Multatuli wants to know when this nightmare will end
I often marvel at the resilience of the non-Malays; how they plough on through the travails of a system that punishes them at every turn.
I marvel at them but at the same time feel ashamed of what we have done to them.
The recent demand that the freighting business must give up 51% to bumiputras is the latest (but not the first) episode of ‘smash and grab’ by the government.
The dhobi list of ‘daylight robbery’ goes back a long way – from rice milling to transport to banking; we force them to give us a share of the fruits of their toil without us doing a stitch of work. All because we have the muscles to do so. Have we Malays become gangsters? Demanding ‘protection money’ for allowing others to operate their businesses.
Imagine this; you put in years of mental and physical sweat, you risk your savings, you live frugally, watching your pennies; you deprive yourself of the nice things in life in order to build up your business. After years of sweat your venture pays off.
Now you are told by the government – YOUR Government – that you must give up the majority share to someone else who has done nothing to build up the business. The recent controversy about the durian orchards is exactly the same. In that case the irate growers chopped down their trees on which they toiled for five years. But a freighting company takes longer and costs more to build up. I am afraid some will take the Robert Kuok route out of the country; take their money and expertise elsewhere. How can you do business in a country where you pay taxes and is legislated out of your business?? Where is the fairness?
As a Malaysian I feel for them. As a Malay I am ashamed.
In the fifties and sixties there might have been justification in levelling the playing field through government action. Article 153 of our constitution was meant to do that. But while Article 153 which was meant only as a temporary provision of the constitution, gave the Malays certain privileges (for a fixed time) at the same time it safeguarded the “legitimate interests of the others”.
The goal posts were shifted to favour the Malays very strongly after the seventies. The benchmark was the Malays owning 30% of the country’s wealth and that was achieved at least a decade ago. So now we don’t even bother to justify our actions in taking over businesses owned by non-Malay Malaysians. We have the power so we take!
We have met our needs sometime ago. If many Malays have been left behind it is not because of the non-Malays but because our own Malays have cheated us. They have enriched themselves at our expense.
What we are doing is pure greed. We Malays have become greedy! To be more specific so as not to tar every Malay with the same brush; the Malay upper middle class and ruling elite have become more greedy. I say this because ordinary Malays do not benefit from this daylight robbery.
On this freight forwarding business (as in all other businesses) it is wrong to impose this new ruling on existing operations. You can’t move the goal posts. By all means if you want to impose new rules on future businesses go ahead. Then those who go in do so with full knowledge that it must be majority Malay owned.
Our leaders talk a lot about Malay maruah but they do things that bring our dignity down. They shame us. We are not pimps living off the proceeds of someone else’s work.
Although the rule of the 51% Malay ownership has been put off till December 2022 it still remains; waiting for a more opportune time to implement it.
We Malays have been operating on the basis of “Might is Right”; because we have the muscle we can do as we please. Only gangsters and bullies behave like that. We are not like that, we are “nature’s gentlemen” as the British once opined. I would like to think we still are deep inside us.
(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)
By Multatuli Murtadi, Kelantan
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