Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu try their hand at managing their economies, the weakest point in the poverty-stricken states!
Commentary and Analysis . . . The newly-initiated SG4 — state government 4 — initiative on the economy appears radical departure from hitherto denying the rule of law, the basis of the Constitution, and demanding the Quran as the Constitution.
The Islamic “rebel” states have opted for economic issues under the advice of dictatorial former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohammad. The RM, in fact, steadily headed south for 24 years under Mahathir controlling the Narrative. More on this later.
Having said that, Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu can probably try managing their economies, their weakest point in the poverty-stricken states, but preferably without Mahathir’s advice. The “visitation from hell” made the disingenous claim in the media that his involvement in the SG4 was about helping erase the stigma that they suffered.
The emphasis so far in the radical Islamic states has been on Islam Islam Islam. True, it may not be about putting food on the table but the approach does bring in the radicalised votes in the four poverty-stricken states in the north of Malaya and the east coast.
The Islamic Opposition has no track record on managing the economy and upholding the rule of law, the basis of the Constitution. It would be an exercise in futility if they think that the richer and more developed states in Malaya, and the nationalists in the former British Borneo, would put them in power in Putrajaya.
All politics, political science tells us, are about restructuring the distribution of political power and restructuring the distribution of revenue and resources.
Anwar Beyond Economy
Ironically, while the Federal government has any number of advisors and consultants virtually coming out of the ears, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has gone even beyond the Opposition on Islam Islam Islam.
He announced the Malaysia Madani initiative ala Mantra which was obviously put together at a leisurely pace during the decades in the Opposition.
Jakim, notorious for its controversial involvement in systemic corruption on the halal issue for decades, has also been given important role in economic policy making.
This may be about the welfare economy aspects — failed everywhere in the post World War II West, India after 1947, USSR and China — of Malaysia Madani based on Islamic civilisational values and the post-pandemic common prosperity propaganda in China. Beijing sees making money as a threat in the communist state.
Therein lies multibillionaire Jack Ma’s dilemma. He has been virtually reduced to rags from riches.
Other multibillionaires in China, having suffered the same fate, have fled to Singapore enroute to Mumbai in India and the West. New Delhi has offered the Andaman and Nicobar islands near Penang as the new Hong Kong. The new Hong Kong will have autonomy under Governor from India.
Anwar Silent on Islam
Anwar, before he was sacked from the Cabinet by dictatorial Prime Minister Datuk Sri Mahathir Mohamad (now Tun) in 1998, was all about the injection of Islamic values in the Administration, whatever it means.
Some announcements stand out. Anwar publicly swore that he would stop the temple bells chiming and and church bells pealing.
Anwar never mentioned Islam during the quarter century in the Opposition.
It’s likely that Muslim, torn between Anwar and the SG4, would still gather in the village mosques for ceramah on the glory days of Islam in the Middle East, north Africa, parts of Spain and Europe, and Persia, Afghanistan and Mughal India. The wannabe Arab phenomenon may yet survive the newly-found SG4 fascination with bread and butter issues.
The SG4, in coming together, may be dead duck even before it hits water as the initiative, under Mahathir’s advice, looks towards Japan and South Korea for investment. These nations can only take the cue from the Anwar unity government in Putrajaya.
The elephant in the room between the SG4 and Putrajaya remains the Malay dilemma in politics and economics. The Malay Dilemma in 1969, captured by Mahathir in his controversial book “The Malay Dilemma”, was about Malay having political power but no economic power. In 1990, it was clear that the new Malay Dilemma was about the community having failed on getting at least some economic power. Instead, they suffered under a small group of multibillionaires squatting on them as Article 153 was observed in the breach.
Fastforward, the real Malay Dilemma as posed by DAP may be the Malay losing political power as well under multicultural framework, besides having failed on economic power. Mahathir spelled this future in the Malay Proclamation launched after Pejuang, in its entirety, lost election deposits in GE15 last November.
No Malay Failure
In a way, Malay may not have completely failed on gaining economic power. The government, knowing Malay vulnerabilities as individuals, entrepreneurs and captains of industry, institutionalised some aspects of economic power. The approach finds expression in half the market capitalisation in Bursa Saham Malaysia through GLC, GLIC, state owned firms and the Licence Raj imported from failed socialist India. True, except for probably cash cow Petronas mostly exploiting Sabah and Sarawak, the government controlled sector of the economy has been failing from the very beginning since 1970.
However, all isn’t completely lost if the government allows the brightest and best CEO, COO, CFO, and IT from around the world through international headhunters. The government should take the cue from US-based multinationals on the kind of talent, training and skills which will bring brilliant results.
The government sector of the economy, if free of politics and corruption, will help the ringgit Malaysia shed its undervalued status in the forex market. The government must also get away from the kind of narrative — read Mahathir years — which saw the RM steadily heading south since 1965 when the Malaysia Parliament granted Singapore independence.
It’s not known whether Anwar Ibrahim will lead the way on bringing back the government, the Cabinet System, and the AGC (Attorney General’s Chambers) to brass tacks. He must also end affirmative action programmes being observed in the breach. Otherwise, the gap between the few Malay haves and the majority Malay have nots will get wider and create uncertain national security risks.
Elsewhere, Malay and non-Malay alike in Malaya need deep soul-searching on divisive issues which adulterate the politics on this side of the South China Sea.
Human beings come from one race i.e. homo sapiens. All human beings have the same DNA. DNA is the warehouse for genes i.e. the instruction manual for making the human being.
Language provides no proof of race. From language comes artificial social and cultural constructs like delusions, culture, customs, traditions, rituals, food, habitat and history.
Then, there are customary practices or Adat based on history and habitat.
There’s also the rule of law, the basis of the Constitution, long denied by the Islamists.
The Malaysia Parliament, taking the cue from the Singapore Separation Act 1965, may have no choice but grant independence for Sabah and Sarawak. The Federal government will never comply with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA’63). Malaysia Day has emerged as Occupation Day as Putrajaya put in proxy government in the former British Borneo.
MA’63 was the basis for Equal Partnership of North Borneo, Sarawak and Malaya (Singapore merged) in Malaysia.
The Malaysia Project, conceived by British civil servants, existed at least 150 years before 1963. Malaysia could have remained microcosm of the British Empire. Alas, it won’t be the case.
Ironically, Malaysia Day isn’t celebrated in Malaya.
Every year, since 2010 based on former Prime Minister Datuk Sri Najib Tun Razak’s initiative, Malaysia Day was officially celebrated but only in either Sabah or Sarawak.
Before 2010, those who celebrated Malaysia Day were arrested by the police and detained. Jeffrey Kitingan, among others, can bear witness on these arrests. He was arrested in Tuaran before Najib announced that Malaysia Day would be public holiday. Jeffrey wasn’t allowed to present speech on Malaysia Day.
There’s case for at least some people in society stopping whatever they are doing — read looking for money — and work for the collective good. It’s about labour of love.
The collective good mesmerises those who choose simple living and curling up with a good book.
There’s case for creating pleasant conversational settings, about agreeing to disagree like civilised people, and keeping the Debate in the court of public opinion going back and forth until the Last Word comes in.
It’s about our common humanity. There’s no closure on issues in conflict between parties in dispute until we agree that it’s better settling out of court if there can be no finality in litigation. The court can only be about closure. — NMH
Longtime Borneo watcher Joe Fernandez has been writing for many years on both sides of the Southeast Asia Sea. He should not be mistaken for a namesake formerly with the Daily Express in Kota Kinabalu. JF keeps a Blog under FernzTheGreat on the nature of human relationships.