Time to reject race-based socio- economic policies

October 23, 2016

Time to reject race-based socio- economic policies

by Wan Saiful Wan Jan, CEO IDEAS

Image result for Tun Razak and The New Economic Policy

Tun Razak was wrong, Najib made it racist and utterly corrupt, so time to go back to Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Vision of Small but Pro-Business Government

The philosophy guiding how a government relates with the people is something that not many Malaysians talk about these days. But if we go back to the early days of this country, ideology used to matter.

In a speech delivered at IDEAS Annual Dinner on February 20, 2016, Tun Musa Hitam, Malaysia’s former Deputy Prime Minister who started his political career under Tunku Abdul Rahman, said, “In those early days of our history, politics was more ideological than material. There were indeed, yes, indeed, two camps in UMNO: the Tunku camp and the Razak camp.

Image result for tunku abdul rahman vs Tun Razak

“The Tunku camp was clearly and unapologetically right-wing, pro-west and pro-business. The Razak camp was allegedly socialist-communist inclined, a brand enough to scare and scuttle people away all the way in those days when communist terrorists were the biggest threat to our independence.”

This was a telling statement, because Musa was suggesting that the liberal administration of the Tunku was eventually replaced by a socialist-communist inclined administration of Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, Malaysia’s second Prime Minister.

If we analyse history carefully, indeed we could see how Razak was leaning in a leftist direction. Among the most significant foreign relations built by Razak was with Mao’s communist China, when he visited the country in May 1974. Razak was also the one who introduced huge government intervention into Malaysia’s socioeconomic system when he introduced the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971.

Government domination of the economy is an important feature of a leftist ideology, and this naturally led to the government imposed ethnic-based affirmative action, and all its related policies, that plague our country until today.

Image result for new economic policy malaysia

Razak’s ideology was almost completely opposite to the market economy envisioned by the Tunku when he said that Malaysia is a country that believes “in the system of free enterprise”.

We must acknowledge that government intervention has existed since the time of the Tunku. Several times the Tunku too used government powers to stifle dissent. But government interventionism grew much bigger and was formalised under Razak’s administration.

It was Razak’s desire effort to create an ill-defined “social justice” that gave birth to the New Economic Policy (NEP). As a result of their wrong definition of social justice, the NEP was implemented is such a way that nudged us to live our lives along communal lines until today.

Even worse, today we can’t even discuss this supposed temporary policy in rational way anymore. Today we live in a country where if you speak honestly on difficult and sensitive issues, you risk being accused of disloyalty to the country, or worse, being seditious.

It will take a lot more time to change this situation. But it is important for those of us who dream of a more liberal future for the country to persist. We cannot allow the country to continue on the trajectory of big government paved by, as Musa Hitam puts it, Razak’s “socialist-communist inclined” thinking. Instead of a big government philosophy, I propose that we should return to the philosophy of a liberal, small and limited government as originally envisioned by the Tunku for this country.

The liberal belief stems from a commitment to the principle of liberty, which is commonly described as the right to live our lives in any way we want to so long as we do not do any harm to others. It is important to stress the second part of the description: “as long as we do no harm to others”.

A liberal way of life a highly responsible one. We take it as our responsibility to do no harm to others and we acknowledge that we will have to account for any harm that we do. Yes we want to live our lives how we wish. But we also undertake not to harm others. Tunku Abdul Rahman puts it nicely when he said that “Life in this world is short. Let us make use of our lives in the pursuit of happiness and not trouble.”

In fact, the Tunku even put in the Proclamation of Independence that one of the roles of government is “ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people”. It is not the role of government to stop us from enjoying our happiness in the way we want. Instead the role of government is to help and to allow us to seek our own happiness in our own ways.

Image result for Liberal Economic Policy Malaysia

The By-Product of Malaysia’s NEP

As I said above, it will take time before we can truly enjoy the fruits of the Tunku’s vision for liberty for this country. The liberal journey of this country was disrupted in 1970 and that disruption continues until today.

We need to realign the country back to the right trajectory. And the realignment process needs to start with us appreciating the importance of having a philosophy based on freedom and liberty to guide all our policies.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan is the chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, (IDEAS)


23 thoughts on “Time to reject race-based socio- economic policies

  1. Tun Razak was a back-stabber and that’s how he pushed out Tunku and became the PM. He had a stern and troubled look always and hardly smiled and if at all he did, the rain would pour in torrents. He brought racist tilt to economy and governance leading to current malaise. Mahathir turned simple UMNO to a corrupt Corporate UMNO, which has become even worse under Najib.

    The genie is out of the bottle and one cannot put it back. The only way out is to destroy UMNO politically through the ballot box. This is the biggest service Malaysians can do for the country.
    Interesting comment, Hawking Eye. UMNO was born in the Johor Palace and its early leaders were members of the Malay aristocracy and civil servants.

    I suspect that it was the creation of the British colonisers who learned their lessons from India. The British knew that in order to fight nationalism which was inspired by the Japanese they must hand over power to the pro-British elites. That is what they did. BTW, they were behind the formation of Malaysia too. Of course, I am speculating here.

    Then Sultan of Johor who was married a Britisher was very pro-British who opposed independence for Malaya at that time. He felt that Malaya was not ready for it. Both Tunku and Razak walked out a Palace function after the Sultan’s speech, if my memory serves me.

    Until Mahathir came along, UMNO remained elitist. It took a commoner and a pseudo-Malay to mess it. Today UMNO is led by a new elite of conniving thieves. Najib is, in my opinion, the last of the scoundrels who will be the architect of UMNO’s eventual demise. Your comments are welcome.–Din Merican

  2. I can understand why Razak leaned to the left. The majority of the rich were the Chinese whereas the Malays were mainly poor. So, why not tax the rich and help the poor at the same time?

    A socialist Malaysia would certainly go some way to cancel the inequity that existed. In addition to a socialist Malaysia, a few years of NEP would certainly speed up the equity dream.

    Unfortunately, socialism is seen to be too close to communism, which is anti-religion, is therefore anti-Islam.

    Then, the NEP, which has been in operation for 45 years, has not reduced the inequity as expected. Instead, it has created an unhealthy disquiet among all Malaysians.

    I don’t think we need to go back to the Tunku’s economic model. I still believe that a democratic socialist model, which accomodates religion, will still work to level the inequity of the races.

  3. I would agree that race-based socio-economic policy is wrong. I would disagree that socio-economic policy is always wrong.

    I would agree that being ashamed to take on government handout is the must thing or a fundamental consensus of a functioning nation. I would disagree that a functioning society should refrain from lending out a helping hand to the least in the society. As I see it, I do agree that the Malays needed a helping hand in the early days of the nations’ formation. But, it shouldn’t be done based on a manufactured lie. Today, I do not see the Malays are the least. In fact, on the contrary, I see working out a reasonable path to restrict the excesses of the most privileged Malay elite is a must for Malaysia. Unfortunately, Wan and IDEAS itself belong to that privileged group.

    I am a mere pendatang, and merely one with a heart. I am a liberal, rather than a conservative, in spite of my faith in a creator. But, I am only one because I think the nation state should be mandated to help out only the least in the society, and not being half eye closed to the excesses of the corporate, 1MDB included.

    iDEAs’ liberal ideal is not liberal at all.

  4. I think this is one of the best articles written in support of Tunku’s ideal for Malaysia. The discussion of the role of government is needed because Malaysia must not be a basket case of socialism experiment and our Constitution does not support a statist government.

    Through NEP and other government-run projects such as 1MDB, government pokes its head where it has no constitutional role to play. The irony thing is that socialist DAP and Islamic PAS both want central control and they yet cannot accept inevitable corruption emanated from central control.

    Individual liberty is the antidote to socialism and Islamism. But to achieve individual liberty, we need sufficient doses of nationalism, in which the love of nation allows materially poor citizens to accept materially rich citizens as transient phenomena while both poor and rich are dignified with opportunity for upward mobility. In other words, material jealousy could be kept under control only if the citizens have something higher to aspire to, such as love of nation or God or Buddha.

  5. This is exactly what a right wing funded think tank would say. Unfortunately post colonial Malaysian history does not fall into the neatly defined categories from the intellectually bankrupt minions of K Street.

    As always though I have to give credit to Wan Saiful for making this crap up. It takes a fairly adroit con artist to say so little but have his words mean so much to people desperate to believe in a specific ideology.

  6. There is not only government failure, there is also market failure
    (except in the thinking of “market fundamentalists”).

    Ironic that some people who preach the virtues of individual liberty are also strong supporters of the neo-fascist Donald Trump !

  7. Same old tired market fundamentalist arguments and exaggerations of the libertarians.

    Ruling political parties should be guided by ideology, but proceed pragmatically.
    e.g. Sweden, Singapore, Norway, Botswana and other success stories

    Eduard Bernstein (father of German Social Democracy) “The movement is everything, the final goal is nothing”

  8. The likes of Wan Saiful, Rafizi, Nik Nazmi clearly represent hope for new future for Malays, for Malaysia BUT it’s also clear, they are underestimate the challenges and knots they have to untie. They work with those who are not true believers, who are contaminated with the over cynicism that accepts the defeatist feudalism drives the corruption and abuse of power they fight. If you listen closer, it means they are selling these ideas, they are still not all confidant of these ideas.

    I have always said especially to Sarawak and Sabah, are you willing to die for what you are fighting for? Otherwise it’s half measures. The other guy, those in Hadi’s PAS, they are so shot up with narcotic religion, they are.

  9. Don’t know…..we can write thesis on this ? Those who become Pee-Ems from the time of Tun Dr Mahathir (x-cept for Tun the Sleeping PM ) , to the current PM of the 1MDB fame, they ALL without exception , are very clever people with NO brains….. they think we foolish rakyats know nothing, whilst they DOUBLE-SPEAK all the time , and dazzle the public with their glittering ‘hand-outs ‘ , THEY MAINTAIN their Cronies who are now Tycoons and billionaires ( 11 Chinese , one Indian, and ONLY one Melayu ) ……

    Poor Bumi rakyats….keep them happy with stage performances, songs and dances , fashion parades, and the glamorous Tudung displays, everything to do with the ‘ Stage Industries ” …..Bumi masses are HAPPY with their clap…clap….clap …..

    Its termed as ‘ THE DOUBLE-SPEAK INDUSTRIES …..” Good Luck for that !

  10. Whatever “ism” is introduced or practised, the capitalist class among the Chinese, Malays and Indians are doing superbly fine and will continue to do.. It is the underfoot rest (from all communities) that is suffering and groaning. To make the rich pay more, make them richer. Then they would invest more, create new industries and jobs in thousands to solve unemployment and boost the economy (this is what I get from reading). This is an accepted economic mantra – anything wrong with that? But this is happening in many parts of the world and yet some these countries are tottering and the people remaining poor. I am trying to figure out the reasons but unable to, probably because I was never tutored in economics.

    I don’t think Tun Razak took any leaf from economic theories (he was a lawyer) to come up with his NEP master plan. It was his racist instincts that prodded him on. He was dead set to create a Malay capitalist class equal to, if not outmatch the Chinese capitalist class. He set out a framework towards that objective without a time line and markers ( like for example, Bumiputras owning equities – national wealth – to 40 to 50%). Of course it was unacceptable that the Malays should languish in their own country without substantive stakes in the economy with the Chinese controlling it. The diagnosis was correct but the treatment was not. Time line and markers would have put matters right sparing the agony witnessed today.

    The concept of Malaysia is a British idea planted into Tunku’s mind. I would not credit him with such foresight. If he were so he should have outsmarted LKY and Singapore would still be part of Malaysia today with a Bumiputra outreach. The British were set to pull out their bases and soldiers from the Far East in early 1960’s and they wanted their ex-colonies here to form a federation to be run by Anglophile Tunku to take care of their business and strategic interests. It is said the original deal was for merger between Malaya and Singapore but Tunku was not agreeable to this as absorbing Singapore’s Chinese would weaken Malay supremacy. It was to sweeten the deal that the British offered Sabah and Sarawak – with their abundant resources – as well and the rest is history.

    But what remains puzzling is why did Brunei stay out after showing initial interest in joining Malaysia? Did the British advised against it to retain their total control over its oil? Would an offer for him to become the first Agong in the federation with sufficient autonomy for the Sultanate, made any difference?

  11. On this double-game implementation of the socio-economic agendas , these shrewd politicians display their crude Dr.Jackeyl & Mr Hyde (double-faced thick-skinned ) postures , by glossing over with all their hand-outs to dupe the rakyats, that they can reap benefits & fortunes for an entire life-time…..

    Btw. there’s the latest Tycoon billionaire Vincent Tan who was given the ENE & Sports Toto Licence by Tun Mahathir & gang, they have amassed such a huge amount of wealth , portion of which, he invested into the Cardiff football club, is now talking about Berjaya Casino equal to the Genting highland resort, AND , that he wants to ‘manufacture ‘ his own Motor assembly plant surpassing that of second-rate Proton very soon…..

    Who was it , that gave YTL group the Paka Electrical plant franchise (ousting Tan Sri Ani Arope ) , by which fortune , he’s building the Sunway empire including spearheading into a top-class University ?

    Who gave Ananda Krishna the Astro & Maxis trade-marks , with so much amassed that they are falling into trouble with India or other safe-haven countries , allegedly for money-laundering charges…… ?

    As against that, in order to humour the Bumi enterprises, hand-outs will do , and give ‘ licences ‘ for the Glamour Industries to do with the musical and stage performances….. – which is all what they cherish for : glamour !

    All because of double-game management of the country’s socio-economic policies ? ?

  12. “There is not only government failure, there is also market failure”, Dr. Phua Kai Lit.

    A business company which consistently operates poorly will eventually go bankrupt, provided the market allows it to go bankrupt without artificial help. The failure is localized since a typical company is pretty small compared to overall economy.

    A business such as MAS run by government will almost never close shop because government has virtually unlimited power to raise money from tax payers. Such a business can go on and on regardless it consistently operates in the worst possible way. The government-run businesses such as MAS and 1MDB are not likely to kill the nation, but they serve as leeches sucking the blood out from nation’s wealth. That blood sucking has been and will make Malaysia separated apart from nations such as Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore.

    By the way, when I was in MAS international-route airplane last year, I witnessed toilet flooding socking up wide section of passengers area. But, MAS will go on virtually forever. MAS will make socialists a happy camper.

    A nation with individuals appreciating their individual liberty will never tolerate government-run businesses such as MAS and 1MDB, not when the corruption was found, but when they were conceived.

  13. Abnizar, YTL the Mayor of KL owns a large corner of Bukit Bintang which include Lot 10, Marriott, Stahill, and Ritz Carlton. Sunway Group is headed by Jeffery Cheah.
    The CEO of YTL is Tan Sri Francis Yeoh. –Din Merican

  14. Thank you Orang Malaya @ Din Merican, for the info , it shows Bumis are happy only with stage performances , masuk angin keluar asap…..as long as they feel like ‘world famous beauticians ‘ that’s all the angan-angan…..

    E-MAS is only for show ? , yes tax payers paying for its up-keep , and not long more Air Asia will take-over , if not already . The billionaire tycoon Tony Fernandez has invested a few hundred million in a football club in the Midlands UK, they all do that to seek for safe haven ……

    Btw. what happened to the power plant in Segari, Lumut , given to Aishah Ghani, but apparently handed over to YTL group to make it feasible, is that true ?

  15. @shiou,

    Your example with MAS and 1MDB was a cheap-shot.
    //A nation with individuals appreciating their individual liberty will never tolerate government-run businesses such as MAS and 1MDB, not when the corruption was found, but when they were conceived.

    Layu-sian can just send someone across and seek guidance from Singapore, and learn from their corresponding SIA and their Temasek. If someone need some shopping, one can go further to learn from the Scandinavian.

  16. Here is the most concise way of describing the notion of limited government, articulated by a Latino American who experienced what it is like in Latin America for Latino Americans:

  17. Abnizar, Segari Power is not owned by YTL but by Malakoff and MMC. YTL owns Paka in Trengganu. Not sure about the info that it was given to the late Aisha Ghani. Will check with Astaman.

  18. Time to reject race-based social-economic policies. Right. What took you so long. LKY argued for a Malaysian Malaysia more than 50 years ago. He warned against what is happening in Malaysia now. This man LKY, bless him, really has a long-term vision and a long-range radar.

  19. Orang Malaya, both son and mother are die-hard ‘politicians ‘ , could not manage a commercial money-spinning enterprise such as the high-powered ‘plant ‘ , too technical , so it was ‘handed’ to Malakoff ? – Who is this group of Malakoff entity , and IS IT NOW OPERATING as it should to produce ‘ power ‘ ? – Tq for the info.

  20. @shiou: PragerU? 😛

    South America is too similar to Layu-ism in their early independence.
    Fascination with Fascism and Feudalism, which they call it Hispanidad is the cause of Layu-ism. They are fascinated with Race/Language and Religion also.

    It is scary to think that the Hispanic is spreading Hispanidad in America through David Prager.

    @rightways : would you agree with HuShih on WangMang?

  21. Syed Mokhtar Al’Bukhary is very well respected , and a giant of an Entrepreneur , who can be entrusted with any large-scale assignment , and we should rest in comfort of his involvement in this Segari power plant ……kudos to the two politicians who had teamed up with the one and only Bumiputra conglomorate of high standing , again Tq for the info Orang Malaya…..

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