Oct 11, 2006

Tun Mahathir : Halting aid to Malays courts chaos

Extracted from MalaysiaKini

The aid extended to Malays cannot be stopped abruptly as it will lead to chaos and racial disputes, warned former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

However, he said certain segments of the Malay community have been using the New Economic Policy (NEP) as a crutch.

He said the NEP was never meant to be a permanent policy for the Malays to continue their dependence on government assistance.

According to him, although the NEP was drafted to help the Malays, the Chinese have also benefited from it.

Only a small portion of Chinese are against the policy, he said during a 'buka puasa' function organised by the Malay Chamber of Commerce in Kuala Lumpur last night.

'Illogical' study

Mahathir was responding to a study by local think-tank Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) which stated that the bumiputera corporate equity ownership was around 45 percent, way above the 30 percent target set under the NEP.

Asli - which came under fire from various quarters over this study - was founded by Mahathir’s son Mirzan in 1993. He is currently the president of the think-tank.

Mahathir also dismissed Asli’s findings as ‘illogical’.

“If the Malays control 45 percent, this means they have more (equity) than the Chinese and other races. What kind of research has Asli done? It does not make sense.

“The (Asli) figures are for the corporate sector (only). The ownership of shares by the Malays is at 18 percent. We cannot evaluate the source of wealth from other things,” he added.

Mahathir said the study did not take into account land ownership and changing market values.

“Can we compare the price of one acre of land in Kuala Lumpur to the paddy fields in villages? In Kuala Lumpur, land cost RM1,000 per square feet but an acre of paddy field land can cost thousands,” he added.

Doctors and mat rempits

Asked if the aim of the study was to prevent the Malays from obtaining aid from the government, Mahathir said: "Yes, the purpose is to so that the Malays are not fed by the NEP. But we (the government) have compromised, we have reduced it, including (the quota system) in universities."

"But the Malays should not always depend on the government. But if we end the NEP, there would be chaos, and chaos would not benefit anyone including Asli,” he added.

Commenting on the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce’s (PCCC) call last week for the abolition of the 30 percent bumiputera quota in housing and commercial projects, Mahathir said this was an isolated view.

“That is just the view of one group, it is not the general opinion. Most Chinese do not oppose the NEP, they support it,” he said.

Mahathir also said the Malays must learn to help themselves and not depend on the government.

“If we give them the opportunity to enter university, they don’t want to enter. That’s why only 30 percent of (Malay) males are in universities. If seems that it is the women who are studying hard.

“The men don’t do anything, (they) sit and mat rempit (daredevil bikers). They ride their motorcycles and they can stand on the seats,” he added.

Quizzed on the allegation that the NEP has only benefited those with the proper connections, the former premier said he has been asked this question numerous times.

“Forty percent of doctors are Malays, whereas in the past it was only two percent. We have PNB (Pemodalan Nasional Bhd), Malays make up the bulk of its investors,” he said.

Million-ringgit contract

Mahathir said the government introduced the NEP in 1971 to improve the Malays but many had ‘betrayed’ it to the point that “Mat Salleh (foreigners) say Malays cannot do business.”

Through the NEP, he said, Malays received Approved Permits (AP), Class F contractor licenses and contracts in order to upgrade their economic status.

“But the Malays sell the APs, the licenses and contracts. They sell everything the government gives them ... they don’t do their work properly.

“The Malays are not committed to the point that the Mat Salleh labels the 'orang kulit sawo matang' (brown-skinned people) as those who do not know how to do business.

“... When the Mat Salleh says something, we just nod. The Mat Salleh gets angry when you talk about cronies, but we welcome it,” he added.

Mahathir also claimed that a trishaw rider had obtained a million-ringgit contract. “What is he going to do with a million-ringgit contract. He has to give it to someone who knows what do to with it.”

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