Archive for August 26th, 2007

Tun Razak would have recoiled in horror at RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone scandal and bailout

A marathon 50-hour forum was told yesterday why Malaysia’s second prime minister, the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, had called off a plan to build a swimming pool at his official residence.

Razak had felt that the estimated RM60,000 to be spent on the construction of the swimming pool could be better used in building three rural health clinics.

This episode from the past was related by Datuk Mohd Annuar Zaini, chairman of the Malaysian National News Agency, Bernama, at the Merdeka Forum “Sembang-Sembang Kopi `O’ Nasi Lemak” organised by the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry and the Federation of National Writers Associations of Malaysia (Gapena) in kuala Lumpur.

There can be no doubt that Razak who cancelled a plan to build the RM60,000 swimming pool at his official residence, would have recoiled in horror at the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal and any government bailout when the money could be better used for the poor of all races.

The second Prime Minister would have been utterly shocked at the mentality of the present batch of Cabinet Ministers in general and the Transport Minister in particular who clearly had no notion whatsoever about responsibility, accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance as there had been no proper explanation whether to the Malaysian public or to Parliament as to how such a RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal could have been allowed to happen when the government had been assured right from the beginning that the PKFZ was a feasible and self-financing project which would not require a single ringgit of public funding.

I have no doubt that if the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal had happened during Razak’s premiership, the then Transport Minister would have no choice but to tender his resignation, especially when it was the Transport Minister’s unlawful “letters of support” which had been used as government guarantees to induce investors to subscribe to the RM4.6 billion bonds for the PKFZ project.

A quarter of a century ago, the premiership of the fourth Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, was marred by the then biggest financial scandal, the RM2.5 billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal which Mahathir admitted was “a heinous crime without criminals”.

Are Malaysians to celebrate the 50th Merdeka anniversary in an increasingly somber mood with an even bigger “heinous crime without criminals” than the RM2.5 billion BMF scandal 25 years ago – the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal?

It was reported by foreign agencies on Friday that at a meeting between the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy late last Thursday, the Prime Minister gave the green-light for a RM4.6 billion soft-loan to bailout the PKFZ. Read the rest of this entry »


50 Years of Merdeka: Past and Future — A Reflection

The nation achieved independence in 1957 at the same time as Ghana, when both countries were almost on par economically. Both countries are celebrating their golden jubilee of national independence this year, but Ghana is a failure in economic development, with its per capita income only about one-tenth that of Malaysia.

Should Malaysia feel proud that we are now ten times better off than Ghana, as had been suggested by a Barisan Nasional MP in Parliament?

This depends on whether we want to compare with the best or with the worst. There is no point in talking about” excellence, glory and distinction” if we are only proud to be compared with failed states and not prepared to compete with our equals or betters.

Malaysia was No. 2 in Asia after Japan in terms of prosperity and income when it achieved independence in 1957, despite having a per capita income of only US$200 per year. However, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore have caught up with us and gone ahead.

Although Malaysia’s per capita GNP had started to trail behind Hong Kong and Singapore in the first decade after independence, we were still ahead of South Korea and Taiwan. Malaysia’s per capita GNP in 1967 stood at US$290 as compared to Taiwan’s US$250 and South Korea’s US$160.

In 1967, Singapore’s per capita GNP was US$600 while Hong Kong US$620.

In the past four decades, South Korea’s per capita income multiplied about a hundred-fold, Taiwan by some 60-fold, Singapore by 45-fold, Hong Kong by some 40-fold with Malaysia lagging with an increase of only some 17 fold.

The brain drain of over a million talented, creative and enterprising Malaysians in the past four decades as a result of the New Economic Policy must bear primary responsibility for Malaysia trailing so behind Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea.

Let us not indulge in any finger-pointing exercise but let us own up to our mistakes and have the courage to correct them in the best interests of the nation and future generations. Read the rest of this entry »