Saturday, January 19, 2019

A lighted cross sets our prejudices aflame

TMI - Despite survey findings, Pastor Koh’s wife insists Christians are being persecuted (extracts):

SUSANNA Liew, the wife of missing Pastor Raymond Koh, believes there is still not enough religious tolerance in the country with Christians still being subtly persecuted.

This comes despite the World Watch List 2019 survey stating that Malaysia was among three countries globally that show “signs of hope” for Christians in 2019. Malaysia scored 42 out of 50 countries on the difficulties of practising Christianity

Susanna Liew opined Malaysian Christians are still being persecuted in Malaysia despite a recent survey showing improvement to the treatment of the religious community.

The recent brouhaha about a lighted 'cross' on the front of an apartment building in Jelutong Penang has impressed upon her the general Islamic intolerance in Malaysia, thus accentuating the perception of Islamic paranoia by some Malaysian Muslims with regards to Christian and Hindu beliefs (though strangely I have not heard of similar displeasures against Buddhist, Taoist or Confucian practices).

Yes, that lighted 'cross' on the building facade has had the underwear of PAS information chief Nasrudin Hassan (Mr Tantawi) all twisted up in Gordian-ish knots, when we heard him accusing one of the founders of Nova Mulia Development Sdn Bhd of promoting a Christianisation agenda.

While Mr Tantawi did not name the local person, most people believe he might have been referring to Annie Choo, who was named the Nehemiah Project (a Christian group) "rookie of the year" in 2015, according to a post on the company's Facebook page. That page is no longer available on the Nehemiah Project's web since three days ago after the brouhaha broke out, wakakaka.

Annie Choo with her cute dimples 

Recently I post From mere Cross to King of the World? in which I received the usual anti-Islamic (Islamophobes') rants against Islamist fascists, and childish and merajuk-ish provocations to remove the 'T' from my moniker of KayTeemoc, wakakaka.

Obviously none of my visitors-commentators have bothered to read what I wrote, to wit:

... based on DCM II Dr Ramasamy's chiding, in which he was reported to have said:

DCM II Penang Dr Ramasamy

"Why invite trouble by putting on a display that might just be used to provoke anger or concern? Developers in Penang must have some ethical and social responsibilities.

"If it is a religious place, say if it is a church compound, putting up or giving it a magnificent display is something acceptable in the country.

"However, if religious symbols are displayed in areas not designated for religious purposes, then there could be a problem."

I hope the Developer from now on will heed the wise words of Dr Rama and stop its silly onesupmanship, wakakaka again.

Nasrudin Hassan (Mr Tantawi)  

Wakakaka, in general I have would been the first, or among the earliest, to criticise any Islamist fascist for intrusive trampling on non-Muslim rights, but I have to concede this time that Mr Tantawi (PAS' Nasrudin Hassan) might have been correct (for once, wakakaka) for sniffing out a possible-alleged Christianisation agenda with the lighted 'cross'.

I based my belief not only on Dr Ramasamy's words but also those of Penang's Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, who had stated (much earlier than Dr Rama):

"We have yet to get an explanation from the developer on why the lights were lit up in such a manner, but in the next picture when more lights were switched on, it shows a normal view or facade."

"I believe this is not a place of worship or church, but an apartment building."

If it's NOT a church or a Christian assembly building but just a mere apartment, why was there a lighted gigantic cross on that building's facade?

No doubt there was some pretty swift lateral thinking by some Chinese Confucians, wakakaka, who turned the 'cross' into the Chinese character 'ong' (2nd tone, meaning 'king', and Not the 3rd tone which would have meant to Lotto or 4-Ekor, "Watch out, here I come", wakakaka).

And it has to be said that with two mere horizontal strokes, those Chinese Confucians saved the asses of some Christians Hallelujah-ites, wakakaka.

Jesus promoted from a mere crucifix symbol to being "King' of the World (or Universe)


To remind you of the sage words of Dr Ramasamy, Malaysia's top Hindu advocate-defender:

"However, if religious symbols are displayed in areas not designated for religious purposes, then there could be a problem."

"Why invite trouble by putting on a display that might just be used to provoke anger or concern? Developers in Penang must have some ethical and social responsibilities."

So in ending this post, while I sympathise with Susanna Liew about her still missing pastor-husband, I do not agree with her belief that Muslim concerns about a lighted 'cross' on the front of an apartment building in Jelutong Penang demonstrated the general Islamic intolerance in Malaysia.

Though it may be difficult for Susanna Liew, sometimes we need to remember that Christianity comes from the Abrahamic group of religions as do Judaism and Islam. Thus it's not only Islam or Judaism but also Christianity which can be troublesome. 

Yes, these three religions are at times far from being pacifist, passive and peaceful.

Penang Public Transport System?

FMT - 2 ways to reduce cars on roads but which will Penangites prefer?: by Aaron Lim, a FMT reader

A key discussion in the planning of public mobility is on how to reduce the number of cars on the roads. Generally, there are only two ways to do that.

The first way is through strict enforcement of policies that make private car ownership and usage very burdensome.

For example, the government can impose a high tax to own or use a car, limit the number of cars per household, and reduce road space for car usage by either closing the roads or designate them for public transport vehicles like buses or trams.

This method is very effective in the short run as it can be done within a short period of time, at very low cost.

The social impact, however, is tremendous. Car users are threatened with severe penalties and this causes much inconvenience.

Stubborn motorists will continue to use their cars despite the reduced road space. This will only increase congestion and worsen the driving and commuting experience.

Taking away road space to allow public transport affects the travelling time of drivers. Less obstinate motorists will have no choice but to give up their private cars reluctantly.

This method is easy to be implemented but very draconian in approach. It is therefore only effective in the short run as protests caused by this method are likely to overturn transport policies.

The recent recommendation by the representative of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy to implement the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Penang, together with road charges, is very much like this method.

Let's look at some methods which the author Aaron Lim proposed, namely:

(1) government can impose a high tax to own or use a car

Will that be only in Penang or throughout Malaysia? Won't work if only in Penang State as Malaysia is full of 'smart alecs' who will register their cars in Perak, Kedah and Perlis etc, wakakaka.

I believe the Sing government uses this method where in that Island it costs the world to buy a car.

But the Penang State government can impose Penang 'area tolls' (busy spots like Penang CBD etc) for cars carrying less than 3 people in vehicle, where otherwise a toll will be levied - again it's another Sing practice. 

(2) limit the number of cars per household

I am not sure how the State government can enforce this policy/rule? Not very practical.

Nor will it be fair as a household may be of various adults with various types of occupations in different locations which require separate work travelling arrangements. Mum may require her own car to send children to school etc.

I recall there was one country in Europe aeons ago, where the road policy for some busy sectors of city or regions was to restrict cars on certain dates/days to ONLY those registered with 'odd' or 'even' (ending) numbers.

Eg. thus a car with registration PODAH12155 may only travel on Penang roads on Mon, Wed, etc or on 'odd' days of calendar eg. February 01, 03, 05 etc whilst another car with registration PARIA1196X may ONLY be used on road on February 02, 04, 06 etc

Enforcement is VITAL and must be strong, swift and merciless, though special allowances must be instituted for vehicles intending to travel inter-state (wakakaka, BS word of mouth by vehicle-owners is NOT to be accepted).

(3) reduce road space for car usage by either closing the roads or designate them for public transport vehicles like buses or trams.

Won't this force insistent stubborn car users into more congested 'fewer' roads?

Watch out for reckless violaters or road-rage drivers.

The second way is to provide a less disruptive public transport service as an alternative to private car usage.

For examples, elevated forms of public transport that do not take up much road space, and with the least disruption, provide an inviting condition for car users to gradually switch to public transport.

Instead of enforcing burdensome policies, this method allows people to slowly cultivate a preference for public transport.

This method, however, requires longer preparation time and higher cost. The Penang Transport Master Plan, with the elevated LRT, is one such example.

Based on the comparison above, which way do you think is more sustainable and suitable to be implemented in Penang?

Availability of state public transport and its adequateness in Penang is a VITAL part, but only one part of the solution. In other words, don't introduce pompous hairbrained schemes UNTIL and UNLESS alternative and adequate public transportation is available as a viable alternative.

The other part makes me recall what I read of a Hong Kong expert on its Mass Transit System (MTS) advising us in a recent forum.

Hong Kong has been super successful with the MTS because the people there don't own cars in the numbers that we do, hence their MTS including buses, taxis, etc are invariably successful.

That expert said in Penang and Malaysia there are zillion times more car owners, hence it'll be extremely difficult to persuade or convince people to switch over to public tranportation.

Thus The Penang Transport Master Plan, with the elevated LRT, assuming it's up and running efficiently, makes available only one small part of the solution. Oh BTW, don't forget the bus system like the old Lim Seng Seng, Hin, Yellow and City Council bus systems.

The other is to DISSUADE car owners from using their cars through expensive de-motivators, like Penang gazetting:

(a) Penang 'area tolls' (busy spots like Penang CBD etc) for cars carrying less than 3 people in vehicle, where otherwise a "considerable" toll will be levied,

(b) Perhaps the enforced 'odd' and 'even' numbered system allowed for cars, with very stern enforcement policies. Thrice-offenders will have their cars impounded and confined for at lead a month because fining some rich repeated offenders won't be effective. In earlier days, Hong Kong police had a 'taxi-prison' where repeated taxi offenders had their vehicles "jailed" for a certain period of time, wakakaka.

The solution seems to be:

(a) an alternative but adequate and not-too-expensive system inclduing an effective, comprehensive and affordable bus syetm,

(b) de-motivators to use the car, and

(c) very strong, stern and non-negotiable enforcement (no such thing as 'discounts offered for settling overdue fines', what pathetic enforcement)

Friday, January 18, 2019

DAP, PKR and Amanah complicit in creation of neo-BN Pribumi

Malaysiakini - Are you disappointed in Harapan? by S Thayaparan:

COMMENT | Academic Bridget Welsh, as usual, made an interesting point in a recent conference about the disappointment some Pakatan Harapan supporters feel towards this new regime. She said: “Unlike US President Donald Trump who had responded to his political base and hold on to power, in Malaysia we don’t see that.”

Just before the election, I made my case as to why I thought Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Harapan would get the Trump vote instead of Najib Abdul Razak’s BN, which went all out, in the words of then-deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, to emulate the US president.

“What Zahid should be mindful of is that in these uncertain economic times, Mahathir looks more like someone who can take control of the situation than the current Umno poohbah and his coterie who are mired in all sorts of scandals. This is what Trump promised his supporters and what got him votes from the most unlikely of demographics.”

The reality is that the people most disappointed with the current regime are (mostly) non-Malays who believed that Harapan would be the change this country needed, and not necessarily what the majority wanted.

Now, of course, some people would say that removing Najib was the main goal – and I get that – but there would not be this sense of despondency if they didn’t actually hope that Harapan would save Malaysia.

If removing Najib was all that was important, then these people would be of the same intent as Mahathir – who, in the beginning at least, publicly admitted that removing Najib was the only thing he shared with the then-opposition – and not be clamouring for reforms and nodding their heads with everything he is saying now.

Reform almost seems like a fait accompli. The propaganda was so thick that contrarian voices were shouted down when they pointed out discrepancies in the way Harapan political operatives talked and the polices they came up with. Everything was viewed ahistorically.

It still is. This is why the prime minister warned that we should not forget our history, that minorities could be perceived as an economic threat to the majority, and make the claim that wealth distribution should be done “fairly” – all in the same breath. My political stance has always been that wealth redistribution and egalitarian principles are mutually exclusive, but this is not the place for that conversation.

When Harapan is pushed to fulfil their campaign promises to implement the agenda which may save Malaysia, they are warned not to spook the Malays by rabid partisans. These partisans have no problem highlighting the systemic dysfunction, but are too concerned that Harapan would lose the next election or stir up the far right in this country to do anything about it. BN, at the apogee of its power, promulgated the same idea.

Tempering expectations

To consider Welsh’s point further, what may be the problem is that Mahathir (Harapan), unlike Trump, is not too concerned about disappointing the base. They will temper their expectations because it is politically expedient to do so.

In a way, the Harapan base is doing the job of politicians – tempering political, social and economic expectations to maintain power. The irony, of course, is that in certain situations, all Harapan had to do was fulfil certain easy-win election promises, which would have cost them nothing and would have strengthened democratic institutions and processes in this country.

Forget about the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd) debacle, and concentrate on the fact that Harapan promised it would abolish or repeal certain oppressive laws.

The fact that they backtracked on this and had to be dragged kicking and screaming before they reconsidered their decision should tell you about the kind of people we are dealing with.

Look, these laws are horse manure. They know it and we sure as hell know it. There are some morons – yeah, I think these people are undemocratic and fascist morons – who think that the state needs these laws to enforce peace and stability. There is no evidence of this, but there is copious evidence that these laws stifle democratic norms, rights and practices.

Harapan could have done away with these laws, be secure in the knowledge that there are enough laws out there to deal with specific behaviours deemed detrimental to democracy, and basked in the easy win which would have objectively separated it from the previous regime.

See also patronage – or race-based patronage, to be specific. Economist Edmund Terence Gomez wrote a terrific piece about the trends pointing to revitalise the patronage system under Harapan. He said: “Equally troubling is a gradual and perceptible attempt to reinstitute the practice of selective patronage in the conduct of politics and in the implementation of policies, hallmarks of Umno politics that led to its fall.”

sama-sama, we're kaki-nang

Again, in this post-May 9 reality, the Harapan regime would be abandoning the practices of BN if it was interested in reform. Instead, what we have are neo-BN policies that will ensure that the political ecosystem remains in place, but more importantly, sustain the Umno wildlife that was claimed to have brought this country to ruination.

Not only that, there is also the factor of Bersatu PRIBUMI attempting to impose its imprimatur on elements within PKR, which just fuels the conflict between political personalities in various Malay power structures. This, again, has nothing to with the system Harapan inherited – which is the favourite strawman of its partisans – but rather the determined efforts of political operatives to sustain a system which they believe will ensure their political survival.

There are more than enough qualified people in Malaysia – or who would return to the country – to lead government-linked economic entities if they were given the chance, and who would be proud to be part of a regime that was committed to institutional reforms. Instead, we have the wildlife from the previous regime and newly-minted acolytes burrowing into Harapan, attempting to replicate the success of BN, replete with a ‘pragmatic’ but rabid voter base.

Another example would be education reform. Harapan does not need big education ideas. It needs people who have the foresight and integrity to understand that the education system in Malaysia is mired in racial and religious toxicity.

The way out of this is not coming up with fancy ideas, but basic ideas that have worked in the past. Keep in mind we had a functional education system that was broken after years of racial and religious manipulation. We don’t have to start from scratch, but rather acknowledge what worked and what was purposely corrupted.

Manufacturing consent

Blaming Mahathir or Bersatu PRIBUMI for this mess is avoiding the real issue. The real issue is the transparency and accountability of the coalition partners in Harapan. DAP, PKR and Amanah, by making excuses and gaslighting for 
Bersatu PRIBUMI, are complicit in the creation of this neo-BN.

We should be thankful that there are political operatives willing to speak truth to power. But unfortunately, there aren’t enough.
Bersatu PRIBUMI has power because the other coalition partners want to bask in some of that power, and will continue embracing nanny state policies and unearthing previous corruption scandals, hoping to narcotise the base into believing that reforms are on the way, but down the road.

Think of it this way. Nobody expects the Harapan regime to correct the problems – which were created by some of the same people leading this new regime – in eight months. What some people want is for Harapan to save Malaysia by carrying out the reforms they promised without resorting to fabrications – mostly economic – that these are difficult to carry out.

Instead, what the Harapan component parties are hoping is that people will blame Mahathir only, and that their reputations will remain intact enough for some people (most probably on racial and religious lines) to continue voting for them.

The problem is – and I suspect Harapan know this – for every disappointed Harapan supporter, there are many more who are simply in denial.

S THAYAPARAN is a commander (rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. A retired barrister of law, he is one of the founding members of Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Lim GE's "Lu tong wah, wah tolong lu"?

Malaysiakini - Guan Eng rapped over 'Harapan for development's sake' remark (extracts):

CAMERON POLLS DAY 6 | The Cameron Highlands by-election has entered the mid-point of the campaigning period. [...]

Bersih takes Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng to task over the latter's remarks yesterday calling on voters in Cameron Highlands to choose Pakatan Harapan if they want development.

"Bersih urges Lim to either clarify or reiterate his remarks to Cameron Highlands' voters immediately - will Harapan as the federal government discriminate against the constituency if they did not vote in their candidate or will they truly usher in a 'breath of fresh air' into Malaysian politics by promising development to Cameron Highlands regardless of who wins?" the electoral watchdog says in a statement.

Aisehman, this is what Penangites would say "Chay tian liao, kong boe siang uwa" or translated loosely "When in power he sings a different tune".

Wakakaka. How some people change so fast.

Lu tong wah, wah tolong lu?

From mere Cross to King of the World?

Extracts from Malaysiakini:

There has been intense debate over how the lights of a building under construction in Penang had resembled a cross.

The matter is now under investigation after PAS information chief Nasrudin Hassan accused the developer of being involved in a Christianisation agenda since one of its founders was linked to a US-based Christian organisation.

Annie Choo, Regional Director for Nehemiah Project Asia and owner of Nova Plus, is hosting the 2nd Regional Nehemiah Week in Penang, Malaysia.

she is cute with lovely dimples

He also accused Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and the developer Nova Mulia Development Sdn Bhd of attempting to sidestep the issue by claiming the lights displayed a Chinese character instead of a cross.

This morning, Deputy Penang Chief Minister P Ramasamy 
urged developers to be more ethical and not to incite or provoke others.

The article also recalled the amazing open-mindedness and compassion of allahyarhum Datuk Nik Aziz but let us leave that wonderful recollection for another post another time.

Back to our lighted cross, after the hoo-haa by the usual suspect, the developer claimed the lighting was for a Chinese 'Ong' (King) when two horizontal strokes (or lighting) were added to the top and bottom of thd lighted 'cross', wakakaka.

add two horizontal strokes and kowtim-ed

from mere 'cross' to 'King of the World'?


But based on DCM II Dr Ramasamy's chiding, in which he was reported to have said:

"Why invite trouble by putting on a display that might just be used to provoke anger or concern? Developers in Penang must have some ethical and social responsibilities.

"If it is a religious place, say if it is a church compound, putting up or giving it a magnificent display is something acceptable in the country.

"However, if religious symbols are displayed in areas not designated for religious purposes, then there could be a problem,"

I have come to believe that Mr Tantawi might have been correct (for once, wakakaka).

I hope the Developer from now on will heed the wise words of Dr Rama and stop its silly onesupmanship, wakakaka again.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Where Lim KS dares not, Dr Boo CH says it

DAP veteran not convinced with minister’s explanation about third car project:

Proton’s first car, the Saga, was launched in 1985 and became an instant success.
(Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A former DAP leader has reminded the government of Proton’s failures, saying many Malaysians still doubt Putrajaya’s plan for a third national car project.

Dr Boo Cheng Hau, the former Johor DAP chairman, said Proton failed due to cronyism, rent-seeking and corruption in both private and public sectors.

“We need a new economic policy devoid of governmental interference in the name of ‘affirmative action’, (where) businesses (will) be opened for free competition with anti-monopoly legislation in the private sectors,” Boo wrote on his Facebook today, in response to Entrepreneur Development Minister Redzuan Yusof’s explanation about the car project.

Proton was established in 1983 by Dr Mahathir Mohamad during his first stint as prime minister, with the first car produced in 1985.

Redzuan in an interview with FMT said the third national car project was “all about enhancing existing vendor capacity”, and dismissed sceptics who warned that it could turn out to be the “next Proton”.

He said no public funds would be used in the development of the project as it would be driven by a strategic private sector partner.

“The government has no intention of the project being a drain on any public funds,” he said, adding that should the project fail, the Pakatan Harapan government will not resort to a bailout as it did with Proton.

Boo is not convinced.

He said the “glaring truth” was that there has been no real change in “regime”, with “evidently less” determination to seek reforms since the May 9 polls.

“The economy is not your toy. It concerns the country’s long term well being,” he added.

Why is Mahathir back to Racism?

Malaysiakini - YOURSAY | ‘Wealth distribution should not be used to justify racism.’

Mahathir: Wealth should be distributed equally among races

Clever Voter: Income inequality exists everywhere even in communist China. The good thing is that the country has been successful in removing absolute poverty. But it is a disgrace that there are still communities without access to basic water and electricity.

Making the redistribution of wealth among races through deliberate policy is counterproductive. After more than 50 years of doing so, Mahathir knows the limits and the failure of such policy.

Using possible social risks to justify is typical of politicians. This is unlikely as the government needs no reminder we have now a fairly large middle class, where many enjoy decent living standards.

What will happen is the resurgence of rent-seeking culture where only a few will benefit from the so-called wealth redistribution policy. Our prime minister is forewarned.

Abasir: I would like to see Mahathir and his ‘billionaire’ sons distribute their wealth to the poor of all races and set an example for all other billionaires in the country.

If one were to redistribute the mind-boggling wealth of all Umno/ex-Umno leaders, their friends, families and cronies, including those unimaginably wealthy chaps with exotic tastes and titles, wealth equality will no longer be a pipe dream bandied about by crafty politicians.

Anonymous #33227154: Wealth distribution should not be used as an excuse to justify racism.

People worked hard for their wealth. It's unfair to discriminate people based on race and blame certain races for being successful because they are more hard-working.

The Chinese and Indians worked hard to develop and build Malaysia together with the Malays. The government should help all Malaysians who are poor, regardless of their race.

It's unfair and illogical to have equal wealth distribution among races, we are not a communist state. Whoever who worked harder will be more wealthy than others.

Already special privileges are given to the Malays, but Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad should not penalise other races who work hard and become more successful.

He should stop playing the racist card again, it's so Umno.

focus on your Soduko game - don't look up now 

David Dass: The poor of all races cannot wait for Mahathir to get things right. Billions of ringgit have been spent on affirmative action. Much of it has been wasted or squandered.

Look after the poor of all races. That must be a priority. The bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak have been neglected.

Do not punish the thrift and enterprise of some because of the failure of the government. After all, the successful pay more taxes. Tax revenues are dependent on successful businesses and hardworking individuals.

The truth is that all Malaysians have a stake in Malaysians of all races being successful. There are signs of Malay success everywhere. Except in the retail trade. But there are no obstacles to anyone of any race starting a business. However, there are high risks. Seven to eight businesses fail within two to three years of inception. A daunting statistic.

The government should offer incentives for multiracial ventures. That would facilitate the sharing of knowledge and expertise.

Not Convinced: Yes, society will be happier if the wealth disparity gap is not too wide, where we have millionaires living among beggars.

But Mahathir is wrong to focus on wealth distribution among races. He should also focus on wealth distribution within races, in particular the Malays as wealth inequality among them is highest in Malaysia.

Anonymous 2301431436259502: Water finds its own level. You can divide the wealth equally now but after a while, it's back to rich and poor because some with make more out of it and other would squander it away.

Better to give the poor better education than money.

Blessed Malaysian: Indeed, eradicate poverty through education. Teach the poor to fish rather than give them the fish.

I know this because I came from a poor family whereby the children in my community did not further their education after Form 3.

Education Minister Malaysia

He warned Chinese educationists not to have the UEC

But my parents, who were previously denied education in their younger days, strived to provide for us six siblings to continue until tertiary education.

We worked hard and studied hard because we understood that only through education, we could break the cycle of poverty. Now, all six of us siblings are graduates and doing well in life. Kudos to our parents.

Drngsc: Tun, you are wrong again. Opportunities for wealth must be equally distributed. All races must receive the same opportunity to succeed.

There are some who just refuse to succeed, refuse hard work, refuse opportunities. They just want crutches and handouts.

If they are poor, then they deserve it because there are others when opportunities present, they work hard, and so they succeed.

Malaysians must realise that you need a good education and to work hard to succeed. Not just on handouts and government help. Policies must be based on needs, not on race.

If some can succeed with same education and work hard, why can't the others?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Mahathir has no decent plan for Malaysia, Malays and Malaysians

Malaysiakini - Jaded, faded - Mahathir’s outdated policy prescriptions by P Gunasegaram:

When Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad sank low to say that wealth should be distributed equally among races, he indicated plainly that he has no solid plan to increase incomes and alleviate poverty for all Malays and Malaysians. Jaded and faded, his priorities are elsewhere.

his real priorities

Note that he talks about the distribution of wealth, not increasing incomes, which is more important because this is what will eventually result in a proper redistribution of wealth by valuing fairly everyone’s contribution to wealth creation.

During his time as prime minister previously for a very long 22 years from 1981 to 2003 out of 46 years of independence at that time - nearly half the period of independence - he had plenty of opportunities, but squandered them.

He did not care for the common Malay, but was instead more focused on creating Malay billionaires overnight through the awarding of lucrative operations handled by the government or government companies previously, such as roads, power producers, telecommunications and others.

Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary

He depressed labour wages by bringing in millions of workers from Indonesia, and subsequently Bangladesh and the Philippines, to alter the religious balance in Sabah. A significant number of them became Malaysian citizens over the years, altering the overall racial and religious balance in the country.

By doing that he betrayed his own race, many of whom were workers and small entrepreneurs whose incomes were constrained by imported labour. Even now, Mahathir has not shown a great willingness to increase minimum wages, which will help many poor Malays and bumiputeras increase their incomes.

As Mahathir himself well knows, distribution is not an easy thing. Stakes held by others cannot be simply distributed, but they have to be sold, even if it is at depressed prices as it was under the New Economic Policy or NEP, when companies wanted to get listed.

Instant millionaires

There are not enough Malays rich enough to buy these stakes, but many of them in the Mahathir era and earlier, especially the connected elite, became rich by purchasing the 30 percent stakes for bumiputeras that had to be divested upon listing by taking bank loans.By simply flipping the stakes on the market at a higher price after they were listed, they pocketed the difference and became instant millionaires.

It was Mahathir’s brother-in-law - the straight, honest and capable Ismail Ali - who was the architect behind the setting up of Permodalan Nasional Bhd or PNB to hold in trust for bumiputera stakes in major companies. PNB now has funds of some RM280 billion and has been enormously successful in this respect.

But Mahathir, with advice from Daim Zainuddin who became his finance minister, still cultivated selected bumiputera leaders, many of them Daim’s cronies, and gave them plum deals. A slew of them who were terribly over-leveraged got into trouble during the 1997/98 financial crisis.

The government, often through Khazanah Nasional Bhd, had to rescue some of the biggest ones, resulting in Khazanah holding key stakes in many companies such as Axiata, CIMB, PLUS and so on.

Recently, the government has been talking about, not surprisingly, selling these stakes to investors, accusing Khazanah of not developing bumiputera entrepreneurship, which was not anywhere in its original aims.

It becomes more obvious what Mahathir is talking about. Redistribution of wealth now will come out of the selling of government (Khazanah) and PNB stakes to individual Malay entrepreneurs to equalise wealth distribution among the races. To make it more palatable, some Indian entrepreneurs, too, may be found.

The modus operandi will be to sell the stakes when prices are depressed and perhaps even to offer a bulk discount to these so-called entrepreneurs who, of course, will not only be among the elite, but who are Mahathir/Daim cronies. That will ensure a steady flow of funds into Bersatu in future from donations to help make it the premier party in the Pakatan Harapan coalition.

Mahathir knows full well that equal wealth distribution is impossible - it’s never been done anywhere before and makes wealth acquisition disproportionate to intelligent effort and hard work, a sure recipe for inefficiency, corruption and patronage. As eloquently argued by prominent political economy professor Terence Gomez, patronage is king in new Malaysia - if it was cash during Najib's time.

Mahathir does not have the wherewithal to lead anymore, if he ever had it in the first place. Eight months after GE14, he is still bereft of a plan to increase incomes and improve livelihoods. He needs to recognise he does not have one and that he stays in power because of the strength of the other parties in the coalition.

Wrong direction

The only way to close the wealth gap is to increase future incomes across all races. Anything else is the expropriation of other people’s wealth. In the meantime, the holding of wealth in trust by state agencies is perfectly acceptable because the income comes back to the government.

This can be wisely used to improve the quality of education, get better quality investments, raise productivity and hence labour wages, and provide equal opportunities for growth and innovation among all communities. As so many people have said before me, you can equalise opportunities, but not outcomes.

So far, 61 years of Umno-BN have not managed to equalise opportunities for all as the government education system is in shambles, among others. And eight months of Harapan is heading in the wrong direction under Mahathir.

Despite Bersatu being a party expressly formed to fight for Malay rights, Mahathir’s party had the lowest support from Malays of parties looking after Malay rights, including Umno, PAS, PKR and Amanah.

He is still stuck in a mode to widen his rather narrow and vulnerable power base (his Bersatu won only 13 seats of 52 contested, the worst win rate of any party in the coalition) unethically by attracting tarnished MPs from Umno into the Bersatu fold, in the process willing to break agreements with other coalition partners and doing/advocating things which are against the principles of a properly functioning democracy.

He has also said he will not honour some manifesto promises, saying that these were made when Harapan did not expect to win the elections - a rather lame excuse. He has not even made solid moves to undo repressive laws introduced by his predecessor Najib Abdul Razak.

Mahathir, obviously, has no plan to improve the livelihood of the common Malay and all Malaysians, stuck in old-school forced distribution which is injurious to the economy, maybe even fatal in the long term. High time he made way for someone else who may.

True Malaysians don’t want the creation of Malay (or any other ) billionaires from government wealth.