First, there was the usual hue and cry over Asli’s study that bumi equity has already attained more than 45%, rather than the 18.9% the government claims when formulating the 9th MP.
Asli’s report was described variously as ‘rubbish’, provocative’, nonsensical, irresponsible, etc, anything but a serious study meriting an equally serious review and balanced comments. AAB dismissed it outright while former PM Dr Mahathir was obliged to join the UMNO bandwagon, though to be fair to him he tap-danced through the issues while making his comments.
Then DPM Najib in his usual formula told everyone to stop discussing it, to sweep it under the carpet, so to speak. He was joined by former DPM Musa Hitam who put a spin on the undesirability of discussing it openly because eof ‘political predators’ – he recommended that the issue be discussed in a proper forum like NEAC.
The only ‘political predators’ that I can immediately bring to mind are you-know-who, and one guess only, with a couple of hints, it isn’t any of the opposition party – because DAP is still talking like proper academicians, PAS strangely silent whilst PKR has pushed its current person-in-vogue Khalid Ibrahim (rather than current politically lacklustre Anwar Ibrahim) out to the front to make nice reformasi statements.
Of course many lamented that the MCA or the predominantly Gerakan Party have both remained silent like subservient mutes – cannot hear, cannot speak, unless Tai Koh says so.
Then surprising all of us, Gerakan Party president Lim Keng Yaik spoke out about his party being not satisfied with a bumi equity that had mysteriously not increased. He wanted the government to disclose in a transparent manner the methodology used in the study on the bumi equity holding.
And not only that, Lim, probably in his swan song of extreme bravado, questioned the dodginess of a situation where bumi equity could shrink to 18.9% since various forms of the NEP was introduced in 1970, more than 35 years ago. He said something was not right about the figure of 18.9%.
Perhaps that was too much for AAB to take it when his nice pussy cat turned into a growling tiger.
Thus he came out swinging, giving a stern warning that those who were dissatisfied with the official figures, should - and this was the best he could say in response - ask for an explanation in the 'proper manner'. He claimed that the government has no qualms in explaining the methodology used in calculating the bumi corporate equity ownership.
He angrily said: “Don’t be cynical. Cynicism and accusations have no benefit. Want to ask for an explanation, ask properly. Why the need to be cynical when asking, why the need to make accusations when asking? That is not the right way.”
Well, my dear PM, the director of Asli, Dr Lim Teck Ghee did ask ‘nicely’ when he released the Asli’s report, a report that was brought about by a multi-ethnic group of experts.
Dr Lim Teck Ghee had stated that in view of the Asli’s findings, he hoped the government would exercise more transparency and publicise the methodology used by the government in providing its own figures.
Don’t forget, AAB had already damned the Asli’s report as based on unreliable information, and condemned Asli for irresponsibly publishing its provocative findings.
If AAB was sincere about transparency in the first place, he could have there and then revealed the methodology that had allowed the government to arrived at the 18.9% figure.
But the way I read it, AAB's angry reaction and his demand for queries to be made in a 'proper fashion' had nothing to do with the manner in which the call for transparency had been made – he was absolutely furious with Lim Keng Yaik for not toeing BN party lines.
His warnings were undoubtedly directed at Lim Keng Yaik.