Tajuddin said Dr Mahathir chose not to borrow from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the World Bank and pegged the ringgit against the dollar when the country faced the economic downturn in 1997.
- "Dr Mahathir's formula has succeeded and now the Americans are emulating him in finding their way out of the recession," he told reporters after launching a certificate programme in industrial management planning organised by Felcra Bhd, Universiti Teknologi Mara and the International Institute of Plantation Management, here, today.
- Tajuddin was commenting on Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim's call for Malays to strengthen their political and economic position so that the other races would stop insulting and ridiculing them. Rais's views had to be analysed in a broader perspective, said Tajuddin.
- Malay leaders had to enhance their knowledge to propel the country to greater heights."In today's challenging world, we should not be cowed by the economic and political challenges. We can do it," he said.
Last week , Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, an MP from Perak said the above. The main points of Tajuddin’s thoughts were:-
- Tun Mahathir’s economic strategies during the financial crises which began in 1997 was a reflection of the quality of Malay leadership.
- Tajuddin says the fault lies with the government if the Malays remain backward- hence leaders must enhance their knowledge.
- on Rais yatim’s prognoses the Malays pull themselves by their own bootstraps- not right.
What TDM did was a reflection of his leadership. Period. It should not be predicated with the adjective- ‘Malay”. As a leader, TDM did was he had to do in 1997. not because it was the Malay thing to do. If that is the case, then, the relative left-behind position of Malays can be attributed to lousy Malay leadership? Indian’s backwardness because of terrible Indian leadership? Because of this line of reasoning, Chinese better successes because of good Chinese leadership? Leadership is racist too?
Examine Tajuddin’s exposure of his inner thoughts. The rise and fall of any group, race, society and nations is a mater of chance? You leave it to providence to supply you with a good enough leader to bring good fortune? You don’t exercise a purposeful endeavour to ensure your society gets good leaders. If a Mahathir type comes along, well jolly good. If not, tsk, tsk, too bad?
What TDM did in 1997 was answer his own question, can his intended plan work? His asked-: does it work? That included stimulus for the economy, forced stabilisation of the Malaysian currency, enhancing liquidity. In other words counter measures against that proposals by IMF. Those measures by IMF were rejected because they would have caused extreme sufferings which could have been politically disastrous. TDM knows the pain threshold of Malaysians is not very high. IMF solutions were not acceptable.
What TDM did, showed his was no straightjacket ideologue. The IMF solutions were essentially theories right? IMF does not govern countries. The economists at IMF drew up elegant theories, on paper, to offer possible adoption. Yes, they do all these fantastic simulations, econometric modelling etc etc. good on paper, yet to be tested.
When you are confronted with problems of people finding jobs, putting food on the tables, businesses going bust, big companies and industries folding, your immediate responsibility is getting the economy going again. So that people get jobs, retain their businesses, incomes are there etc.
On hindsight, any leader must have this siege mentality. A sense of urgency to do right things and to do things right. He is both a manager and a leader. TDM probably availed himself to theories- and maybe half believed them. What he did was refused to be cluttered with theories, to be tied up to dogmatism. He was pragmatic and being practical.- will his set of measures work? Not will they work and bear out the truth in what Keynes or Friedman, von Mises, Hayek or others said. Will they get the economy going, jobs secured, incomes available?
Bush and his advisers are grappling with the same issues. What set of policies are they going to take to save jobs, get the economy going, prevent the worsening of conditions. They are leaders under siege. They are not there to prove whether Keyes was correct, or Mises or Friedman, or Samuelson, and whichever economists are correct. In the long run, we are dead anyway. And if they are asked, they probably would answer- Mahathir who?
The second part of Tajuddin’s analysis remains the nagging issue. This is the same old cliché- ask not what the government can do for you, ask what you can do for the government. The question should be, what can you do to better yourselves and what can you do to limit the intrusion of government into your lives. To subscribe to the jaded cliché above is to imply that the government is omnipotent, can do everything for the Malays. Then it follows, the Malay duty is to be absolutely subservient and loyal to the omnipotent government. Continue this, and people will continue ridiculing you.