Long before 1970, the Chinese, led by Siew Nim Chee, the economic adviser to Lim Goh Tong, approached the Finance Minister, Tan Siew Sin, to propose a sort of economic policy to help the Malays. The Chinese realised that sooner or later there would be turmoil in the country if the economic imbalance between the Chinese and the Malays were not addressed.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Yesterday’s article, The Chinese and Indians screwed up, was a good experiment in readers’ mentality, comprehension skills, and IQ level.
Firstly, I cut my normal 3-4-page article to just one page in response to some readers who complain that they cannot understand long articles. If they feel that a 3-4-page essay is too long to understand, imagine what they would say if I wrote a 200-page thesis. This thesis would probably be lost on most of them.
Apparently, even if the article is a short one-page article they still do not understand what I am saying, as most of the 146 comments have proven. Hence it is not the length of my articles that is at fault but the brain of the readers that is to be blamed. Short article or long article, they still do not understand what they read.
Secondly, yesterday’s article was in response to the whining, moaning, bitching, grumbling, lamenting and complaining regarding the New Economic Policy (NEP). When I revealed what happened in 1982 and then what happened again in 1992, most readers were caught off-guard. They were not aware about the 1982 and 1992 episodes. However, not wanting to admit their ignorance, they started posting comments that were way off the mark.
And most of these comments were not based on facts or eyewitness accounts but were based on conjecture, assumptions, guessing and speculation. I was there in 1982 and 1992 and was involved with what happened. Those who posted comments were not, but they still posted comments as if they knew what happened for a fact.
Thirdly, everyone assumes that the failure of the NEP was solely and entirely the fault of Umno and the Malays. Now that I reveal that the Chinese and Indians had been given an opportunity to correct the faults in the NEP and even end it and replace it with something else, but they did not do so, the readers deviate from the issue and raise all sorts of lame excuses such as the fear of Operasi Lalang, about Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad being a dictator, that even if the Chinese and Indians speak up no one would listen, and so on.
Let me tell you something else that most of you are probably not aware of.
Long before 1970, the Chinese leaders, led by Siew Nim Chee, the economic adviser to Lim Goh Tong, approached the Finance Minister, Tan Siew Sin, to propose a sort of economic policy to help the Malays. The Chinese realised that sooner or later there would be turmoil in the country if the economic imbalance between the Chinese and the Malays were not addressed.
Siew Sin, however, did not take up the idea and when May 13 erupted in 1969, those Chinese who were in the know and who had tried to do something actually blamed Siew Sin for the race riots.
That’s right, while you blame Umno and Tun Razak Hussein for May 13, the Chinese who had attempted to avoid such a thing as May 13 blamed Siew Sin for not listening and for not doing what the Chinese had proposed.
Ironical, don’t you think so?
When Dr Mahathir took over as Prime Minister, he tried to get the Chinese to ‘take over’ the job of reducing the economic imbalance between the Malays and the Chinese so that the government could end the NEP in 1990. The Chinese, however, thought that this is not their job to nurture the Malays. Let the government worry about the Malays. Why should the Chinese worry about it?
The Bumiputera share of the ‘corporate pie’ in 1970 before the implementation of the NEP was just 1%. Hence the target was set at 30% although the Bumiputera population was 60%. By the time Dr Mahathir took over in 1981, the Bumiputera share had grown to 4% -- or 19% if you include the 15% share of the trust agencies and GLCs. By 1990, it still remained at the same level as in 1981. In short, it had stagnated mainly because of the economic slump of 1985-1987.
The main question and bone of contention then was can the 15% share of the trust agencies and GLCs be added to the 4% personal share of the Bumiputeras considering that the trust agencies and GLCs belong to the government and therefore to the nation? For example, does Petronas belong to the country or to the Malays?
That was one main disagreement between the Malays and the government. The government says that the Bumiputeras own 19% of the corporate pie while the Malays insist it was only 4% -- since what is owned by the nation does not belong to the Malays individually.
Nevertheless, while the argument was about whether it is 4% or 19%, whatever the case may be it was still short of the 30% target.
In 1991, the Malay Chamber of Commerce wanted to organise the Third Bumiputera Economic Congress to discuss the NEP. Dr Mahathir summoned the Committee to his office to inform us that the government will take over the organising of the Congress.
I was in that delegation to the PM’s office and was appointed as the spokesman. I was told to protest the move by the government to ‘hijack’ the Congress. However, there were no two ways about it. The government will take over and there was to be no further discussion on the matter. Furthermore, we were told that the government was going to invite everyone to participate in the Congress.
When we were told this we protested. I stood up to argue that how can we call it the Bumiputera Congress when the non-Malays were going to be part of the Congress and would decide on what the new post-NEP policy was going to look like? But Dr Mahathir’s decision was final. The government will be organising it and the non-Malays were going to be part of it. Accept that or the government will proceed without the involvement of the Malay Chamber of Commerce.
We were mad as hell but could not do anything about it. Clearly the Malay Chamber had lost its monopoly on the NEP. The non-Malays were now going to have a say in what happens post-NEP. And that was when many of us in the Malay Chamber swung over to Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s Semangat 46.
Dr Mahathir and Umno had ‘abandoned’ the Malays and had opened up the new policy post-NEP to the non-Malays. This was a betrayal of the Malay cause; the way we saw it then. And Dr Mahathir was no longer regarded as the trustee of the Malays.
Surprisingly, Dr Mahathir had ‘given the non-Malays a knife’ but they did not use it. Dr Mahathir was in the mood to end the NEP and replace it with something else. We did not know what that something else was going to look like but surely with the non-Malays having a say in what it was going to be could not be something favourable to the Malays.
But the non-Malays did not pick up the knife offered to them. Dr Mahathir was clearly very angry. His response was that the government had given us the opportunity to sort this out amongst ourselves and since we had failed to do that then we have given the government no choice but to unilaterally decide what the new post-NEP policy was going to look like.
In 1990, Barisan Nasional won only 53.4% of the votes and 70.55% of the Parliament seats (and lost Kelantan to PAS-Semangat 46).
In 1992, the Third Bumiputera Economic Congress was held.
In 1995, Barisan Nasional won 65.2% of the votes (the highest ever: even better than in the 'historical' 2004 general election) and 84.38% of the Parliament seats.
The ‘message’ from the 1995 election result was that the people were happy. Hence I decided to leave the Malay Chamber of Commerce. It was futile to continue if the people were happy with the government and all our effort regarding what to do with the NEP, or post-NEP, had gone to waste.
Now you know why I get very vocal and abrasive with people who shout and scream about the NEP. And don’t even try to give excuses as to why all this happened. I know what happened. I was there. You were not. And all your comments and views are based on conjecture, assumptions, guessing and speculation.