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MGG: Does only Bumi contractors not complete projects on time?
By M.G.G. Pillai

5/1/2002 3:13 pm Sat

The Prime Minister, Dato' Seri Mahathir Mohamed, is sure Malaysia's bumiputra contractors are mollycoddled and do not complete the projects they get. Like Malaysia's Islamic state, it is not official policy to correct it, and like Malaysia's former deputy prime minister's fate, it is to humiliate them. Yes, when rules are bent backwards to hand projects to bumiputras -- to all and intents and purposes, Malays; the others do not count -- it is not the government's intention to make them complete, but to sub-let them to their favourite Chinese contractors, who does it to theirs, and down the line.

It is a sophisticated officially-recognised version of the old and much-despised Ali Baba system, where Ali, the Malay, has the licence, and Baba, the Chinese, who does the work. The New Economic Policy gave the Malay a sense of belonging and being but it also set in place a system of disincentives to hobble the Malay from competition. No one questioned it at the time for that would have been treason under Malaysian laws.

So, one must question this sudden attack on bumiputras for failing. For this system was for the narrow, unsustainable political aim to retain Malay support. That came a cropper in 1987 when UMNO was declared illegal. A new UMNO rose from its ashes, but as many opposed it under a man who remains the unspoken challenger of Dr Mahathir. It hardened in 1998 when Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sacked and jailed as a deliberate warning against any who dares challenge him now or in the future. It backfired. And the Malay young is hostile as ever to UMNO. So, these attacks on Malays expecting handouts is UMNO preparing itself to explain why the Malays are put on notice.

The arrogant Malay business man and technocrat, invariable inclined to UMNO, is UMNO's creation. He is unsufferable, arrogant, and presumes the world owes him a living. The companies he run likewise. Tan Sri Halim Sa'ad of the debt-ridden Renong and UEM groups, and Tan Sri Tajuddin Ramli of the TRI group would have been forgotten Malay accountants today if UMNO had not made them the failed business men they are. The Prime Minister did not find out recently. His sons are in this elite failed crowd as the bumiputra entrepreneurs outside his office patiently to beg for contracts to keep themselves afloat.

This is the political fallout from a necessary policy that lost its way for which Dr Mahathir is as responsible as any. He attacks it now for a different purpose. He wants to bring in Chinese business men, who he believes would deliver with more panache and efficiency. Yet, what was to be the largest engineering project, the RM13 billion Bakun hydroelectric dam, was given to a property company, Ekran Bhd, controlled by a Chinese crony, Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing; they made a mess of it. He and Ekran are let off the hook, given RM800 million for failing, now gets a major engineering project for the Sepanga Bay for several hundred million ringgit. Why?

Tan Sri Vincent Tan, another crony, failed in his bid to privatise sewage, failed to build the Linear City, and the monorail, which should have been ready for the 1998 Commonwealth Games but still is not. His share in each was between RM1.5 and RM2 billion. Now he is to get another privatisation handout worth RM2 billion or thereabouts. Another is the YTL group, laughing all the way to the bank with its independent power projects, excused for not completing projects given in exchange for valuable land in Bukit Bintang, and poised for even more contracts. And it failed disastrously to deliver the electric rail link from the KL Sentral to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in time for its opening; as KL Sentral was not.

The government highlights shortcomings and shortfalls in Education to attack bumiputra contractors. One is the smart schools project. The wife of an UMNO vice president and cabinet minister had the contract. As expected it failed. No action was taken against the man or his wife. Why? Now it is the bumiputra building contractor. And told schools in future should be prefabricated. There is no link between the failure and the new method. But we are assured there is. Logic is not a strong point of government policy. Besides, this is the Bolehland's clue that some Chinese business man is to benefit. And confirmed when Dr Mahathir turns up at the YTL Group's New Year Party at the Ritz Carlton (owner: YTL).

Yes, YTL controls the only company which can provide the prefabricated material to build the schools. Was an evaluation done? No. But it is important, in the government's view, that bumiputra contractors must be humiliated. The Berita Harian, in a commentary about the issue attacked the bumiputra contractors for betraying the government's trust. Besides, if you damn the bumiputra contractors for the losses they incur, it is easier to hand the project to a Chinese company.

So, the begging question: is this an involved way of telling the Chinese community that the National Front's success in the next general election is its hands. The Malays cannot be trusted, what with they taking to the streets, joining PAS and Muslim terrorist groups. It is necessary for UMNO to provide a climate in which any Malay opposing it is a religious fanatic or a terrorist who must be harshly treated. But if a foreign terrorist, as Mr Nur Misuari invariably is in the current Washington-defined meaning of the term, he is treated well as Malaysia wriggles out of being harsh to a man it has always backed. The latest police arrests under the Internal Security of alleged terrorist supports -- linked to the French Moroccan terrorist now on trial in the United States -- rests my case.

M.G.G. Pillai

Malaysia arrests alleged allies of '20th hijacker' Moussaoui

By Andrew Buncombe

05 January 2002

Thirteen men with alleged links to Zacarias Moussaoui, the man accused of being the "20th hijacker" in the attacks of 11 September, have been arrested in Malaysia.

The suspects were arrested for unspecified activities, which the police claimed were a "threat to national security".

Norian Mai, the inspector general of police, said his officers were now investigating links between the men and Mr Moussaoui, who visited Malaysia twice in 2000. "We are still investigating whether there was a link between [Mr Moussaoui] and any of the personalities we have arrested," he said.

Mr Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, appeared in an American court this week, charged in relation to the events of 11 September. Prosecutors claimed he was due to have been part of a hijacking team involved in the attacks on New York and Washington but was prevented from doing so because he had already been arrested after arousing suspicion.

The Malaysian police chief said the 13 suspects belonged to a wing of a group that the authorities call Kumpulan Militan Malaysia (KMM), believed to have links to Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida organisation. "They were arrested because they are believed to be carrying out activities which are a threat to national security, including holding secret meetings for the setting up of the Daulah Islamiah [Islamic government]," he said.

Police have previously said that the KMM is in contact with like-minded groups in neighbouring Indonesia and the Philippines that aim to create Islamic states. "There are plans to form the Daulah Islamiah covering this country, Indonesia and southern Philippines, the majority of whose people are Muslims, according to their own perception," Mr Norian added.

He said that documents containing training schedules and studies of international militant movements, such as those operating in the southern Philippines, Chechnya, Afghanistan and Ambon in Indonesia, had been found during the swoop.

Police were already holding 25 other members of the KMM, arrested since August. They are being held under Malaysia's Internal Security Act, which allows detention for up to two years without trial.