Sunday, March 07, 2010

Ibrahim Ali: Market economy a threat to Malays

Pugnacious Perkasa chairman Ibrahim Ali came out fighting, arguing that he is battling against the encroachment on Malay economic rights which is a danger to their welfare, amidst the impending liberalisation of the economy in Premier Najib Abdul Razak's soon-to-be announced New Economic Model. In a Malaysiakini exclusive, hNONEe highlighted the dangers of a purely market-driven economy to the Malays and Bumiputeras who he claimed, still lag behind their better off Chinese and Indians.

In an interview in his office last Wednesday, Ibrahim (right) said such an economy is only possible when all races are at the same economic footing. However, he stressed, currently certain minorites control most of our national wealth. Ibrahim hit out at the 'minorities' and 'taukes' who he said dominated our economy, causing political instability and social chaos, quoting Yale university professor Amy Chua's book, World on Fire. Below are the edited excepts of Malaysiakini's exclusive with Ibrahim. Content has been edited for language and brevity.

Malaysiakini: What is Perkasa's stand on the New Economic Model? Ibrahim Ali: Perkasa has sent a memorandum to the chairman and members of the National Economic Advisory Council (NEAC), in which we stated that an economy totally decided by market forces is very dangerous. A market-driven economy will lead to funds being concentrated in the hands of big, strong and dominant companies. We support a market-driven economy, but with affirmative action. An open market but bound by safeguards.

Isn't this reintroducing the NEP? No, it is not a re-introduction, this the most important thing. We want an open market but there must be affirmative action to ensure equitable distribution of wealth for the rakyat.

Is open market without affirmative action dangerous for Malays? Yes, it is dangerous for Malays, and those who are not wealthy. They will be victimised [by the rich].

I would like to share with you something I read in a book World on Fire by Amy Chua, a prominent Chinese professor at Yale University in the United States. She wrote that if an economy is dominated by the minority, it is dangerous to the nation, as it would cause political instability and chaos throughout the land. She gave the example of the situations in South East Asia. In the Philippines, the Filipinos burnt Chinese shops, In South Africa they burnt Indian-owned shops, in Indonesia as well. According to her, to solve this we must have affirmative action. In Malaysia, we used have the NEP which is affirmative action. This is what Perkasa believes must be maintained. As long as there is an unequal distribution of the nation's wealth. As of now, over 60 percent of our national wealth is controlled by the Chinese. Bumiputeras have been left far behind, only controlling less than 20 percent, and losing more ground by the day. That is why we think that the affirmative action must be continued, except maybe they need new instruments to ensure this.

What kinds of instruments? This is what we shall discuss with the economic experts in our upcoming round table. We will decide what are the new instruments to propose. Because the NEM declaration by the PM will just be a policy statement, not yet about detailed implementation. That will only be in October. So we have time to propose the instruments and mechanisms that the government should adopt in order to maintain affirmative action.

Some people say affirmative action is no longer needed? I would like to refer to the MCA attack against me published in Malaysiakini, with regards to my statement in Kluang warning the government to be careful in giving big contracts to Chinese corporate figures. I said that because I was referring to an article about the 1Malaysia New Economic Model Seminar organised by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce Malaysia, published in the NST on Feb 9. In it, YTL Group managing director Francis Yeoh said: "There should be brutal competition for Malaysian business, (it needs such an) environment to thrive... the country can no longer have a little brother mentality where businesses are protected by the government. It has lured us into an economic model that cannot be sustained." That is what he said. He is advocating a form of 'brutal competition', where only the strong wins. Which means the government should abolish all forms of assistance, and do away with all subsidies. In my opinion what he said is wrong. It is false. It's a statement that is arrogant, thankless and prideful.

Why do you say that? How is he wrong? How did his own company succeed? Was it not by getting a huge amount of assistance from the government? For example he sold power as an IPP (independent power producer) to TNB, with such controversial pricing. And he also receives other aid and assistance form the government. This is more than a subsidy. This is also 'affirmative action' but to help the big 'taukes'. NONEThat is why we see Robert Kuok is a billionaire; he monopolises sugar. Look at how Vincent Tan became successful - he took over the privatisation of Berjaya-Toto. The Genting group succeeded because of its monopoly on gambling. Ananda Krishnan rose to the fore because of his monopoly over Astro and the Maxis 012 license. Looking at what they got, is it not a form of assistance, 'affirmative action' for the Chinese taukes? How can we compare what they got with the two sen small contracts given to the Malays. That is why I say what they got, two million Malays can benefit from. This is what I am chastising them about.

Who are the minorities, as you quoted Amy Chua, that are controlling our local economy and destabilising our country? They are the Chinese, those who control the funds, and like in the Philippines and South Africa, the Indians. Those groups. In Malaysia, like Francis Yeoh , those big tycoons. For example sugar, controlled by Robert Kuok. But as long as we have affirmative action it is all right. For example, if Kuok's sugar price increases, the government give subsidy. That is affirmative action. If the government stops the subsidy Kuok can freely control the price of sugar. This may cause chaos. Do you want chaos? Market driven means no government control, on the price of sugar and oil and everything, who but they are going to monopolise? Look at the so-called subsidy mentality of the bumiputeras, the 'little brother' who are apparently lavished with subsidies.. But how much is it? Everyone gets the same subsidy, sugar or electricity and what not.

Is there different pricing for different races? I think not. Everyone gets the subsidy. Only in contracts, equity, previously university admission; these are affirmative actions to balance out and ensure equitable economic distribution. They talk about total equality and a level playing field, while they are already far ahead of us. How can this be? I'll explain in football analogy. The Chinese in Malaysia are like Manchester United. The Malays are not even amateur.

We must let Malays (become) the likes of Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur, only then can the Malays compete on equal footing with the Chinese. These people are arrogant, they forget themselves.

courtesy of Malaysiakini

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