Perkasa, GLCs and the New Economic Model

by Dr Lim Teck Ghee

During the recent Perkasa inaugural meeting, Ibrahim Ali expressed his displeasure with Malay heads of government-linked companies (GLCs) for not attending his Malay rights group inaugural congress. He also criticised the GLC heads for being interested in personal interests instead of the interests of the Malay community.

Introducing a note of intimidation, he warned that Perkasa will monitor the GLCs. According to him, “we will scrutinise the GLCs. We are not only looking at their performance but also the role they play in helping Malay entrepreneurs.”

The rebuff is indicative of a rejection of the Perkasa agenda by the Malay captains of industry who recognize the negative implications of the policies being espoused. It is also salutary that apart from Mukhriz no other member of the Government took part in the gathering of the ultras.

The Malay and Malaysian public should look forward to hearing the outcome of the Perkasa monitoring of the GLCs and learning the truth about how these bodies are standing in the way of, or seriously implementing, their mission of fulfilling the Malay agenda.

The importance of GLCs to the Malay agenda can be ascertained from the following facts:

  • GLCs are major shareholders of corporate equity. They comprise 36% and 54% of the market capitalization of Bursa Malaysia and the benchmark Kuala Lumpur Composite Index

  • 7 out of the top 10 listed companies are under majority ownership of the Government

  • Senior GLC positions are largely determined along ethnic lines. GLC directors, management and staff are largely Bumiputeras

  • Non-Malay owners of listed and unlisted companies often have no choice but to work with influential Bumiputera and GLCs to help protect their interests through obtaining sub-contracts or becoming suppliers of goods and services.

  • Non-Malays may own 40% of corporate equity based on the Government’s flawed calculations but GLCs are the major players and have control over the economy.

Because they have done very well for the Malays (including the likes of Ibrahim Ali and many of his supporters who have benefitted from GLC patronage and largesse), it is rather dumb of Ibrahim Ali to expect these GLC leaders to openly attend the meeting and to proclaim to Perkasa members and the world the various ways in which they are protecting and advancing the Malay socio-economic position.

In fact, Ibrahim Ali and many GLC Malay leaders may be on the same wavelength on the issue of enhancing the Malay socio-economic position. The main difference may be that the Perkasa head is a politician using crude racist tactics whilst shouting from the top of his voice at the Putra World Trade Centre. The GLC chiefs are likely to pursue the Malay cause through more subtle means as they recognize that growth is a prerequisite to fulfillment of long term Malay and national goals.

Quite apart from this, many of these GLC leaders recognize the realities and implications of policies that have contributed to capital flight, the virtual drying up of FDI flows, a sizable brain drain and a general loss of competitiveness. These negatives have been acknowledged by the Second Minister of Finance and are indeed implicit in the call by the Prime Minister to adopt a New Economic Model.

A New Economic Model devoid of a course correction via adoption of more market friendly and less racially skewed policies would be an exercise in futility. Ibrahim’s formula constitutes an abandonment of much needed pro-growth strategies in favor of a discredited policy package that is centered round the distribution of existing wealth. No country in the world in this era of globalization and liberalization has chosen such an economic strategy.

Similarly, with UMNO’s refusal to respond to Ibrahim Ali’s unfounded charges that the Malays have been marginalized in the country. All UMNO leaders (except perhaps Mukhriz who attended the meeting) are aware of the overwhelming dominance of Malay power in the country. Far from Malay constitutional rights being eroded or usurped by other communities, it is the other way round. This is acknowledged by many Malay leaders including Anwar Ibrahim and Tengku Razaleigh.

If one is using a purely racial lens approach it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Malay hegemony has never been so strong or firmly entrenched as it is today. Ibrahim Ali and his cohorts are opportunistically disillusional and appear to be living in a cocoon of their own. They fail to factor in the fact that the political and economic model that they espouse will bring irreparable harm to the nation and future generations of Malaysians, including Malays.

Tackling Malay Poverty

In the economic sphere whilst there is still much work to be done to uplift the lot of the poor Malays, the task is less formidable than official statistics may make it out to be. This is because Malay poverty – as distinct from Bumiputra poverty – is likely to be considerably over estimated by the present statistical practice whereby the Malay figures are lumped together with the figures of recent migrants from Indonesia who have obtained bumiputra status as well as the other bumiputra from East Malaysia.

The great majority of the former group – Javanese, Sumatrans, etc – who have now assimilated into the country’s population in very large numbers especially after the 1970’s came with virtually nothing in terms of assets or income. Inclusion of these poor “pendatang”, despite their upward mobility after settlement, has had much impact in distorting the racial distribution of household income. Without them (and also East Malaysia Bumiputra communities) ‘native’ or ‘indigenous’ or ‘local’ Malay achievement as distinct from Bumiputra achievement will be much higher on all the social and economic indicators used by the Department of Statistics to measure inter-ethnic differences.

At the same time, Ibrahim and his supporters are wholly mistaken in their view of poverty. The Government’s own statistics indicate that poverty, however defined, has been drastically reduced. The stark issue is the unconscionable and widening income disparities that prevail within the Bumiputra community. Ibrahim and his keris waving Umnoputra supporters are totally silent on this aspect of the Malay dilemma.

Malay Wealth

UMNO leaders are also fully aware that much of the new wealth in the country is in Malay hands. These sources of wealth include the plantation sector which is dominated by FELDA and PNB companies; the smallholding agricultural sector where the Malays are the major group amongst the 112,635 FELDA settlers; the hi-tech aerospace industry; the highly lucrative defense industry; the petroleum and gas industry where apart from Petronas and MMC, the Malays have substantial holdings in key MNCs such as Shell, Exxon, BP; the finance and banking sector where 8 out of 10 banks are Bumiputra owned and controlled; the automotive sector where Malay interests are dominant in Proton, Perodua, DRB Hicom, UMW and Naza and where the system of APs ensures a steady stream of income for select Bumiputras; the energy and utilities sector where TNB and Malakoff are key players; and so on.

Perhaps the ace in the pack in UMNO’s claim to have successfully stood up for Malay interests (besides its own) is that a key target of the NEP restructuring program – the building of a strong Malay professional and technical elite class – was attained some years ago. From a very small base of professional and technical workers in 1970 (Bumiputera comprised 4.9% of registered professionals at that time) the Malay component of the country’s professional and technical workers today is the biggest amongst the various racial groups. According to the Malaysian Government’s Third Outline Perspective Plan (2001-2010) the Bumiputera community comprised 63.5 per cent of the Professional and Technical category of employment in 2000.

This growth of a strong Malay professional class within a short period of 30 years is possibly the fastest recorded by any marginalized community anywhere in the world. That this information is not widely known or disseminated is not due to modesty but due to carefully controlled political spin aimed at under-reporting Malay achievement and emphasizing non-Malay dominance of the economy.

Meanwhile, the employment pattern in the public sector at all levels is overwhelmingly Malay because of discriminatory policies in hiring and in promotions. If there is any prong of the New Economic Policy that has not been fulfilled, it is the restructuring of the public sector.

The New Economic Model and the Country’s Future

In a few days time, the Prime Minister will unveil the New Economic Model which is intended to replace the New Economic Policy and its racially divisive policies. At that point, we will be able to see if Perkasa, Dr. Mahathir and other carpet baggers have been able to successfully hijack the NEM and set the country up for another round of Malay preference policies that will destroy the promises contained in 1Malaysia.

Were these fears to come to pass, Malaysia will take another step downwards to joining countries such as Burma and Zimbabwe which squandered their prospects for prosperity because of the greed of a small elite group that hijacked national wealth.

It is time for all Malaysians to firmly and clearly reject the strident siren calls of Mahathir and Ibrahim Ali to return to policies that hold no hope of serving Malaysia’s needs. It is also important that the NEM reflects the aspirations of all Malaysians rather than the myopic views of yesterdays’ men. Najib has a solemn duty to resist those that would derail moves to put right what has been wrong.

  1. #1 by pwcheng on Monday, 29 March 2010 - 5:33 pm

    There are seven sins in the world: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice and politics without principle.
    By Mahatma Gandhi

    This is what our great Ibrahim Ali is aiming to espouse. His only believe is getting rich is by opening his big mouth and shout. Have you ever hearing him of encouraging the Malays to work hard to achieve wealth as what the Chinese did. This Gutter Politician is clearly an opportunist. His mentor, the dirty M did it and stayed on in power for 22 years and here lies a dirty guy who wants to climb up the ladder the same way.
    Time has changed Encik Ibrahim Ali. You can try all those gimmicks if you want the country to go to the dogs. You already had so many free lunches and yet you want more.

    There is enough for everybody needs but not for everybodys greed.

  2. #2 by pwcheng on Monday, 29 March 2010 - 5:36 pm

    Errata” Have you ever heard him encouraging the Malays to work hard to achieve wealth as what the Chinese did. “

  3. #3 by k1980 on Monday, 29 March 2010 - 5:54 pm

    pwcheng, there’s one more—for Saiful especially

    Sod without DNA

  4. #4 by Ramesh Laxman on Monday, 29 March 2010 - 5:54 pm

    YB Lim,

    This was known to the man-on-the-street decades ago.That explains the steady brain drain form here.Unfortunately, such issues could only be discussed at the political level but component parties of BN abdicated their responsibilty in exchange for I do not know what.

    In any case, you have lucidly put the things together. But ‘nasi sudah jadi bubur’.Nevertheless, better late than never. God Luck to you and all those who were supposed to represent us.

  5. #5 by dagen on Monday, 29 March 2010 - 6:05 pm

    pwcheng, dont you know. This is beyond silver spoon. This is “open your mouth and you shall be fed” pure and simple!

  6. #6 by frankyapp on Monday, 29 March 2010 - 6:06 pm

    Greedy guys like Ibrahim and Perkasa will never be contented. You give an inch,they want a foot,you then give a foot,they will demand for a yard,no one will ever satisfy their greed. Since these bad guy’s thirst for greed is endless,let them be. Let them go after their own kind’s throats. Better still let them unshealth the keris and kill among themselves.For more than five decades,these people are being fed pretty well by all tax-payer’s money,yet they never have shown any appreciation or gratefulness in return.Instead they are now demanding for more.And worst still,they even bite the every hand that feeds them. like the chinese saying “mei you liang xin ” How can malaysia prosper when it has these bunch of thirsty and hungry wolves around. like another chinese saying ” how chi,how yong,judou,dou bu zugoude”

  7. #7 by Bigjoe on Monday, 29 March 2010 - 6:11 pm

    In the movie Anakku Sazali, Hassan in the end send his son Sazali to jail..Perkasa is Sazali.

  8. #8 by johnnypok on Monday, 29 March 2010 - 6:56 pm

    Eating haram money makes them even more lazy. Eventually, their future generations will be reduced to jelly-fish. Just continue to work hard and use your brain more, like the Singaporeans, and you will one day become like Great Singapore. Government should ban Perkasa, and tell that Bak Kut Teh to stay away.

  9. #9 by ReformMalaysia on Monday, 29 March 2010 - 8:56 pm

    Racism is the nation’s worst enemy. Malaysian must be united to say a BIG “no!!” to racist PERKASA. Voters in Pasir Mas must vote the racist Ibrahim Ali out from the Parliament in G.E. 13.

    Our country do not need SATANIC ORGANISATION like PERKASA.

    We belong to the same 1 race – HUMAN RACE!!

  10. #10 by cseng on Monday, 29 March 2010 - 11:15 pm

    I like what commented by pwcheng. Facts and figures are irrelevant when we talk about NEP. I don’t think anyone can ignore the detrimental effect of NEP in long run, but we just could not live without NEP. NEP itself is a multi billion business, my CM said 52billion on equity handed out, how many billions in AP?, direct nego contracts? Permit/license? Where the money goes? Run thru the list of M’sia billionaires/millionaires of bumiputra, what it takes is to be the son or relative of Umno leaders. Did we see Daim in the list? Is he the richest? Or the billionaire’s father?

    Yes, NEP should go b’coz it is counterproductive, but it cannot go, it is the biggest business in M’sia, Umno will be out of business without NEP.

    My good CM said he has idea where the money goes, let’s vote him next GE, hopefully his team be the government and trace back where the money goes and rearrange the M’sian list of billionaires and millionaires. By then, we will know why NEP is so important to M’sia’s social peace.

  11. #11 by johnnypok on Tuesday, 30 March 2010 - 4:47 am

    Events leading to GE13 will be like the war between US, Russia and China. The risk of a big-scale civil war is becoming apparent. Under the Laws of Nature, what goes up must come down, and only the fittest will survive.
    “Higher and Higher shall our aim ever be. Living and Giving in this Land of the Free.”

  12. #12 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 30 March 2010 - 6:24 am

    ///no other member of the Government took part in the gathering of the ultras.///

    This is because a smart Najib wants to win back support from non-Malays and to halt the slide of the country’s competitiveness.

    However, one should not underestimate what Muhyiddin, a loyal fan of Ibrahim Ali, would do if he becomes the next PM. He would probably reverse all that Najib has done!

  13. #13 by cinaindiamelayubersatu on Tuesday, 30 March 2010 - 11:42 am

    other people son is a billionaire
    other people son in law is a millionaire
    brahim ali melalak lalak minta duit turun dari langit agar dia pun boleh jadi billionaire kalau tak pun millionaire

  14. #14 by ReformMalaysia on Thursday, 1 April 2010 - 1:18 pm

    Ibrahim Ali named his NGO as “Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa)”

    What Pribumi? Pribumi status supposed to be belong to Orang Asli …… So someone hijacked the status from Orang Asli(Jakun, Senoi, Negerito…etc)

    So now what is the position of the ‘real bumiputra/pribumi’ of Malaysia? Who has more rights? Are their fate same as Red Indians in America?

  15. #15 by johnnypok on Thursday, 1 April 2010 - 2:52 pm

    “PORKASA” will die a natural death in a very short time, killed by Bak Kut Teh and the idiot who initiate it. I bet 1 to 100

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