1MDB, FOREX LOSSES – NEVER AGAIN!

By Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser, 4 July 2017

Just as I predicted in the first paragraph of my new book ‘GE14: The Big Issues’:

“Malaysia’s 14th general election will no doubt be fought between a Barisan Nasional coalition that boasts its sixty years of “stable rule” and a Pakatan Rakyat coalition calling on the electorate to “save Malaysia” from the BN’s kleptocracy. There will certainly be plenty of the usual mudslinging on both sides and Malaysian voters will likely be treated to tirades about current scandals including 1MDB, as well as past scandals such as the forex losses, now that the former Prime Minister has joined the Opposition…!”

It is great that Pakatan Harapan will be going around the country to expose the BN’s 1MDB scandal. The rakyat who do not already know about this scandal will get to know about how more than RM40 billion of our sovereign wealth has been squandered by the coalition that has run this country since Independence.

Equally wonderful is the fact that the Barisan Nasional will be going to town about the more than RM30 billion forex losses incurred by Mahathir’s government during the Nineties. The old man may even get a taste of what incarceration feels like if he is found to have misguided the Cabinet and Parliament in the Nineties and squandered so much of our valuable assets.

If Mahathir had not joined the Pakatan Harapan coalition, PH would only have been tainted with the corruption charges against the PH Chief Minister in Penang and the allegations of corruption by PH themselves against the former PH Menteri Besar of Selangor. Worse luck, thinking they had roped in a big fish to trawl for rural Malay votes, PH must now bear the cross for the former kleptocrat’s sins!

Karma chameleon

It never fails to amuse me that the laws of karma work in such a way that ensures that justice will always prevail, even in what too often appears to be so unjust a world. Who would have thought that two decades after the Mahathir administration had frittered away more than RM30 billion of Malaysian tax payers’ money in the forex losses, we would finally have a Royal Commission of Inquiry into this scandal which the Leader of the Opposition Lim Kit Siang described thus:

“Up to now, the government has failed to “come clean” on the colossal Bank Negara forex losses as a result of speculation in the international currency markets from 1992-1994, with the losses cited as ranging from RM10 billion to RM30 billion…The reasons which I had advanced in Parliament in 1994 for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the colossal Bank Negara forex losses remain valid today, and should be the terms of reference of a White Paper… To determine the actual extent of the colossal forex losses suffered by Bank Negara 1992-1994; whether there had been any financial malpractices and abuses in view of the inconsistencies and conflicting explanations about the colossal forex losses; and establish how Bank Negara could incur such colossal losses.”

I imagine the leader of the Opposition must be so pleased that his call for an RCI in 1994 has finally come to pass. Now at least the Malaysian rakyat will be able to get to the bottom of this seemingly bottomless pit of financial squandering under the Mahathir regime.

When will we see a credible RCI on 1MDB?

Certainly, the rakyat also demands a credible RCI on the 1MDB scandal. Unfortunately, Mahathir was responsible for concentrating so many branches of power under the Executive branch of the Government that the independence of the AG chambers and the MACC have now been compromised under the Prime Minister’s Department. Likewise, the Judiciary has not fully recovered from its rude assault by Mahathir after Operation Lalang in 1988 when the Lord President and three Supreme Court judges were sacked. Will it be poetic justice that Mahathir might have to face the judiciary of his own making?

We will have to be patient and wait for the laws of karma to work in such a way that we will also have a credible RCI on the 1MDB scandal. Waiting might have to be until the present Prime Minister meets his UMNO nemesis and becomes the hare in the race. If he then joins the Opposition, I wonder if he will be forgiven by the Opposition for his 1MDB indiscretions? Since we have waited more than twenty years for the RCI on the forex losses, let us hope we do not have to wait that long for an RCI on 1MDB!

BN and PH’s unacceptable tolerance of corruption

By now, it must be clear to all Malaysians that there is a pattern of an unacceptable level of tolerance of corruption within both the BN and PH coalitions. If Dr Mahathir had quietly retired, we would definitely not be hearing about this RCI on the forex losses in the Nineties. But he has his own agenda and has chosen to challenge Najib, so he will have to face the consequences and bite the bullet while facing the assault from Najib.

Within PH, PKR Secretary-general Rafizi Ramli recently exposed corruption involving money and “women” for those wanting to deal with the Selangor government. He similarly made the standard proviso that he “MIGHT take action unless…” He said he had received the complaint from a “bona fide person that apart from money, now there are also requests for women when dealing with the state government”.

This is not the first time we have witnessed such a tolerance of corruption by Pakatan leaders in which the alleged corrupt person involved is given a CHOICE of following a course set out by the accusers in the coalition. We saw such a strategy at work during the gambit to get rid of the former Menteri Besar of Selangor Khalid Ibrahim when PKR leader Saifuddin Nasution waved a file of alleged corrupt practices over the Khalid’s head to force him to step down as MB. However, since the day Khalid did indeed step down as MB, we have heard nothing more of the alleged corruption scandals on which his removal was apparently based.

Does the former MB not have to face these allegations of corrupt practices anymore and does he not have to accept the consequences if found guilty? Did the tax payers of Selangor suffer any loss of their state revenue as a result of the alleged wrongdoing? If so, should he not have to pay these back to Selangor tax payers? On the other hand, if the alleged corrupt practices are found to be concocted and untenable, do the Pakatan leaders who were responsible for such irresponsible ruses (including the frivolous Kajang Move) not have to face the consequences of their actions?

After he stepped down as MB of Selangor, Khalid Ibrahim has insinuated that there are irregularities in the purchase of the water assets by the Selangor Government, namely one of the water concessionaires has been offered favourable terms through links to personalities in the Selangor state government. In the interest of Selangor rates payers, this deal should be investigated by an independent inquiry as well.

Urgent reforms in GE14:

1.       Zero tolerance of corruption

So, what does this tell us about the attitude by the Pakatan leadership to corruption? They have shown us that they are prepared to tolerate corrupt practices as long as the guilty ones follow the coalition’s wishes. This is totally unacceptable.

In the reformed Malaysia that Malaysians yearn for, there must be zero-tolerance of corruption. We expect every case of corruption to be reported to the relevant authorities including the police for prosecution and nothing less than that.

Corrupt leaders and civil servants have to be accountable to the people. Furthermore, they have to pay back what they have corruptly obtained from the people and atone for their indiscretion. And this is irrespective of whether the amount of money involved is 2.6 billion in your personal bank account or 2.6 million that you paid for a house.

2.       Public officials charged with corruption must step down until cleared

In addition, any public official charged with corruption must step down while the case is in the courts as a democratic principle and good governance. This principle is not subject to any populist campaign which claims that “the people say the CM need not resign”. Any guilt over corruption charges can only be decided in the courts and not by selected sections of the public.

If this rule is not followed and if MO#1 is finally charged for corruption, this will be a precedent that he can cite to justify staying on in his capacity as MO#1.

3.       Make our sovereign wealth fund and Bank Negara transparent and accountable

It is not enough for PH to tell us the details of the 1MDB scandal and for BN to expose the shenanigans of the Mahathir administration which led to the forex losses. The rakyat want to know how the BN or the PH will ensure these scandals never happen again by putting in place strict reforms to make our sovereign wealth funds and Bank Negara transparent and accountable.

Our sovereign wealth fund and foreign exchange reserves must be managed in a transparent manner for the benefit of Malaysian workers, especially their expectation of a respectable pension when they retire and investment for our future generations. Political objectives and capitalist greed must not influence their management.

We want a standard that ensures that international investments of our government, including foreign exchange reserves, sovereign wealth funds, and government-owned such as pension funds, are based on clearly stated policy objectives and investment strategies, transparent and accountable to the people. The opaque operations of the Malaysian governments in managing our international investments is what led to the forex and 1MDB scandals.

We say, ‘Never Again!’

If BN and PH want our votes, they must tell us in no uncertain terms how they will ensure that such scandals never happen again and what specific reforms they will put in place to achieve this – namely, how they will consolidate the rule of law and good governance and how they will step up the efforts against corruption and enhance our policy and regulatory frameworks.

NAJIB MERELY MODELING MAHATHIR ON FOREIGN INVESTMENTS

Press statement by SUARAM Adviser Kua Kia Soong 5 Mar 2017

It is amusing to watch Tun Mahathir continuing criticisms of China investments in Forest City in Johor and other multi-billion foreign direct investments (FDI) in the country. You would think that this is a new policy by Prime Minister Najib to seek such multi-billion inflow of FDIs.

When Japan was Flavour of the Month

In fact, it was Tun Mahathir’s policy in 1982 to “Look East” that started the trend of encouraging FDIs from a singular source. When he looked east then, without a 20/20 vision he could only see Japan. Beyond the fluffy talk of equating “Eastern values” with Japanese values, the Look East policy was actually a camouflage for an influx of Japanese foreign direct investments into Malaysia.

Before long, Malaysia’s iconic building at the time, the RM400 million Dayabumi Complex was built by a Japanese company and in a very short time, Japanese and South Korean construction companies bagged about RM5 billion in major contracts, frustrating local builders. (AWSJ, 8 March 1984) Malaysia’s national car was a partnership between HICOM and Mitsubishi; Japanese companies were favorites to win energy contracts during the Eighties and Nineties, and there were many more contracts won by Japanese investors. Before long, more and more Japanese were making Malaysia their “second home”. Did Tun Mahathir raise any alarm bells about any suspicious “Project IC” that might be used by these Japanese second homers?

And like a good student of his former mentor, Prime Minister Najib seems to be keen to carry out the second phase of the Look east Policy especially after the Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s recent visit to Malaysia. The Japanese investors are certainly eyeing the multi-billion KL-Singapore High Speed Rail project.

The East used to be Red

Ironically, in recent years it has been “Red China” that has rescued world capitalism, especially the US and the Eurozone from their sovereign debt crisis. China’s financial resources helped to contribute to solving the eurozone’s debt problem and to continue to sustain the US’ deficit. In the process, China has increased its investments in European industrial and infrastructure projects.

Closer to home, China’s latest mission is the timely purchase of our national assets that needed rescue after the recent 1MDB fiasco. Thus we can say that former “Red China” has rescued Malaysian capitalism and especially the political fortunes of Prime Minister Najib in the nick of time!

Thus, while Singapore, the US, and Japan have traditionally been Malaysia’s main trading partners, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has now become the country’s most important trading partner and source of FDIs. China has invested in manufacturing projects as well as in real estate such as the Malaysia-Kuantan Industrial Park as well as Bandar Malaysia, the main terminus of the planned High Speed Rail, Forest City in Johor Bahru, port development in Klang, Malacca, Kuantan and Tumpat. In infrastructure development, the PRC government-linked corporations have secured contracts for the RM55 billion East Coast Rail Link, the RM9 billion Gemas-Johor Bahru dual tracking project, as well as provisions of rolling stoc

Certainly, without transparency, such increased FDI will see more rent-seeking activities and strengthen Najib’s grip on power just as it did for Mahathir during the Aching Eighties.

Lessons from Mahathir’s Look East Policy

Mahathir’s Look East Policy should be a lesson for Malaysia to be wary of these multi-billion inflows of FDIs from singular sources. Despite the hype, Mahathir’s Look East Policy with massive Japanese FDI inflows failed to lift Malaysia out of the middle-income trap chiefly because the strategy was founded on utilizing unskilled and semiskilled local labour. Japanese companies were slow to invest in skill-intensive industries in Malaysia and even slower to transfer new technology to their Malaysian units. They tended to employ more expatriate managers than other foreign investors.

Will the latest purveyors of FDI largesse – the PRC and Saudi Arabia – be any different from the Japanese investors of the 1980s? Will they also be using mainly expatriate managers and relying on their own supply chains and raw materials? We should ensure that the failures of the past are not repeated and these foreign investors adhere to our local requirements.

Transparency in award of contracts

First, for a very different outcome, we need transparency over the award of all these multi-billion contracts to ensure that the successful tenders are made in the people’s interest, for the good of all. Next, we must ensure that the terms and conditions agreed in the contracts with foreign investors fully commit to: engaging and developing local human capital, enhancing enterprise development and applying clean technologies to Malaysian projects.

Most important of all, we have to ensure that these development projects do not violate or degrade our environment or encroach on the customary lands of our indigenous peoples such as the Mah Meri on Carey Island or in Sarawak and Sabah. If the PRC still claims to be Socialist, we could depend on it being more discriminating in its choice of investments to ensure that indigenous peoples’ rights are not violated.

Consolidating rule of law and good governance

For a firm people-centred strategy with foreign investors, the government must do much more to build trust at home by consolidating the rule of law and good governance, including stepping up efforts against corruption and enhancing policy and regulatory frameworks. Otherwise, there will be opportunities for rent-seeking activities and corruption, which will continue to suck the nation dry.

If foreign investors are to be rid of the excuse that we cannot provide the high skills they need, then we have to thoroughly reform our education system to provide specialised skills beyond basic education and to curb the brain drain. To ensure a healthy workforce, we need a good public health infrastructure, including a secure supply of clean water. Workers’ rights to unionise and collective bargaining are essential to eliminate child labour, workplace discrimination and will help to upgrade their skills and raise the motivation of Malaysian workers.

Is BRIM corruption or crass populism?

Is BRIM corruption or crass populism?
Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 30 December 2016

Dr Mahathir and now Azmin Ali have claimed that the BRIM handouts are akin to corruption by the Najib government. While Dr Mahathir is prone to selective amnesia, the Selangor MB should know that Najib’s BRIM cash handouts are actually a copy of similar cash handouts made by the opposition-led Penang state government.

After the 2008 general election, the Penang state government prided itself on a plan to give cash handouts of 100 ringgit annually to every senior citizen aged above 60. It also introduced a scheme to wipe out hard-core poverty by ensuring that every family receives at least 500 ringgit a month. Then in a move that I called “populism gone mad”, the Selangor state government decided to provide free water to consumers in the state. The current water crisis in Selangor is perhaps the instant karma that comes from such a poorly conceived populist project. Water is a limited precious resource and water demand management acknowledges this by setting targets for per capita water use, and reducing the scale of non-revenue water – giving away free water makes a mockery of the need to conserve that precious resource through water demand management.

Free makan at whose expence?

Before he became Menteri Besar, Azmin Ali’s had criticised the State Government under Khalid Ibrahim for it’s spendthrift ways in splurging RM500,000 on a single official ceremony at a time when the state reserves had dipped below RM800 million. Has Azmin put a stop to such wasteful and populist free makan splurges? Who pays for the free makan at Open Houses during each festival – the state government, Pakatan coalition or Selangor ratepayers? There was even the time when the PR Speaker told off the State Exco Ronnie Liu for spending RM10,000 on durian feasts for his constituents. Who knows what else goes on…

Is this corruption, or do free handouts count as corruption only when they are given out close to an election? Both coalitions are equally guilty of vote buying through free handouts during the election campaign.

Mahathir gave only to favoured Bumis

While Dr Mahathir’s term in office was not noted for free cash handouts to the lower income masses irrespective of ethnicity, he did grant contracts, licences, share options and other benefits specifically to ethnic Malay individuals and companies over and above other ethnic minority groups. He created a class of newly rich Malays with a vested interest in keeping their patrons in power. Many of these “favoured Bumiputera capitalists” only managed to survive the 1998 financial crisis through being bailed out indirectly by Malaysian taxpayers.

In fact, soon after the 2013 general election, Dr Mahathir accused Najib not so much for this alleged corrupt practice of free cash handouts but of pandering too much to the Chinese and of not giving enough attention to the Malays, who form the backbone of Umno’s support.

During Abdullah Badawi’s administration in July 2007, ahead of the March 2008 general election, civil servants were awarded hefty pay increments of between 7.5% and 35% while their cost-of-living allowances were doubled. Government pensioners, too, were awarded significant hikes in their monthly checks.

Can all this be considered corruption too or is it only considered corruption when free handouts are race-free as in the case of BRIM?

The nation needs improved social services & reforms

For a sustainable economy and society, the lower income earning Malaysians require an improved social and public welfare services and other reforms, not one-off cash handouts which are not sustainable and will worsen the budget deficit and national debt.

First, we need fiscal reforms to ensure fair income redistribution by imposing a higher marginal tax rate on high income earners, an incremental Capital Gains Tax on property, other progressive taxes on wealth and luxury goods; plugging tax loopholes; reviewing capital allowances and tax holidays for foreign firms; regulating and imposing a tax on all international financial transactions and hedge funds; abolishing regressive taxes such as GST.

Secondly, we need to defend workers’ rights & interests by promoting workers’ right to unionise; legislating a progressive guaranteed minimum wage for all workers, including foreign workers; ensuring full employment, retrenchment and pension fund for all workers; abolishing the contractor system for employment of workers; allowing workers and their trade unions to be part of economic influence and decision-making of enterprises, especially control of their pension funds; promoting self-governing workers’ cooperatives to produce goods that are useful for society; according full rights as workers to all migrant workers irrespective of their immigration status.

Thirdly, we need an improved free public health care system for all Malaysians by allocating at least 10% of the GDP in the annual budget to healthcare; implementing better conditions for doctors, nurses and hospital workers in the public sector; freezing the expansion of private hospitals and preventing the leakages in the public sector to private contractors; providing homes and day-care centres for the elderly and disabled through benefits, support services, including access to mobile health care.

Fourthly, we need a people-centred and caring social policy by instituting a Housing Development Board, managed by elected local councils to implement an effective low-cost public housing programme for rental or ownership throughout the country for the poor and marginalized communities, with adequate space for community activities, recreation and green areas; respecting the rights of urban settlers in any development plan to upgrade their area or to re-house them; prioritizing the public transport system in the country while regulating highway construction and car traffic in city and town centres; providing child-care and crèche facilities in all public and private sectors; providing rehabilitation facilities for those suffering from substance abuse.

Cash handouts do not empower the people

While some economists claim that these cash handouts will lead to higher domestic demand and consumption and stimulate the economy, others are concerned about rising fiscal deficits and inflationary pressures. They do not consider the most important factor in all this populism – the long term dignity and empowerment of the people in the process of a sustainable national development.

29 YEARS AFTER OPERATION LALANG: TIME FOR DR MAHATHIR TO APOLOGISE TO VICTIMS AND THE NATION

29 YEARS AFTER OPERATION LALANG: TIME FOR DR MAHATHIR TO APOLOGISE TO VICTIMS AND THE NATION

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 27 October 2016

This 29th anniversary of the launch of Operation Lalang is perhaps the best opportunity for Dr Mahathir – if he has indeed become a reformed democrat – to apologise to the former Ops Lalang detainees and to the nation for that dastardly action in 1987 and subsequent assault on the Malaysian Judiciary.

On 27 October 1987, Mahathir’s Government began arresting and detaining without trial a very large number of people: Members of Parliament, politicians, unionists, NGO activists, religious leaders and educationists, including the writer. The official figure was 106 people detained. While the justification given was that this was necessary to defuse the racial tension at the time, Bapa Malaysia, the Tunku put it bluntly:

“UMNO was facing a break-up. The Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s hold on the party appeared critical when election rigging was alleged to have given him a very narrow victory against Tengku Razaleigh. The case alleging irregularities brought by UMNO members was pending in court. If the judgement went against him he would have no choice but to step down. So he had to find a way out of his predicament. A national crisis had to be created to bring UMNO together as a united force to fight a common enemy – and the imaginary enemy in this case was the Chinese community…Overnight, Malaysia has become a Police State…”

In other words, Operation Lalang was a deliberate and cynical move by Dr Mahathir to stay in office. This is a far cry from his recent boast about “never ever been asked to go…unlike the present Prime Minister!”

His subsequent action in sacking the Lord President Tun Salleh Abas and suspending three Supreme Court judges in order to pre-empt the legal challenge to his position in UMNO was unprecedented in the history of Commonwealth countries. The Tribunal’s Report recommending the sacking of Tun Salleh Abas was described by world renowned Geoffrey Robertson QC as “among the most despicable documents in modern legal history…”

Kit Siang on Mahathir, 2014

On 16 Feb 2014, the Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang who was also detained under Ops Lalang likewise called for Mahathir to apologise to all those detained in Operation Lalang under the ISA as he could not shirk responsibility for the dragnet, especially as he was Home Minister at the time:

“Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was reported in the media as denying that he was responsible for the infamous Operation Lalang in 1987 where 106 persons were detained under the draconian detention-without-trial Internal Security Act for him to consolidate political control and power in government, Umno and Barisan Nasional. Nanyang Siang Pau today even quoted Mahathir as disclaiming that he was Home Minister at the time of Operation Lalang, claiming that at the time he was in China and the Home Minister was one ‘Musa’.

Mahathir was talking rubbish. He is not only guilty of selective amnesia when it suits him, as when he told the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Videotape scandal that he could not remember anything about the incidents related to the scandal of the fixing of judicial appointments, he has now shown that he is capable of telling downright lies to disclaim responsibility for the human rights violations perpetrated during his time as Prime Minister and Home Minister.

Mahathir can tell lies without batting an eyelid about the history of his premiership but he cannot change history at his whim and fancy. It is indisputable that Mahathir was the Home Minister during the Operation Lalang crackdown in 1987 and there was no ‘Musa” at the time acting as Home Minister. It is most unworthy and even cowardly of Mahathir to deny that he was responsible for the most infamous violation of human rights in the Operation Lalang ISA crackdown in 1987, made doubly worse by his attempt to even deny that he was Home Minister.”

Show us you are a born-again democrat, Tun

Whether an autocrat who has squandered close to RM100 billion of the nation’s wealth (according to social scientist Barry Wain in ‘Malaysian Maverick’) can get away with impunity is a separate question.

On this 29th anniversary of Operation Lalang, an anniversary during which I still reflect on the 445 days of my life that were cynically stolen by Dr Mahathir, I would hope for some sign of contrition by our supposedly born-again democrat, a democrat who recently signed the Citizens’ Declaration expressing “concern over the deteriorating political, economic and social situation in the country…”

MAHATHIR’S ‘BUMI-ONLY’ PARTY NEITHER CIVIL NOR HOPEFUL

MAHATHIR’S ‘BUMI-ONLY’ PARTY NEITHER CIVIL NOR HOPEFUL
Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser, 5 Aug 2016

Mahathir’s new “Bumi-only” party deserves to be shunned like the other mono-ethnic parties in the BN. I am truly surprised that leaders of Pakatan Harapan as well as some civil society leaders have welcomed this new party with open arms when it is neither civil nor hopeful.

Can any civil society leader or political leader espousing progressive reforms for our country accept a political party that is open only to “Bumiputeras”? Have they lost their marbles simply because Mahathir is staunchly anti-Najib? They better come to their senses or they may lose their credibility altogether in their contortionist bid to perform the art of the possible.

Racism and racial discrimination have been part of Malaysian political, economic, social and cultural realities ever since colonial times. Today, race has been so deeply institutionalised that it is a key factor determining benefits from government development policies, bids for business contracts, education policy, social policy, cultural policy, entry into educational institutions, discounts for purchasing houses and other official policies. Practically every aspect of Malaysian life is permeated by the so-called “Bumiputra policy” based on Malay-centrism. This is unabashedly spelled out by political leaders in the daily mass media in Malaysia.

Institutional racism is an integral part of the Malaysian socio-political system. The ruling coalition is still dominated by racially-defined component parties, the United Malays National Organisation, the Malaysian Chinese Association and the Malaysian Indian Congress. These parties compete for electoral support from their respective “racial” constituencies by pandering to “racial” interests. Invariably, their racist inclinations are exposed at their respective party congresses.

UMNO, the ruling party continues to insist that “Malay Unity” and even “Malay Dominance” are essential for National Unity. “Malay dominance” is invariably used interchangeably with “Malay Privileges”, which these ruling Malay elite justify in the Malaysian Federal Constitution. No doubt Mahathir is still caught up in this racist ideology.

Reformists must transcend “Race”

It is time for Malaysians to reaffirm the non-discriminatory basis of the Federal Constitution and to uphold human rights principles which are strictly anti-racist. Article 8 (1) of the Malaysian Constitution clearly spells out the principle of equality of all Malaysians while Article 12 (1) allows no discrimination against any citizens on the grounds of religion, race, descent or place of birth.

While it is widely recognised that racial polarisation exists in many Malaysian institutions such as schools, universities, the civil service, it must be stressed that this is not a “natural” consequence of a plural society. On the contrary, through the years there have been deliberate attempts by those in power to create divisions among the people. There is general agreement that racial polarisation has its origins in colonial divide-and-rule strategy.

The racialist formula (UMNO-MCA-MIC) was institutionalised in the Alliance at Independence and perpetuated by the Barisan Nasional to the present day. Attempts at creating racial discord among the people continue to be perpetrated in public institutions and the mass media whenever it suits the politicians.

Of all the official policies and public institutions which practice racial discrimination, there is none more pervasive than the New Economic Policy (NEP) which has been implemented as a fait accompli after the Emergency declared in 1969. Although its specific objectives were “restructuring of society to correct the economic imbalance of wealth holding which led to the identification of race with economic function” and “eradication of poverty irrespective of race”, the NEP has been implemented these thirty years in a racially discriminatory way with little transparency or accountability.

Racist game over, Tun

Mahathir’s “Malay Dilemma” was an instant hit among the emergent Malay state capitalists in UMNO since it provided the instant recipe for them to rally populist support for their bid for power during May 13, 1969. It was the time tested recipe for opportunistic politicians to use “race” as the rallying cry for political support.

Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” was of course the model of such a political route. Since the demise of Hitler and his race-steeped ideology and the price paid in blood by the freedom loving peoples of the world, racism, racial discrimination and other forms of intolerance have been outlawed in the world community.

The very existence of racially-based political parties – UMNO, MCA and MIC – is an anachronism way past their sell-by date. Where in the world today can one find political parties that are restricted to only one race?

Time for non-racial solutions to Malaysian challenges

We will only truly be a united nation when we ban race-based political parties from our midst and ratify the Convention on the Eradication of Racism and Racial Discrimination (CERD). This can be done through a Race & Religious Relations Act and Equality & Human Rights Commission. It would be the mother of all transformations!

Political parties formed on the basis of “race” to further the interests of their respective “races” should be outlawed as such practices are inconsistent with international conventions against racism and racial discrimination.

My admonition to Tun is:

“Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age.  Sometimes age just shows up all by itself.”