It is a bit rich of Umno Malays to slam Mahathir now. They have prospered and grown wealthy because of Mahathir. They must show total respect to him now, says Wishful Accountant.
This piece is a strange one for me to write as it is written on a subject for which I have had much disgust and abhorrence from the days when my political awareness began.
My political awareness (in Malaysia) was jolted in 1987, when over a hundred critics and dissidents were locked up under Operasi Lalang. My favourite newspaper (at that time – not now, as it has been reduced to little more than an oversized catalogue of supermarket advertisements), The Star, was shut down. All this due to the whims and fancies of one man. Just one man did all this damage.
Since then I have had nothing but total revulsion and disgust for the man that caused all this. He created most of the problems Malaysia faces today, including a judiciary seemingly weak, a legislature that does not appear to be functioning well, a civil service vulnerable to a ‘cari makan’ culture, and entrenched racism in many aspects of government and civil society.
Billions of ringgit of taxpayers’ money was squandered on fancy but useless projects such as the national car, the Bakun Dam, the Siltera wafer plant, Perwaja Steel, and an F1 racing circuit. Some of these projects were funded by Petronas. The buying back of Mas at an obscenely overvalued price from a failed entrepreneur also added to the money lost. His detention of opposition and civil society leaders under the ISA will never be forgotten.
Yes, I am talking about none other then Dr Mahathir Mohamad. My revulsion is so great that I refuse to enter the bread shop he owns.
But this article is not to run Mahathir down; on the contrary, it seeks to record my disgust at the level of disrespect and contempt being shown to Mahathir by Umno Malays on a daily basis.
If I were an Umno Malay (I use this term as those from Umno seem to have benefited the most), everything I have now is the result of Mahathir’s shenanigans.
Think of the Petronas vendor development programme, which has outsourced work to bumiputra companies. (Could this work have been better and more cheaply undertaken by Petronas?)
Think of the many GLCs and their plethora of Malay-filled top management earning remuneration benchmarked with the private sector. (But is their work similarly benchmarked?)
Then there are the scholarships awarded (some of them to the connected lot?).
All this is Mahathir’s doing.
Whether he was sincere or not, honest or not, he was single-minded in his attempt at elevating Malays economically. His method of selecting key bumiputras and directly awarding them lucrative key government contracts or concessions created many Malay millionaires and maybe one or two billionaires.
The Naza family, the Halim Saads, the Syed Mokhtars, the Maju group, Ranhill and so on were part of Mahathir’s legacy. The GLCs and government-owned companies also created a group of super-rich and affluent Malays.
Where Mahathir failed was that he had mistakenly thought that this select group of Malay entrepreneurs would then do their bit by enriching other Malays as some of the Chinese millionaires had done for their community. This did not happen.
Instead, a super-rich class of Malays emerged who were equal or even above the financial standing of the Chinese. But they had no interest or empathy towards their poor brothers and sisters languishing further below.
For anecdotal evidence, just visit the KLCC Twin Towers, especially the season parking section of the car park and see for yourself just how many Malays are driving luxury cars – and these are just employees of government-owned companies.
Look at their watches and handbags, their clothes and shoes. Look where they dine for breakfast and lunch. This clearly shows the affluence. It is a fallacy that only the Chinese are rich, and nowhere is this illustrated more clearly than at the KLCC Twin Towers.
All this is the product of Mahathir’s policies – not Umno’s or the Red Shirts’ or Perkasa’s or whatever. Just Mahathir’s and Mahathir’s alone.
Mahathir saved Umno from oblivion after it was ruled illegal. His quick thinking in re-registering it as Umno Baru and then his role in the removal of key judges who may have scuppered his plans are well known. This saved Umno – and this is something that those who are holding office now and sneering at Mahathir should remember.
Without Mahathir, Umno may have disappeared; yet it continues to flourish. Legally, the party should be referred to as Umno Baru, but this is conveniently forgotten. The Mahathir administration also amended many acts of parliament to protect his legacy, eg nobody could question executive decisions in ISA cases.
So it disgusts me when Umno Malays now criticise his collaboration with the DAP. Mahathir has done more for Umno Malays personally than all of the other Umno division leaders, cabinet ministers (especially the appointed secretary general of Umno) have done since.
The only Umno Malay who has the right to show abhorrence of Mahathir is the injured soul languishing in the Sungei Buloh government ‘four-star hotel’.
Umno Malays must thank Mahathir for their abundant bounty; they must kiss the ground he walks on as he made possible or i responsible for much of the wealth they flaunt now.
Malaysia is injured because of Mahathir. But Umno Malays have prospered and grown wealthy because of Mahathir. They must show total respect. Don’t be total ingrates.
Mahathir has many times in the past said Melayu mudah lupa. What he should have said is Melayu Umno mudah lupa.
Wishful Accountant, who practises his trade, is a keen customer services and rights champion who spends his own time and resources chasing banks, utility providers, highway concessionaires and local councils on various public interest issues. Occasionally, he feels compelled to comment on political and social issues.