Malaysia 101: Stop Thinking Like Self Centred Politician

Quote nationalism politician

When Trump won the elections to be the 45th US President in 2017, his mantra that won over many was “To Make America Great Again” and as a businessman and not as a politician, many thought that it can be done. In the end, he turned out to be just another self-centred politician.  Image source: AZ Quotes 

However making America great again fell flat on the face because glaring lies (yup, Mexico will not pay for the wall), mismanagement (tax breaks that only enriched the rich) and strategies that were not supported by the experts (undue trade war with China).

By the time he lost the elections to Joe Biden in 2020, many have seen how serious the mess has been under the Trump’s administration. The Make America Great Again thrust in the end only divided the country and saw the worst of the worst in this COVID19 pandemic.

It is interesting to see how politicians say one thing but do another totally opposite especially when they are in power. This is not the first incident of this – we have seen the same when some politicians (and even some civil servants) talk sense when they are no longer walking in the corridor of powers.

Then we have this piece of writing from the Grand Old Man:-

Racial considerations in national policies will hamper the country’s growth if these result in the neglect of minority groups, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

In an interview with Free Malaysia Today (FMT) the former two-time prime minister said the government must accept Malaysia’s multiracial fabric and factor this into its policymaking.

“People will leave this country,” he said, if the racial considerations are prioritised.

“Whatever you say about the non-Malays, there is no doubt that they have contributed towards the development of this country. If you remove them, the growth of this country will be hampered, it will even turn negative,” Dr Mahathir added.

He said that much of Malaysia’s economic growth can be attributed to the non-Malays, who were able to succeed economically despite being minorities in the country.

However, Dr Mahathir said this growth had also led to an economic gap.

“There’s a need to balance (the wealth) between the non-Malays and the Malays. Because as you know, even if it’s a mono-ethnic country, if there is too big a disparity between the rich and the poor, there will eventually be violence,” he said, justifying this with global movements to tackle income inequality.

“We have to bring (the Malays) up so that there is a balance in terms of distribution of the national wealth between all the different communities,” he added.

On his failed unity government vision when he had been the interim prime minister, Dr Mahathir blamed this on those he claimed were more interested in personal gain than duty.

He said this led to the formation of too many political parties, especially for the Malays, and unstable coalitions.

He said Umno’s previous success since Merdeka was because it was the only significant Malay party and gained substantial support.

However, Dr Mahathir said that after this, “many people found out that you can make money through politics”.

“When you are elected as an MP or to the state assembly, you get a good income. They see this as a means of earning an income, not as a service to the country.

Of course, there is a lot of competition among them, with everybody wanting to become MPs or members of the state assembly, to become ministers, prime minister and the like.

(Source)

Coming back to the Old Man’s comments, he made 2 key statements which need to be analysed namely:-

One – that the government must accept Malaysia’s multiracial fabric and factor this into its policymaking. He said people will leave this country if the racial considerations are prioritised. How many politicians in the country is not driven by race or religion?

Two – that there’s a need to balance (the wealth) between the non-Malays and the Malays. He says if there is too big a disparity between the rich and the poor, there will eventually be violence. This comes to making the right policies and enforcing them correctly.

Racial Considerations in Government Policies

This statement does not make sense since Malaysia especially under his own premiership saw the race-based policies that were put in the place and heavily institutionalised over years. Why he or any of the leading politicians in power did not do something about this back then?

That is until Pakatan Harapan took over which then saw some attempts to curtail some of the unfair and lopsided race-based policies

Malaysia’s prime minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim said Friday (Jul 26) that Pakatan Harapan (PH) will steer Malaysia away from race-based economic policies towards a needs-based strategy, in a move that might put an end to decades of preferential treatments given to the bumiputra.

Speaking to reporters after the Malaysian Economic Symposium 2019, the Port Dickson Member of Parliament said affirmative policy, which began as the New Economy Policy (NEP), is “obsolete” and must be removed, Malay Mail reported.

(Source)

Pakatan Harapan Government unfortunately fell is less than 2 years and things have seemed to be gone back to the ways before 2018. It has its own politicians to blame for the fall and no one else.

Balance of Wealth Between Non-Malays and Malays

There always a contention by politicians that Malays are less capable and wealthy than the Non-Malays and thus needs to be continued to be assisted by the Government by means of race-based policies and special funds and discounts.

Gini politician chart equality of income

But what is the actual statistics on this argument against other countries? Chart source: Our World in Data

The 2019 findings depicted the value of the Gini coefficient that was calculated based on gross income increased by 0.008 percentage points from 0.399 (2016) to 0.407 (2019).

Over the period, the Gini coefficient in the urban area increased from 0.389 to 0.398 whereas Gini coefficient in rural rose from 0.364 to 0.367.

The Gini coefficient for the Bumiputera has risen from 0.385 to 0.389 while for the Chinese it has increased from 0.411 to 0.417. The Gini coefficient for the Indians also increased from 0.382 to 0.411.

The Gini coefficient can also be measured based on disposable income wherein 2019 it grew by 0.2 percentage points from 0.391 (2016) to 0.393 (2019).

Over the period, the Gini coefficient in the urban area increased from 0.380 to 0.385 while Gini coefficient in rural decreased from 0.365 to 0.361.

The Gini coefficient for the Bumiputera reduced from 0.380 to 0.377 while for the Chinese it has climbed up from 0.396 to 0.399. The Gini coefficient for the Indians also recorded a rise from 0.372 to 0.399.

(Source)

What is the Gini Index that is mentioned and does this means the Chinese have more wealth than others?

The Gini index, or Gini coefficient, is a measure of the distribution of income across a population developed by the Italian statistician Corrado Gini in 1912. It is often used as a gauge of economic inequality, measuring income distribution or, less commonly, wealth distribution among a population.

The coefficient ranges from 0 (or 0%) to 1 (or 100%), with 0 representing perfect equality and 1 representing perfect inequality. Values over 1 are theoretically possible due to negative income or wealth.

A higher Gini index indicates greater inequality, with high income individuals receiving much larger percentages of the total income of the population. Because of data and other limitations, the Gini index may overstate income inequality and can obscure important information about income distribution.

(Source)

In this sense, it does appear that based on the statistics that the Malays have the lowest distribution of wealth compared to the Chinese and surprisingly Indians. But then again, statistics based on some sampling may not be reflective of the actual situation on the ground.

The question is why this is so for the Malays despite the country had racial preferential policies and affirmative actions in all sectors for the past 50 years?

Is it due to the abuse of the race-based policies? Is it because of the non-level playing fields that have been put in place to give artificial advantages to some? Did we end up building people who are less resilient and who cannot compete?

A serious point to ponder considering that we will be celebrating 64 years of independence this year. 64 years of the various races working together and living together as Malaysians.

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