Some of the news on the political front never ceases to amaze me. Just when you think it can’t get any crazier … a whole new level of crazy comes out.
Earlier this week a politician suggested that land owned by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) be turned into wakaf land – private property endowed to the community for common use under Islamic laws.
The logic is that so much of the earlier land assets belonging to UDA had been used with, or maybe under the instruction of, non-Muslim (meaning non-Malay) parties in ways that hurt the Malays.
Another politician raised the idea of using EPF money to help struggling Bumiputera companies, given the EPF had invested in foreign and non-Bumiputera (again, meaning non-Malay) companies locally and abroad.
And yet another politician suggested those with large EPF savings subsidise those with smaller savings. Given that some accounts are so small even doubling or tripling their entire amounts won’t make any difference seems lost in the debate.
It would help if those politicians shared some of the vast wealth they’re keeping for their own seven generations to help the poor. For me as a retiree, if even my EPF savings aren’t safe from politicians, I’d just withdraw every single sen and keep it under my bed. Then I’d only have to worry about rats.
I’m sure there’s a difference between an investment, a bailout and a haircut, but perhaps I’m just being pernickety. I can only hope EPF knows that, too, and will stick to their mission. Given that most politicians don’t keep any money in EPF, I know they wouldn’t care about this.
But for the rest of us whose retirement savings are in EPF and not in some tax-free havens and don’t have generous businessmen friends making regular donations, we’re a little bit concerned, aren’t we?
Now what do we make of this?
First, there’s some level of desperation not seen before. Perhaps it’s the pandemic, unless the Semua Saya Sapu party is back, if it ever went away in the first place.
Second, a game of upmanship, with many desperately looking for the next idea to champion the plight of the Malays – after the 51% equity grab, new quotas, tons of money in the latest budget etc. These seem to be just the latest shots.
Third, the seeming lack of awareness of how embarrassing such antics are to the rest of the non-political Malays. The Malays have a saying about this. (We have many sayings about this actually, and none of them are very flattering.)
True to form, these ideas all involve diversion of money that belongs to somebody or something else into some black holes where there’s absolutely no transparency and accountability.
What are the chances of these schemes working? Basically zero. If such schemes do actually work, it would’ve cured the issues of Malay economic weakness decades ago, and with billions to spare.
I think the Chinese would love to see Malays become rich. While they can’t sell pork, alcoholic drinks or casinos to the Malays, they can still sell high-end condominiums, luxury cars and other expensive stuff. If you’re in business, you’d love to see a growing and prospering market.
If you’re a politician though, who’s key message to your constituents is that they’re easily confused, weak, and in constant danger of being overwhelmed, your calculus may be different.
I’ve written earlier about how the focus in the Malay mindset nowadays is all about rights, even if some of the rights are self-invented, and not about responsibilities. As we travel through the new Keluarga Malaysia days, things seem to have become even worse.
There’s a wilful effort by those in power to ignore what has happened, and to refuse to learn any lessons and find new solutions to achieve the Malay economic goals. We’ve gone from using public funds to grabbing ownership of the wealth of others; now it’s wanting to divert what’s literally money belonging to you and me.
We need a total review of the various affirmative actions since the first days of the New Economic Policy 51 years ago, and its successive and seemingly unending programmes which get more and more expensive, unjust and divisive.
Of the money given directly, I’d say the money given towards education has been the most successful, but even this has become less effective as education itself has become highly politicised and dumbed down.
I was a recipient of such help for my education. If it wasn’t for that money, I’d still be a poor fisherman scouring the coastal waters of Penang for ever-decreasing catches. I feel indebted to it for the rest of my life, even if my taxes have paid the debt back many times over.
Had it been pure meritocracy in those days, I’d never have been able to make it against those who had the best education from their urban enclaves, who didn’t have to collect water from wells, look for firewood or worry about the next meal.
The whole point of affirmative action is to create a fairer future, by tilting the scale here or there, rather than just rewarding the past, which would only give the haves even more, and the have-nots even less, with the inevitable dire consequences.
So, I’m all for affirmative action, provided it’s based on needs, and not based merely on race and not for it to be diverted into somebody’s pockets to take care of themselves for seven generations.
Our affirmative action programmes unfortunately have caused the Malays to become dependent on the government, whether through subsidies and grants, or government jobs, contracts and quotas, or dishonestly such as through corruption, rent-seeking and illegal leakages.
This, coupled with a society that has become dumber and more docile through the playing up of the flames of racial sentiments, has created ever-deepening insecurity in the Malays, in spite of decades of increasing political dominance and an overwhelming control on all levers of power.
Could such proposals come to pass? Possibly, in the latest, more desperate version of Malaysia Boleh, where literally nothing is sacred. The politicians have no idea how to generate wealth through hard work and smart economic policies, and can only race each other to come up with crazier ideas.
It’s no longer about creating wealth, or sharing wealth, but rather about grabbing wealth.
Remember the good old days of “Mr. 10%” being the typical profile of the corrupt person? Don’t we wish for those “good” old days where the leakage was merely 10%? Now, we’re lucky if 10% comes out of the other end after all the leakages.
The truth of the matter is, all these leakages will be paid for by our next generation. They’ll grow up in a harsher environment, with crumbling infrastructure that we can’t fix and a destructive environment we had ignored, and a free-for-all political system that we’ve corrupted.
They will curse our generation, especially those who got rich and powerful by keeping the majority of the people dumb and scared, and perhaps the rest of us, too, who knew better, but didn’t speak against such injustices.
Their curse may last for seven generations.
Source : FMT