Something rotten


Dr Mahathir Mohamad

1. Marcellus in Shakespeare’s Hamlet remarked that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Perhaps from the complaints being made by Malaysians about Malaysia one might say there is something rotten in the state of Malaysia.

2. Many of these complaints reach me. I hope I am permitted to detail them here in my blog. People can decide whether things are rotten or not.

3. Some people complain that the Government seem unwilling to pay them for work done for the Government. There would always be a dispute whether the Government owes them anything at all. If the court decides that the Government has to pay there would be a dispute with regard to the amount.

4. Then there would be delays, sometimes for years. For business, delays can kill.

5. Then there are those whose contracts have been withdrawn for unknown reasons. Often it is given to someone else even after the contract documents have been signed.

6. Then there are those whose project submissions have been passed on to others. The others make bids at a higher price but the documents are identical. Frequently the first proposer or bidder has to go through tender process. This is only right of course. But the proposer as first bidder would find others have submitted what looked like his submission. Frequently he fails or has to raise his bid because the others have quoted higher prices or lower prices as the case may be.

7. Delays in getting approval costs. The reasons for the delays are frivolous and cannot stand scrutiny. Sometimes to speed up approvals gratification is offered. The party that offers pays and will not complain or report. It is unhealthy. You will need their services again and you may be blacklisted. Or you may find all kinds of obstacles.

8. Long before the permits or whatever is due to be terminated, notices for immediate termination were given. The authorities want to take over the business. The person concern may appeal. He is going to lose money. Sometimes the appeal is not answered, the authorities cannot be met and if meeting is possible, the applicant may be told that his loss is his problem, not the concern of the authorities.

9. Sometimes development permission cannot be given because some authority or powerful person wants the land. There is no one to appeal to i.e. no one with real authority. Even if you know who wants the land, you cannot do anything. He is too powerful.

10. Government-owned entities employing more than a thousand workers are suddenly given no job because some foreigner has been chosen to get the contract. The workers were sacked. And the Government facilities may just close down or get some minor subcontract from the foreign contractor.

11. Local companies with adequate competence are not considered for contracts because foreign companies can do the job, may be better, may be no better. Frequently the local companies are said to be too small to do the job. Lots of money flows out of the country.

12. We go all out to welcome FDI. But Malaysian entities with lots of money will not invest at home. They prefer to go buy properties in foreign land. The prices paid are sometimes indefensible. Again lots of money flow out of the country. And when profits are made, taxes are paid to the foreign country. Even when the money is brought back, no tax is paid to the Malaysian Government.

13. There is a need for investments at home, but that is not for local companies. Malaysians institutions with oodles of money would do better by buying foreign technology companies and bringing them home to improve our technological capacities. But there is no encouragement for doing this.

14. If a Malaysian company is in trouble, we seem to prefer bankrupting them and selling them to foreigners. Proposals to rescue by Malaysian white knights are not welcome. Due diligence cannot be done by the white knights for some unknown reasons.