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Sakmongkol ak 47

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Adjusting to after-UMNO Malaysian politics

The last article I wrote attracted a wide array of opinions. To me, the diverse opinions show, UMNO matters- whether it's regarded as loathsome or boon.
But to me, it's more important to make UMNO people see things in perspective. The future of Malaysian politics to my mind can be described as a post UMNO politics. UMNO will still matter but it has to come to terms to the reality that it is no longer the unrivaled and absolute voice of Malays in particular and Malaysians in general. It's a political theater where there are several contending parties vying for allegiance of the people to their causes.
The more than 3 million Malay voters who did not vote UMNO in 2008 cannot be all wrong. They didn't come to the position of not wanting UMNO because the opposition made them more aware and conscious. More likely they came to that position as a result of instantaneous voluntary and independent awareness. The opposition better not pat themselves on the back and indulge in an orgy of self-flattery.
So, it will be stupid if the opposition ignores to harness this general disenchantment by offering just some flippant commentaries on current politics. People will look at leadership, policies, intellectual honesty and articulation of your policies. That way I think, the disenchantment will likely remain and can translate into still, a rejection of UMNO.
For UMNO it will be a bigger challenge. It's like the multi-polar world of geo politics. USA is no longer the sole and unrivalled source of but one of several. India and China have become centers of attraction. Even that little dot down south has become a centre of attraction of global convergence.
So, when Dr Mahathir called for a return to UMNO's fundamentals, I am not sure, we can do so in its pure and unadulterated form. Or in the form, I understood to be what he meant. Because in the meantime, since 2008 at least, the external environment has changed.
UMNO must come to terms with the new realities. The new realities mean, UMNO cannot relive history as therapy. It cant live in the past.
Failure to adjust will lead to depression. In 1901, Thomas Mann wrote a novel called Buddenbrooks about a wealthy family that saw its fortunes reduced over 4 generations. But family members lived in a make believe world that their family is still the focus of things. Yet the world around them has changed but the Buddenbrooks insist they are still the middle kingdom. They don't acknowledge that the prestige and power of the family has declined.
In a similar manner, we can describe the current UMNO in that way. They don't acknowledge that the prestige and power of UMNO has declined. This is the biggest mental block UMNO people are saddled with. Yet, I have to state things as they are.
I don't think, to describe my stand as UMNO my party right or wrong is correct. My interest is to see the RIGHT UMNO emerge. By right I mean UMNO that reaches out as a rational organization and a political party of reason. One that attracts people to its cause. And I think UMNO can reconstruct its commitment to Malay interests without hurting the interest of all Malaysians.
Let's tackle the first of UMNO's hot-spots. The severest attack against UMNO has been its advocacy of preferential treatment of Malays. I have stated this on many occasions. We get incensed over the ownership of 30% of the country's wealth yet, we are accommodating about who owns the 70% of the wealth. I am not saying the Malaysian Chinese own the 70%- whoever owns the 70% should be as hot an issue as the Malay attempt to own 30%. It makes practical sense; to alleviate the anguish of over 65% of the population who cannot share the wealth of this country is a just manner.
And we have to accept this. No one group acquires eminence without economic might. The Malays are asking for a portion of the economic cake to validate its eminence. The way they achieve that may be contentious and maybe at times unconscionable. I don't expect the champions of the Malay cause in this department to be apologetic. If Malays don't acquire economic might, the whole country can explode. It's that simple a proposition.
Even if we accept the necessity of re- structuring the wealth of this country along affirmative lines, it will not be a tenable position to take over the long run. It has to be dismantled at one point in time.
Unless it's etched in stone, the insistence of mandating a 30% ownership will lose ground against normal course of economic development. People become more competitive, the economy becomes more open, that the only way to prosper, will be to link to the external world. The open market is unforgiving to any abnormalities such as insisting on a 30% monopoly which I think is an abnormality.
Having a 30% requirement is essentially isolationist by nature. You can't insulate yourself behind a facade of legislative device because doing so, locks you out from mainstream economics. Sooner or later, whether the Malays like it or not, the normal course of economic development, presses you to adapt to external environment.
The more that 3 million Malay voters who rejected UMNO maybe the critical mass that no longer clings to that legislative device that isolates the Malay. They may represent the new Malay with the new mindset willing to compete and confident of their abilities. Unless UMNO reaches out to them, offering respectable avenues for self-expression in politics and economics, UMNO will never get them back.
In politics, the freedom to differ, i.e. being free to differ without being persecuted. UMNO must realize that more and more Malays want to be treated as thinking adults rather than mere digits in a guarded ward. In economics, the freedom to compete on an even playing filed and wanting to see vestiges of cronyism, clique-ish control of the economy wiped out.


Tinta Hitam 8 February 2011 at 09:18  

Well written article,brother.Thats why you cannot go further up in UMNO leaderships.UMNO leaders dont need thinking UMNO members.

They just want unthinking memeber who always kiss their hands

Anonymous,  8 February 2011 at 10:03  

"So, when Dr Mahathir called for a return to UMNO's fundamentals, I am not sure, "

Well, I am sure. He wants absolute authority to rule, suppress, emasculate, imprison opponents,control information, contacts without tenders and projects at inflated prizes and telling the rural Malays that they are the tuans.
If things go wrong blame the Chinese, Singapore and the West/Jews.

Anonymous,  8 February 2011 at 10:07  

Sir, don't be jealous that the non-Malays own 70% of the wealth. They are hard working, innovative and industrious. They did not receive anything on a silver platter like the Malays did.
If Malays do not own 30%, you must ask why? The government was under the Malays. They had absolute power. Then why did they fail to uplift the Malay lot after half a century of rule.
But they enriched themselves.
Now, you want UMNO to be forgiven or punished?

Ditesh 8 February 2011 at 11:15  

(Previously posted this comment to the wrong blog post - do assist in deleting the previous comment)

Here is an honest question:

Is equitable distribution of the economic pie actually possible? Has it happened anywhere in the world? What economic models predict and deliver such a distribution?

Not advocating for any form of artificial division of the economic pie. Just wondering if any form of equitable distribution is, in fact, possible.

Intuition indicates that a purely capitalist system coupled to a world class education system accessible by all citizens offers best shot for the said citizens to strive towards equitable distribution. But even so, intuition also points to the inescapable fact that wealth will aggregate in the hands of a few.

Hakiman,  8 February 2011 at 11:25  

Shouldn't the goal of having 30% Malays to own the economic cake by facilitating their competitiveness instead of throwing on their lap as has been done in the last 40 years which failed miserably? In fact, it created a small cream of rich crony UMNOputras leaving behind the masses.

The problem with UMNO is that with its absolute power since 1957, its pro-Malay policies was at the expense of the non Malays. It was a winner take all leaving not even the crumbs to the non Malays. UMNO only fed its MCA towkays.

Melayu Baru,  8 February 2011 at 11:51  

Assalamualaikum Dato Sak,

You mentioned the following as the central theme of this posting:

"The severest attack against UMNO has been its advocacy of preferential treatment of Malays"

I beg to differ, big time...

It is not the advocacy of preferential treatment - but rather the implementation of it which is also hurting the Malays.

The economic disparity was at the root of 1969 riot. A plan was put in place to address that. The intent is noble - the economic gap will enable the country to stabilize and prosper.

If you run a quick straw poll within you non Malay friends who grew up with you, not many will disagree with idea. Most will also wished that the government do the same for them (if they are economically disadvantaged), but you dont find disagreement with the idea.

Now, let's look at the implementation.

How many underserving & unqualified (but well connected) scholarship holders went overseas at the expense of the deserving? I saw a lot when I was a student.

Of the many billions of pink forms dished out to increase bumiputra corporate participation, what benefit the kampung people get? And how much of that billions is now is still in the hand of Malays? 2 out of 54?

Of the open APs to help Malays in motoring industry, how many are real businessman? They now even want more share of the AP, at the expense of franchise AP holders. And what are these Malays doing to help others?

I can repeat ad nauseum. The implementation of NEP at the hand of UMNO has created an entitlement culture for the UMNOputras.

UMNO accepts corruption as a way of life (re UMNO elections). The ecosystem is not the survival of the smartest - but the most cunning. Years of repeated practice distilled the best of the most cunning politicians. All these people now are at the leadership positions.

You want to undo that, Dato?

At the peak of its power, it controlled the media. Next, it made judiciary compliant. Then the enforcement agencies. One by one the very institutions that are supposed to be protecting the rakyat (out of Rakyat's tax) is being controlled.

Still, in your mind people dont like UMNO because of its advocacy of Malay rights?

Where's Malay right when TDM unilaterally changed royalties to wang ehsan?

Where's Malay right when the non UMNO people are discriminated against in basic need? Check fertilizer in Kelantan, mattress in Kedah's flood?

Where's Malay rights when the powers of the Malay kings were limited?

Again, they can be repeated ad infinitum. At best, UMNO is a creature of expediency. Not pragmatic, but Machiavellian.

Then again, Im not surprised. UMNO has been out of touch with the masses for the longest time...

Even at your level, an ex Ketua Penerangan...

Melayu Baru

Cruzeiro 8 February 2011 at 12:31  

The Malays are asking for a portion of the economic cake to validate its eminence. ..... If Malays don't acquire economic might, the whole country can explode.
It's that simple a proposition.

Note:- I use the term "you" below as a reference to Umno/BN politics.

It is all about the MONEY, isn't it? Sadly, nobody speaks of how you're supposed to make, as opposed how you supposed to grab it at whatever cost!

You want "30%", you say?
You don't ASK or demand for it, nor do the Malays have to be taught rob others of their efforts through legalized corruption (under the guise of "affirmative action), as a matter of "right".

Instead, they should EARN it.
Make honesty, hard work and accountability, as part of their ethics towards achieving that mythical 30% they aspire for- and they can live with the dignity which even a 100% wouldn't buy.

It's that simple a proposition.
Everything else revolves around the above, while the race politics and religiosity BN preaches is plain hogwash.

That's precisely the problem- you don't understand the concept of "money". It isn't the paper, the numbers or Gold that gives money its value, but the minds & hearts of man. It is simply a medium of exchange for productivity, and it depends on sound philosophy.

You believe that you have a right to the money you don't wish earn through honest productivity.
Money is too noble a product of man to allow that.

Money would not give you the assurance of a cohesive society, nor would it buy you "Nationhood".
If the Malays get their 30% through plunder, it will never stay- simply becos money has value to it, and where no "rule of law" or honest production exists, it flies towards better prospects.
That would mean that the Malays will eventually languish in poverty- materially and spiritually.

That, my friend, will herald the era of the guns, bombs, pirates and modern day slavery - where people will live by compulsion and not freedom.
And society will explode- whether you like it or not, 30% or not.

When will that come?
Just watch the flight of money- and when all is gone- you'll get your 30%.

Donplaypuks® 8 February 2011 at 12:54  


Before we go into this 30%:70% issue, the Govt should come clean with its valuation model. Quite frankly, I don't trust our Govt, and in particular, Najib, when it comes to statistics on equity distribution.

You youreslf have been guilty of saying Khazanah's investments are for the Bumis. Who knows how Najib accounts for it?

Too, assuming the 70% statistic is true, they did not ask the Govt to give it to them on a platter; they slogged and slaved to earn it. If monopolistic and "unusual" contracts were dished out to cronies and corruption was the name of the game, the blame goes 100% to UMNO/BN which has been the only Govt here since 1957!

And if the NEP did not substantially achieve its stated aims after 40 years, then it's time for Plan B - better education, open economy and competition. Not "brutal competition" but certainly one which emphasizes merit over indiscriminate handouts.

we are all of 1 Race, the Human Race

OneMalaysian,  8 February 2011 at 13:50  

Dear Sakmongkol

“Even if we accept the necessity of restructuring the wealth of this country along affirmative lines, it will not be a tenable position to take over the long run. It has to be dismantled at one point in time.”

The affirmative action in favour of the Malays and Natives of Sabah and Sarawak (they are often left out in such discussions) is derived from Article 153. If we care to read it, Article 153 talks about reserving reasonable proportions of positions in the public service, of scholarships, educational or training privileges or special facilities, and permits or licences (where these are required).

Simply put, Article 153 was designed to ensure that the Malays and the Natives have a reasonable share of opportunities to prepare and improve themselves for the job market or in business. In other words it is about equal access to opportunities and not about outcomes. It does not talk about the Malays and the Natives having 30% of the economic cake or national wealth. This 30% thing came out of the NEP. And that was when things started to go wrong.

Does this mean that we do not want to see the Malays and Natives succeed? No, not at all. But it is how they get there that is important. We cannot mandate how the economic cake (outcome) be cut – 30:70 or 50:50. We can only do our best to ensure that every Malaysian has a crack at the opportunities this country offers. Outcomes are what we make of opportunities – no one owes us a living, but they must give us all a chance. If we understood this concept there will be less misunderstanding all round. The politicians have failed the people by telling the Malays that they have this entitlement of outcome. By the way, the Malaysians (of all races) who made it, did so because they worked hard, not because they had entitlement coupons.

You said if the Malays don’t acquire economic might, the whole country could explode. Let’s imagine that some strange thing happened, and all the non-Malays suddenly disappeared from Malaysia. The Malays (and Natives) would have 100% of whatever cake there is. But if they hold the same political beliefs and have the same attitudes they now have of “entitlements”, their economic status will surely decline. Now what? Who would they blame? If they can't compete with the non-Malays, can they compete better with the rest of the fiercely competitive globalised world?

Anonymous,  8 February 2011 at 13:52  

It's too simplistic to say UMNO is not aware of what is "right" for the Malays, and for others. With the experience and the brains behind the top UMNO leadership it suggests the last remaining phenomena - tyranny via wealth and power. A further extensible notion is they can't reform or relent because this wealth and power are shared. And it seems it is not shared with UMNO members to provide for natural progressive renewal. To reform UMNO means to severe this link and it can be one hell of toothache that has to be endured. But for what? For something more endearing and enduring?

Conscious or not members who have quit or voters who have changed have made the right decision; the protraction on staying is unproductive as economic and government institutions will suffer further.

Other than these general themes, what else can explain the ruin of institutions secular and religious that besiege this nation?

That inner urge to renew is immensely overwhelming for Malays who have learned via their informal socio-cultural lives.

This is creating more uncertainty than necessary.

MIGS-SABAH 8 February 2011 at 15:35  

It is hard to adjust to any change if two devils are fighting over a piece of cake whether rotten or not..

So the answer is an Interim Government under Joshua Y. C. Kong for two years as the caretaker PM so that no need to go over the past but to move on forward..and the society at large would appreciate that..

No procrastination, no bitter vengeance, justice would prevail unfetttered..

Agung should act fast because PRU13 is a crazy drunken power game that is not to benefit anyone in the political divide..

Joshua Kong

katdog,  8 February 2011 at 17:05  

We shouldn't be bothered to continue debating the 30% thing because the Bumi's have already had it. Just because not all the bumi's managed to enjoy the pie doesn't mean it wasn't there. The goal of 30% has already been achieved. Just that the intended result (reducing the income disparities) never materialized.

So if Malays want their society to progress they better think hard now. Despite 30 years of social restructuring (NEP), the intended results have not been achieved. It is therefore logical to assume that another 30 years will achieve nothing different.

If they really want to reduce the income disparities they are going to have to think of some really creative and innovative solutions because harping on the same failed formula is not going to get you and your community anywhere.

Anonymous,  8 February 2011 at 17:57  


While we are arguing and talking about the economic pie, i hope you have not missed the news about the $6b ringgit purchase of some 6 gunboats and planned purchase of 27 OPV at MYR24b.

In comparison, the cost of the latest gerald ford class aircraft(nuclear powered) carriers at USD8b + R&D of USD5b total USD13b(MYR 39b). these are 1100 feet long ships with 2 nuclear reactors that can carry 60-90aircrafts.

Speaking as a layman, it feels like somebody is making a packet on this. my boss built a luxury yacht at a cost of approx 25m euros for a 50m boat(the OPVs are usually around 40-60m). the boat is of course not fitted. the additional cost will of course depend on the extent of the luxuriness. understandably military vessels are different animals but at 0.89b each??!!
Anyone feels that my figures are mistaken?

Anonymous,  8 February 2011 at 17:59  


Anonymous,  8 February 2011 at 17:59  

Why 30%? If the Malay can create their own wealth they can have it 100%.

If the Malay wants to increase the percentage of wealth in the country then there are few ways to achieve it.

1. Rob the non-Malays share
2. Hold back the non-Malay's creation of wealth
3. Malay creating more wealth for themselves.

From the above it looks like the Govt is using 1 & 2 more than 3 to achieve the target.

By the way, why is the target not achieved when almost all the economic/political power are in the Malay's hand.

I believe the target achieved is greater then 30% - the govt uses statistics but not reveal its methodology how it arrived at below 30% wealth achieved by the Malay.

A more serious concern is the distribution of wealth especially among the Malays. Hence I feel those in power are using all means to hoodwink the majority Malay in believing they are being "robbed" by the non-Malay.

The best way to keep the majority Malay subservient is to keep them ignorant - give them poor education.

Anonymous,  8 February 2011 at 18:21  

Defending the indefensible. King Solomon has once said.....There is a season for everything under the earth. Heard of Don Quixote De La Mancha. Noble but too late for UMNO
# The only way UMNO would wake up is a massive defeat & because the refusal to change would lead to the demise of UMNO
Lets face it Sak.....UMNO now is no longer the UMNO Tunku founded....

walla 8 February 2011 at 19:15  

The question at hand is whether this country can still afford to play its socio-economic cat-and-mouse engineering.

If we say that our Malays must acquire economic might otherwise the country can explode, then they will not acquire economic might when the country has exploded.

Because when the explosion takes place, there will be an exodus of FDIs and DDIs with the result the ETPs, economic corridors and so on by which our Malays and others can potentially acquire economic might would have been vaporized. Together with 1Malaysia, Vision2020 and other slogans.

We must remember we are a trading nation, and the government is heavily in debt, and when it has to resort to marginal field tenders, that is like saying we are out of new oil deposits so the financing of those big projects will be a question in which case no race will be acquiring any economic might in the end.

If any country can wish for economic might persuaded by the specter of social disorder, then a lot of countries would be queuing up to welcome social disorder to acquire economic might. Such as our arab states, perhaps.

After all, economic might of a race is the aggregate of economic prosperity of individuals of the race. That prosperity doesn't fall down from the sky nor drop from the tree. Every centime earned has to expend sweat and sacrifice. One needs to forgo present comfort for the promise or peril of future reward.

How the government responds to the first statement will determine how the world's sectors - staffing, capital, technology, services and imports - address this country's continued relevance as just one of many destinations to park investments.

Malaysian politics today is not just an optional Umno. It is also an optional Malaysia.

The fact there has been such heavy traffic in people and capital flights cannot be explained on whimsicality. People don't uproot their families and funds to face the unknown elsewhere and start all over again unless they are patently unhappy about things locally.

We all know what they are and unless they are addressed definitively and decisively, it won't be just an explosion. It will also be an implosion.

Anonymous,  8 February 2011 at 19:28  


Any comments on MalaysiaKini's story of Sarawak BN ADUNs trying to bluff the PM? Had me in stiches trying to picture these ADUNS kena gasak whilst the others in the hallway must be half laughing and half crying

Warm Rgds

OneMalaysian,  8 February 2011 at 21:13  

Dear Sakmongkol

A good number of your readers have touched on the 30% economic pie, and their opinions on it are about the same. This shows that this is indeed a most important subject, but one that is badly misunderstood, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say purposely misrepresented by politicians.

This is the subject that divides the Malays from the non-Malays. The Malay thinking is, we are the tuans here yet we can’t even have 30% of the cake? The non-Malay thinking is, you already have it but have eaten it (remember the RM52 billion in shares with only 2 billion left?), or your leaders (and cronies) have taken your share, or if you want it then work for it like we do.

What’s particularly bad about perpetuating this 30% entitlement idea – I have written earlier that there is in fact no such thing as envisaged in Article 153 of the Constitution – is that it creates a false sense amongst the Malays that somehow, irrespective of how hard they work or compete, they are entitled to a minimum share of the economic outcome. Are we entitled to go to international sporting events (badminton, squash, hockey, football, etc) and say to the others, we have an entitlement; we don’t need to be champions but you must ensure that we get into the semi-finals. It sounds ridiculous when it is put like that. But this is exactly what the Malays and the UMNO politicians are saying about economic outcomes that are the result of work and competition.

Are these UMNO politicians stupid? No. Indeed not. They are merely using this entitlement issue to benefit themselves at the expense of the entire Malay community. Who gets all the oil & gas contracts, all the major privatizations, all the defense supply contracts (RM6 billion for 6 boats), all the APs? Not ordinary Malays, but well connected UMNO politicians. They need to constantly raise this 30% thing so that the benefits will go to the very few in the name of the many. This is no way to raise the economic well-being of the Malays and all other Malaysians because it merely entrenches and deepens corruption, and leads to racial problems. We get corruption plus a divided nation, not a prosperous and united nation.

The way forward must be to put resources to raise the education standards of the Malays and disadvantaged groups, ensure they have adequate health care, access to water and electricity and proper housing. In other words, ensure that they have the minimum facilities to cope with daily life and to raise their capacity to compete. This is the spirit of Article 153. If the UMNO politicians want to do the Malays some good, stop talking about economic outcomes but help them all to compete and fend for themselves. If the current politics persist, then Malaysia would just be a slow train wreck with all of us inside.

Anonymous,  8 February 2011 at 21:14  

UMNO has succeeded in fooling the Malays, keeping them naive by hide the truth - that the Malays indeed have achieved 30% but its in the hands of just a few.
The UMNO leaders are as rich as Mubarak and his Ministers but the Malays are still asleep and their loyalty bought during election seasons.

Anonymous,  8 February 2011 at 21:19  




Anonymous,  8 February 2011 at 21:39  

Is equitable distribution of the economic pie actually possible? My answer is NO! Has it happened anywhere in the world? Answer is NO!. What economic models predict and deliver such a distribution? NONE other then EDUCATION.
Spend more money and resources on educating the Malays including the underprivileged non Malays. Educate but not dictate. Look at our universities...ur they teaching or dictating. The universities Act bounds the mind and soul. So how you going to produce positive thinking graduates. What we get now is 'kangkong' graduates because we have 'kangkong' prof's.

Anonymous,  9 February 2011 at 00:01  

Spot on! Sak, good job. All umno members must realize that the party will RIP if nothing is done to overhaul this situation.

umar,  9 February 2011 at 04:42  

Malaysia has to stop supplying water, sand and everything else to Singapore.
If our malay leaders (UMNO/BN ) can implement that immediately which would entail the real political equation to match what we have lost to singapore in terms of real estate, only then we can accept our leaders have the temerity to insist their relevance. It doesn't matter what LKY thinks or says or writes about malay leasership.

Anonymous,  9 February 2011 at 14:57  


If only life was so simple. The red dot is not the cause of UMNO's current problem. Yes, go ahead and stop the sand exports. It will only hit a localised Yemeni, whose family controls the sand trade. The red dot will continue as per normal. Others are more than willing to sell to them what you think you can starve them of. The enemy is within if only you can get yourself out of denial.

Anonymous,  9 February 2011 at 18:39  


MIGS-SABAH 21 March 2011 at 16:45  

the Government is illegal

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