You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘1Malaysia’ tag.

NB: This article was originally published in Roketkini.com.

Ketika Dato’ Sri Najib Razak awal-awal menjadi Perdana Menteri, beliau menjanjikan perpaduan nasional melalui kempen 1Malaysia dan Model Ekonomi Baru (MEB). Dasar ekonomi yang diuar-uarkan ini dikatakan akan mengambil pendekatan tindakan afirmatif berasaskan keperluan, yakni kepada golongan berpendapatan 40 peratus terendah tanpa mengira kaum.

Usaha ini menandakan pemisahan daripada Dasar Ekonomi Baru (DEB) sebelum ini yang berasaskan kaum. Dengan anjakan paradigma ini, Najib mengisyaratkan bahawa pembangunan ekonomi negara pada masa depan akan bertunjangkan prinsip keterangkuman sosial, di mana setiap rakyat Malaysia akan dihitungkan, khususnya mereka yang paling memerlukan bantuan.

Malangnya, janji-janji Najib semua sudah terbatal. Konsep 1Malaysia kini menjadi tidak lebih daripada jenama bagi kedai runcit subsidi, klinik bergerak, skim perumahan mampu milik, menu makanan bajet, serta peruncit tekstil dan lain-lain lagi.

Pada masa yang sama, MEB pula jelas dipinggirkan oleh NEB versi baru yang dinamakan agenda Pemerkasaan Ekonomi Bumiputera (PEB).

Dasar PEB yang baru dilancarkan ini melibatkan pelbagai inisiatif berasaskan kaum, termasuk pembentukan Majlis Pemerkasaan Ekonomi Bumiputera, penubuhan Unit Pembangunan Bumiputera di setiap kementerian, jaminan bahawa Syarikat Berkaitan Kerajaan (GLC) utama akan meningkatkan penyertaan vendor Bumiputera, serta pelancaran 10 bilion unit saham baru Skim Amanah Saham Bumiputera 2 (ASB2) oleh Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB).

Sementara MEB menawarkan liberalisasi pasaran dan tindakan afirmatif berasaskan keperluan yang akan memberi tumpuan kepada usaha merapatkan jurang antara yang kaya dan miskin, PEB pula seolah-olah usaha untuk mengembalikan DEB yang telah terbukti gagal membela golongan Melayu miskin, tetapi sebaliknya lebih memanfaatkan golongan kapitalis Melayu yang mempunyai hubungan akrab dengan parti pemerintah.

Hakikat ini adalah jelas apabila kita pertimbangkan perangkaan yang menunjukkan bahawa setelah empat dekad bantuan yang kononnya disasarkan kepada Bumiputera, masih terdapat 40 peratus isi rumah Bumiputera yang hidup dengan pendapatan bulanan RM1,686 secara purata. Pada masa yang sama, si kaya yang mempunyai hubungan politik mampu untuk membeli rumah banglo RM7 juta dengan begitu sahaja.

Justeru, cadangan pelancaran 10 bilion unit ASB2 adalah sangat meragukan. Siapakah yang sebenarnya mendapat manfaat daripada saham ASB tambahan yang bakal disediakan? Adakah kumpulan 40 peratus isi rumah Bumiputera terendah dapat melabur dalam saham-saham yang berhasil tinggi ini sedangkan pendapatan mereka hanya cukup makan dan pakai?

Menurut laporan tahunan PNB, pelaburan purata pelabur Bumiputera adalah RM14,097 seorang pada akhir tahun 2012. Sekali pandang, angka ini tampak menunjukkan bahawa ramai orang Melayu sudah mencapai kadar simpanan yang agak selesa.

Walau bagaimanapun, apabila laporan ini diperhalusi, angka ini benar-benar mengelirukan. Setelah dicerakinkan, didapati bahawa 74 peratus atau hampir tiga perempat pelabur Amanah Saham Bumiputera sebenarnya mempunyai pelaburan purata hanya RM611 setiap seorang. Angka ini jauh berbeza dengan purata keseluruhan pelabur dan lebih mencerminkan realiti rakyat.

Dalam erti kata lain, hanya golongan pelabur elit Bumiputera yang mampu melabur dengan jumlah yang ketara, sementara majoriti pelabur Bumiputera yang lain ternyata tidak mampu menikmati tawaran saham ini. Oleh itu, bagaimanakah mungkin langkah Kerajaan untuk menyediakan lebih banyak unit ASB dapat memberi manfaat kepada Bumiputera kebanyakan?

Malah, satu kajian oleh pakar ekonomi Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid mendapati bahawa perbezaan kekayaan antara pelabur ASB adalah sangat mencolok, di mana 0.1 peratus teratas pelabur Bumiputera mempunyai portfolio terkumpul yang bernilai 1,526 kali lebih banyak berbanding gabungan 80 peratus pemegang saham terbawah. Oleh itu, tidak syak lagi bahawa kumpulan elit Bumiputera ini juga yang akhirnya akan mendapat manfaat daripada tambahan 10 bilion unit ASB2, dan bukannya Melayu biasa yang sekadar mampu untuk melabur sebanyak RM611.

Maka, persoalannya – untuk siapakah ASB2 ini sebenarnya? Pastinya bukan untuk Bumiputera kebanyakan.

NB: This press statement was released on 9 October 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.

When Dato’ Sri Najib Razak first became prime minister, he promised national unity in the form of 1Malaysia and a New Economic Model (NEM) that preached needs-based economic intervention in favour of the bottom 40 per cent of household income earners regardless of race. This signalled a departure from the race-based policies from the past, and a clear indication that the way forward must include every Malaysian, especially those who most need help.

Unfortunately, Najib’s promises have all been undone with the recent launch of his new Bumiputera agenda. Dubbed the Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda (BEEA), it entails a variety of race-based initiatives including the setting up of a powerful Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Council, the creation of Bumiputera Development Units in every ministry, an assurance that major Government-Linked Companies (GLCs) will increase Bumiputera vendor participation, as well as the launch of 10 billion units of new Skim Amanah Saham Bumiputera 2 (ASB2) shares by Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB).

While the NEM offered market liberalisation and needs-based affirmative action that would focus on narrowing the gap between the rich and poor, the BEEA appears to be a reversion to the old New Economic Policy (NEP) that has been proven to benefit mostly a select class of Umno-linked Malay capitalists at the expense of the poorer, unconnected masses.

This is made obvious by the fact that, despite four decades of supposed Bumiputera-targeted assistance, the bottom 40 per cent of Bumiputera households today earn a measly average income of RM1,686 per month. At the same time, the politically-connected rich are able to purchase RM7 million bungalows at a whim.

As such, the proposed launch of 10 billion ASB2 units is highly questionable. Who is set to benefit from more ASB shares made available? Would the bottom 40 per cent of Bumiputera households be able to invest in these high-yielding shares considering that they hardly earn enough to get by?

According to the PNB’s annual reports, the average investment of Bumiputera investors stands at RM14,097 per person as at end 2012. At a glance, this appears to be a decent amount suggesting that many Malays have attained significant savings.

However, upon closer inspection, this figure is actually misleading. When the numbers are broken down, it turns out that three-quarters of Bumiputera unit-holders actually have an average investment of a mere RM611 per person. It is only the top quartile of Bumiputera unit-holders who are able to invest heavily in the shares.

How then, would the availability of more units benefit the average Bumiputera, when they are unable to take advantage of even the current available ASB shares?

In fact, a study by economist Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid found that the disparity of wealth is massive, whereby the top 0.1 per cent of Bumiputera investors have an accumulated portfolio that is 1,526 times more than the bottom 80 per cent combined. Hence, the likelihood is that this elite group of Bumiputeras will eventually reap the benefits of the additional 10 billion ASB2 units, rather than the common Malay who is able to invest only RM611 on average.

Thus, the question is – who is the ASB2 really for? Certainly not the average Bumiputera.

Zairil Khir Johari, Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera

NB: This article was originally published in my column on The Malaysian Insider.

I recently read about a family who had returned to Malaysia after many years abroad. Their six-year-old was enrolled into a local kindergarten. One day, during his first week in school, he came back excited about some race everyone was talking about.

Thinking there was a competition, his parents asked the teachers at school the next day. As it turned out, the other students had been pestering their son about his ethnicity, seeing as he had no discernibly stereotypical features, being a child of mixed parentage. The couple did not quite know what to make of it, as up till then, their son had no understanding of an identity other than his nationality — Malaysian.

Reading this story triggered a distant memory. I was around the same age during a brief sojourn in the United States, when one day a boy in the neighbourhood called out to me.

“Hey, Asian boy!”

I did not quite know what to make of it. Like the boy in kindergarten, I too had no grasp of the concept of ethnicity, and so failed to pick up on the racial epithet. I rationalised that he must have been referring to a country. However, having memorised the names of most of the countries in the world, I was quite certain that there was no country called “Asia” (clearly, I was also unaware of the concept of continents).

And so I replied: “I’m not Asian. I’m MALAYSIAN. I’m from MALAYSIA. Asia isn’t even a country!”

Though slightly older, he was probably confused by my retort. He continued with a tinge of doubt in his voice.

“He’s Asian,” he said to the posse around him, some of whom nodded their agreement. He grinned, slightly reassured. “You’re an Asian boy.”

I realised much later that he had been referring to my race. Of course, with time and age, I soon familiarised myself with the racial construct, with particular reference to our unique Malaysian manifestation. There is no doubt that race is an important identity, as is religion.

After all, it is our culture, traditions and mores that render colour into an otherwise sepia existence. However, nothing is without its traps. The ubiquity and convenience of race also opens itself to exploitation as a means of division and control.

When our country was founded, there was neither a common language nor identity. We had inherited a colonial legacy that had stratified our society along racial lines. However, efforts were set in motion to integrate the country — a national language (Bahasa Malaysia), a shared identity (Malaysian), an economic policy designed to socially re-engineer racial inequities (NEP), and of course the 1 Malaysia concept, an amalgamation of the “Bangsa Malaysia” notion.

After half a century, we now have three generations of post-Merdeka Malaysians. Technically, we should have moved on by now. So why then, in this day and age, is our national discourse still dominated by race?

Stripped of its racial façade, the questions of poverty, equality, freedom and justice are merely that. Quantifying problems through racial statistics does not actually assist in solving anything. If being poorer is harder because you are of a particular race, then it is the system that is broken. Let’s fix that.

Thoroughly eradicating poverty would mean that no one of any race would suffer hardship. If deaths in custody and police violence seem to affect one community more than others, I say it shouldn’t even happen in the first place, to any Malaysian. We should thus focus on restoring the independence and credibility of our enforcement agencies.

Wouldn’t it be better for Malaysia, and by extension, all Malaysians, if we focused on solving issues, rather than preoccupying ourselves with its racial contextualisation?

While I am not suggesting that we disregard our racial identities, I am proposing that our national discourse would benefit greatly from a wider and less parochial paradigm. There is a coloured tint in our looking glass, and it is obscuring our vision.

Racialising issues will only lead to greater division and irrational quarrels. In the long run, it will be counter-productive to nation-building. If we continue along the current path of excessive racialism, in which every social, educational and political issue is portrayed as a case of one race against another, the Rubicon will soon be crossed.

This is not a competition that we should partake in, for in a race of races, there will only be losers.

In Weberian philosophy, a nation-state is defined by, inter alia, its monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. This is to say that the state retains all rights to the use of force through its legitimised instruments, i.e. the police and military. At the same time, the state, especially a democratic one, is also entrusted to to exercise this right in a manner that upholds the spirit of justice and human liberty.

However, because philosophy has no place in our national education, and perhaps because any Malay translation of Max Weber’s writings would probably have been acquired from Google Translate (as was the case with the translation of Teoh Beng Hock’s ‘suicide note’), it is understandable that those running our country today would fail to understand the intended implications of his seminal thesis.

As comprehensive as the online translator may be, the term ‘legitimate’ has appeared to have escaped the notice of the authorities, resulting in a situation in which state-sponsored violence is meted out in arbitrary fashion, with no regard whatsoever to the principles of justice.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the actions of the Royal Malaysian Police, a law enforcement agency empowered by the state to use force in the preservation of peace and public order.

Yet if we were to take last weekend’s water rally as an example, we have the complete opposite occurring:

Riot police fired tear gas and used water cannons on at least 1,000 protesters near the KL Railway Station as they marched to the Istana Negara today to rally against a potential bailout of Selangor water utility companies. Hundreds of protestors sought refuge at the Railway Station to avoid the police action after they started their march from the National Mosque.

Riot police later turned the water cannons on those who had gone back to the National Mosque despite organisers announcing an end to the rally shortly before 3pm.

According to witnesses, police used tear gas and water cannons on the crowd after allowing Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and several state exco members to proceed to the Istana Negara.

In other words, the protest had been incident-free until the police started harassing the people. This is likely to be construed as ironic to every rational being in the free world, but in Malaysia it is the country’s very own police force that was responsible for the injudicious use of violence to disrupt a hitherto peaceful and orderly rally that had been organised to voice the legitimate concerns of the people!

Perhaps the Inspector-General of Police should rely less on Google Translate and instead attempt to reeducate himself and the rest of his officers on the basic principles of justice, human rights and the rule of law that are supposed to be upheld and defended (and not violated and ignored) by the police.

The record of abuse and indiscriminate violence by the police in this country is abhorrent to say the least, and it is only getting worse as instances of extra-judicial fatalities are on the incline:

  • As of last year, there have been 1,535 recorded deaths in custody.
  • The number of fatal shootings by the police has increased 17-fold from 5 in 2001 to 88 in 2009!
  • The above trend is not circumstantial. In 2000 there were 9 fatal shootings, and in 2008 there were 82. Evidence points to an unequivocal rise in police shootings.

In recent times, we have seen the death in custody case of S Kugan, the mowing down of 15-year-old Aminul Rasyid, the gangland-style execution of three youths suspected of robbery, and many more. In most of these cases, the police escape by pleading self-defence, notwithstanding the fact that many of those shot were neither armed nor in a position to attack. Yet in 1Malaysia, reason and logic are not prerequisites for a judicial decision, especially when the state stands in defence.

In the case of Teoh Beng Hock, the young political aide who ‘fell to his death’ while being held for interrogation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), we are told that it could have been suicide, and that perhaps he strangled himself prior to leaping. (I re-iterate: 1Malaysian justice requires neither reason nor logic.)

To make matters worse, the arbitrary application of (in)justice is not merely confined to the police force, but in fact also appears to be abetted by other institutions of state, such as the office of the Attorney-General, the judiciary and the MACC.

When all is said and done, these problems are in actuality symptoms of a superiority complex that has rooted itself deep into the psyche of the Malaysian government. The fact is that until and unless a total reform of perspective occurs, in which those in power come to the conscientious realisation that democratic governance requires conformity to the principles of law, justice and human rights, we will never be rid this nightmare.

Change must, and will occur. If those in power refuse it, it will be served unto them.

Zairil Khir Johari

Menu

Twitter Updates

  • Majlis berbuka puasa anjuran SekDem di Kuala Lumpur. Puluhan alumni SekDem sempat berjumpa dan berdialog dengan... fb.me/20Fkgrwgg 2 days ago
  • Majlis berbuka puasa anjuran DAP Pulau Pinang. Sambutan baik walaupun julung kali diadakan. Insha Allah akan... fb.me/6hui8ONQ7 3 days ago
  • Majlis buka puasa bersama warga Tanjung Tokong anjuran JKKK setempat. Bantuan zakat juga diagihkan kepada golongan asnaf. [15 Jun 2017] 1 week ago

Categories

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 43 other followers