Same old, same old when Umno talks about “ekonomi Melayu”

by Sheridan Mahavera
The Malaysian Insider
December 07, 2013

The preamble to the resolution on economics at this year’s Umno general assembly stated that it would be different from the previous years.

Yet after former second finance minister Datuk Seri Awang Adek Hussein finished his speech, the journalists who’ve covered past assemblies rolled their eyes, as they tried to dig out what was new.

Much of Awang Adek’s seven-point speech was about demands for quotas, loans and openings in the government machinery and government-linked companies (GLCs) for Bumiputeras. That is, Malay entrepreneurs’ demands that are always expressed whenever the Umno grassroots meet to talk about the future of the Malay economy.

The main difference this time was that all of them seized on the new statistic provided by their president – Bumiputeras made up 67% of the population – to press their case for even more aid to reach that ideal target of 30% Bumiputera ownership of wealth in the country.

It’s a familiar ritual: Umno tells the government that more loans need to be given and more contracts are needed to develop Malay small and medium enterprises.

Failure to do so would make the Malays “slaves in their own lands” to “foreign races” which is a code word for non-Bumiputera Chinese (and sometimes Indians).

This time, delegates justified the help for Malays and Bumiputeras on the grounds that they were the ones who handed Umno its 88 seats and returned Barisan Nasional to power.

Yet many of the speakers who debated the economics resolution don’t seem to realise that they are trampling over familiar ground.

More importantly, why despite all that was done by three presidents and prime ministers, starting with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to develop Malay entrepreneurs, has Umno still not reached its 30% wealth share target?

The demands this time focused on a familiar target: GLCs that, in the words of several grassroots leaders, were there to help Malays and Bumiputeras.

So there was Awang Adek, Perak delegate Dr Azizah Johor and Federal Territories delegate Affandi Zahari demanding that GLCs have an effective vendor system for Bumiputera SMEs.

Also on the list of demands were easier loans from the Tekun financing scheme and desks at banks to help Malay female entrepreneurs.

Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah described the demands on GLCs as the grassroots expressing their desires to see the country’s majority community get a fair share of the economic pie.

“The Bumiputera economic agenda is a national agenda. It is necessary for social stability,” said Ahmad Husni to The Malaysian Insider when commenting on the day’s debates.

He does not view the demands as interfering in their operations as the Government was already parcelling out contracts in mega projects, such as the MRT train system, to Malay contractors.

“What is needed is to coordinate the system of giving out jobs so that it is effective.”

The demands of Malay businessmen may be one thing, but little was debated about the economy as it is experienced by the public.

So as the grassroots made more demands for aid and opportunities from GLCs and government departments, the topic of the vast wastages in government procurement was hardly mentioned.

There was no talk about RM200 screwdrivers, RM 1,000 binoculars and soft loans of RM250 million to companies without the expertise running a massive cattle project.

Except for a brief mention in the Umno Youth assembly on Wednesday, no one talked of the problems highlighted in the auditor general’s report.

No one talked of “ketirisan” a byword popular during assemblies in Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s time as president and prime minister. It referred to leakages either in giving out aid to the wrong people or not getting value for a contract handed out.

Not one delegate talked about stamping out corruption.

Yet according to a poll by the Merdeka Centre in December 2012, 51% of Malaysians put “fighting corruption” as the No. 1 priority of the Government. The second most important priority was fixing the electoral system at 25%.

The next problems were affordable housing (24%) and inflation (21%). Notably, 59% of the poll’s respondents were Malays.

So as Umno debates the state of the Malay economy it is unclear which percentage of that 67% it claims to represent. The minority that needs more handouts or the majority struggling to make a living while others profit from RM200 screwdriver contracts. – December 7, 2013.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 7 December 2013 - 8:22 pm

    Sigh. Not a single one with graduate level Math to figure out its just the law of marginal return why they are never going to get what they keep talking about year after year…

  2. #2 by cinaindiamelayubersatu on Saturday, 7 December 2013 - 8:31 pm

    Iya,tiap tiap tahun berhimpun kumpul dosa. Minta tongkat minta tali minta itu minta ini. Macam ijat minta bank wanita supaya dia atau kerabat boleh jadi kepalanya… Tempat kejar kontrak kata aza…
    Malaysia,apakah nasibmu tahun tahun mendatang…

  3. #3 by cskok8 on Sunday, 8 December 2013 - 12:10 am

    Giving out loans is OK but do they have to be repaid?
    As for corruption it is a word that does not exist in UMNO. In UMNO there is only “money politics”, “AP”, “direct negotiations”, “sub-contracting” and “rezeki”

  4. #4 by Noble House on Sunday, 8 December 2013 - 4:08 am

    Where will the monies come from?

    The most likely source that the government will seek is the same place where it gets the majority of current tax revenues i.e. with corporate and individual income taxes being the largest source of income, followed by production and import taxes, then social amenities and public utilities taxes. These sources are the most likely places that will see significant increases when the government encounters the eventual need to dramatically raise tax revenues.

    Ultimately, the need to pass broad based taxes such as the GST that ensnares the poor and middle class in continually escalating costs for the items that they purchase on a daily basis.

    Unless some serious measures are taken to fix the economic conditions of the economy, it is likely we will be heading towards the direction of a Banana Republic comes Vision 2020, no different from those you see in some of the African countries. Do these UMNOputras have any ideas at all?

  5. #5 by boh-liao on Sunday, 8 December 2013 - 9:32 am

    Listen carefully, NOT doling out $$$$ 2 Malays but doling out $$$$ 2 UmnoB Malays (inclusive of all transformed pseudo-instant Malays who sold n condemned their ancestral roots 4 instant wealth n power)
    $$$$ in2 accounts, NO NEED 2 repay 1

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