Aug 30, 2010

Tun Mahathir warns NEP removal could lead to revolution

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad predicted today that there would be an escalation in racial tension and division should NEP-style policies be removed, likening the situation to the Communist revolution in Europe.

He stressed that the time was not right to introduce any policy which would “disregard the disparities between races in the interest of equity and merit.”

“Take away the minor protection afforded by the NEP and the bumis will lose whatever that they may have. Then racial division will be deepened by wealth division. I don’t think this would be good for the country. Remember it was the disparity between rich and poor in Europe which led to the violence of the Communist revolution.

“I may be labelled a racist but fear of the label will not stop me from working for what I think is the good of the country. Nothing will be gained by dividing the people of Malaysia into poor Bumis and rich non-Bumis. The time is not right for disregarding the disparities between the races in the interest of equity and merit,” said Dr Mahathir in a posting on his blog today.

The former PM continued his stout defence of the pro-Bumiputera New Economic Policy (NEP) style policies in his blog post, by suggesting an indefinite continuation of affirmative action programmes.

The former prime minister admitted today that he was “not proud” of the NEP which accorded protection to the Bumiputeras, but stressed that such protection was still necessary and that a 20 year-timeline was not enough for Malays to be economically on par with other races.

Malaysia’s NEP, put in place in 1971, officially ended in 1990, but many of its programmes are still being continued. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said he plans to remove subsidies and many of the pro-Bumiputera quotas under economic reforms. But Dr Mahathir and many Malay groups are opposed to the removal of quotas and equity targets, despite evidence suggesting Malaysia is being handicapped economically and is less competitive globally as a result of such policies.

“I am not proud of the protection afforded the Bumiputeras. It implies weakness. I don’t think Malays and other Bumiputeras like to think that they are inferior in any way.

“But the reality is that in Malaysia the Bumiputeras need new skills and a new culture even. These cannot be had by them in a mere 20 years. The original planners of the NEP were too optimistic,” said Dr Mahathir in a blog posting today although he did not provide or suggest a time frame in which the NEP would no longer be needed.

Using education as an example, Dr Mahathir lashed out at critics who have attacked the government for maintaining a 60 per cent quota for Bumiputeras in local universities.

The former PM said that if the current Bumiputera quota in public universities was reduced, more Bumiputeras should be then allowed to enter private universities which he claimed only consisted of 10 per cent Bumiputeras.

“Even the 10 per cent Bumis are there because of scholarships by MARA. Take the scholarships away and there would be practically none.

“Why is it that the focus is only on what is done by the government? If the Bumis in government universities should be reduced, then the Bumis in the private universities should be increased. Or else meritocracy would reduce the number of Bumiputeras getting university education. Or is it the intention to deny Bumis higher education? They are not the best but they are qualified,” said Dr Mahathir.

The outspoken politician claimed that there were more non-Bumiputeras in foreign universities than local universities because Bumiputeras still could not afford to pay for private tertiary education, and cautioned that this would inevitably result in the Bumiputeras lagging behind in education.

“Because they can afford it there are more non-Bumis than Bumis in foreign universities. This must increase the disparities in higher education between different races,” he said.

Dr Mahathir has been increasingly vocal in speaking out against the New Economic Model (NEM) introduced by Najib, saying that affirmative action must still be carried out, signaling fears that Malays and Bumiputeras would stand lose out the most if the administration were to implement a hundred percent meritocracy-based system.

The former prime minister revealed last week that he had written to the prime minister to offer his advice and let him know what he thought of the New Economic Model (NEM).

However, Dr Mahathir said he did not expect Najib to consider his recommendations.

Citing another case, the veteran politician alleged that even with the existing Bumiputera quotas in government contracts, there was still no guarantee that the contracts would actually be awarded to Bumiputeras.

“As for contracts even with the 5 per cent advantage given to Bumi contractors, many of the Government contracts do not go to them because of their lack of capacity. Even if they do get, non-Bumi contractors get most of the sub-contracts etc.

“Actually construction by the private sector is bigger than the public sector. In the private sector the Bumi contractors get next to nothing. I suppose this is because the private contracts are given based on merit. Or maybe it is not. I don’t know,” said the former Prime Minister.

In justifying his arguments, Dr Mahathir said that during his tenure as Prime Minister and under the implementation of the NEP, Malaysia enjoyed stability and good economic growth.

He noted that despite increased talks about “meritocracy,” the races in the country are more divided today than ever before.

“For 46 years this country enjoyed relative stability and consequently good growth. But today the races are more divided than ever. Everyone has become racist, talks about meritocracy notwithstanding. Everyone is thinking about his own race. If I am included it is because I think it is dangerous for the rich to take away what little the poor has,” added Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir has appeared to be highly critical of Najib and Umno in recent remarks, suggesting recently that the ruling party was weak and mismanaged.

The feisty ex-premier had also mocked proponents of meritocracy last week, calling them racist and decried Malays who supported meritocracy as having misplaced pride.

His comments come after recent remarks by top Malaysian banker Datuk Seri Nazir Razak — the CIMB group chief executive and the brother of the PM — who said that the NEP had been “bastardised.”

Nazir has been pushing for reforms while Dr Mahathir has been putting his weight behind right wing Malay groups such as Perkasa, who believe Bumiputera quotas were a “right” of the Malays.

Dr Mahathir has also denied that the NEP had been an obstacle to the country’s development.

He has also mocked proponents of meritocracy, calling them “meritocrats” who are pushing for dominance by one race in all aspects of the country.

Aug 27, 2010

Tun Mahathir fires off NEM missive to PM Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad continued his defence of the pro-Bumiputera New Economic Policy (NEP) today and denied it had impeded growth, even as the Najib administration prepares to gradually reform the system which has been blamed for the country’s lack of competitiveness.

The former prime minister added that he had written to Datuk Seri Najib Razak to offer his advice and let him know what he thought of the New Economic Model (NEM).

However, Dr Mahathir said he did not expect Najib to consider his recommendations.

“I have already written to him [with] my comments, actually. I have also written to (Datuk Seri) Idris Jala. I have given my view so it is up to them to consider my advice or not. It is just my views,” he told reporters at the National Mosque here.

Dr Mahathir stressed that he had no political vendetta against Najib but was instead being critical of Umno and some of the PM’s reforms as a member of the public.

“Everybody has their weaknesses and the prime minister has tried his best, but I am only voicing my opinion on matters which I do not agree on.

“I heard that he wants public feedback on the budget. I am also the public,” he said.

Dr Mahathir has appeared to be critical of Najib and Umno in recent remarks, suggesting recently that the ruling party was weak and mismanaged.

The feisty ex-premier had also mocked proponents of meritocracy this week, calling them racist and decried Malays who supported meritocracy as having misplaced pride.

His comments come after recent remarks by top Malaysian banker Datuk Seri Nazir Razak — the CIMB group chief executive and the brother of the PM — who said that the NEP had been “bastardised.”

Nazir has been pushing for reforms while Dr Mahathir has been putting his weight behind right wing Malay groups such as Perkasa, who believe Bumiputera quotas were a “right” of the Malays.

Today, Dr Mahathir denied that the NEP had been an obstacle to the country’s development.

“The accusation that the country cannot grow because of NEP is not true because with NEP, this country has [grown] much faster than other developing countries. So you cannot say that the NEP is an obstruction,” he said.

Dr Mahathir then reiterated his warning that Umno risks losing support from the Malays if the party continues to neglect the community.

“Now there are so many Malay NGOs which are taking up the problem faced by the Malays. They have lost confidence with Umno’s ability to protect their rights,” he said.

Aug 23, 2010

Tun Mahathir against Langkawi Bridge project

LANGKAWI: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is against the proposed Langkawi bridge project saying that it will erode the island's unique features.

"Langkawi must remain an island and is unsuitable to be turned into a land mass," he told reporters after presenting chocolates and cash to 120 orphans and special children at Masjid Istiqamah in Kuala Teriang here Sunday night.

Two companies based in Perlis had proposed building a 48km bridge linking Langkawi to Kuala Perlis on the mainland.

Juruelit Sdn Bhd executive chairman Kamarudin Husin said on Friday the company had enough funds to build the project that includes a monorail bridge.

On another note, Tun Mahathir said he was disappointed that Muslims had become enemies just because they had different views.

He added as fellow Muslims they should not turn bitter enemies as it would divide and weaken them.

The former premier cautioned that this could result in Muslims losing power in their own land.

Tun Mahathir and wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali later joined 500 Muslims for buka puasa, maghrib, isyak dan tarawih prayers. - Bernama

Aug 18, 2010

To stay is a high achievement, says Tun Mahathir of Proton

SHAH ALAM, Aug 17 – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that for Proton to stay in the market and celebrate its Silver Jubilee this year is in itself a high achievement.

“This is because we find big automobile companies like General Motors, Chrsyler and others all have been forced to rely on assistance,” said the former prime minister at the breaking of fast hosted by the national carmaker here tonight.

Proton, he said, still does not need help yet as it has been able to expand its market and products, and this is a proud achievement.

Dr Mahathir who is Proton adviser said that although the company no longer commands top placing in the country’s car market, it has performed better.

Proton’s profit in the first quarter of this year showed an increase compared with the first quarter of last year, he said.

This is a result of efforts by the dedicated managers, engineers and employees to produce cars acceptable to the market.

“We no longer hear defects in Proton cars like its windows failing to close properly,” he said

Now, everywhere we see the new Proton Saga has been well accepted by the people, he added.

Therefore, he said, Proton needs to double its efforts to churn out new high-tech models using hybrid or electric engines.

“We have yet to market these cars. I’m sure when it goes to the market, it will receive good response from the people,” he said. – Bernama

Aug 4, 2010

DPM agrees with Tun Mahathir that people don’t understand 1 Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 3 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin agreed today with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that Malaysians have yet to understand the 1 Malaysia concept after the former prime minister said it had failed to unite Malaysians as a whole.
Yesterday, Dr Mahathir criticised the Najib administration’s 1 Malaysia slogan, claiming that the concept needed further “explanation” to prevent it from being interpreted differently by various races.

However, Muhyiddin defended the slogan and explained that public needed more time to fully understand 1 Malaysia.

“I agree with his (Dr Mahathir) opinion. We did not say that in a period of one year that everybody would understand the 1 Malaysia slogan launched by the prime minister but I am confident that many have understood. I believe that many have yet to fully understand the meaning of 1 Malaysia,” he told reporters after chairing a committee meeting on youth development at Perdana Putra here.

The deputy prime minister added that certain groups are purposely sabotaging the 1 Malaysia concept.

“There is however a tendency that the understanding is influenced by certain groups. Even though it has been explained by the prime minister that 1 Malaysia is based on the country’s constitution. Whatever the interpretation, it should not run far from the spirit of the constitution such as Bumiputera rights, Bahasa Malaysia, culture, religion and royalty.

“Since 1 Malaysia is dynamic and not static then certainly there will be certain groups that will try to interpret it according to their own interest. So steps must be taken by the government is to give explanation and programs to allow the public to better understand what is 1 Malaysia,” he said.

Dr Mahathir’s remarks came after a recent public opinion poll by the Merdeka Center found that a majority of non-Bumiputeras in the country considered Najib’s 1 Malaysia slogan a mere political gimmick.

According to the poll, only 39 per cent of non-Bumiputeras accepted the 1 Malaysia concept despite the fact that it had been introduced for over a year.

Forty-six per cent out of 3,141 respondents interviewed felt that 1Malaysia was only a “tactic to win over non-Malay support”, while another 16 per cent had either refused to answer the poll questions or claimed to have no understanding of the concept whatsoever.

Respondents were undecided on whether Malaysia had become more united under the Najib Administration, with 48 per cent saying yes and 43 per cent claiming that the country was still disunited.

Najib has been under a lot of fire lately as even veteran Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders have come out and openly mocked his 1 Malaysia campaign, in effect branding it a “hollow” cause.

Veteran Umno politician and one time finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said recently that the 1 Malaysia slogan was “hollow” and had lacked direction and vision and even compared it to Dr Mahathir’s Vision 2020.

Aug 3, 2010

Tun Mahathir : Ling innocent until proven guilty


GEORGE TOWN: Although nobody can escape the long arm of the law, everyone must be presumed innocent until proven guilty, says former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said the charge brought against former Transport Minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik was merely an accusation and it was up to the relevant authorities to present their case against him.

“That is only an accusation.

“Whether it is true or not will be the job of the relevant authorities to explain, because in a court of law, nobody is an exception,” he said when asked to comment on Dr Ling, who was charged in court in connection with the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) issue.

Ling, 67, who was charged at the Putrajaya Sessions Court on July 29 with cheating the Government, pleaded not guilty.

Earlier, Dr Mahathir said the 1Malaysia slogan must be explained in detail to the people of various races in the country, to provide a holistic understanding of the concept.

“When I speak to the Chinese and Malays, they have differing views and cannot be united.

“I feel that an in-depth explanation is needed,” he told reporters here yesterday.

He earlier met delegates of the Malaysian Muslim Welfare Organisation (Perkim) to explain the confusion surrounding the 1Malaysia slogan.

Aug 2, 2010

Tun Mahathir says Najib must explain 1 Malaysia

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 2 – Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed has criticised the Najib administration’s 1 Malaysia slogan, claiming that the concept needed further “explanation” to prevent it from being interpreted differently by various races.

Dr Mahathir lamented the fact that the 1 Malaysia slogan, introduced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak shortly after he took office on August 3 last year, had failed to unite Malaysians as a whole.

“I have spoken to the Chinese, the Malays, each person has different opinions and cannot be united. I feel that an explanation is needed,” Bernama quoted Dr Mahathir (pic) as saying here today.

Dr Mahathir said that the onus was on the Najib administration to ensure that Malaysians understood the idea behind the 1 Malaysia slogan, to avoid further misunderstanding or confusion.

“They (the rakyat) do not know which is which, which ones are for the Chinese and which ones are for the Malays. If I were to explain, how should I know, I was not the one who created the slogan,” said the country’s longest-serving Prime Minister.

Dr Mahathir’s remarks today come after a recent public opinion poll by the Merdeka Center found that a majority of non-Bumiputeras in the country considered Najib’s 1 Malaysia slogan a mere political gimmick.

According to the poll, only 39 per cent of non-Bumiputeras accepted the 1 Malaysia concept despite the fact that it had been introduced for over a year.

Forty-six per cent out of 3,141 respondents interviewed felt that 1Malaysia was only a “tactic to win over non-Malay support”, while another 16 per cent had either refused to answer the poll questions or claimed to have no understanding of the concept whatsoever.

Respondents were undecided on whether Malaysia had become more united under the Najib administration, with 48 per cent saying yes and 43 per cent claiming that the country was still disunited.

Najib has been under a lot of fire lately as even veteran Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders have come out and openly mocked his 1 Malaysia campaign, in effect branding it a “hollow” cause.

Veteran Umno politician and one time finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said recently that the 1Malaysia slogan was “hollow” and had lacked direction and vision and even compared it to Dr Mahathir’s Vision 2020.

In a rare compliment to the former prime minister, Tengku Razaleigh said that Vision 2020 “inspired” more confidence among Malaysians than 1Malaysia.

“When Dr Mahathir positioned a vision of 2020, the vision, its idea gives people hope.

“1Malaysia is hollow, it must have a policy to go about it, to support it. Only then will people get involved in it,” the Gua Musang MP told The Malaysian Insider recently.

Similarly, Najib has been castigated by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders who claim that 1 Malaysia was not even respected and understood by ministers in the Cabinet, following Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s declaration earlier this year that he was “Malay first, then Malaysian”.