Why are Malays poor? Blame it on Umno!

By P. Ramakrishnan

APRIL 2 — Of late, the pressure is building up to convey the impression that the Malays are poor because of the non-Malays. It is trumpeted that the non-Malays are enriching themselves at the expense of the Malays.

This erroneous and mischievous line of argument is deliberately pushed to achieve two objectives: One, to get the Malays riled up and to create hatred for the non-Malays as the source and cause of Malay poverty. Two, this is a ploy to consolidate the position of these hate-mongers so that they can be accepted as the defenders of the race and champions who would deliver the Malays from their wretched situation.

But these extremist elements do not reveal how they have benefited from the policies of Umno that were meant for the welfare of the majority poor Malays. They do not reveal how the benefits have gone to the crony corporate figures and the well connected political elite irrespective of their ethnicity.

They do not disclose how billions of ringgit had been squandered to rescue the failed ventures of their elite group. They do not disclose how billions were pumped into Bank Rakyat and Bank Bumiputera to sustain them. They do not disclose why Mirzan Mahathir’s floundering and debt-laden shipping empire had to be bailed out with our national wealth. They do not disclose why Tajudin Ramli’s stake in MAS was bought over for RM8 per MAS share when the market price was only RM3.62.

Likewise many other individual Malays have benefited enormously. They don’t lose out when their businesses fail but they gain in spite of their failure. Contracts, licences, AP permits, new shares and whatnot are grabbed by these individuals for themselves and their families. The poor majority Malays do not benefit from these policies.

It was recently disclosed that out of RM54 billion in shares allocated for Bumiputeras, only RM2 billion were still in their hands. What has happened to the RM52 billion that cannot be accounted for? RM54 billion is a colossal sum of wealth that has been dished out. How did RM52 billion disappear into thin air?

After 40 years of NEP, it is absolutely unacceptable that the deserving poor have not benefited in the way it was intended. Sometimes we wonder if the Malays are kept poor simply and deliberately to get their votes by blaming the non-Malays for their abject situation.

Over the last 40 years, successive Umno presidents and deputy presidents served as prime ministers and deputy prime ministers wielding great powers, influencing policies and determining the fate of the Malays.

Every Education Minister since Merdeka has come from Umno. Every Finance Minister after Tun Tan Siew Sin has been an Umno man. Every Rural Development Minister has been an Umno man. The Cabinet was dominated by Umno leaders.

How is it that with this heavy representation of Umno leaders in the Cabinet the vast majority of Malays have remained deprived and desperately poor? How did Umno, ever ready to advance Malay interest, permit this neglect?

The Umno-dominated Barisan Nasional holds the purse strings of the national wealth. Why wasn’t this wealth distributed to the poor as well? Why did the greedy grab everything? Was this done without the knowledge of Umno leaders?

Don’t blame the non-Malays who have no say in the policies of the government; blame it on Umno. Who squandered the national wealth on prestige projects while neglecting the poor? Who bailed out crony businessmen by writing off billions of ringgit? It is Umno and nobody else! If the Malays are poor, it is because of Umno. Don’t blame it on others.

There is a serious lesson to be learnt from John F. Kennedy’s view: If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

Be warned! — Aliran

* P. Ramakrishnan is president of Aliran

  1. #1 by ktteokt on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 10:32 am

    Just one simple word – “MISMANAGEMENT”!

  2. #2 by monsterball on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 10:33 am

    That’s the low class UMNO way of winning votes.
    You can bet..what Ramakrishnan wrote can never be published in newspapers.
    If the government is doing the right things…democracy should be encouraged..but after 12th GE..it is getting worst under Najib.
    Lets hope those who read what Ramakrishnan wrote will remember and from mouth to mouth…spread the facts to those that do not visit blogs and read…opposition news.
    There are 101 reasons why UMNO BARU should be voted out….and this time…they will not escape the People’s Power rights…no matter what they say or does…enough is enough.

  3. #3 by monsterball on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 10:47 am

    That’s not completely true…ktteokt.
    UMNO BARU is a management with no experiences and qualifications…that employs others to do it…..and every project…suggested by their employees…will have UMNO finding ways and means to encourage corruptions..with their final say.
    UMNO BARU consists of a group of gangsters and thieves…that is managing well…with the art of dirty politics…and stealing with so call lawful interpretations…all cooked up by Mahathir.
    Crooks and con men are bloody smart creatures.
    However…voters are most powerful…and that’s the bottom line Malaysia depend on…the vast majority Malaysians..that want unity and not be divide anymore.

  4. #4 by pulau_sibu on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 11:25 am

    Forbes richest boleh ranking has Mahathir’s son as No 10. Who says Malays are poor?

  5. #5 by k1980 on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 11:25 am

    Why are Malays poor? The huge number of children in their families plays a big role in determining their socioeconomic well-being and ability to provide for each and all. If the Chinese and Indians also have 10 or more children per family, Malaysia would be like the Somalia today because its resources cannot be sustained

  6. #6 by Comrade on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 12:18 pm

    Yes, blame it on UMNO. MCA and all the other BN component parties, even if they have the 1Malaysia DNA, kept silent for reasons best known to themselves.

    MCA = Mute Cum Annoying
    DNA = Dumb ‘N’ Annoying

  7. #7 by limkamput on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 12:33 pm

    Oh, we know all these, but please tell the Malay masses in a medium that they understand. Otherwise, it is another waste effort, Aliran.

  8. #8 by boh-liao on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 1:45 pm

    Just one simple sentence – Big small all ciak, Malays nonMalays all ciak, We Umnoputras ciak bei liao, Ciak, ciak ciak

  9. #9 by johnnypok on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 2:02 pm

    If you are lazy and do nothing to imporove your brain, and only think about NEP drugs, you will forever be poor, and risk being extinct, several generations down the road.
    Go learn something from the hard-working Chinese and Indians. At least you will not go hungry when globalisation reach your shore-line.

  10. #10 by SENGLANG on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 2:20 pm

    MAS fiasco was the typical rape of Malay wealth by the Malay and therefore sum up what Zaid say harap pagar pagar makan padi. But this was worst UMno not only makan page they have rob and telan semua habis habis.

    The only Malay who realise this are mostly PAS supporters and other than most of them are UMNo members who has been selected to be given part of the shares free and other have been deceived by UMNO for decades.

    Generaly this was what one mind sober Malaysian regardless races who has condemn UMNO who has rob and rape the wealth that was support allocated to help Malay in the NEP.

    Please wise up for those who are not. Nobody oppose NEP but it was the way it has been executed, and not the spirit of NEP by itself.

  11. #11 by SENGLANG on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 2:27 pm

    The non Malay from MCA and MIC must be blame too as these are the people who has made BN able to take control of the federal government.

    Those are the people from Non Malay who has also assist UMNO to rob and rape all the nation wealth.

    Sometime we could not blame those kg folks who are simple minded and they are easily fall on BN propaganda to believe that the wealth has been rob by certain people .

    We all know along MCA and MIC and Gerakan( the retired head only dare to admit that they are just beggars, remember?) has pakat with UMNo to rob.

    Time up!

  12. #12 by johnnypok on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 2:52 pm

    MIC and MCA are smart businessmen. Both know how to take advatage of the situation. Afterall, nothing is free in this world. UMNO has the power, but no brains. So they make use of MCA and MIC to “steal” under a smart-partnership. Unfortunate God has decided to put a stop to the rampage. MCA will soon become history, to be followed by UMNO.
    Long live MIC and Long live PR

  13. #13 by sotong on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 5:28 pm

    Malays are poor because they are not free to realise their full potential and capability in a competitive and globalised world.

  14. #14 by kpt99 on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 6:53 pm

    Rich or poor of any person does not come naturally, it depends very much of ways of life of every individual.You are not master on how much you earned.You are master of how you saved.

  15. #15 by limkamput on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 7:16 pm

    How can the Malays be rich when thousands of recent Indonesians/Muslims become citizens or Permanent residents each year? These are the people who swarm the statistic and skew the numbers beyond recognition.

  16. #16 by Jamesy on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 7:44 pm

    Another article worth reading in support of the above article by P. Ramakrishnan from Aliran.



    Malaysia is the Asia-Pacific’s “best model” in dealing with the rights of indigenous peoples – or so it is claimed. Last Saturday (incidentally the same day Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched the Perkasa inaugural congress), BN MP Makcus Mojigoh said, in his paper presented at a regional conference, that the government is serious about the plight of the Orang Asli.

    Really? The Orang Asli don’t think so.

    Mojigoh’s comments follow on the heels of the march by more than 2,000 Orang Asli from all over the country on March 17 in Putrajaya. They had gathered to demand recognition of their customary rights to ancestral land – “Tanah kami, maruah kami” was the rallying cry.

    The protest is not surprising as the Orang Asli have increasingly been pushed to the margins by Ketuanan Melayu – since the infamous Malay Dilemma of Mahathir and long before that.

    Mahathir argued in his 1970 book that the Orang Asli are not the definitive people of the peninsular as they did not form the first effective government, and moreover “at no time did they outnumber the Malays”.

    Furthermore, he brushed off the notion that Orang Asli might have prior claims above “the right of the Malays to regard the Malay peninsula as their own country…” and cited his own reading of history to bolster the Malay contention.

    Today, learning from school textbooks, pupils would be left with the impression that Malaysian history started from the Malaccan Sultanate, and that before the conversion to Islam of the prince Parameswara, the country was some kind of no-man’s land.

    The Malay Dilemma also contended that “in fact, there are no more than a few thousand aborigines”. Contrary to Mahathir’s assertion rubbishing their numbers, in 1969 there were 52,943 Orang Asli.

    Orang Asli are not a single ethnic group but collectively composed of 18 (official) tribes. The biggest grouping is classed Senoi, who are the Semai, Temiar, Jah Hut, Che Wong, Mah Meri and Semoq Beri tribes, while two other groupings are Negrito and proto-Malay. All are indigenous people.

    Similar to apartheid

    According to historians, Orang Asli had been victims of the slave trade by the Malays and Bataks. Despite official denials of slavery, Orang Asli oral literature has indeed recorded slave raids. The English colonial official JWW Birch had documented their enslavement since as early as 1874.
    Totalling some 147,500 in 2003, Orang Asli comprise about 0.6 percent of the population, and are disenfranchised on many counts.

    Commenting on the demonstration in Putrajaya, Suhakam vice-chairman Simon Sipaun said: “It is expected that the Orang Asli community would protest as they have been marginalised in a system similar to apartheid.”

    Previously in South Africa, the white Afrikaner nationalists used an ideology almost identical to that propounded by Mahathir to justify their own indigenous status above the black Khoisan, who, according to the white supremacists, had never established a “civilised government”.

    If one were to look at Article 153 of our federal constitution, it says that the “special position” is extended only to Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak. Omitting mention of the Orang Asli in the said article excludes them from the guarantee of quotas.

    [But] ‘We are not Malays, we will always be Orang Asli’ – declare the placards hoisted in Putrajaya on March 17. How then?

    ‘Refugees’ in own country

    Not too long ago on Feb 24, a group of Orang Asli held a demonstration outside the Orang Asli Affairs Department (JHEOA) hospital in Gombak. Speaking to reporters, their spokesman Sokyen Man said the hospital is dominated by non-Orang Asli who are incapable of fulfilling the needs of the community.

    The group submitted a petition against the hospital which said, among other things: “A lot of us have faced medical staff who are uncomfortable with the Orang Asli. Sometimes, they pass comments on our features and skin colour.” This particular complaint infers that they are considered an ‘out group’ or ‘inferior group’ (implied by the derogatory connotations of ‘sakai’) by the mainstream.

    The term ‘Orang Asli’ was first used by the post-Independence federal government and means “the original people”. Colin Nicholas of the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC) notes, “one fact remains the same for all Orang Asli: they are the descendants of the earliest inhabitants of the peninsula”.

    It is they whose fate could well be equated with that of aborigines in Australia, Maoris in New Zealand and Native Americans in the United States. This is a more compelling comparison than Utusan Malaysia’s constant, tiresome refrain that Malays are like Palestinians in their own homeland.

    It is the Orang Asli who are akin to displaced refugees!

    Most destitute group

    Going by any socio-economic indicator, the Orang Asli are the worst off among all the local ethnic groups. About half live below the poverty line – according to the government’s most recent statistics. Relative to the other races, their children are malnourished and have high infant mortality rate; and Orang Asli have a lower life expectancy.

    A bitter irony is that the authorities insist on perpetuating the myth that Orang Asli are “nomadic”. According to Robert Dentan, most of the Orang Asli have in fact settled in stable lifestyles although a small number remain semi-nomadic.

    There are about 870 Orang Asli settlements (as at December 2003) mainly in Pahang, Perak and Kelantan. More than 500 of these villages are considered to be located in the fringe and 323 in the interior. About 400 villages are categorised as “backward”.

    If at all Orang Asli can be regarded as nomadic foragers roaming in the forest or “tanah rayau” – a dismissive phraseology adopted by the government – it is this very government that is forcing them to move from place to place.

    The Temuans in Sepang and Bangi had their land taken from them to build KLIA and UKM respectively. In Stulang Laut in Johor, the Orang Seletar were relocated to make way for a commercial and customs complex.

    The “regroupment” – an euphemistic official doublespeak – of Orang Asli settlements has resulted in even their resettlements again giving way to logging, mining concessions, highway projects, industrial parks and golf courses.

    National Land Act

    The federal government expects to table amendments to the National Land Act in Parliament by June. It is learned that the new legislation will give the Orang Asli only 50,000 hectares of the 128,000-ha land they live on, which ultimately amounts to “a policy of planned poverty”.

    The Bar Council has recommended the following legal measures on the Orang Asli land issues to empower the community:

    1. the issuance of individual land titles to every indigenous family;
    2. the gazetting of communal land parcels by the state governments under Section 62 of the National Land Code 1965;
    3. the gazetting of communal land parcels under the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954 with perpetual and unlimited foraging rights extending beyond the gazetted communal land parcels; and
    4. in exceptional cases of certain semi-nomadic indigenous communities, who are the most vulnerable of indigenous peoples, perpetual and unlimited foraging rights (with concomitant and greater opportunities for education and vocational training towards sustaining their livelihood).

    The authorities tend to take a narrow reading of the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954 (revised 1974) and regard the Orang Asli’s rights to their land as being one of ‘tenant-at-will’. And that their right to remain in a particular area is at the pleasure of the state authority which can, if it so wishes, remove the Orang Asli from their lands without having to pay compensation for it.

    The courts, especially in the Sagong Tasi case, have however deemed such thinking as archaic and unconstitutional. The Orang Asli do exercise native title rights over their traditional lands under common law. But it appears the government is not about to accept this legal precedent.

    Writing in Aliran, Yogeswaran Subramaniam observes, “If past records are anything to go by, the states’ performance for gazetting Orang Asli reserves has been nothing short of dismal.”

    Changing the face of Orang Asli

    The policy that the government is now putting on the table does not recognise customary lands but instead proposes to change the face of Orang Asli land into plantations.

    Orang Asli who accept the government’s deal offering 50,000 ha (amounting to just over one hectare per household and with no forests) will not be able to bring any claims later to the courts for customary lands or loss of such lands.

    The Aliran article calculated that even assuming Orang Asli want to operate oil palm smallholdings at one hectare, each household will only be able to produce around 15 tonnes annually.

    The cash crop sold at RM500 a tonne would bring net earnings of RM5,000 a year, or average income of just over RM400 a month – a poverty level income!

    The Orang Asli are a vulnerable minority who have been physically removed from their traditional source of livelihood in the forests. Government coercion has additionally caused the erosion of their traditions, customs and values – and its attendant side-effect of mental stress.

    They did not venture to the swanky Putrajaya for “school-holiday sightseeing” as gibed by the condescending Rural Development Minister Shafie Apdal. The Orang Asli descended on the administrative capital because the community has reached a crisis level.

    [Dr Boo Cheng Hau is the Johor DAP chairman and the state assemblyman for Skudai while Helen Ang is an online media columnist. This article first appeared at the Centre For Policy Initiatives’ website.]

  17. #17 by lee wee tak_ on Saturday, 3 April 2010 - 9:54 pm

    if Malays are poor because of non-Malays then the rest of the world’s football team should blame Brazil for their relatively poorer standard of play

    Malaysia seems to be a country that loves to kill the goose that lay the golden egg, punish the performing while indulging the lazy, pretty much the 2 ugly sisters & the bias stepmother in cinderella

    Now Najib wants to talk about creating high income people so he needs to address the work ethics of this country. Period. You can see lazy, clueless and irresponsible buggers in gomen services everywhere.

    I dealt with government servants in Hong Kong and Singapore and they look like Ferari while ours look like pedati. Just no comparison

    Take away that sense of iron rice bowl first and see what happens….but of course this is political suicide for Najib

  18. #18 by frankyapp on Sunday, 4 April 2010 - 12:12 am

    Why are Malays poor? Blame it on Umno!…by P Ramakrishnan. My frank answer is yes majority of the malays are poor and yes again,Umno played a pretty large part to making them poor. Ok,here is my reasons:# 1 is Umno leaders past and present used and manipulated the malays for their own interest and benefit.They took the giant portion and only gave the bits and pieces to the ordinary folks which forms the majority of the malays.Say for example ASN,I think,most of the shares are in the hands of Umnoputras and cronies.Take another good example,IPOs and public listed companies 30% shares offering to malays are also fallen into the Umnoputra’s hands instead of the ordinary malays folks.#2 reason,I think the malays are partially to be blamed for not taking its own initiative to investigate and expose those Umno leaders who have betrayed them and the present core who are betraying them now .And if I may add,worst still,the majority of the malays despite being squeezed and cheated almost all of their wealth and fortune,voted Umno/Bn to power every five years for the past 53 years. It’s extremely amazing to me,how on earth they can continue to do it ?

  19. #19 by johnnypok on Sunday, 4 April 2010 - 5:25 am

    All the lazy and unproductive ones should be sterilised, or terminated, while the hard-working and smart ones be encouraged to have multiple wives / husbands, and be given unlimited financial support to mass-produce babies, and flood the nation with superior brains, like Singapore.

  20. #20 by boh-liao on Sunday, 4 April 2010 - 10:11 am

    MMK started d practice: if u r selected Umnoputras n their cronies, u will never b poor
    U will b given all opportunities 2 grab easy $$$ n business ventures, under NEP
    Even if your business ventures failed due 2 greed n corruption, d gomen will bail u out
    Buy your business back @ inflated prices, no fear, as Petronas $$$ is @ d disposal of PM
    $$$ meant 4 hardcore-poor n poor Malays siphoned off 2 selected Umnoputras n their cronies
    See d list of nouveau riche Umnoputras n children of Umnoputras, all gold diggers
    While lots of their own kind struggling 2 live a decent normal living
    Besides aiming 2 be millionaires n billionaires, do MMK n his children n other Umnoputras like Toyol, Daim ever give a damn or hoot abt poor Malays?

  21. #21 by kpt99 on Sunday, 4 April 2010 - 11:57 am

    After 50 years of UMNO’s rule with strong affirmative actions and special right protected, nobody is to be blame except YOURSELF,DEAR FRIENDS.Soon Malaysia is going to have 2 million civil servants.To what extend meritocracy has been used in his bolehland.SPM 10Cs good 10As bad,STPM 4Cs good 4As bad for quality human capital developments.Sangat hebat lah.The whole education system has fail to deliver according to NEAC reports.How can you have two system of markings for Malaysians students.Like tawaran ini khas untuk B sahaja.

  22. #22 by boh-liao on Sunday, 4 April 2010 - 8:56 pm

    In contrast, look @ d little red dot under LKY (not d M’sia silly loctor) – 1 generation enuf 2 become a 1st world nation

  23. #23 by ktteokt on Sunday, 4 April 2010 - 9:04 pm

    What to do, whilst the little red dot aims for quality, Bolehland aims for quantity! Remember TDM’s 70 million population quest? Why do we need 70 million people in Malaysia when we do not have enough housing for everyone, jobs for everyone, food for everyone, roads for everyone and perhaps even air for everyone???????

  24. #24 by johnnypok on Sunday, 4 April 2010 - 9:18 pm

    All the crooks and corrupted should be terminated together with their offsprings. Only the honest and hard-working are allow to produce.

  25. #25 by kpt99 on Monday, 5 April 2010 - 10:17 am

    POOR in studies means LAZY, POOR in general means LAZY,NO pain no gain,Wealth does not come from SKY

  26. #26 by isahbiazhar on Wednesday, 7 April 2010 - 4:54 am

    No government can help the Malays out if they themselves do not work out their destiny.The few who had succeeded realised it early but now they are miles apart.UMNO/BN made life simple for the Malays but they now regret as they have turned against them.The fall of different states is a clear indication that the Malays do not want to live in charity.

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