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by Lim Guan Eng
): Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib’s is not only deceiving himself but also others by claiming that the deferment of UMNO party elections scheduled for September 2007 by 18 months is not linked to the possibility of an early general elections. No Malaysian believes Najib that there will no snap elections next year when the deferment of UMNO elections was made one year before the actual event.
There are two reasons for snap elections next year. One is that former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would only be qualified to contest when his 5 year ban following his release from prison from contesting in elections expires on April 15 2008. But the more important reason is the serious split within UMNO’s leadership between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Pak Lah cannot continue as Prime Minister with full powers so long as there are still Mahathir elements and supporters within his administration and government. To remove them through party elections would be too bloody and disruptive. That is why removing them as candidates in elections is the cleanest way to prevent them from continuously sabotaging Pak Lah’s control of both UMNO and the party.
Until he removes his political opponents within UMNO, Pak Lah will continue to be seen as weak and indecisive. Even mosquito BN parties such as Deputy Minister and PPP President Datuk M. Kayveas, makes bellicose threats of PPP leaving BN, if PPP is not given any seats to contest at the next general elections. If Tun Dr Mahathir is the Prime Minister Kayveas would be immediately sacked as Deputy Minister and PPP expelled from BN for making such threats.
Pak Lah may be looking at the elections as the way out for his political problems within UMNO but such a political solution for Pak Lah out of his political problems does not benefit Malaysians. Malaysians should therefore fight UMNO and prevent the general elections from becoming UMNO’s private battlefield to solve their internal political problems. As usual UMNO will be using the politics of patronage to buy off voters with money politics, new roads, new drains and promises of development as well as policies like the New Economic Policy(NEP).
Such short-term benefits from patronage has guaranteed UMNO’s dominance resulting in worsening corruption and destroyed the institutions of separation of powers in our original Merdeka Constitution. UMNO’s absolute power has restricted the growth of democracy, caused greater income inequalities between the rich and poor, reversed human rights guarantees, eroded the independence of the judiciary and threatened the rule of law.
Corruption is so pervasive that even a religious institution like the Tabung Haji is not immune as the 2004 Auditor-General Report questioned such scandals as:
• the inordinate delay in the construction of the Matrade building which was to cost RM167 million but eventually took 12 years and RM287.5 million to complete; and,
• the case of Tabung Haji wrongfully paying RM436.38 million for two buildings when it should have been RM267.92 million.
The NEP has made the country inefficient, less competitive and productive as well as more socio-economically inequitable. The United Nations Human Development Report consistently list Malaysians as suffering the worst income inequality between the rich and poor in South-East Asia. This is conceded by the Ninth Malaysian Plan (9MP) which showed the share of income of the bottom 40% of the population declined from 14.5% in 1990 to 13.5% in 2004 whilst the share of the top 20% of the population increased from 50% in 1990 to 51.2% in 2004.
Whilst our country has made some economic progress in absolute terms as compared to 40 years ago, we are worse off in relative terms compared to countries such as South Korea. From a situation where Malaysia was almost thrice more prosperous than South Korea in 1966, South Korea is now more than 3 times more prosperous than Malaysia.
In 1966 annual per capita Gross Domestic Product(GDP) was less than US$ 130 as compared to Malaysia’s US$350. By 1980, barely 10 years after the NEP, South Korea had caught up with a per capita GNP of US$1900 as compared to Malaysia’s US$ 1,830. By 2005 according to the International Monetary Fund., GDP per capita in South Korea had far exceeded Malaysia at US$16,421 as compared to Malaysia’s US$5,040. From a position where Malaysia was almost 3 times better than South Korea 40 years ago, the NEP has made us three times worse.
Even amongst the Malays, the question that should be asked is who are the rich UMNO leaders who have benefited from the NEP with shares and APs that the majority of Malays do not have. The Malays must therefore wake up from “diabetic” policy traps such as the NEP that UMNO is using to enslave the Malays to blindly support UMNO. NEP can be compared to diabetes.
Giving NEP is like giving sweets. Initially it is good but the more sweets we take, the more unhealthy we get. If we do not give up sweets, we will surely end up with diabetes which will kill us. That is why the Malays must boldly reject such diabetic politics of patronage like the NEP and instead seek a policy based on merit, yet helps the needy, encourages self-help and gives equal opportunities to all.
Similarly the Chinese community must have the courage to reject UMNO and BN’s “beggar politics”. DAP expresses concern that MCA Ministers are allowing UMNO to manipulate the Chinese community to accept “beggar politics” as building one new Chinese primary school is a far cry like a “drop in the ocean” from the 134 new Chinese primary schools required throughout the country based on needs. What about Tamil primary schools? Why is there no mention of new Tamil primary schools sorely required by the Indian community?
The announcement by Education Minister Hishamuddin Tun Hussein Onn that there will be two new Chinese primary schools built under the Ninth Malaysian Plan (9MP) namely SJKC Putra Height Selangor and SJKC Kulai II, Johor is politically motivated to save MCA. This is clearly an attempt to mollify the Chinese community angry with MCA following Deputy Education Minister Datuk Noh Omar’s announcement in Parliament on 20.9.2006 that not even one new Chinese or Tamil primary schools will be built under the 9MP.
However Hishamuddin lied as there is only one and not two new Chinese primary schools. SJKC Kulai II from Johor is actually a relocated school and not a new school. As for SJKC Putra Height Selangor, even though it is a new school, this is a Wawasan school applied for by ADUN Subang Jaya Dato’ Lee Hwa Beng, as proven in a letter dated 20 April 2004 by Tuan Haji Ahmad bin Abdul Rashid Ketua Sektor Pengurusan Pembangunan Jabatan Pendidikan Selangor.
What is one new Chinese primary school when Dong Jiao Zong(DJZ) announced that 134 new Chinese primary schools and 836 acres of land are required based on needs of the expanding Chinese population in Penang, Johor Baru as well as Klang Valley of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor? MCA should feel ashamed for getting only one new Chinese primary school when 134 new Chinese primary schools are required, is no different from playing “beggar politics”.
Why should the Chinese community be thankful to the government for the one new Chinese primary school when as taxpayers they have every right to expect their contributions to be utilised to promote mother-tongue education. Building only one Chinese primary school when 134 are required is no different from UMNO treating the Chinese community as beggars as it is clearly not enough and a mere drop in the ocean.
Beggar politics is prevalent not only on Chinese schools and Chinese education but also in economic opportunities, employment and university places. MCA and Gerakan leaders may be willing to be treated as political beggars by UMNO to save their Ministerial posts. However I believe that the Chinese community rejects “beggar politics” and refuses to be treated as beggars but as a citizenry with equal political rights, social justice and equal economic opportunities..
What all Malaysians need is a Malaysian First plan that can make all Malaysians winners. To do so we must first say ‘No’ to BN politics of patronage with the non-Malay community having the courage to reject BN’s “beggar politics” and the Malay community rejecting BN’s diabetic politics.
MALAYSIAN FIRST stresses the dual purpose of achieving national unity and economic prosperity amongst all Malaysians. First, national unity should be based not on race or religion but on a common identity centered on democracy, freedom, justice, integrity and human dignity. Secondly the importance of becoming global champions in academic excellence, economic competitiveness, technological merit and knowledge management to ensure economic prosperity that is shared equitably with all Malaysians.