Govt Not out to Persecute Bumiputeras, but No More Shortcuts

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The prime minister lambasted Bumiputeras for seeking easy money, including handouts such as BR1M, and not making full use of the opportunities under the NEP and its successors to improve their lot.

  • No more easy contracts for Bumiputeras even if it means losing votes
  • Contracts, licences of Bumiputeras who don’t deliver will be revoked
  • AP, contracts sold to third parties will be cancelled
  • The desire for instant riches one of the reasons why NEP failed to achieve its aims
  • Calls for Malay supremacy meant nothing if the Malays themselves failed to improve through better work ethics
  • Malays will regress if their attitude persists
  • It is not race but the culture, values, and that Bumiputeras had to change if they wanted to succeed
  • The government had tried to improve the lot of the Bumiputeras in many ways, some of which had made non-Bumiputeras uneasy, such as scholarships to Bumiputeras that were not based on merit

The Government is not out to persecute Bumiputeras but wants to ensure that a fair and equitable solution is in place for the betterment of the community, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The Prime Minister said that in the past, many business opportunities had been given to Bumiputeras under the New Economic Policy (NEP), but many had sold their contracts and approved permits (APs) for a good profit.

He said that such acts for quick gains did not help them in the end because they continued to be paupers after spending all the money and not investing it, while those who bought the contracts and APs became successful.

“Many who got APs and sold their APs, became AP traders. They got APs for free from the government but sold them for as much as RM8,000 for one. They got 10 and sold all and got RM80,000 a month.

Yusof Mat Isa

“It is the same with contracts. We give Bumis contracts, they sell the contracts. We gave Bumis contracts to build computer labs but they sold them off. So the subcontractors made profits building labs with lousy materials and before we could use the labs they collapsed. This is my experience. This is widespread.

“Do not sell off the opportunities (and) contracts given to you,” Dr Mahathir said at a question-and-answer session during the Future of the Bumiputera and Nation Congress 2018 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on Saturday.

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“If we are continuously finding shortcuts to success, we are already setting ourselves for failure,” he said.

He added that his new Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration will not entertain requests from those who are merely seeking to get rich quick.

“If you want to sit at home and wait for riches to show up on your doorstep, go ahead and wait forever. Nothing will come to those who do not work hard.”

Dr Mahathir said that if someone is awarded a contract and if he passes it or sells it to others, then the contract will be cancelled.

“If you are not able to execute it, do not try to get contracts, (especially) if it is only to be sold off later.

“The contract will then be invalid and cannot be executed,” he said.

Dr Mahathir added that PH will not budge from this stance even if it could result in their loss at the next general election.

“Even if the government may be defeated for not succumbing to these people’s requests, it is OK for us. 

“We are not here to do our own people wrong,” he added.

The session was moderated by Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali. Also present was Dr Mahathir’s wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali and PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. The congress was attended by some 2,500 delegates.

Dr Mahathir said the desire for instant riches was also among the reasons why the NEP failed to achieve its aims.

“NEP was created to ensure the economic success of the Malays. But the ones who have succeeded are not Malays. They (non-Malays) use the opportunities before them – they get to buy the contracts and APs, set up businesses, generate wealth, expand their companies and become millionaires.

“We may regard this as something normal. In this country, the cities do not belong to us (Bumiputera). We are the rural folks, and it appears that we have accepted the sentiment that we do not belong in cities.

“In the cities, only businessmen can be rich. You can be officers and clerks but you cannot be rich, unless you steal.”

Dr Mahathir said calls for Malay supremacy meant nothing if the Malays themselves failed to improve their lot through better work ethics.

He added there was no point talking about ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ if they were “someone’s coolie”.

He warned that the Malays will regress if their attitude persists.

“We will continue to regress if this process continues, unless we try to find a way to succeed in business and entrepreneurship,” he said.

Mahathir said it is not race that determines success or failure but the culture and values and that Bumiputeras had to change if they wanted to succeed.

He said the government had tried to improve the lot of the Bumiputeras in many ways, some of which had made non-Bumiputeras uneasy.

“One method that worked, but is rarely spoken of, is that we gave many scholarships to Bumiputeras that were not based on merit.”

He said through the provision of scholarships the government had managed to increase the percentage of Bumiputera doctors in the country from 2% to 40%.

“It is the same with other professions, like architects and engineers. We gave scholarships to those who didn’t get top spots. They had the ability but needed the opportunity. If we don’t give scholarships to Bumiputeras who aren’t number one, they will become secretaries like during the colonial era.”

On accusations of cronyism, Mahathir said: “In truth, many get opportunities but don’t succeed. But because they don’t succeed, they are not seen as cronies. From every 100, maybe four or five succeed. They become famous and are labelled as cronies.”

He said many failed not because they were not cronies but because they did not work hard and use the opportunities well.

He said it was easy to accuse people of cronyism and giving help to only those who succeeded. “Everyone is given the same opportunities. People see successful ones become millionaires and billionaires, then jealousy sets in and they accuse the government of cronyism. If they don’t want to be labelled as cronies they should fail.

So long as Bumiputeras did not change, he said, they would fail, especially if they continued to be exposed to easy money, BR1M payments and fishermen’s allowances.

“We don’t work but wait for money to come to us.” 

Yusof Mat Isa

Dr Mahathir said he hoped the congress would work on the ethics of the Bumiputera.

“I don’t have good news for you today. As usual, I’m here to criticise and lecture the Bumiputera. I hope this Congress is serious about rectifying issues.”

Anwar will deliver the closing remarks at the conference later today.