How can Malaysia become a developed nation? –Practise meritocracy

January 15, 2019

How can Malaysia become a developed nation?

-Practise Meritocracy.



2020 will soon pass us by. 2050? Maybe. If we Practise Meritocracy

On June 12 last year, while delivering his keynote address at the 24th Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia could achieve developed nation status provided that the right policies were in place, and that Malaysians worked very hard.

When he stepped down as Prime Minister back in 2003, he believed that Malaysia could attain developed nation status by 2020. But the policies put in place were changed by the succeeding Prime Ministers. Even if we work extremely hard, we cannot achieve this by 2020. Maybe by 2025.

In 1970, when the New Economic Policy (NEP) was introduced, our GRP per capita was the same as Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea. After 49 years, the GDP per capita of these countries respectively is four, three and 2.5 times bigger than ours. These countries do not even have timber to build houses. They import almost everything.

At one time, we were the world’s biggest producer of tin, rubber and palm oil. We also had petroleum. Yet we could not become a developed nation. Why?

The biggest albatross was the implementation of the NEP. The policy of helping the Malays become competitive was very good, but it was poorly implemented.

Of late, many government officers including former Prime Minister Najib Razak have been charged with corruption over huge sums of money. Najib, as 1MDB chairman, had RM2.6 billion supposedly channeled into his personal account. He said it was a generous donation from the Saudi Royal Family.

Corruption is ruining Malaysia, which is now branded as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, worse than many countries in Africa.

My proposal: Practise Meritocracy.

Managing the country is like managing thousands of companies and conglomerates. Mahathir must appoint the best people as Ministers and Deputy Ministers, irrespective of race. If these leaders are really good, they would know how to make rules and regulations to help the people do better than before.

The government must always appoint the best people in its civil service. It must also practise meritocracy in promotions at all levels of management so that the whole machinery can operate efficiently.

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This reminds me of an experience I had when I was on the Board of Directors of IJM Corporation Bhd. All the Directors were engineers, and our Chief Financial Officer was WHO practiseD meritocracy ( pic above Krishnan Tan). When we wanted to borrow huge sums of money from the bank for some projects and expansion, Krishnan suggested that a more effective and less costly way would be to issue irredeemable convertible unsecured loan stocks or ICULS.

As engineers, we did not know anything about ICULS. We all agreed that Krishnan was the best man to manage the company. So we appointed him as CEO in 1984. His management was so efficient that the company continued to make more and more profit every year. As a result, the company’s share price continued to climb. The current market capitalisation of IJM Corp is about RM12 billion.

The private sector knows how to practise meritocracy to make a profit. If the government also practises meritocracy, Malaysia will become a developed nation.

The key to success is to practise meritocracy.

Koon Yew Yin is a retired chartered civil engineer and one of the founders of IJM Corporation Bhd and Gamuda Bhd.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

The thinkers M’sian politics have come to rely on

January 1, 2019

The thinkers M’sian politics have come to rely on

Opinion  Phar Kim Beng

COMMENT | If one has had the benefit of following Malaysian politics since 1970 – a lifetime to many – several thinkers who have influenced the course of Malaysian history have become household names.

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Dr. Rais Saniman

The New Economic Policy (NEP), for example, was the handiwork of Rais Saniman and Just Faarland. Both believed in affirmative action, though critics who panned NEP have often pointed out that affirmative action is meant for the “minority” – not the majority.

Come what may, Malaysia would have been a racial havoc if NEP, despite all its imperfections, have not been working. Take some of the latest statistics on household income, for example.

Research by Khazanah Research Institute has shown that four out of five Malaysians would retire without sufficient pensions when they turn 55 or 60. Indeed, 15 percent of Malaysia’s population would exceed 60 years of age by 2023, according to Muhammad Khalid, the economic advisor of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. At this rate, Malaysia will begin to age sooner than expected.

The works of the late professor Syed Hussein Alatas has also been wonderfully powerful, as he referred to corruption as a “cancer” that can eat away the health – and wealth – of the country. Events between 2009-2018, through 1MDB, have proven that and more. Our national debt is now at USD 280.7 billion, while our GDP is merely USD 320 billion.

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The scholarship of professors Terence Gomez and KS Jomo have proved to be just as monumental, if not powerful. Since 1990, both scholars have warned of the insidious effects of “privatisation,” which if done incorrectly, can lead to “piratisation,” where the wealth nest of the government and the people are held captive by the vested interest of the narrow band of elites.

While little has been said, or, revealed about the scholarship of Salleh Yappar, a professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia, his papers have identified various forms or varieties of “Islamism”.

They range from the sort one sees in Sufism, such as the order of Nashbandi, to the reformist movement of Angkatan Belia Islam Semalaysia. In fact, Salleh listed close to nine forms of Islamism in Malaysia between 1957-1990. Some of them involves cult like movements like Al Arqam, which has since been banned by Mahathir during his first tenure as Prime Minister.

Though, not strictly Malaysian, the works of William Case at University of Nottingham in Malaysia, have revealed the potentiality of a “pseudo democracy,” that is still “semi authoritarian,” in nature as Australian National University professor Harold Crouch called it.

Other commentators like Patricia Martinez, Noraini Othman, even Dina Zaman, indeed, Marina Mahathir, have warned about the danger of ignoring the gender bias that is embedded in most interpretations of religions.

Instead of “lowering one’s gaze,” as a man is urged by some religious scriptures to do, over domineering male preachers have insisted that women should cover themselves from head to toe.

Come what may, some of the Malaysian scholars in Borneo deserve greater mention too. Professor Jayum Jawan who has an interesting take that Sarawak was never colonised by the British government, let alone James Brooke, is interesting to say the least.

It calls into question the very fabric that makes the Federation of Malaysia: should the rights of the federal government always be greater than the states at hand, including Sarawak, even though it has a history that is unique compared to Peninsular Malaysia?

Elsewhere, professors Chandra Muzaffar,   Dr. Lim Teck Ghee, Francis Loh Kok Wai and Khoo Kay Jin have always highlighted the importance of liberating Malaysia from the iron rule of the bureaucratic or single-party state, especially the feudalism of UMNO.

Indeed, commentators like P. Gunasegaran and Ho Kay Tat have been invaluable to understanding 1MDB, backed by foreign scholarship by Tom Wright and Hope Bradley at Wall Street Journal.

The works of Nanyang Technology University professors Farish Noor and Joseph Liow Chin Yong in Singapore, as was the superb commentary of Dr Ooi Kee Beng, even politicians like Liew Chin Tong and Ong Kian Ming over the years, have made a “New Malaysia” more and more plausible.

That being said, two of the most tenacious thinkers are without a doubt Mahathir and Prime Minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim. Both are determined in their ideals to make Malaysia stronger and better, though with some nuance too.

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Mahathir seems sold on the idea that Look East can redeem Malaysia. Anwar, on the hand, believes that the rise and fall of Malaysia depends on the extent to which it can engineer its own “Asian Renaissance.”

Come what may, 2019 and 2020, are not going to be about transition from one reigning to another incoming Prime Minister only, but the extent to which both can master the art of promoting their ideas and ideals. These ideas and ideals must work too, without which Malaysia is back to the square one of 1970 if not earlier.

PHAR KIM BENG is a multiple award-winning head teaching fellow on China and the Cultural Revolution at Harvard University.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Marina roasts Lim Kok Wing over his tweet in support of Mahathir

December 29,2018

Marina roasts Lim Kok Wing over his tweet in support of Mahathir


PETALING JAYA: Vocal activist Marina Mahathir today rebuked Lim Kok Wing over his tweet supporting Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, after previously telling the senior politician to “shut up to protect his legacy”.

The renowned educationist had today tweeted that Mahathir was “absolutely right in saying that we just need to set our hearts and minds on achieving greater goals to be a great nation”, tagging Mahathir, Education Minister Maszlee Malik and Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman in the tweet.

In a reply two hours later, Marina, who is Mahathir’s daughter, called on Lim to stop what he was doing in buttering up the prime minister.


Do stop it @limkokwing! Where were you last year? Who was it who told Dad to shut up to ‘preserve his legacy’?

“The point is, would he have (apologised) if we hadn’t won GE14? Hmmmm?” she asked in her tweet.

Lim had, in May 2015, been appointed as Najib’s public relations campaign coordinator.

His appointment, believed to be to help burnish Najib’s image, was announced amid the 1MDB scandal, which had put Najib under the spotlight for alleged corruption.

Mahathir had, in a blog post without mentioning names, said a friend had attempted to persuade him to cease criticising Najib. He blogged that the friend had warned that if he continued doing so, he would lose his legacy.

Marina Mahathir, who is Mahathir’s daughter, calls on Lim Kok Wing to stop what he is doing in buttering up the Prime Minister.

PETALING JAYA: Vocal activist Marina Mahathir today rebuked Lim Kok Wing over his tweet supporting Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, after previously telling the senior politician to “shut up to protect his legacy”.

The renowned Bodekist had today tweeted that Mahathir was “absolutely right in saying that we just need to set our hearts and minds on achieving greater goals to be a great nation”, tagging Mahathir, Education Minister Maszlee Malik and Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman in the tweet.

In a reply two hours later, Marina, who is Mahathir’s daughter, called on Lim to stop what he was doing in buttering up the prime minister.

“Do stop it @limkokwing! Where were you last year? Who was it who told Dad to shut up to ‘preserve his legacy.

’If PH hadn’t won, would you have snuck into our house uninvited at Raya to apologise? Just stop it,” she tweeted using her handle @netraKL.

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A Twitter user @jonathanfun then pointed out that most businessmen had “behaved the same way” under former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s term in office and then switched sides after Barisan Nasional fell, citing the case of AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes.

Marina replied the tweet by saying that Lim was “one of the worst”, and that she “couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him skulking about our kitchen… #cantstandbullshit”.

“Tbelieved to be to help burnish Najib’s image, was announced amid the 1MDB scandal, which had put Najib under the spotlight for alleged corruption.

Mahathir had, in a blog post without mentioning names, said a friend had attempted to persuade him to cease criticizing Najib. He blogged that the friend had warned that if he continued doing so, he would lose his legacy.


Mariam Mokhtar’s Joke of 2018

December 28, 2018

Mariam Mokhtar’s  Joke of 2018

Opinion  |by  Mariam Mokhtar

   You will probably disagree; but my nomination, for the “Malaysian of 2018” is the disgraced former Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

My reason is simple; ironically, Najib and his “1Malaysia” sound-bite united us.

I am not promoting Najib’s so-called achievements, but he brought out the best in Malaysians – from their individual acts of kindness during the Bersih rallies, to the spontaneous helping spirit shown on the May 9 polling day.

He united old foes, like Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Lim Kit Siang. The family of Anwar Ibrahim endorsed Mahathir as the leader of Pakatan Harapan (PH). All faced the common enemy, Najib.

Najib’s 1MDB scandal may have put Malaysia on the map for the wrong reasons, but the heavyweight presence of the US Department of Justice, was to our advantage.

The messy banking practices of 1MDB have also forced banks to review their practices.

We also saw that businesses were at Najib’s mercy. Those who had sided with Mahathir, were visited by the Income Tax Department. Under Najib, we cringed as Supermax’s Stanley Thai apologised for supporting Harapan, while AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes praised Najib profusely.

In the world of publishing, the spendthrift ways of his spouse Rosmah Mansor prompted some financial magazines to advise their subscribers, to start saving from their teenage years.

Some children’s publications are toying with the idea of a modern version of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, whilst others are working on a new chapter for Tales of the Arabian Nights – about a RM2.6 billion donation from an Arab prince.

Najib’s tentacles had an international reach. Foreign leaders were prepared to close one eye to the injustices being perpetrated in Malaysia, because trade and economic ties take precedence over human rights abuses and cries of racism.

Najib was also the undoing of his father’s legacy. The Felda scheme, which was once internationally hailed as a successful example of rural poverty eradication in a third-world country, gained a reputation for shady land deals, bad business decisions and leadership tussles.

Felda strayed from its purpose and diversified into activities which were far removed from agricultural. Isa Samad was hand-picked by Najib to helm Felda. It lost millions of ringgits and squandered the money of the settlers and their families.

Under Najib’s watch, planes and pastors disappeared. There were also many unexplained deaths. All of which could have been better managed, as he was the boss then.

When MH370 disappeared, the world saw how we reacted. The erstwhile then-inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar dismissed claims that he rejected help.

With their broken English, some heads of departments were ill-equipped to handle questions from foreign reporters. The role of the radar operator and his sleeping supervisor was exposed, only after an international investigation.

The families of the victims were often the last to be informed and Raja Bomoh’s antics added to our shame.

In 2009, the year Najib became Prime minister, baby Prasana Diksa was kidnapped by her convert father Ridhuan Abdullah. Prasana was snatched from Ridhuan’s Hindu wife, Indira Gandhi.

Over two years ago, Pastor Raymond Koh, Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his Indonesian wife Ruth, and Perlis social activist Amri Che Mat were abducted. None of these people have been found. The religious link to these abductions is compelling. Remember that Najib’s power base is with the Muslim/Malays.

During the Bersih 4.0 rally, people camped overnight on the streets in a show of defiance against Najib. It was reported that some police officers were giving the protestors the “thumbs-up”.

Just before GE-14, strangers who flew to Malaysia to vote volunteered to carry the postal ballots of Malaysians who were unable to return home.

In some communities, people ferried their neighbours to their polling stations to vote. Some families claimed that older members, who have never before voted, changed their minds, and decided to vote.

The navy chief, in a Facebook post, openly said that those who voted could rest assured that their votes were secret. Who would have thought this possible in previous decades?

Like most others, Malaysians were fearful of change, but they were also fed-up with the leaders of government departments, who swore their allegiance to Najib as well as institutions like the judiciary, the MACC and the Police. Najib made us do the impossible. We voted him out of office.


The Malays finally saw through Najib’s sham of “defending the Malays and protecting Islam”. They knew about Felda and Mara but Rafizi Ramli’s allegations about Tabung Haji (TH), finally energised them. Many poor Malays placed their hard-earned cash in the TH pilgrimage fund.

In the end, it was not the DAP, the Chinese, the Christians, or even George Soros, who deceived the Malays. It was a Bugis-Malay, Najib, and his side-kick; a man called Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, who betrayed the Malays.

When Najib was in power, silence was his forte. When confronted with bad news, his supporters, like  Salleh Syed Keruak, would spring to his defence.

Today, many of his henchmen have left, or have to worry about their own futures, and so Najib is forced to make his own presence felt on the social and political scene.

He is still a formidable force who refuses to sit in the dock and does not wear the MACC orange lock-up outfit when he appears in court. This double standards can only mean that Najib still holds some people in his evil grasp.

Najib is certainly the Malaysian of 2018 – for his ability to unite us.

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). Blog, Twitter.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini

Melayu Baru: How to keep Bersatu from turning into UMNO 2.0

December 28, 2018

Melayu Baru: How to keep Bersatu from turning into UMNO 2.0

By Nathaniel Tan

A truly new Malaysia is only possible with a new Malay – one where the old feudal sycophants are left behind, in favour of towering Malays who the rest of the world respect not because it is demanded, but because it is earned. Where the feudal Malay relied on handouts, quotas, chauvinism and other crutches, the new Malay will rely on diligence, education and mutual respect.–Nat Tan’s BIG IF And Harapan ( Hope)

COMMENT | Today, Bersatu kicks off its first AGM as a ruling party. All eyes are on the party, as it looks to define its heart and soul.

The question many ask is as simple as it is pressing: Will Bersatu turn into UMNO 2.0?

Today’s article will look at some of the main indicators that will help us answer this question – corruption, feudal patronage, and the role of race.

It is easy to accuse Bersatu of having UMNO DNA, since the vast majority of them do have past UMNO associations.

The fact of the matter is, a great number of Harapan politicians have UMNO origins, all the way up to Anwar Ibrahim and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad themselves.

If that alone was a disqualifying clause or cause for cynicism, then we might as well give up before we begin.

As time has shown however, one ex -UMNO individual is not necessarily the same as another.The question of mega-corruption might be the easiest to answer.

We are too close to the 1MDB disaster, and under a Prime Mnister whose allergy towards such massive fraud runs too deep, for us to see a quick return to corruption on that massive scale.

No doubt there will be elements drawn to Bersatu who want a return to those UMNO-style ‘good old days’, but one assumes that the majority of the original membership of Bersatu joined at least in part because they could not stomach the levels of corruption that UMNO saw under its former President Najib Abdul Razak.

The question of grassroots-level corruption, however, may be a little harder to face.

Feudal patronage and warlordism

I have written at length about the politics of feudal patronage, which was the predominant UMNO grassroots model.

Here, the idea was that if you buttered up ( ampu) your local UMNO warlord, he would be responsible for funneling all sorts of government money your way.

If you did your part for the UMNO machine, then you were given a seat on the gravy train; if not, then you were excluded, forced to sit out on the sidelines.

This simple arrangement kept local UMNO warlords secure in power for decades.

It is those same warlords today who are probably most eager to jump ship and join a party that is in power, so that they can get back to their shenanigans.

If Bersatu is genuinely interested in reforms, and seeks a true departure from UMNO’s business as usual, it is probably here that they must make the biggest departure from the old culture of politics.

Under UMNO, the idea of party membership was just another facet of feudal patronage. You joined the party to demonstrate your loyalty, and to ensure the party’s victory in elections, so that the gravy train can chug along.

Bersatu has a chance now to redefine what supporting a political cause means. Instead of focusing solely on membership drives, the time has come to make the idea of membership more meaningful – quality over quantity.

Here, we might even learn from parties like PAS and PSM, whose members have a true sense of shared identity and shared purpose. Their ideological anchor gives them a type of strength that is not as apparent as in parties like PKR or DAP.

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Will Super-Det Seize The Moment?

This is Bersatu’s opportunity to catapult Malay hood into the 21st century – first by ejecting the feudal Malay mindset, and then by launching the Malays of into a future where they are genuinely globally competitive.

Seize the opportunity to banish the culture of handouts, and replace it with a culture of genuine empowerment (pemberdayaan) and independence.

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If Bersatu can make the ideological foundation and drive of their party this idea of fostering genuine Malay competitiveness – the elusive goal Mahathir has always obsessed about – rather than UMNOo’s pork barrel approach to politics, then they will have successfully carved themselves a true ideological niche that differentiates them from UMNO.

Race and exclusivity

Last is the thorny question of race.

As argued in my last article, we will not face the UMNO of GE-14 in GE-15, and we no longer need to dance to their racist, divisive tune.

Some may even feel that the one-race-one-party approach of BN actually worked, and want to maintain the formula. I think this will result in electoral disaster.

As a non-Malay myself, I think the balanced approach here is to not feel a need to rush Bersatu into opening up to other races.

That said, what may be important at this point is for a party like Bersatu not to paint itself into a corner.

Whatever its short-term needs are, perhaps Bersatu can achieve some sort of balance by making sure that nothing it does closes the door or burns any bridges regarding what the racial composition of the party might be in the future.

Ultimately, I think global trends suggest that a less racial approach to politics has the best long-term potential.

Also, staying mon-ethnic means that those who want to drive a wedge between PKR and Bersatu will always have a convenient ideological reason to do so.

So, Bersatu can focus on what it needs to for now, but hopefully, we will see them being as open minded about the future as possible.

Melayu Baru for a Malaysia Baru

A truly new Malaysia is only possible with a new Malay – one where the old feudal sycophants are left behind, in favour of towering Malays who the rest of the world respect not because it is demanded, but because it is earned.

Where the feudal Malay relied on handouts, quotas, chauvinism and other crutches, the new Malay will rely on diligence, education and mutual respect.

With some luck, Bersatu will emerge from their AGM with a clearer vision of how to make this happen.

As the party of the Prime Minister, it would also be good if they can map out a strategy in which some sort of sustainable political ecosystem can be encouraged.

This includes finding the right ideological and conceptual formula for what will keep Pakatan Harapan together, and creating the right conditions for an effective opposition to play its role.

The bogeyman of UMNO is nothing like it once was, and we shouldn’t let the fears of the past tie us down. Let us instead take up the courage of the youth, and be mindful that fortune favours the bold – because there is now an entire new Malaysia to define and make our own.

NATHANIEL TAN is winding down for the year, and looking forward to 2019. He has been thinking a lot about a blueprint for a New Malaysia.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.


A new direction for the ‘new Malays’ in new Malaysia

December 27, 2018

A new direction for the ‘new Malays’ in new Malaysia

by  Dr .Rais Hussin


COMMENT | A paradigm, according to science philosopher Thomas Kuhn, is based on consensus. He showed that science was not a mere accumulation of facts through trial and error, but what scientists agreed to be correct.

But Kuhn also argued that all paradigms can be disrupted. And, when they are, the previous paradigm collapses. Sociologist Daniel Bell called this the “end of ideology.” This means when an old paradigm has lost its explanatory and prescriptive value, a new one will naturally supplant and displace it.

In a way, policy makers here have been attempting the same since the country came into being, by revising and challenge each five-year plan. Of late, this can be seen in the midterm review of the 11th Malaysia Plan. One can also include the Bumiputera Empowerment Congress in September.

Since the National Economic Policy formed the backbone of economic planning, the review of any plans or vision documents tends to echo its gold standard. However, this has been corroded by Umno; all that glittered turned out not to be gold, so how can the NEP be trudged out to create a new paradigm?

Under the rule of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, all GLICs were allowed to improve their balance sheets by going abroad. Once there, however, instead of harnessing FDI into the country, these GLICs tried to find greener pastures for themselves.

Felda Global Ventures and Mara went on a buying spree of hotels in the UK and Australia. Even fugitive financier Low Taek Jho did the same in the US until the kleptocratic ruse was uncovered by Sarawak Report and the Wall Street Journal.

When Najib Abdul Razak took over from Abdullah in 2009, he created 1MDB to borrow heavily  with the financial guarantees of the government to make a success out of Bandar Malaysia. By building it in an already congested section of the city, Najib was crowding out other good investments and making them more costly.

To the degree 1MDB was affected by controversy its debt and liabilities were absorbed by the Finance Ministry. When it could no longer handle the toxic assets and balance sheets, Tabung Haji and other GLICs, even Bank Negara, were brought in to bail it out. Even the National Audit Department was said to have altered its report on the investment firm.

The Umno paradigm

Regardless of what was done and how, and by whom, Umno’s larger justification has always been the self-serving agenda to protect the party elite, rather than the Malays. By focusing on themselves, Umno lost touch with its roots, and failed to protect the provisions of Article 153.

Then Umno resorted to importing cheap labour into Malaysia to keep wages down. Malays were the first to be affected. But Umno couldn’t have cared less, and allowed more and cheaper labour to swarm in, depriving Malays of the right to enjoy liveable wages.

The fact is this though: neither the administrations of Badawi, with his “fourth-floor boys”, or Najib, with his “kitchen cabinet”, knew how to protect the Malays. If they did, several oddities would not have pervaded in the system from top to bottom.

First, a select few controlled most of the financial liquidity of Permodalan Nasional Berhad. These were fair-weather investors, who would bail at the slightest smell of trouble. This is how Malays betray Malays, when plutocrats look after their own material interests, and not that of the Malay laity.

Indeed, if PNB did not offer yields at above market rate, the elites of Umno would have parked their cash elsewhere, even if such a move would destroy the fund’s financial liquidity. The modus operandi of these investors was “me first”, and the rest of Malays last.

Secondly, there are 94 bumiputera development agencies, which spawned 1,137 companies. Yet to date, aside from Mara, there is no telling of these agencies’ annual returns. These agencies clearly have become dishevelled, disorganised and disrupted.

Third, research seems to suggest that since the introduction of the NEP in 1970s, Malays only own 18 percent of corporate entities. Remove the equity participation of institutional investors, and this falls to an abysmally low five percent.

Nor is the goal of 30 percent going to be reached, since Malays tend to want to sell their shares and equities as and when they have made a profit. This is the proverbial moving of goalposts – a weak measure of what Malays can achieve or truly own in perpetuity.

And when the goal cannot be reached, Malays assume others are sticking a knife in their corporate portfolios, when in fact it is Umno cheating them, bringing to mind the Malay saying, “Harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi”. Umno embodied the worst form of this, which is why Malaysia devolved into a kleptocracy, before Pakatan Harapan managed to stop the rot.

Fourth, an NEP-centric document that is numerically tagged to 30 percent may not be a good thing – especially with Umno’s manipulations, which includes keeping the wealth among the elite. By creating a false positive balance sheet economy, Umno was pulling the wool over the people’s eyes, at least until May 9.

Globalisation a must

The fact of the matter is, Malays and Malaysia must globalise. And the economic conditions must become more varied and complex, and not driven by how Umno pads the accounts.

For example, the World Economic Forum listed the top ten risks of doing business in the current international economic system. The United State has its lowest unemployment in 49 years, the European Union in 43 years and Japan in 25 years. But the midterm review of the 11th Malaysian plan seems oblivious to the external situations abroad.

Malaysia has come a long way form 1957 with its US$314 billion GDP, and it can go further. But this is premised on good governance and nimble, effective and strong economic statecraft–not just within the country, but in consonance with the world.

The US Federal Reserve Bank, for instance, has approved eight interest hikes in the last two years alone. The era of cheap money can and will disappear in the next one to two years, if interest rates in Washington continue to rise.

The global economy is also going through more revolutions in apps, algorithm, analytics and automation, which will lead to more Sino-US trade rivalry as both compete to become dominant in these fields.

None of these is apparent in the NEP, the 11th Malaysia Plan nor its midterm review. Yet, Malaysia is right in the thick of these disruptive technologies, as it is the 17th largest trading state in the world, as well as China’s One Belt One Road initiative.

New Malays in a new Malaysia must take these disruptions into account instead of insisting on perpetual protection from the state. In a honeycomb economy, any app can theoretically disrupt old supply chains – Airbnb allowing tourists to circumvent the front desks of hotels, BMW’s DriveNow dismantling notions of ownership, and EdX allowing students to bypass enrolment in formal universities.

A new country

If Malaysia does not try to think of new ways to become a new country, one that can adapt to the latest digital disruptions, a mere fetish with NEP – which has become a vehicle for rent-seeking and corruption to enrich the Umno elite – will only cause resentment among the other 99.5 percent of Malays.

If anything, May 9 was an indication of how mad the rakyat can get when wealth does not trickle down.

As things stand, there are 113,000 Felda settlers, of which 32,000 have been receiving cost of living aid. While they wait, the prices of palm oil will not go up anytime soon, since China has agreed to buy US soybean in order to prevent the collapse of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Little wonder palm oil is doing badly. Workers from Felda have to think of new ways to make a breakthrough. It is also important to diversify new markets for palm oil, including, but not limited to, Russia, Eastern Europe, and South Asia.

New Malays must have the strategic mentality to go where returns are highest, even before GLCs have found the first breakthrough. There are four ways Malays can change. As rudimentary as it may sound, they have to assess strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Strength can be derived from the willingness to defend their honour, after years of being spoiled by Najib. Nothing is more powerful than the will and tenacity to change or turn over a new leaf.

But just as some are committed to turning over a new leaf, weaknesses lie in certain quarters like Umno and PAS luring people back to the racial and kleptocratic ways of old in time for the 15th general election.

Now that Malaysia has ditched the kleptocracy and kakistocracy, new opportunities are opening up for the likes of Bersatu to field more qualified and capable candidates in GLCs, GLICs and even thinktanks. The party must not lose this once in a lifetime chance. Appointing qualified and capable candidates, rather than mere politicians, is key towards recalibrating Malay minds.

The threats come in the form of the pseudo-Islam peddled by some in PAS, and increasingly, Umno – evident in the PAS Youth Chief’s dictate against the celebration of Christmas.

When Malays can engage, and work with those from any race across the aisle, there is no stopping Malaysia from becoming a major strategic power in Asean.

RAIS HUSSIN is a supreme council member of Bersatu. He also heads its policy and strategy bureau.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.