A Malaysian answers Dr. Mahathir


December 31, 2012

A Malaysian answers Dr. Mahathir

by  Koon Yew Yin@www.malaysia-chronicle.com

Dr MI was reminded of the witticism on politicians that “we hang the petty thieves but elect the great ones to office” when I read Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s claim in his blog that the Chinese (and Indians) are the real masters of the country.

Specifically, he wrote that “[b]ecause they (the Malays) are willing to share their country with other races, the race from the older civilisation of more than 4,000 years and who are more successful, as such today whatever they have now is also being taken away from them”.

As election day approaches, this line of argument is being rehashed. We can expect more of this race baiting by Dr Mahathir and his kind in UMNO and UMNO Youth when they are addressing Malay voters.

Of course, this rehashing will take on new permutations such as “the PKR and PAS are selling out the rights of the Malays” or “the DAP is really the dayang master pulling the strings of the Pakatan coalition”.

What is important is not to get angry or remain silent but to refute it with facts, figures and arguments.

Political idiocy

For Dr Mahathir to accuse the Chinese of being the real masters of the country is really the height of political idiocy. If we want to go by racial perception, it would appear to everyone that Malays dominate in every sphere of life in the country. They form the majority in Parliament, Judiciary, the Army,  the Police, the MACC and all other important agencies. In the socio-economic and educational sphere, they control all the major banks except for Public Bank, the GLCs, PETRONAS, public universities, civil service, etc.

Any Chinese or orang putih wanting to do business has to kowtow to the Malays for licences and permits. Moreover, Malay businesses control some of the monopolies such as water, electricity, toll roads, etc. where it is so easy for them to make more profits by just increasing the price.

Even the richest and most powerful Chinese and Indians such as Robert Kuok, Ananda Krishna, Tony Fernandez, Vincent Tan and others are completely at the mercy of the Malays if they want to do business in Malaysia.

It’s UMNO-BN that has called all the shots

But let’s not go by simplistic perception. The indisputable fact is that the real masters of the country are the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional, which has ruled Malays and Malaysia for over 55 years.

During that period, Dr Mahathir as Prime Minister was the undisputed  numero uno. He changed the country’s constitution and laws; sent his political opponents into prison or oblivion; singlehandedly undermined the judiciary; and put the clock and our time back to ensure that we would all wake up an hour earlier.

He even took on the most sacrosanct of Malay institutions ― the Sultanate ― by reducing the authority of Malay rulers.Dr Mahathir also controlled and manipulated the country’s purse strings. His financial leadership of the country have left an indelible black mark on the country’s economic and financial fortunes.

First, he made the key decisions on economic white elephants and scandals such as Proton, Bakun Dam, Putrajaya, and Perwaja. The last resulted in a loss of RM2.6 billion. Dr Mahathir himself has admitted publicly in 2002 in a dialogue with Malaysians in London that the loss could have been as much as RM10 billion due to possible misappropriation of funds.

Mother of all scandals

The mother of all financial scandals took place during Dr Mahathir’s time. This was the forex losses incurred by Bank Negara’s speculative currency trading which cost us over RM30 billion.

The second outcome was the plague of privatization he inflicted on the country. A devoted fan of Margaret Thatcher, Dr Mahathir pursued privatization of telecommunications, utilities, airlines and other public sector services with a vengeance. But he lacked the British Premier’s caution and acumen and closed both eyes to the leakages and abuses that accompanied the privatization programme.

Dr Mahathir can be considered to be the godfather of the class of capitalist cronies who have cornered much of the country’s wealth and who, together with UMNO-Barisan, are the undisputed masters of the wealth of Malaysia. These big time tycoons comprise many Chinese but they are a multiracial cast and include an increasing number of Malay businessmen.

Today, Dr Mahathir blames the Chinese for working hard and enjoying the fruits of their labour. He is envious of the Chinese middle and upper classes living in high end housing estates and owning the lion’s share of urban property.

He himself lives in a gated community and is reputed to own numerous properties but he laments for the many Malays living in squatter houses.But who has been responsible for this situation?

No escape for you, Dr Mahathir

Dr Mahathir needs to look at himself in the mirror. He has squandered our petro-dollars on his projects of superficial grandeur and his love of cronies, many of whom he has helped with expensive bailouts. He could have solved the plight of hundreds of thousands of squatters by using treasury funds on them instead of his pet projects.

If he had invested the money wisely in skill acquisition for the young Malays and in public housing and urban infrastructure for all Malaysians, especially needy and deserving Malays, the racial economic divide will surely not be so conspicuous.

Dr Mahathir still does not want to go away from the centre stage. He wants to remain in it because he knows that the BN has to maintain power if he is not to be made answerable for the racial, political and economic mess that he was responsible for and left behind as his main legacy.

The extent of his desperation can be seen in his speeches aimed at shoring up Malay support by claiming that the Chinese are the real masters of Malaysia.But as the Malaysian saying goes, his talk has no walk!

Penang Port goes to Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary


December 26, 2010

Penang Port goes to Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary

Tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary has won the race to take over the Ministry of Finance’s (MoF) Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB), adding the northern port operator to his maritime logistics operations.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the Cabinet approved the sale at its meeting this week despite competitive bids from other top businessmen and also the Penang government, which owns the port land.

“The Cabinet has decided in favour of Syed Mokhtar,” a source told The Malaysian Insider, saying the tycoon’s company will buy into the port operator and the ferry service between Penang and Butterworth. It is not known what price the government had agreed on but sources said it will be finalised soon.

The influential businessman already owns Port of Tanjung Pelepas and Johor Port via MMC Corp Bhd, whose joint venture with Gamuda Bhd were also named Project Delivery Partner (PDP) for the RM36 billion Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project in Kuala Lumpur.

Sources said Syed Mokhtar was the preferred contender as he already owned ports and airports although another Putrajaya-friendly tycoon Datuk Siew Ka Wei was keen to purchase PPSB through Ancom Logistics Bhd, whose chairman Datuk Abdul Latif Abdullah used to be PPSB chairman.

PPSB is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MoF Inc while the regulator, Penang Port Commission (PPC), also reports to Putrajaya through the Transport Ministry. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak recently named MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek to head the PPC.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng wrote to Najib in early December to put in a bid to run the port, which has declined since the MoF took over in 1994. The port lost its free port status in 1974.

It is learnt that cargo volumes have failed to match Port Klang and Tanjung Pelepas, growing only 5.8 per cent a year between 1995 and 2009, against Klang which grew 14.2 per cent annually.

Syed Mokhtar’s Tanjung Pelepas port began in 1999 but now handles more than six million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) a year, six times more than the one million TEUs in Penang.

Penang has complained that federal ownership of the port operator has worsened its financial position, with net debt rising from RM148 million in 2004 to RM832 million in 2009 — a 462 per cent increase in five years.

Apart from the debt, any company taking over PPSB will also have to find nearly RM400 million to dredge the port channel and attract larger vessels there.

PPSB is already carrying out dredging in the North Channel to ensure it goes from 11.5m to between 13.5m and 14.5m in the coming year.

PPSB has been planning to privatise and float its shares on Bursa Malaysia since 1996, but it was not able to do so because of the loss-making ferry service. A plan to hive off the ferry operation to Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd last year also fell through at the last minute.

The ferry service has been a major hindrance to state-owned PPSB’s listing plans in the past due to the losses incurred, running into some RM13 million to RM15 million a year.

PPSB made RM77.74 million in after-tax profit in 2009, up from RM22.70 million the previous year despite revenues falling to RM268.54 million in 2009 against RM277.04 million in 2008.

State government sources said Lim could bring in enough businessmen and experts to run PPSB, which needed funds to deepen the port’s channel and also modernise its wharfs and berths.

“Lim has a few ideas to turn around the port and make it perform better,” a source said, pointing out that Penang owns the port’s land and waters and would have a say over who eventually owns PPSB.

Lim’s DAP colleagues had told Parliament on November 24 that Putrajaya should come clean on whether Syed Mokhtar had bought into the management of PPSB, which is led by Penang Umno leaders such as PPSB chairman Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya and its managing director, Datuk Ahmad Ibnuhajar.

A unit of Syed Mokhtar’s diverse infrastructure and logistics conglomerate was awarded a 4G network provider licence recently while another subsidiary is interested in acquiring the North-South Expressway (NSE).–http://www.themalaysianinsider.com