Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad is the director of PAS Research Centre. A week has passed and the whole world is still waiting for BN Government to come clean on the statistics and methodology applied in arriving at the highly questionable and disputable bumiputera equity at 18.9%. Both the prime minister and his deputy have promised to do so after numerous calls were made by DAP, prominent economists and scholars and also a Cabinet minister, Datuk Seri Lim Keng Yaik.
I may sound sarcastic and cynical but I dare to say that Malaysians will not be able to get anything out of the UMNO-led BN Government simply because they were UNLIKELY to come clean on the disclosure. At best, they would produce some half-baked statistics and outdated methodology and then expect Malaysians not to query any further in the name of racial harmony and what – not.
Anyone out there really expect these top UMNO leaders to tell us the truth and stop resorting to secrecy and threats to rule this country?
I find some of the points raised by Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad in his article entitled “30% Corporate Equity: Umnoputra Versus Bumiputera?” pertinent and spot-on. He argued that Umno leaders should not be so vehemently opposed to and enraged by the findings. “On the contrary, Umno should rejoice and be jubilant of their success, after 2 decades of NEP (1970-1990) followed by 10 years of the New Vision Policy (1991-2000)”, he said.He agreed with an economist who has said it vigorously that relying on ownership of wealth based on par value is absolutely meaningless, because it doesn’t reflect the current status of the company. “I thought that was saying the obvious. A start-up company with a paid-up capital of RM1.0 million may now be worth RM100 million” he added.
“Since Umno is shrewdly adamant on her failures, the logical question is to ask the Umno leaders why they failed. Do they understand why? If they are still oblivious or unrepentant or cunningly in denial, what makes them think that given another 30 years, they will succeed?”
He challenged that Umno leaders must now openly admit that their failures are due to their own misdoings – ‘sins of omission and commission’ i.e. in the corrupt practices of crony capitalism or rent-seeking activities.
He pointed out that under the rubric of 30% equity target, the political elites working with their business cohorts have had a field day in the boom time. With little thought for welfare implications for the people, literally everything profitable was privatized.
“Not only was it not done through the open-tender system, on numerous occasion concessionaires hardly had track records to entitle them to such huge handouts of the government. “
“Having reaped of the early juice of privatization and later failed, they were benevolently bailed out. The story is dismal to say of the least, scandalous at worst. The list is a very long one.”
PM Abdullah will certainly find Dr Dzul sarcastic. Let’s hear him out…
“Let us cite a few. I’ll go for the big one; notwithstanding others the like of handing out millions of preference shares for bumiputera (reads Umnoputera). Remember the Minister and her son-in-law.”“What was TRI when given the privatisation of MAS? A Telco with hardly any experience managing the airline industry. Under Tajudin’s leadership MAS had an accumulated debt of RM9.4 billion. The government bailed out Tajudin, paying RM 1.79 billion for a 29% stake, at a share price of RM8 per share, almost 50% above market price.”
“Has Halim Saad’s UEM ever built roads before to be awarded the generous terms in the North South Highway concession? When Halim’s Renong Group collapsed, a massive bailout was necessary because the Renong group owed around RM 20-28 billion i.e. accounting for more than 5% of the loans by the Malaysian banking system.”
“This brings us to the crux of the issue. Which Malays are they helping? Politically-well connected Umnoputera or the general Malay-Bumiputera?”
“While all Umnoputera are Malay-Bumiputera (not sure though), not all Malay-Bumiputera are Umnoputera right? Right again. So you have indeed a Positive Discrimination within an Affirmative Action.”
“Thanks to the leaders of Umno! For how much longer could they hoodwink the Malay-Bumiputera? Or Should I say for how much longer would the Malays remain gullible? So in the final analysis, it’s a Positive Discrimination for Umnoputera!”
“Malay-Bumiputera faces a very ’tilted playing field’ within the ethnic Malay/Bumiputera, hence the logical observation that Malays suffer the greatest intra-ethnic disparity.”
“So much for Umno’s championing of Malay rights and supremacy. It is this unwritten policy that is the greatest stumbling block in the creation of genuine enterprising, competitive and ‘towering’ Malays.”
“Little wonder again, why the insistence of the astute economist, Prof Ungku Aziz to side-step the polemic of 30% equity and wanting us to focus on poverty eradication and restructuring society, the last time this polemic raised its ugly head.”
“If examples cited above were in the Tun Mahathir’s reign, are we any better during the current premier’s 3 years in office? Hardly. The controversial merger of the ECM-Libra and Avenue Capital left a lot to be desired by way of transparency and accountability.”
“The AP issue is another. AP when first incepted, was intended to be a mechanism to redistribute wealth amongst the Malays-Bumiputera. But who are greatest beneficiaries? The AP Kingpins.”
“Imagine how the Malay-Bumiputera, nay the entire nation and every deserving citizen would have benefited from the RM 380 billion lost in ‘corruption and crony practices’ as estimated by the Morgan Stanley’s economist for the last 2 decades? A lot!”
“So we have indeed gone one complete cycle, a very vicious one indeed.”
Dr Dzul also warned that “ judging by the spate of events of late, we are heading headlong into the dark alley of racial hatred and antagonism.”
“The greatest benefactors are the racial-based political parties in the Barisan Nasional, viz Umno et al. The greatest losers are the citizenry, the rakyat. To finger-point anyone or insinuating that it is the game-plan of some spin-doctors may be both unnecessary and presuming.”
“However, if this continues unabated especially under a very weak leadership, we are in for a rude awakening, perhaps a national disaster.”
I could not agree more with those criticisms and observations coming from the open-minded and straight-forward research director. How about you, my fellow Malaysians?