number of Malay architects on the fingers of your two hands.

Today, you have Malay architects popping out of the woodwork that they needed to work in the UK, the Middle East and so on.

Yes, how many Malay architects worked in the UK or in one of the Middle Eastern countries 50 years ago?

Today there are so many that sudah tak hairan.

One million Malaysians live and work overseas, and not all are Chinese and Indians.

Even if just 20% or 200,000 of them are Malays that is already damn bloody good.

How many Malays back in the 1960s operated a Malay-Chinese-Mamak-Thai kopitiam in Manchester?

Boo then goes on to talk about religious and racial issues, which I really do not want to address other than to say that it would take two hands to clap.

The non-Malays/non-Muslims are as guilty as the Malays-Muslims in playing the race and religion card.

No committee in the world can solve a racial or religious divide, NCC2 or otherwise.

It has to come from the desire of the citizens to live in peace and harmony … Read More



Raja Petra Kamarudin or RPK, cousin to the Selangor Sultan, is one of Malaysia's earliest online 'citizen journalists'. He started his website in 1995 before the internet 'explosion' triggered by the Reformasi movement in September 1998. Malaysia Today was launched as a blog in August 2004 and is one of the few pioneer blogs still active and posting articles on a daily basis 24-7. RPK, 66 years old, has been writing since 1990.