I am not surprised by the Cabinet decision yesterday directing Maybank to withdraw its discriminatory ruling that law firms must have a bumiputra partner with at least 50% stake before they could qualify to be on its legal panel as this is the outcome of the first “Ijok effect”.
Although the Barisan Nasional (BN) had won the recent Ijok by-election in Selangor with BN trumpeting it as a great victory, BN leaders know that it is a pyrrhic victory won at too great a cost in money, manpower and machinery and which is not sustainable in a general election.
This is why the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had asked MCA and Gerakan to explain the reason for the swing of Chinese voters to the Opposition in Ijok, although he and other top Umno leaders have equal reason to worry about Umno failure to make a significant dent in the Malay ground despite humongous expenditures of money, manpower and machinery which made a total mockery of laws to prevent money politics in elections and Abdullah’s pledge to uphold integrity and fight corruption.
However, many questions await answer, including:
1. If the Maybank rule is clearly a “misinterpretation” by certain quarters of the government policy that government-linked companies (GLCs), such as Maybank, should give work to both bumiputeras and non-bumiputeras — which is the explanation of the Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak in Boston – who are the errant Maybank officers responsible for such “misinterpretation” 37 years after the New Economic Policy (NEP), and what disciplinary action Maybank would take against them for causing such grave damage to national unity and international confidence on the occasion of the 50th Merdeka anniversary of the country?
2. Why did the MCA Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Dr. Ng Yen Yen state on Tuesday that neither the Finance Ministry nor the Bank Negara can intervene over Maybank’s “misinterpretation” of government policy — proof of the failure of the MCA Deputy Finance Minister to stand up against NEP injustices and discriminatory measures.
3. Would MCA Ministers have raised the issue and the Cabinet intervened if not for (i) the Ijok by-election result; and (ii) DAP’s staunch opposition to the Maybank ruling and all forms of NEP injustices and discriminatory measures;
4. Will MCA Ministers as well as the MCA Deputy Finance Minister make amends by:
(i) exposing all other discriminatory measures by Maybank, other banks and all GLCs which violate government policy akin to the 50% bumiputra ruling for legal firms to qualify to be appointed to the Maybank panel which has been struck down by the Cabinet;
(ii) asking the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to honour their undertaking given six months ago to make public the Economic Planning Unit (EPU)’s methodology and data on ethnic breakdowns of NEP equity ownership; and
(iii) urging the Cabinet to dismantle the NEP structures and institutions as they were meant to last for 20 years from 1970-1990.
5. Is the Cabinet decision on the Maybank 50% bumi ruling a tactical retreat, awaiting for a new mandate in the next general election to make further unjust NEP extensions, or a policy and strategic decision to halt all unjust NEP extensions?