Playing along with Macom Bhd

Mariam Mokhtar
Jul 2, 2012

Every Malaysian has, in their daily activities, had dealings with Macom Bhd., the company which flourished under the tenure of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Even foreign investors have been involved in transactions with Macom. Just in case you’re not aware, Macom stands for ‘Makan Commission’.

At some point in the past, our integrity was compromised. Umno and to a large extent, Mahathir, were responsible. Umno Baru was created to keep the Malays ignorant and stupid (Melayu di perbodohkan), as Mahathir might say.

It is a story which has been told repeatedly. The Malays, under Mahathir, became rich beyond their wildest dreams. In one generation, the Malays and their values were compromised. The non-Malays are not blameless, especially the ones who played along with Macom.

The people who control Macom don’t want things to change. The Malay who prefers to keep quiet and not rock the boat, is preferable to one who makes his government and leaders accountable for their every action.

During Mahathir’s time, it is alleged that one Malay lawyer, who sold a listed company which was owned by an Umno crony, received RM10 million in commission. It is also alleged that bank managers, who earned good money, would resign to become remisiers and make fortunes from insider trading.

In those days, teachers took their responsibilities seriously because they wanted to provide their charges with a sound education. Many helped finance, with their own money, the poor children who could not afford pencils and exercise books. Nowadays, teachers are more interested if the contents of the students’ tuck-boxes, in case they contain haram food that will upset the sensibilities of the “Umno Muslims”.

Today, the Malay is but a shadow of his former self. He brandishes his kris, knows not what he is talking about and is more suited for a role in drama. He champions violence in the name of Malay supremacy.

He talks about the sanctity of the Malay race and Islam, but when he is abroad, he is the devil incarnate. He says nothing about corruption, but gets angry about yoga or the poco-poco dance. He is holier than thou and at the thought of PAS making inroads into any state, the Umno man declares that hudud law is good and that Umno will implement it first. The first cut is the deepest and who in Umno will get the first punishment under hudud, for stealing from the rakyat?

The ‘Chinaman’ who built a textile empire can still be found stitching away, despite his success.

The first to flounder

He does not go out and buy fast cars. When the economic bubble burst, the ‘Chinaman’ scaled down his trade, but the Macom men went out of business. The Macom men were the first to flounder because they did not build their wealth on a bedrock of hard work and perseverance.

Recently, a few people have spoken up against the injustice and wrongdoings of the past.

Former EC chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman claimed that in the 2008 election, he was criticised for not using indelible ink to stop multiple voting because of security concerns. This prompted Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz to confess that he had blocked the use of the ink.

Former minister Dr Lim Keng Yaik in an interview with The Edge was cynical about Najib: “I give up lah, talking to this government,” and added, “Politicians who think they can become rich quickly by joining politics should be condemned and kept out of politics and government.”

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said that the government had paid inflated prices for the procurement of weapons and described it as buying toys for the boys. Meanwhile, former deputy minister Tan Kee Kwong Tan criticised Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for “single-handedly destroying” Felda’s prudent management, siphoning off its wealth and misleading both parliament and the public.

Mohamed Rahmat, the late information minister, admitted that he was more of a ‘propaganda minister’ tasked with toppling the Kelantan PAS government in 1977. Former minister Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said that BN used government agencies to court rural votes and resorted to bribery during elections.

Why did they wait until now, to speak up?

Why are there are so few men of character and integrity like student Adam Adli, Professor Aziz Bari and cartoonist Zunar who are prepared to shatter the myth of the comatose Malay and speak up. They faced arrest, persecution and suspension.

Despite being pestered by two Umno datuks behind the cheap publicity stunt involving the cartoonists recently, Zunar (left) rejected his award and RM10,000 prize money.

Ambiga Sreenevasan has risked her life to bring hope and change to Malaysians in the form of clean, free and fair elections. Najib says it is “not our political culture to debate”, then is the sight of Malay men showing off their butts, part of Malay culture?

Many performers who have openly supported the opposition, like Hairie Othman, Aishah, Dayangku Intan and Bob Lokman, have found that they no longer get exposure on RTM or government events. In contrast it is alleged that artists like Jamal Abdillah, Amy Search and Ibnor Riza, are rewarded with RM10,000 each and every time they declare their support for Umno.

Annie Ooi, better known as Auntie Bersih is another of the courageous women of Malaysia. We all remember the picture of her, drenched with chemically laced water in the Bersih 2.0 march. She wants an end to corruption and injustice like another of her fellow Malaysians, Irene Fernandez, who for giving a voice to migrant workers, was charged with sedition.

A few with guts

Even in BN, there are a few with guts. Kian Sit Har, the Malacca MCA Wanita chief, attended the Bersih 3.0 march and declared, “As a responsible citizen, I support two issues highlighted at the gathering, namely eradicating corruption and for the coming general election to be fair and clean.” For this act of treachery, she was told to resign by Ali Rustam, the Malacca Chief Minister.

These men and women are to be commended for they have inspired others with their bravery and their sacrifices.

The culture of fear which Mahathir bred and which Najib has promulgated has encouraged two things; thugs who use violence to get their own way, and people who are too afraid to speak.

How much longer should we tolerate the “cari makan” excuse that these men used, to justify their silence in the past? Perhaps, we should overlook their reasons waiting until now to speak out and encourage more to come out in the open. Umno cannot thrive when all of its secrets are exposed.


MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.

  1. #1 by monsterball on Sunday, 8 July 2012 - 2:06 pm

    Mahathir makan commissions by the billions.
    “why do ???? hates me so much?”
    He once said….he does not care those who hates him.
    Groggy la….if you listen to him talking.

  2. #2 by sotong on Sunday, 8 July 2012 - 2:21 pm

    When there is a change of government, thousands will come out to say they knew things were terribly wrong and unfair but too afraid to speak out.

    There must be a huge crisis eg. high unemployment or country goes bankrupt, before many in position of trust, power and influence are prepared to come forward to speak out.

  3. #3 by Godfather on Sunday, 8 July 2012 - 2:41 pm

    In the early 80s, “makan commission” was meant to raise funds for the political parties. If you look at the original board of directors of government-owned corporations like TNB, Telekom, KTMB, etc, there was a representative for each major BN party there. The representative would lobby for contracts to be awarded to their respective supporters.

    Then came Mamakthir and he decided that big brother UMNO would decide on who gets what, no need for each party to have representatives who would generally get in each other’s way when it comes to awarding contracts. Big Brother UMNO started with non-Malay nominees, who did deliver the goods as promised, and sparingly only took a little for themselves. I don’t have to list down who those non-Malay nominees were.

    Then came the Malay nominees with big appetites, such as diam-diam D. Small man with big appetite. D brought with him so many key henchmen who then proceeded to monopolize tollroads, transport systems, MAS, etc. Mamakthir also from the 90s decided that it was best to nominate a non-political front-man and we all know who that lucky person is. To this day, almost every privatisation has this lucky man as the front-runner.

    These bumiputras with big appetites meant that the “loading” of the contracts had to be much bigger. With the loss of majority parliamentary representation in 2008 came the realisation to these bumiputras that time may not be on their side, so now they have to makan big, and quick.

    The last 4 years have been termed by many businessmen as the era of rape and pillage. Each hole gets progressively bigger that you need to dig an even bigger hole to cover the previous one. And quickly too. Time being of the essence isn’t lost on these marauders.

  4. #4 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Monday, 9 July 2012 - 9:20 am

    Macom men spend their time on cigar and imported beer in golf courses – ever ready to whip out photocopies of gobermen project proposals and plans to the next chinaman who dropped by. Macom men are and have already been acting as commission agent – of the super-expansive variety for they all come in ferraris.

  5. #5 by waterfrontcoolie on Monday, 9 July 2012 - 1:38 pm

    Someone sent me an article on Petronas indicating that Petronas is footing 45% of the national expenditure! How long would this last? In between somehow, Mathadir was able to creep in and appears to put this squarely on Najib! To all those who have followed the pathway of his style, we could all wonder how his children all a sudden became big time businessmen. Given the resources, the country could have flown much higher than what we have today. All these came about because, there seems to be a case of Malays vs the Rest; a creation of the Man himself! One may conclude that Najib, though not totally blameless if one listened to the rumours on the Mathadir vs Kuli, he had to blame himself for the current position. It is heartening to read this article by Mariam, at least the Malays are waking up to the reality of the whole issue facing the nation. If current condition continues, they will suffer the most in economic terms! As the others have been forced to meet international challenges all these years.

  6. #6 by Loh on Tuesday, 10 July 2012 - 11:48 am

    ///It is a story which has been told repeatedly. The Malays, under Mahathir, became rich beyond their wildest dreams. In one generation, the Malays and their values were compromised. The non-Malays are not blameless, especially the ones who played along with Macom.///–the author

    The Malays; who are they? The rich Malays are of Mamakthir type, or the constitutional ones. The constitution did not intend to protect the “Malays” that it has unwittingly created. Mamakthri type of Malays gasak semua opportunities meant for Malays.

    Are Malays better off now than before? How can it be better for the Malays when Malays have lost their identity after the race has been diluted with Mamaks and other constitutionally created one bearing their name?

  7. #7 by Cinapek on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 - 11:48 am

    It is a open secret that many BN leaders use “runners” to collect their commissions. It is not only UMNO that does this. The other BN coalition partners practise the same thing. It is just that UMNO, being most powerful and arrogant, are less subtle and flaunt their acts more openly. I frequently see a bunch of hangers on loitering around a senior UMNO minister whenever he comes to the golf club. They do nothing except playing with their mobile phones and I often wonder what they do for a living.

    How often do we hear of young family members of BN leaders suddenly appearing on the corporate scenes and able to be involved in huge corporate deals when they are barely out of university? Where did this wealth suddenly spring from?

    We also hear of key members of the Govt suddenly being awarded billion ringgit construction projects when they retire. One wonders where all the working capital came from? No way a salaried man can have that kind of seed money to start such a massive project.

    Yes, MACOM is very much a part of the Malaysian way of life. Even the smallest Napoleon can tell you to add on their commissions when you quote for a sale to any Govt dept.

You must be logged in to post a comment.