Archive for the ‘Economic Inequity’ Category

United Opposition Vs Divided BN

November 20, 2006

 DAP leaders Lim Kit Siang and Lim Hock Seng with Anwar Ibrahim @ Hari Raya Open House on Sunday, 19 Nov 2006.

 Anwar once again criticised the NEP; he pointed out that NEP is Umno’s gimmick to rob the Malays. Pls read on…

NEP an Umno gimmick to rob Malays: Anwar

Bede Hong-Malaysiakini
Nov 20, 06 8:54pm
 

PKR advisor Anwar Ibrahim – the target of attacks at the recently concluded Umno general assembly for questioning the New Economic Policy (NEP) – has reaffirmed the opposition party’s position that the policy be abandoned.

The former deputy premier described the Umno general assembly, which concluded last Friday, as a platform for ‘fanning racial sentiments’.
He was speaking to reporters during a Hari Raya open house at his residence in mainland
Penang’s Kampung Cerok Tok Kun yesterday.
Anwar was attacked by Umno delegates for criticising the NEP, a race-based affirmative action policy which the ruling party considered as essential in eradicating poverty, in particular among rural Malays.

During the assembly, the prime minister and Umno president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had said that the term ‘NEP’ should no longer be used although two of its prime objectives – the eradication of poverty and the restructuring of society to enable equal opportunity for all races – would be continued.

Anwar said the assembly was “a sham” and that the proceedings were racist in nature in an attempt to shore up grassroots Malay support for Umno.This, he said, was to deflect the people’s attention away from more contentious issues such as the NEP, inter-faith dialogue and the state of the nation’s economy.

“Several within the Umno leadership are fanning racial sentiments so that discussion on the NEP is sidelined. What I attack are not the programmes that assist the Malays. What I attack are leaders who rob from the Malays. The NEP is used as a tool to benefit leaders, their families and their cronies,” he said.

“The New Economic Policy is now becoming a gimmick for those in power in Umno to virtually rob wealth opportunities for themselves,” he added.

Anwar blamed Umno, in particular the Umno Youth, for convoluting the development agenda by creating scapegoats.

“Instead of debating on the matter, racial sentiments are blown up as though our economic problems are caused by the non-Malays, in particular the Chinese,” he said.

Anwar, who would be eligible to contest general elections in April 2008, offered PKR as a viable alternative party to Umno, one that would wean Malays off the NEP besides promoting dialogue of issues of religious tolerance should the party win control in the next elections.

To replace the NEP, Anwar has recently mooted a New Economic Agenda, which emphasises justice for all Malaysians and the eradicating poverty regardless of race.

“I do not have a shred of doubt that the economic polices that we (PKR) formulate when compared to the NEP are better for the majority of Malays, the majority of Chinese, Indians, Kadazan and so forth.”

The Hari Raya open house, held in PKR’s sole seat of Permatang Puah, was attended by a number of top opposition leaders including DAP’s Lim Kit Siang (right). Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is member of parliament of Permatang Puah and PKR leader, was also present.

The following are extracts from Anwar Ibrahim’s press conference.

On the recently concluded Umno general assembly:

The Umno general assembly was supposed to be an arena to raise issues that would help develop good economic polices. That did not happen. Granted, the economy is sluggish. But instead of debating on the matter, racial sentiments are blown as though our economic problems are caused by the non-Malays, in particular the Chinese.

This is not true. The problem with the economy lies with leadership, policies and programmes that are weak. Those who challenge the New Economic Policy are not just the Chinese. There are also the Malays, including myself, who were criticised during the assembly. For what?

What I attack is not the programmes that assist the Malays. What I attack are leaders who rob from the Malays. What I attack is the policy that do not benefit the majority of Malays. The NEP is used as a tool to benefit a crust of leaders, their families and their cronies.

Touching on the NEP, Anwar said that Umno Youth had to appear to be championing the rights of the Malays in order to shore up support:

You have APs (Approved Permits). You have Scomi. You have ECM Libra. This are the three that we know of. How about the dozens of others? This was not answered. As a result, I was not too surprised when several Umno Youth leaders fought to the very end to defend policies – policies which do not help the interest of the masses, but only a small select group of elites.

I would like to explain here that our agenda must be a Malaysian agenda. I do not have a shred of a doubt that the economic polices that we (PKR) formulate compared to the NEP are better for the majority Malays, the majority of Chinese, Indians, Kadazan and so forth. This does not mean when we abandon the NEP, the Malays would be left destitute and suffer abject poverty.

We want to stick by this issue because there have been several within the Umno leadership that are fanning racial sentiments so that the discussion on the NEP is sidelined. As though we are not yet ready to become a true Malaysian race. We have been independent for the past 50 years. It has been half a century since we’ve achieved independence.

Malays have their rights and we know to defend their rights requires a spirit of give and take. But we also know that the Chinese and the Indians are anak
Malaysia
and should be accorded rights as Malaysian citizens.

Does this contradict with Malay rights? I don’t think so. I would never compromise on these rights. But I don’t agree with those who use the NEP to rob the Malays of their wealth.

On the ongoing debate regarding the NEP, the ex-deputy premier said there is a growing number of Malays who are questioning the policy:

The entire polemics on the issue of the NEP is clearly an attempt to deflect attention from the basic fundamental issues of growth development and distributive justice. Those who are questioning the validity, the relevance and the wisdom to continue the NEP are not only the Chinese but also more concerned Malays.I believe, the vast majority of Malays now begin to understand that the New Economic Policy is now becoming a gimmick for those in power in Umno to virtually rob wealth opportunities for themselves, their families and their cronies.

The vast majority of the Malays did not benefit from the APs, from Scomi, from ECM Libra, from Patrick Lim in Terengganu, et cetera, et cetera. So we must understand that we need to engage and continue this dialogue rationally. We need to promote a policy and agenda that would treat Malaysians as Malaysians. Yes, we are committed to defend the rights of the Malays, the marginalised and the poor.

We also here to defend the rights of the Chinese, the Indians, the Ibans and the Kadazans as Malaysians.

Why the hypocrisy that we are one family, we are one nation, warming up to each other, kita satu keluarga (we’re one family), while at the same time, you promote this defeatist racist agenda?That is why I am not totally surprised that a few of this rich Malays in Umno, including Umno Youth, are taking this up as a major battle. To attack the non-Malays, to threaten them because they want to defend, not Malay interests, but the interests of themselves, their families and their cronies.

I would openly challenge them to rationally debate this issue based on facts. Not based on racist propaganda. If anyone were to come and tell me, ‘Anwar, we are not ready to talk about a Malaysian agenda’, I would tell them that we have been independent for the last half a century. If you are not ready, you are not competent, you have to resign. We (PKR) have to have a new team of competent, fair-minded just Malaysians to take over the helm of this country.

Anwar also touched on the media freedom saying that PKR’s responses to criticisms were never published:

This is important, but the problem is the media. It’s like the North Korean media, except for a few notable media organisations. They (Umno) attack us, we reply, it’s not published. They say we are anti-Malay. They say we betray the interests of the Malay.

The ones that betray are the ones that rob the Malays, the Chinese, the Indians. In fact, the ones that rob the Malays, the ones that betray them, are the Malay leaders.

The APs. Who robbed the most? Malay names. Large contracts. Malay names. If a sub-contract is not to the Chinese, it’s to a Malay. So let’s create a fair policy. Sudahlah penipuan ini. (Enough of this cheating).

We are not seeking to compromise to the point of ‘Oh, let’s give all the opportunities to the Chinese, let them live easy, let the Malays live in poverty.’ No, what we want to do is create a policy for all Malaysian citizens. So that there would be nobody that is marginalised.

I am confident that there will be change. They say
Malaysia is not ready, we should not forget Malay interests. Don’t challenge Islam, (don’t) challenge this, (don’t) challenge that. Ini isu temberang lah (issues that attempt to hoodwink).

This is why I never want to answer personal attacks. I let it be. We need to address the root issues. Okay? Clear enough? Quote four lines lah (laughs).

Well, actually this is very important. I will appeal to you in the media, even if reports are not cleared by your editors, you have a duty to report. Because to me, this is not a narrow political agenda. This is not a Keadilan issue.

For me, we have reached a level where Malays, Chinese, Indians, Iban and Kadazan must take a stand.

This is an issue of the survival of
Malaysia as a nation. It’s not an political gimmick issue. I am personally surprised, even though I should not be, but I am, that an assembly (Umno’s) is allowed to run its course and stupify the rakyat in this manner. You allowed full coverage from morning till night, and angled it the way it was angled as though people can be fooled.

Asked what his stand was on the setting up of an interfaith commission, a move recently rejected by the prime minister, Anwar said he supported dialogue over silence:

On the issue of interfaith dialogue, I think it’s important. We have to have the trust and confidence in the constitution which guarantees the position of Islam in the federation and the protection of religious rights and freedom of belief and conscience for all non-Muslims, Christians, Buddhist, Hindus, et cetera.

Apparently there has been some misunderstanding, misperception. This has to be addressed. The prime minister suggested don’t discuss this. ‘These are sensitive (issues). We are not going to compromise,’ he said.

What is so sensitive about talking about the people’s basic rights? In what way are we compromising? In no way am I compromising my position as a Muslim. And in no way should you at all consider an attempt to compel others to accept our beliefs. But currently there is confusion.

And this has to be addressed. The problem with this country is that (even) after half a century of confusion, you say, ‘Don’t discuss’. You (the government) say ‘In another five years, we’ll discuss again’.

If in five years you have an Umno president as prime minister, the answer will be the same. But in five years, if we have a different party, then insya Allah, I think it will be resolved. 

 

NEP target: Gov’t keep changing the ground rules

November 16, 2006

 Former DPM Anwar Ibrahim has repeatedly opined that the NEP is no more relevant today and should it be continued, it will bring destruction to all Malaysians including the Malays. He is now under heavy attacks from creatures like Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin and his gang. They called him ‘pengkhianat bangsa Melayu’ (meaning traitor of the Malay race) and all sorts of names.

To me, one can only label Anwar as a Malay traitor if they can prove that the NEP is actually good for the Malays. Since NEP is only good for Umnoputeras, the most Khairy and his gang could do would be calling Anwar “Pengkhianat parti Umno”.

We need more Malay leaders to speak up like Anwar on this issue of NEP, explaning to the Malays why NEP is a deadend and should not be revived. After all, the so-called 30% bumi equity has been achieved long ago ( refer to UM’s Dr Fazilah’s research) and “where has all the money and shares gone to” is a seperate matter. We must not allow Umnoputra to continue to enrich themselves, leaving only the scrums to the ordinary Malays in the streets and kampongs.

PM Abdullah lied through his teeth when he declared that “kita tidak pernah bohong” (we never lie) at the Umno assembly yesterday. Just look at the way the Umno-led Government dishing out the so-called bumi equity figures…18.9%? 26%? 32%? Back to 18.9%? Which is which now? Who’s lying then? Abdullah? Muhyiddin? Najib? Khairy? Hishamuddin? Effendi? Awang Adek? or ALL OF THEM?

I find this letter to Editor by TE See to Malaysiakini reflects the sentiments and feelings of many Malaysians today. Pls read on… 

NEP target: Gov’t changing the ground rules

I refer to the malaysiakini reports Bumi equity: Govt retracts 36.6% figure and NEP to stay until national unity is achieved.Reading them made me feel really sad about the state of the affairs here. As a Chinese Malaysian who was born here and whose parents and grandparents were also born here, it saddens me that such is the lengths some will go to protect personal wealth and turf. It saddens me that till this day, unnecessary affirmative action (for the majority) renders me, in essence, a second-class citizen. Every Malaysian knows, to a certain degree or another, the extent of corruption and furthering of personal interest in the Malaysian government machinery. The government retracts a figure that was published by them, and then gives us some bull on the use of par value. Anyone that’s been through Finance 101 knows that the par value of equity is meaningless. Message to the Dewan Rakyat: ‘Don’t insult our intelligence’. And don’t go give more bull about the NEP staying until national unity is achieved.

Two problems with that. First, the target the NEP set out to achieve (30% bumi equity) has either been achieved or second, you are changing the ground rules by moving from an achieved quantifiable target to an unquantifiable one. Do you take us for a bunch of people walking around with IQs of minus 20?

Frankly, I have had just about enough of this. I love this country as much as any of you do and am not going to sit by and watch this charade. I’m reminded why politics has never interested me.

In my opinion, the MCA leaders should be voted out immediately. What are they doing coming out with statements defending the government against Lee Kuan Yew’s comment that the Chinese here are marginalised? Message to MCA: ‘You are supposed to be there to serve the interests of the Chinese community at large, not go against it’.

Never one to vote in the past, these past few incidents will have me going to the polls the next time around. Still not got around though to who to vote for. There are not much better alternatives around, from my perspective, looking at the opposition parties.

Perhaps Ahmad Akmal’s prescription in his letter NEP will only lead to self-destruction can be an interim solution – the independent candidate. Actually Ahmad, you seem like a pretty well-educated and sensible guy with some fine principles. If you run, you have my vote. Meritocracy, secular state. Bad words as far as our current regime would have us believe.

I’ve had about enough. This latest stunt, the championing of the NEP under false pretences, just to protect and add to the significant wealth already accumulated by politicians is, as far as I’m concerned, the straw that broke the camel’s back. Time for a change. (TE See, Malaysiakini) 

Money not enuf…! 钱不够用!Wang tak cukup!

November 14, 2006

Very interesting…..by a poor soul called Audrey. Read on.


Let’s to do some calculations here. In
Malaysia the average family income is RM3000
 (Father works, mother doesn’t).

I understand there are a lot of families whose income don’t reach RM3000, but, to make things simple, lets take RM3000 as the figure. ok la right?Okay, let’s start rolling with a family which has Papa, Mama, 1 daughter and 1 son. ngam ngam..

Calculation starts…

Electricity and water bil RM100 (no aircond, no home theatre, no water heater k?) Telekom and Handphone bil RM100 (cannot make a lot of calls one you know? NO Streamyx also)

Meal for the whole happy family RM775 (3 meals on RM25/day, RM25 for 4 persons????)

Papa makan/teh tarik during working hours RM155 (RM5/day, RM5 can eat what?)

Car repayment RM400 (a proton saga aeroback, 7 years repayment)

Petrol RM300 (Living in City, Jam) Go to work, bring son to school, only can afford one car running.

Insurance RM650, (kids, wife and myself).

House repayment RM750 (Low cost housing repayment for 30 years, retired still have to work to pay house!)

Tuition RM80 (got that cheap meh?? No, I don’t think so)

Older children pocket money @ school RM20 (RM1/day, eat bread??)

School fees RM30 (enough ah??)

School books and etc etc. RM100 (always got extra to pay in school)

Younger children milk powder RM50 (cannot have the DHA, BHA, PHA one, expensive)

Miscellaneous RM100 (shampoo, rice, sauce, toilet paper)

oh wait!!! I have to stop here, so… No Astro, no movie @ cinema, no DVD, no CD, no online, cannot KFC, cannot Mc Donald, cannot go Park walk during weekend(petrol expensive), no chit chat on phone with grandparents, and etc…

Let’s use a calculator to total up… WALAO EI.. Shit! RM3610 already.. EPF belum potong, income tax lagi,……..oledi — RM610… How to survive laa tuan-tuan dan puan-puan sekalian???
Our Deputy Prime Minister ask us to change lifestyle? How to change? Don’t  eat? Don’t work? Don’t send children to school and study?

Besides that, I believe in Malaysia population, there are millions of Rakyat Malaysia which still don’t earn RM3000/month!!!
What is this? Ini lah Malaysia Boleh.. Sorry.. it should be Malaysians Boleh, because we’re still alive and kicking!! 

Our politicians must be mad!!!!!! 

The true colours of NEP now EXPOSED

November 9, 2006

PM Adullah owes all Malaysians an explanation on why NEP must not be discontinued. Media statement by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew , DAP CEC member and NGO Bureau Chief on Thursday, November 09, 2006 in Petaling Jaya

The Life Advisor of DAP Dr Chen Man Hin has rightly pointed out that “the true colours of New Economic Policy is now exposed”. His comment came soon after the Government’s reply in the recent Parliamentary sitting. Deputy Minister Awang Adek, in his reply to Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (Umno-Gua Musang), admitted that the bumi corporate equity has reached 36.64%, which has clearly surpassed the targeted level set by the NEP, i.e.30%. Earlier, the Asli think tank has proven that the 30% bumi equity was surpassed.  Another report by Universiti  Malaya asserted that the 30% was achieved way back in 1997, even if the par value methodology was applied. 

In Dr Chen’s opinion, the NEP has created a big Malay middle class besides making Umno elite filthy rich. Figures from Asli report indicate that the elite group earned about 400 billion out of the total valuation of 700 billion of listed stocks. However, NEP has done little to improve the lot of working class Malays. Malay poverty remains a major problem. 

From the speeches of Umno leaders beginning from the Prime Minister, the intention of Umno is to perpetuate the NEP – probably until doomsdays.  Dr Chen warns that if NEP continues, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans and Malays in the grassroots will be totally marginalised.  

 “They will become the hewers of wood and drawers of water for the country”, he said.  

We also agree with academic Dr Lim Teck Ghee that the government must review the NEP and focus on the distribution of bumiputera wealth, rather than the size of it. Dr Lim was among the main authors of a study on corporate equity distribution by Asian Strategic Leadership Institute’s (Asli) Centre for Public Policy Studies.The study challenged the government’s assertion that bumiputera corporate equity ownership had stagnated at 18.9 percent, drawing heavy criticism from Umno leaders in the process.

Dr Lim told Malaysiakini that “the report was not merely about bumiputera racial shares – whether 18.9, 36.6 or 45 percent.”

“It was more about the need for the government to rescind or revise race-oriented policies – in this case on corporate equity distribution – that have long achieved their purpose and are no longer necessary or defensible,” he added.Despite the government’s latest figures and attempt to explain the methodology employed by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), Dr Lim said many questions pertaining to wealth distribution still warranted answers.

“In my opinion – and I may add that of many independent scholars – the methodology of poverty and income estimates are even more flawed; the present poverty line for example, is based on household rather than individual income. “Thus, we look good on our so-called poverty alleviation record. But we – I mean, those in charge – are only fooling themselves,” he added.According to Dr Lim, this and the EPU methodology to determine bumiputera equity ownership, among others, were no longer applicable today as it was when the NEP was formulated three decades ago.

It’s an open secret that share ownership is only concentrated in the hands of the very few, the Umnoputeras. All Malaysians regardless of ethnic background must demand the Government to stop using the 18.9%  figure as an excuse to perpetuate NEP to 2020 and beyond.We must not allow the Umnoputeras and their cronies to amass wealth for themselves at the expense of national unity.   

UM report released in 2002 found that Bumi equity hit NEP target 10 years ago

November 2, 2006

 Tell us the truth!!!

Media statement by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP CEC member and NGO bureau chief on Thursday, November 02, 2006 in Petaling Jaya 

In a Malaysiakini exclusive report entitled “Bumi equity hit NEP target 10 years ago” today, Beh LihYi reported that a university research paper has found that the 30% bumi equity ownership as targeted under the government’s new Economic Policy had been achieved about 10 years ago. 

Interestingly, the academic team led by Dr M Fazilah Abdul Samad had used par value of KLSE listed companies as the basis of calculation. Even so, her team has reached the conclusion that the bumi equity target under NEP  had been met by 1997. 

The ground-breaking research was compiled into a 107-page report entitled ‘Bumiputeras in the corporate sector: Three decades of performance 1970-2000′ and was published four years ago.Fazilah is also head of the finance and banking department at UM’s business and accountancy faculty. Her research was commissioned and published by UM’s independent research unit, the Centre for Economic Development and Ethnic Relations.

The research, done by Universiti Malaya academician Dr M Fazilah Abdul Samad, was based on a 10-year analysis of bumiputera equity ownership between 1988 and 1997 of public listed companies on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE), now called Bursa
Malaysia.It found the 30 percent bumiputera equity ownership target was reached in 1997 when it hit 33.7 percent.

According to the 2002 study, the 33.7 percent figure was made up of bumiputera corporate equity ownership (30.6 percent) – which is equity held by bumiputera companies – and individual bumiputera share ownership (3.1 percent).The remainder were held by ‘others’ (32 percent), those under foreign ownership (24.9 percent) and government-held ownership (9.5 percent).However, the ‘others’ category consisted not just of non-bumiputera ownership but also nominee companies ownership. A nominee company’s sole function is to hold shares or securities on behalf of someone else.

Many economists would argue that nominee companies are not solely under non-bumiputera ownership as a number of them are held by bumiputeras.

With this Fazilah’s findings, we now have even more reasons to believe that the 45% bumi equity quoted by Asli report was correct.

We are still waiting for the Government to respond with its data and methodology to back up its claim of 18.9%.

We urge BN Government to stop extending the racial biased NEP to 2020. It’s time to push the country forward with new colour-blind economic and social policies. 

18.9% or 45%? Umno cannot afford the truth

October 27, 2006

  Dr Lim Teck Ghee of Asli has resigned under protest to uphold the integrity of independent scholarship. But EPU has yet to substantiate its data and methodology “vociferously” .

18.9% or 45%? Umnoputeras would never tell you the truth. 

Media statement by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP CEC member and NGO bureau chief on Friday, October 27, 2006 in Petaling Jaya  Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang who has just returned from
Geneva immediately asked whether the Government has forgotten about his promise on revealing the data and methodology on the issue of bumi equity. He must have sensed that the Cabinet has yet to discuss the matter and would probably have intended to sweep everything under the carpet.
 

I have earlier predicted that the Barisan Nasional Government under Datuk Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi would not allow the EPU to disclose its data and methodology to demonstrate how the highly questionable 18.9% bumi equity. Two weeks have come and gone and have you heard anything from the Prime Minister? My prediction was based on the following observations: 

1.                  There’s no way the EPU could justify its claims. You do not need an accountant to tell you that using par value as a basis of calculation can never get you the correct answer. The method was used because of political motivation on the part of Umno. Umno would never admit that the target of 30% bumi corporate equity was succeeded so that they could continue to justify the extension of New Economic Policy (NEP). With the prolonged NEP, Umnoputeras could then continue to benefit from measures like mandatory 30% share allocation from listed companies, government and GLCs procurement and other perks and privileges.

2.                  Umno does not want the ordinary Malays and other Bumiputeras to know that all the shares and equity were concentrated in the hands of Umnoputeras, as such realization or awakening would be detrimental to Umno’s support base. In other words, they cannot continue to use Chinese and other non-Bumiputera communities as bogeymen or scapegoats. Umnoputeras would not want to lose their undeserved entitlement, abuse of power, corruption, intolerance of others and laziness (borrowing the words from MD SAID of
San Francisco, USA- Why are we lagging still?)
 

Both the prime minister and his deputy would probably pretend that nothing has happened (semuanya ok) and hoping that Malaysians of short memory (mudah lupa) would not question them any further. The lesser leaders like the one described by Mal Inchi2 in his letter to Malaysiakini would continue to be offensive and behave rather arrogantly. After all, Umno leaders have the tendency to rule this country with secrecy and threats.  

The anger and concern expressed by Mal Inchi2 in his/her letter entitled  People shouldn’t fall for gov’t trick” on Oct 26, 2006 was truly understandable. We agree that TV3 should not be used by the Barisan Nasional Government to “downplay the results of the Asli findings plus an assault on those who question the government’s methodology for calculating bumi equity”.

He/She quoted from a minister ( no mention of his/her name here but they were all more or less the same anyway) that was interviewed: “The future of the Malays should be decided by the Malays themselves, why are others interjecting in this issue? It’s our future, let us decide. Don’t create trouble, everything has been fine so far. Even if the bumi equity is 30%, 45% or even 60% now, this still does not change the fact that Malays are marginalised. We (the government/Umno) do not just look at statistics, but we look at reality. Look around you, Malays is still not achieving wealth on par as other races”.

Mal Inchi2 was spot-on when he/she lamented that “ the Umnoputras are shamelessly playing the racial card again to get the Malays to back them by giving the impression that their rights are being threatened. In reality, it’s the future of the Umnoputras wealth accumulation that is at stake, not that of the ordinary Malay on the street”.

We all know that the only ones that stand to lose out big time are the leaders in Umno and their elite circle of friends, contacts and families. If the NEP is abolished, it means no more government contracts, no more endlessly huge amounts of money pouring in to their coffers which in turn means no more luxury cars, no more overseas holidays, no more multiple mansions, no more lazing while at work and no more special treatment from both government departments and the private sector”.
That is why they are defending it as if their lives depend on it. Let’s get rid of these people from governing our country and leading it to waste. Make sure your vote counts in the next election”.  

Need I add anymore?  

Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad speaks his mind on bumi equity

October 19, 2006

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? 

“Par value”methodology on bumi equity seriously flawed

October 17, 2006

 Malaysian Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang

This is an article from his blog “For Malaysia” entitled Smashed to smithereens – EPU’s NEP methodology using par value for 18.9% bumiputra equity .

You will find his April 2006 Parliamentary speech on bumi equity and the anonymous accountant’s argument on the same matter very interesting. Happy reading!

STOP PRESS (Oct. 17, 2006 @ 1712 hrs) I have received a comment/clarification from the anonymous accountant who had debunked the EPU’s methodology of using par value instead of market value to compute corporate bumiputra equity ownership of 18.9%, whose illustrations and arguments I had blogged here, as follows:


[I have read the response to my article and sensed that some readers may have misunderstood the contents of the article. I have asked Kit to include this note to clarify the following:

[1.My article does not claim that this is the sole methodology used by EPU. There may be redeeming adjustments made by EPU to correct the inherent flaws of a par value accounting system. That we don’t know until EPU reveals the detailed methodology. My point is that if EPU uses the par value system without modification then it will suffer these inherent weaknesses mentioned in the article.

[2.As I have already mentioned in my article, please don’t view the examples Ali, Ahmad and Aziz as belonging to one ethnic group. It includes other ethnic group as well. They are fictitious names used just to drive home the point of the inherent flaws of a par value system. As you can see the figures in the examples are not real and they are deliberately over stretched to make the points simple to understand. Don’t for a moment assume the examples actually happened.]

An accountant has smashed to smithereens the methodology of the Economic Planning Unit’s (EPU) in using par value to compute corporate equity distribution.I had spoken on this several times in Parliament in the past two decades, the last time during the debate on the Ninth Malaysia Plan on 3rd April 2006, where I said:

In 1970, when the initial calculations of share ownership were done, the calculations were done on the basis of taking the par value of the shares of all limited companies, both public limited and private limited companies, distributed by ethnic origin. Thus, the total stock of share capital at that point in time was valued in nominal ringgit terms.

The calculations took no account of the true asset or equity values which are a correct measure of wealth. Par valuations are notional and equate a single share in a small private family owned business with a single share in a large asset-rich public limited company listed on the stock exchange. The resulting aggregate values (at par values) understated the net worth of asset-rich companies whilst exaggerating the value of shares in private companies. The total par value of shares as measured is an under-estimate of the value of all corporate assets/equity or the net worth of corporate entities.This same methodology has been applied consistently since 1970.

According to the 9th Plan (table 16.6), the total par value of share capital in 2004 amounted to RM 529.8 billion of which 18.9 percent was owned by Bumiputras, 40.6 percent by Non-Bumiputras, 32.5 percent by Foreigners and 8.0 by Nominee companies.


Many observers have argued that the holdings of Nominee companies should be aggregated with Bumiputra holdings to give an overall Bumiputra ownership of 26.9 percent, a figure close to the NEP target of 30 percent. These commentators have contended that Nominee companies are mainly Bumiputra owned.The figure of 18.9 percent is clearly an under-estimate for other reasons beyond those cited above.The total value of RM 529.8 billion represents the total par value of all shares in both public and private limited companies.
As of last Friday, the market capitalisation of 1,025 listed companies with Bursa
Malaysia stood at RM732.9 billion. – a figure that exceeded by RM 203.1 billion the total share capital of all companies (both listed and unlisted) in par value terms.
This is clearly an inconsistency. No published figures are available about the ethnic distribution of the capitalized value of RM 732.9 billion.
It can however be reasonably argued that all listed companies on Bursa Malaysia are companies that have been restructured, resulting in a minimum 30 percent Bumiputra ownership.It must be recalled that restructuring is a pre-condition for listing on Bursa
Malaysia. On this basis, it would not be erroneous to assume that 30 percent of the capitalized value of listed shares belongs to Bumiputras.

To this extent then, Bumiputra ownership is close to or even exceeds the NEP target.

It should also be observed that ownership is but one dimension. Control matters. In terms of control, even through minority holdings, Bumiputras and Bumiputra controlled entities are likely to be in control of corporate wealth well in access of 30%.

On this basis, the data presented in the 9th Plan is moot and anomalous. In terms of value of corporate equity attributable to Bumiputera, the amount increased from RM447 million or 2.4% in 1970 to RM100 billion or 18.9% in 2005, though a major portion of this stock remains in the hands of the GLCs.So long as Malays can sell their shares to realize short-term profits, Malay equity ownership would never reach 30% even if the NEP was extended beyond 2020. If the Malays had held on and not sold the shares, the Malay equity would have reached 30% by its stated period of 1990. An estimated 40% of the Malay preferential shares given were sold for profit gains.

The accountant, who had actually posted his arguments in two separate threads of this blog in the past 48 hours, said in his email:

I’m an accountant by profession and I would just want to highlight the serious flaws in the EPU methodology. I know the DPM has announced that they will reveal the methodologies. Whatever they announce, par value accounting is still par value accounting and it has very serious weakness.

If par value accounting is used in the private sector, it’ll be very close to a scam – i.e. you can NEVER reach 30% bumi equity for your generations and generations to come. We have been duped for a long time.The accountant has brought his arguments together in one powerful debunking of the EPF’s methodology as follows:

EPU’s Methodology is seriously flawed!

It’s very normal for a company to start with a paid up capital based on par value and remains so for a long time. It doesn’t need to increase the paid capital (as long as the company is not short of new capital injection) because the accounting and business fraternities value the shares on market value. Par value of shares have little significance except for a archaic company law disclosure requirement.For example, a company starts with a paid up (par value) capital of $1 million in 2006, and is awarded a 10 years contract to build a bridge. Say, it makes a profit of $10 million for the duration of 10 years and keeps the profits intact. The market value of the company in 2016 is $11 million but its par value still remains intact at $1 million. The shareholders of the company can extract the profits through directors’ emoluments, dividends, management services, etcEPU’s methodology of calculation of bumi equity is shrouded in secrecy. From what has been disclosed in the press, it is gathered that the methodology uses the par value of shares and exclusion of GLC companies.Until things can be clarified, basing on generally accepted accounting principles and present accounting norms, EPU’s methodology is seriously flawed as demonstrated below.

Example 1 :

Ali owns 100 Tenaga shares. Par value $100 ($1 per share). Market value $1,000 ($10 per share).
Ah Chong owns 1,000 Farlim shares. Par value $1,000 ($1 per share). Market value $430 ($0.43 per share).

EPU Methodology :Ah Chong is 10 times richer than Ali. Therefore, Ali needs help to be on par with Ah Chong.

Flaw: Par value has no relation to the actual value of shares. In fact, Ali’s is richer than Ah Chong. If EPU does not take relative wealth into the equation, how does it know who to help to redress the equal distribution of wealth? Obviously, as this case shows, EPU may be helping the wrong guy!

Example 2 :

Ali owns 100% of Ali Berhad. 5 years ago, he sold off 90% of Ali Berhad at $100 million. He bought a property in London for $30 million and a property in Malaysia at $10 million after 7% discount; Invested in shares in Africa $20 million ; Spent son’s wedding $10 million; Gave his first wife alimony $30 million after marrying his 2nd wife. Nobody knows anything about his foreign assets although his personal marital affairs became hot news in Utusan Malaysia.

EPU Methodology :

Ali is holding only 10% share in Ali Berhad now. Ali is marginalized because other races have 90% share. He should be given an additional 20% to make 30%.

Flaws :

1.It only takes Malaysian shares into account and omits other important assets such as properties, bank savings, foreign share investments, etc and profits extraction (spendings). Ali was originally given 100% share but he divested his shares and converted his proceeds into foreign and other assets. If Ali were to invest 100% of his proceeds into shares of a Malaysian company, only then the actual bumi % can be correctly reflected.

2.It only captures the data at one point of time. If you look at the statistics now, it will show that he only owns 10% share and not 100% as he was originally given.Example

3 :Ali owns 100% of Ali Berhad. He sells off 90% of Ali Berhad to a GLC controlled by UMNO

EPU Methodology :

Ali Berhad is no longer a Bumi company since GLC is not counted as a Bumi company. Ali share is 10%. Since the GLC doesn’t want to sell down its shares, Ali should be given another 20% in another company, Ah Chong Berhad to make 30%.

Flaws :

1.Notice how this caused the overall bumi equity to drop by 90% viz-a-viz increasing the non-bumi equity % immediately upon the sale to the GLC even though nothing has been changed.

2.To alleviate this, there must be some bumi value ascribed to the GLC shareholding and not 0% as is presently the case. For guidance, The ASLI methodology of accounting 70% as bumi equity is fair as GLC’s employees and contracts awarded are mostly opened to bumis. This also roughly reflects the bumi population as the Government argues that it benefits all races. Use 68%, 65% or even 60% maybe, but to treat GLC’s bumi share as 0% is even furthest away from justice and fairness than ASLI’s methodology.Example

4 :Ali is given 30% share (30 million shares) in Muthu Berhad at an IPO price of $1.50 per share for a total sum of $45 million. After 1 year Ali sold off all his shares in Muthu Berhad at $10 per share for $300 million. He made a cool profit of 255 million which he keeps in the bank.

EPU Methodology :

Since he does not now own any share, he is entitled to another bumi portion (30%) of IPO in Ah Chong Berhad at $1.50 in the 2nd year. Ali proceeded to buy Peter Berhad, Ranjit Berhad, Sayonara Berhad, etc, …. in the 3rd, 4th, 5th year…..using the same modulus operandi. All these years the bumi equity had never exceeded 30%!

Flaw :

It doesn’t take into account how many times Ali applies for an IPO as long as he had sold off his shares before applying for another IPO or if he had used the name of his nominees. This obviously results in double (triple, quadruple…etc) handouts as long as he keeps his money out of the system of calculation (e.g. in the bank, purchased properties, foreign investments, etc).As you can see in this example, there are ample opportunities for leakages (triple, quadruple, etc, handouts) without even disturbing the 30% equity barometer.

Example 5 :

Ali forms a $2 company called Ali Sdn. Bhd. in year 1. He found an ingenious way to sell a piece of paper for an enormous amount of money and made $200 million a year. In the 5th year his $2 company company is worth $1 Billion (in cash).Ahmad forms a $2 company called Ahmad Sdn. Bhd. in year 1. He has been given a huge number of taxi permits and made a reasonable profit of $10 million a year which he drew out as salary each year. In year 5 his company is still $2 but he had earned $50 million in salaries.Aziz is a rich man but involved in a risky business where he feared creditors going after him. On the advice of his accounting firm, he transfered all his assets worth $500 million into an Investment holding company called Aziz & Sons Sdn. Bhd. controlled by his nominee for $250 Ordinary shares and the rest in Preference Shares in year 1. His investment company earns $20 million a year in rental and dividends but in year 5 his company’s share is still $250.Muthusamy forms a company called Muthusamy Sdn. Bhd. In year 1, he borrowed $1,000 from his relative, put this money into his company as capital and started a business selling “kacang putih” peddling his wares around Chow Kit road on a motorbike which his company bought on hire purchase. He made $1,000 a year and re-invest $100 a year into his company as capital. In year five his capital has risen to $1,400.

EPU Methodology :

1. Year 1Since the methodology counts only ordinary shares at its par value, the bumi equity is only 20% (254/(254 + 1000) x 100 = 20%) while Muthusamy has 80%. Therefore Ali, Ahmad and Aziz all need help and should be continued to be given assistance until the equity reaches 30%.2. Year 5Since the methodology counts only ordinary shares at its par value, the bumi equity is reduced from 20% to 15% (254/(254 + 1400) x 100 = 15%) compared to Muthusamy equity of 85%. Ali, Ahmad and Aziz performances have deteriorated. Muthusamy’s equity has increased at the expense of Ali, Ahmad and Aziz. Muthusamy must share his knowledge with Ali, Ahmad and Aziz. In the meantime, Ali Ahmad and Aziz needs help badly and must be continued with assistance indefinitely until the equity reaches 30%.

Flaws :

Now, notice the biggest flaws of using par value to account for % equity:

1.Ali, Ahmad and Aziz are way, way richer than Muthusamy in wealth but using the par value methodology shows that Muthusamy is way ahead of them by 80:20.

2.Ali, Ahmad and Aziz Sdn Bhds. could continue to receive enormous contracts without even increasing 0.01 % of their equity.

3.Ali, Ahmad and Aziz could increase their personal wealth (through market value of shares and profits extractions by way of dividends, salaries, management fees, etc) without increasing even 0.01% of their equity.

4.It’s even mind bogging that Ali, Ahmad and Aziz Sdn Bhds. can even continued to receive enormous contracts and increased their wealth beyond their wildest dreams and yet register a drop in their % equity, in this case, a drop from 20% to 15%!This could be one of the reasons why the use of a flawed methodology, the actual bumi equity has dropped from 25% to 18.9% apart from the reason that some bumis have sold off their shares.

Comments :

I deliberately put the names as they were in the examples to elicit attention. People tends to view such sensitive matters with a racial slant – that it’s all about malay and non-malays. That’s when prejudice sets in and people clam up and start to defend their positions rather than seeing the need for and the good points of a possible restructure. What I want to stress to the readers is that it’s not about malays and non-malays!The Muthusamay in the EXAMPLE 5 above could well be Pak Dollah the fisherman from Kelantan, or Aminah selling tradisional kuihs in the KL central market, or Ah Swee selling popiahs in Penang or even the aborigine rattan gatherer in the outskirt of
Sarawak! Ali, Ahmad and Aziz could well be the elite, affluent and polically well connected Ah Chong, Vincent, Gonzales, Puspha or even Shahabbudin !
Try to substitute the names and you will see that it affects you in one way or another!

Conclusion :

1.Until and unless EPU is more transparent in their methodologies to rebuke the flaws, applying normal accounting principles and the knowledgeable public’s perception, the methodologies used by EPU are seriously flawed! Serious, in the sense that the interpretation of the results derived from the methodologies used (as shown in the examples) can be disastrously wrong!

2.Par value accounting does not change whereas market value changes according to the performance and wealth of a company. It does not take a genius to figure out that if the par value of Ali Sdn. Bhd. is $2 in 2006 it will still be $2 in 2020 even though you award 10 billions in contracts for this duration of time unless Ali wants to change it! Par value has no significance in accounting at all but I wonder whether the authority has an agenda in using par value accounting.

3.The figure of 18.9% could well be derived from a flawed methodology used. We all can see with our eyes everyday that elite bumis are already much more affluent than a decade ago (although the average bumis have not achieved the same measure of success) but statistics show that there is a shrinkage from 25% to 18.9%? How could this be? More importantly, the present EPU methodologies have proven that it has failed miserably to redress the equal distribution of wealth among the ordinary Malaysians.

4.In fact, on the contrary, par value methodology does the opposite! Taking Example 5 – Ali, Ahmad and Aziz are way, way richer than Muthusamy but the par value methodology in fact showed the reverse – that Muthusamy is way ahead of them. By not taking wealth into the equation helps to conceal the spoils of the elite group like Ali, Ahmad and Aziz (remember, who could well be the politically connected Ah Chongs, Vincents, Gonzales, Pusphas or Shahabbudins) comprising of both elite bumis and elite non-bumis! Instead of helping politically connected people like Ali, Ahmad and Aziz, the governing authority should be helping ordinary people like Pak Dollahs, Aminahs, the aboriginal rattan gatherers, Ah Swees and even Muthusamys.

5.The present EPU’s methodology of evaluating % equity based on par value of shares cannot achieve the objective of equal wealth distribution simply because “wealth” is not used in the methodology at all! If wealth (market value of shares) is not used in the formula then how can the answers lead you to equal wealth distribution? Because the methodology is tilted to elite group, I cannot but feel that the implementers of par value methodology are less than honest with all those hardworking non-politically connected, average Malaysians irrespective of race.The EPU’s findings are used in the formulation of the NEPs and in many other areas including in planning and charting of the Nation’s growth, investments and important policies making. Its impacts are so immense, far reaching and fundamental, not only to the daily lives of 26 million Malaysians, but also to the bilateral relations between countries across the world.

Countries, and recently Singapore (who is accused of marginalizing its minority population), are already moving away from using the par value of shares in their system.And yet Malaysia is still using par value (and possibly, far into the future, until the 30% equity is reached) which is so fundamentally flawed in charting the direction of the country!

How can a methodology so seriously flawed be used in making such important decisions for the country? 

AN OVERVIEW by Dr Collin Abraham

October 17, 2006

    

Dr Collin Abraham                                                  

 THE ASLI-EPU CONTROVERSY                        

                                     

 It is perhaps not ironical that the first foray of Asli as a Think Tank into a mainstream Five-Year Development Planing debate should have invited, and indeed become embroiled in controversy. This was precisely what Think Tanks are supposed to do, which is why I managed to persuade the Asli CEO to re-invent the organisation from a benign seminar/forum into a movement that assesses and evaluates political economic and social issues with a view to providing guidelines for Government policies and implementation. In fact it can be argued that the main reason for the Asli’s report sticking out like a ‘sore thumb’ is because none of the other so-called Think Tanks have ever publicly come out with reports that question the ‘status quo” let alone being critical of government policies and therefore the Asli stand has been open to questions even as to the motives or agendas for the evaluation exercise itself!

It is important to recognise in the first instance is that the Asli Report was intended to focus on the improvement of 9th Malaysia Plan implementation strategies, in the process of which it was discovered that there seemed to be a vast disparity in the figures computing the distribution of equity stock along lines of ethnicity. There has therefore been considerable attention given in the debate to what is essentially a matter of methodology in computation and distribution such that, as pointed out by Terrence Gomez, the EPU calculation appeared to be an underestimation of wealth attributable to the Bumiputras. Apparently the “market capitalization of equity method” would have been a more reliable method. But this is exactly what is to be expected from a Think Tank evaluation namely to assess the different methodologies and to “plug the loopholes”.

Indeed foremost among these should be that of intra-ethnic leakages. As succinctly pointed out by Terrence in the EPU data “At no point has any attention to a key concern that the pattern of implementation of affirmative action had contributed to serious wealth and income disparities within the community” Without stretching the argument, one also needs to seek an explanation as to why, while there is an affirmative action policy (NEP) to help the Malays, the vast majority of among those afflicted by social ills such as drug abuse, HIV/Aids ( almost 80%)  and even the highest incidence of incest should be among this community.

The MP for Johor Bahru YB Shaharir Samad has assessed the overall situation correctly in saying that “They (Government agencies the EPU and the Statistics Department) should have sorted themselves out a long time ago instead of getting into a public debate and getting everybody upset”. He added that statistics must be credible as they were used as the basis to form government policies. I believe that herein lies the root of this problem with which we are now confronted that is, of the departments concerned being unable to ‘sort themselves out’. To anyone having a serious discourse with the EPU or attempting to obtain data from the Statistics Department today, it becomes quickly clear that these agencies are no longer what they used to be when Tun Razak was Minister for Rural Development and Prime Minister.

Indeed in a UN follow-up research project on FELDA  I was amazed to be told that the EPU now mainly “coordinates” government projects. Likewise it is also clear that the Statistics Department has been much ‘watered down” since Tun Razak’s time. The reason is not too difficult to find. These Departments or Units do not necessarily offer the best promotion prospects to senior civil servants who themselves are not necessarily economists or statisticians and therefore the turn-over rate among these officers is likely to be high. In fact this lackadaisical attitude can even be traced to Universities where, according to Professor Khoo Kay Kim (14th October/Malaysiakini) the University of Malays does not even have a Professor of Economics!).

I am confident that the comment of the MP for JB really sums up what seems to be at issue. “Everybody was upset with the leakages, Malay or non-Malay. We cannot go through another period of seeing these opportunities wasted again. If we miss the point and talk about whose statistics are correct we may miss the whole thing”

Published with the permission of Dr Collin Abraham, sociologist, co-founder of USM. 

18.9% or 45%? More support for Dr Lim Teck Ghee

October 15, 2006

 Media statement by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP CEC member and NGO Bureau Chief on Sunday, October 15, 2006 in Petaling Jaya

Dr Lim Teck Ghee is not alone. The unfolding of truth in the past one week over the bumi equity controversy has been very encouraging. Groups and individuals are speaking up one after another, demanding the Government to come clean on its ‘highly questionable’ claim.

The DAP delegation led by SG Lim Guan Eng visited Asli on Friday with a bouquet of white lilies for Dr Lim Teck Ghee. We even put up a little protest outside the Asli’s office besides sending in a protest note to the President of Asli, Mirzan Mahathir, for his “ unqualified, unethical and unprofessional” withdrawal of the ‘45% bumi equity’ report by CPPS under Asli.

The Chairman of the Malaysia Federation of Chinese Assembly Halls said that he too wants the Government to disclose its statistics and methodology to substantiate its claim.

A group of NGO personalities, social activists, writers and journalists put up two advertisements in the Oriental Daily on Sunday as a support to Dr Lim for standing up for the dignity and integrity of independent scholarship.

Civil rights society Aliran has come up with a statement on Saturday, asking whether the Government was unable to defend its figures on bumi equity ownership and stand by them.Aliran argues that Najib’s plea that such data should never be questioned only adds fuel to suspicion that the Government’s data was refutable. 

 “Any data that cannot come under public scrutiny loses validity and credibility,” Aliran said in a statement. The organization said Najib’s statement was akin to authoritarianism and would hamper efforts in creating a society capable of critical thinking. Aliran explained that public debate on the New Economic Policy was important to reassure the public that no one has been left out from the country’s development.

Earlier, before leaving for Geneva, the Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang has warned Najib that his statement could only drive the debate on bumi equity and the NEP ‘underground’. 

Scholar Prof Dr Khoo Kay Kim felt that the biggest casualty over the Asli debacle, which resulted in the Centre for Public Policy Studies director Dr Lim Teck Ghee’s sudden resignation on Tuesday, is the public. Khoo felt that the public is still in the dark as to Asli’s findings, which reported bumiputera corporate equity at 45 percent, instead of the official figures of 18 percent.Khoo said the situation speaks volumes on how studies that produces unfavourable results to the government, are handled.

Khoo told Malaysiakini that the government does not have the right to refuse to give out statistics.  “They’re (the government) are answerable to the people. That’s what democracy is all about.” He warned that if the matter were to be left unresolved, it would result in increased difficulty for academicians to conduct their studies.Khoo added that there is a tendency for pertinent economic issues to be racialised.“That is the problem with this country. Very often, when we have a problem, it becomes a racial issue. And then you cannot proceed from there, you cannot further discuss it, because it already sensitive.”“They (politicians) should be showing better example. What’s the point of having Barisan Nasional (BN) with so many parties if they cannot discuss among themselves, and then get the public involved,” he added. Earlier, economist Dr Edmund Terence Gomez and UKM social scientist Professor Dr Abdul Rahman Embong have also wanted the EPU to disclose their statistics and methodology. Even the Gerakan President Datuk Seri Lim Keng Yaik, who is a Cabinet Minister, now wants the Government to release the methodology and data used to achieved the 18.9 % figure on bumi equity ownership. Keng Yaik’s call has clearly shown that even Cabinet Ministers were not aware of how the figure was “fabricated”.

Today, a reader of Malaysia Today kawan38 puts forward his version on how the figure of 18.9% was probably reached. He claims that the Government must have divided the number of bumi owned companies (i.e. 113,400) by the total number of limited companies registered in Malaysia  (i.e. 600,000, as disclosed by PM Abdullah) to arrived at the figure of 18.9%.

May be the PM himself could now enlighten us whether there was any truth in the above ‘speculation’.