Saturday, 15 August 2009

Making Sense Of Malay Economics

This post is taken from two blogposts by Dato' Mohd Ariff Sabri or better known in blogosphere as Sakmongkol AK47. It is in reference to Tengku Razaleigh's speaking engagement on Malay economics in the face of globalization, scheduled for today in a forum organized by the political clown, Ibrahim Ali.

Sakmongkol AK47's take on the politics of TRH and Ibrahim Ali makes for interesting observation of what TRH will say at the forum. What TRH says will indicate whether what many say that he is the right person to be PM is borne out. The full text of TRH's address will probably be posted on his own blog too and it will be interesting to note Sakmongkol's preview in comparison. Also, the stark reality of UMNOnomics is laid out in a brutally honest account in the related second blogpost today. Please read both:

14th August: YBM Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah on Ibrahim Ali’s stage.

The much respected Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah will have a speaking engagement tomorrow. He will speak about Malay economics in the age of globalisation. The principal organizer of the forum is Ibrahim Ali. It is called Wacana Perkasa.

Ibrahim Ali is a character who defies description as far as political beliefs are concerned. He has shown himself to be too ultra Malay at times. He has crossed boundaries many times so much so he has been enthroned as the frog king. That description hasn't fazed him as he continues to be as unpredictable like nobody's business.

Hence his choice of Tengku Razalegh as a main speaker to speak about Malay economics in the age of globalisation serves to further compound our estimation of him. We have on one side, the organiser who is as right wing as can be. On the other side, we have the gentleman prince of politics, who is known for his progressive political and economic ideas. Maybe I should meet Brahim or stopa, on a face to face encounter to measure the man.

The only thread that connects Ibrahim and his opponents perhaps is the deep and profound respect Ibrahim has for Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. There is arguably an almost universal acceptance that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is a statesman deserving of impeachable respect.

I have no inkling as to what TRH wants to speak about. I would like to take this opportunity to give some opinions on the thinking about Malay economics.

One line of thought deduced from the behaviour of people like Ibrahim Ali for example (hence the paragraphs about him above) holds that Malays are backward because some other races have taken more than they should. We are thus poor, because others have taken more of this fixed pie.

In Malaysia for example, the most prosperous group is the Chinese. There is no need to amplify this statement. Everyone knows it. In the present day political and ideological climate, those who are prosperous are looked at with unconcealed envy and perhaps even hatred. Hence we hear statements like the Chinese owned this country. They are the real power in this country. How do we correct this wrong?

Suddenly all Malays, the plebeians and the patricians become one homogenous group. Those inhabitants on Snob Hill are the same as inhabitants of the plains. Suddenly we become the common man, facing one common greedy enemy. Things can only be equalised if the government, which is ours for the time being, carries out confiscatory corrective policies.

No costs are too high to pursue this corrective strategy. If we have to continue shoring up the share offerings till kingdom come, as long as we can deliver above market dividends year after year, that should be good. If we have to implement extra assertive economic policies, breaking up monopolies, forcing big greedy companies to hand over to our select 30 percenters, so be it.

The prevailing pedestrian thinking is we are like this because people have exploited us. The fact that we remain less prosperous defies divine and natural law. Everyone must be equal. If we cant share in prosperity, let's share the misery.

Sober minded individuals and Malays (lets not use the term liberal because Minister Rais dislikes it) are worried. We want to expose the fallacies of the thinking of people such as Ibrahim Ali wants to propagate. The thinking is that man's penury is due to the fact that some people have appropriated too much of the wealth of this country. That translates into: Malay penury is due to the fact that non Malays have appropriated too much.

Hence to these people like Ibrahim, the only efficacious remedy is to insist on more governmental interference to correct the imbalance. For as long as we have the idea, that out own shortcomings are caused by the other people; we can never have economic liberation on whose foundation, real prosperity lie.

That is why I find the fact that TRH has been invited to speak at a forum organised by Ibrahim Ali as incongruent. It would be interesting to hear what TRH says on Malay economics in the age of globalisation and its reception thereafter by the NGO led by YB Ibrahim Ali.

15th August: The causes of Prosperity

Many have realised this fact; the struggle to preserve the 30% quota of privileges is in reality, a determined effort by the élite to preserve theirown privileges. It has never expanded into the universal struggle for the economic emancipation of Malays.

I want to repeat this observation. The penury of the majority Malays is not the result of greedy others taking a larger share of the economic pie. We have been taken for a ride believing in this. The causes for the continued misdevelopmet of Malays are likely to be found in the actions and behaviour of the Malay leadership.

The Malay leadership at all levels have not acted in the interest of Malays actually. Please look around you. The top leadership of Malays from kings to district officers, to head of departments, the army, the police down to the lowly paid peons and thambys, are all Malays. The have the means to develop Malays. Yet the lot of the majority Malays hasn't improved substantially. But the lot of our own super 30 has improved tremendously. There can only be one conclusion- the elite leadership calling for the magic number of 30, has been helping themselves to the pie and excluding the majority Malays. The majority Malays have improved on account of themselves. They have turned themselves into capital goods in the sense of having acquired the skills and education to pull themselves up.

It is strange- the UMNO progressives who fight vehemently against the dismantling of the 30% are in fact fighting on behalf of the real exploiters of the Malays. Hence, it is they, not those who decry and call for economic liberalisations who are the bribed sycophants of the old bourgeoisie. These people are hiding behind the tired and overused phrase of Malay supremacy.

Tuan- the real supremacy of Malays must be fought in the realm of economics. This is why I am attaching a special interest in the speech Tengku Razaleigh is making in front of a crowd deep in this idea of Malay supremacy. There can be no more strident voice of Malay supremacy in the disparage group led by Brahim Ali.

The answer to Malay prosperity may well lie in the basic building blocks of economic advancement. These can be summarised in for broad headings- mass production, the application of science to production, the passion for productivity and the spirit of competition.

These were the views by a leading teacher of economics at Harvard University- William E Rappard in explaining the secret behind America's prosperity. Hence instead of the sabre rattling and kris wielding, maybe we Malays need to go back to the first principles of economics.

Once we accept these general observations as to what lay behind prosperity, we then begin to understand the political significance of the conclusions. It is that, our prosperity and conversely our penury lie within us. Our own salvation will be the result of our own efforts and will be a purely Malay phenomenon. It is no way caused or furthered by external factors, principal among them the greedy appropriation of other races from us.

I cannot dispute when professor Rappard says the wealth of a country very largely depends on the will of the nation. Other things being equal, then, a country and its economy will be more productive in proportion as its inhabitants want it to be. Malay community will be prosperous if the Malays want prosperity and lay down policies fitted for the purpose. The 'want to' must be there first.

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