Jul 23, 2009

Tun Mahathir says the Chinese are the real masters of the country

In Tun Mahathir's recent blog posting, he claims that non-Malays, and particularly the Chinese, were the real masters of the country.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — In a posting on his blog late Monday, former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad appeared to criticise Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's economic liberalisation by coming out with a spirited defence of the country's affirmative action policies and claiming that the non-Malays, particularly the Chinese, were the real masters of the country.

Since he took over as premier in early April, Najib has begun rolling back affirmative action for the Malays, who form the country's majority, to boost investment and make Malaysia more competitive. The programme, known as the New Economic Policy (NEP), uses quotas, licences, restrictions and outright grants to lift the Malays into economic parity with the non-Malays.

In so doing, however, he has angered many Malays who have felt betrayed over his policy reversals and worried about falling further behind their richer countrymen.

In quick succession, Najib removed NEP restrictions from 27 service sub-sectors, liberalised financial services, and emasculated the Foreign Investment Committee, a powerful state body that could block deals if it felt that Malay interests were not being served. He also removed a decades-old requirement that mandated 30 per cent of an initial public offering's shares to be set aside for Malay interests.

More recently, Najib announced the setting up of a merit-based scholarship programme in what seemed to be an effort to appease the non-Malays who have long complained about being victimised.

While Najib's efforts have been generally lauded by analysts and investors, the more right-wing Malays have largely perceived it as a capitulation by Najib to non-Malay demands following the disastrous showing of his ruling Barisan Nasional coalition in the last general election. The worry for Najib's allies is that Dr Mahathir's comments could provoke nationalist objections to Najib's reforms.

This is no idle threat. Dr Mahathir, 83, wields considerable influence in Umno, the political party over which Najib presides. And the former premier was largely responsible for cutting short the tenure of Najib's predecessor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The former premier argued that 39 years after the NEP was introduced, the ethnic Malay share of the corporate pie remained at 20 per cent while the Chinese share was at 50 per cent although they consisted of only 26 per cent of the population. The Malays make up 64 per cent of Malaysia's 26 million people.

“The Bumiputera property holdings are only 15 per cent while the rest are held by non-Bumiputeras because urban property is worth more than rural property,” wrote Dr Mahathir.

“If they are honest, non-Malay leaders who put themselves in the shoes of the Malays will feel the disappointment of the Malays in seeing nearly all business and industry in the hands of the non-Malays,” said Dr Mahathir.

This is the second time Dr Mahathir has spoken out against government policy. A week ago, the combative former physician lambasted Kuala Lumpur's directive of stopping the teaching of science and mathematics in English and reverting to Bahasa Malaysia instead. Dr Mahathir had imposed the English ruling during his tenure.

Jul 20, 2009

Tun Mahathir immortalised in song

A song is written to commemorate Tun Mahathir's leadership to the development of Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR: An album single will soon be released by a local oil and gas support company to commemorate former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership in developing the nation.

The single titled Tun Dr Mahathir, Jasamu Dikenang will feature lyrics written by Octagon Petroleum Technology chairman Dr Nasoha Saabin and performed by local artiste Man Ferow.

Dr Nasoha said the song was composed based on his Terapi Bicara Kendiri (Self Talk Therapy) technique to self-improvement and inculcating positive values.

According to him, the album would be a fresh change from the current pop and rock songs in the market which were “only for entertainment”.

“Songs are a form of therapy and the lyrics are the medicine.

“I want to use the medium of song to build positive thinking and encourage healthy behaviour,” he told a press conference for the soft launch of the tribute single to Dr Mahathir yesterday.

Dr Nasoha, who has written more than 100 songs, said his company had allocated RM100,000 for the project with the aim of building its own studio to produce more “therapeutic” albums.

“Just to produce the single and another album titled Perkahwinan cost us nearly RM70,000,” he said, adding that Dr Mahathir had given his blessing for the single.

Dr Nasoha said the album’s launch would be held at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) on Aug 19.

Jul 11, 2009

Tun Mahathir : I don’t believe Khir’s mansion costs only RM3.5mil

Tun Mahathir has voiced out his opinion in relation to the former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Khir Toyo's RM3.5mil mansion.

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is not convinced with former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo’s claim that his controversial mansion costs only RM3.5mil.

“He cannot simply say he bought the mansion for RM3.5mil. I believe it is more than that,” he said.

“I also have a home in Seri Kembangan. I have spent RM1mil on it, but this (Dr Khir’s mansion) is massive - many times bigger than mine,” he said.

Dr Mahathir was met by reporters after attending a closed-door meeting on the position of the institutional monarchy and the Malays in the Federal Constitution from the 1Malaysia perspective at the Putra World Trade Centre, here, yesterday.

Asked if the matter could tarnish Umno’s image, he said: “Yes, I think so. He has to explain where he got the money to buy the house.”

On Monday, Sekinchan assemblyman Ng Suee Lim alleged that Dr Khir’s property was worth RM24mil, but the latter had denied it saying that he secured a RM3.5mil loan to buy the house five years ago.

Mohd Khir said he took the loan from HSBC and had no problem servicing the monthly repayment of RM18,743 as he was now involved in business from which he was making RM50,000 a month.

It was also reported that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission will investigate Ng’s allegation that Dr Khir spent RM24mil to build the Balinese-style mansion in Section 7, Shah Alam during his tenure as the Mentri Besar.

MACC chief commissioner Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan said the commission would get more details from the Selangor government.

Jul 10, 2009

Tun Mahathir gives thumbs down to new PM

While Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak may be enjoying a high popularity rating as he celebrates 100 days in office, his well-known supporter and former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad brought the celebratory mood down a peg with an unfavourable assessment.

Speaking to reporters in Kuala Lumpur this morning, Mahathir said Najib gained "more negatives rather than positives" since taking over as the prime minister from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on April 3.

KUALA LUMPUR (AP) Malaysia's former leader Mahathir Mohamad on Friday gave a thumbs down to Prime Minister Najib Razak's first 100 days in office, saying there has been "more negatives than positives" under the new administration.

Since taking power April 3, Najib has implemented a wide range of economic reforms to woo foreign investors as the country faces its first recession in a decade.

Mahathir, who retired in 2003 but remains an influential political figure, slammed Najib's move to roll back an affirmative action program for ethnic Malay Muslims, including scrapping a requirement for Malays to own 30 percent equity in some sectors in the financial services industry.

Companies seeking to list on the stock exchange also no longer need to allot 30 percent shares for Malays.

Mahathir further criticized Najib for plans to scrap the use of English to teach math and science by 2012 in favor of the national Malay language, warning it would hurt the country's competitiveness. It reversed a policy started by Mahathir in 2003 amid concerns that poor English skills were hindering students' job opportunities.

Najib says the government remains committed to raise the level of English in schools by employing more English teachers and increasing the hours of teaching.

Mahathir also objected Najib's plans to build a third bridge to neighboring Singapore and said he hasn't taken concrete steps to fight corruption.

"I'm sorry to say this, there are more negatives than positives," he told reporters when asked to assess Najib's first 100 days. "It doesn't mean that I don't support the government but I think the government is doing the wrong things."

Mahathir, was Malaysia's longest-serving prime minister, in power between 1981 and 2003. He holds no government post but his views are widely respected.

Mahathir ran a fierce public campaign that helped pressure Najib's predecessor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, to step down in March, four years before his term expired.

Despite Mahathir's assessment, the independent Merdeka Center research firm earlier this week said Najib's approval rating has risen from 45 percent in mid-May to 65 percent, according to a telephone survey of about 1,000 voters nationwide. The survey had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

The center said the results indicate a rising number of Malaysians appreciate decisions made by Najib. Critics, however, said Najib's popularity rating was still the lowest of all Malaysia's prime ministers in their first 100 days.

Jul 8, 2009

Tun Mahathir claims his opinions on language switch ignored

Tun Mahathir is unhappy with PM Najib administration. This is because the new administration has decided to abort his language switch brainchild which he bulldozed through in 2003 amid a cacophony of protests. According to Mahathir, the government has made a hasty decision.

PUTRAJAYA, July 8 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad expressed disappointment with the government’s decision to scrap his policy of teaching mathematics and science in English, saying it will affect future generations.

He said his recommendations were not taken into consideration when deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister, met him over the policy first introduced in 2003.

“I was only briefed about it, so after the briefing I gave my suggestions, I said even if it could not be implemented at primary level, at least at secondary level it should be maintained, so it was not a consultation only briefing,” Dr Mahathir told reporters here.

“I am saddened because the future of our children will be affected. They will be the victims,” he added.

Dr Mahathir said failure to get the teachers to teach the two subjects in English should not be used as an excuse to scrap the policy.

“The government’s responsibility is to train the teachers, the problems cannot be solved overnight, because this is important for our future, we have to face the challenges, I am confident our teachers can learn English,” he said.

On the government’s plan to train more English teachers Dr Mahathir said the same should also be done to science and mathematics teachers.

“It is a good move, but if they can train English teachers, they should also be able to train science and mathematics teachers,” said Dr Mahathir.

Earlier at a press conference to announce the scrapping of teaching mathematics and science in English policy, Muhyiddin said he and officials from Education Ministry had informed Dr Mahathir of the decision and the former prime minister had accepted the government’s views.

Jul 3, 2009

Tun Mahathir : Where did Petronas money go?

Over the past three decades since Petronas was set up, the national oil company has contributed almost half a trillion ringgit to the government's coffers - RM426.6 billion to be exact. But where has all the money gone to? That's what former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad wants to know.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 — Petronas adviser Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today asked what did the government spend with the RM253.6 billion payment from the national oil company over the past six years when his successor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was prime minister.

The former prime minister, a trenchant critic of Abdullah, wrote in his www.chedet.cc weblog that Petronas has been paying dividends, taxes, royalty and export duties to the government since 1976, after it was set up as the national custodian for fossil fuels.

"Where has the money gone to?" Dr Mahathir asked.

He said Petronas began by paying RM300 million in 1976, rising to RM2 billion in 1981, when he assumed office. The total from 1981 to 2003 was RM168.8 billion for the 22 years that marked Dr Mahathir's tenure as the country's fourth prime minister.

"From then onwards it increased from RM19 billion in 2004 to RM67.8 billion in 2009. The total for six years is RM253.6 billion," he said. It is not known if the figures were adjusted for foreign exchange fluctuations as oil is usually quoted in US dollars.

"I am sure the government had spent the money wisely. It would be interesting to know what the RM253.6 billion was spent on," said Dr Mahathir, who retired as prime minister in favour of Abdullah, who stepped down in early April.

His remarks today came after a June 25 announcement by Petronas that it had paid RM30 billion in dividends to the federal government for the financial year ended March 31, 2009.

The amount was despite a 14 per cent decline in net profit to RM52.5 billion due to lower crude oil prices and higher operating costs and included a special dividend of RM6 billion which was declared in the last calendar year. Petronas paid out RM24 billion in the previous financial year.

Apart from the dividends, Petronas — the country's only Fortune 500 company — also paid RM29.4 billion taxes, RM6.2 billion royalties and RM2.2 billion export duties for the last financial year, totalling RM67.8 billion to the federal government against RM56.8 billion in the previous year.