Friday, June 25, 2010

I Would Have Approved Football Betting Licence

KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 — Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he would approve the widely unpopular football betting licence if he were still in power.

“If I am the government, I will approve it,” he said in Putrajaya today.

He said the government should not stop those who are permitted to gamble.

“The Chinese always gamble, it isn’t haram for them. Why stop them?

“Why should we stop them? We can’t stop them from eating pork because for them it’s not haram,” he said.

Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s Berjaya Corp had reported last month that the government had re-issued the licence to Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd — also controlled by Tan — after the original licence was cancelled by the previous administration under Tun Abdullah Badawi.

The listed company had proposed in a filing made to Bursa Malaysia on May 12 to acquire Tan’s 70 per cent stake of Ascot Sports for RM525 million. The remaining 30 per cent would remain under the control of his son, Datuk Robin Tan Yeong Ching.

However, its status has been called into question by the Finance Ministry’s recent denial that it had issued the licence to Ascot Sports following public uproar at the legalisation of another avenue for gambling.

Long-time Mahathir (picture) associate Tan had first obtained the licence from the feisty veteran politician himself but had “asked the government to take it back” when the venture was unsuccessful.

But he has now obtained the right to get the licence back and was exercising it.

Dr Mahathir said last Monday that Pakatan Rakyat’s objections to the re-issuance of the sports betting licence was not driven by religious reasons but, rather, political ones.

“The objection is political, not Islamic,” he had said.

“Even the DAP is protesting, as if the DAP too is supporting Islamic teachings. This is the politics of the opposition parties which are looking at issues (for political mileage).”

Islam Missionaries Must Not Be Extremists

Local missionaries must be free from extremist influence which tarnishes the image of Islam in discharging their responsibilities, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today.

The former prime minister said if there were missionaries who were influenced by the extreme practices of certain Islamic countries and try to spread such practices in this country, it would pose problems.

“They should preach smartly to suit the local situation,” he said when opening the 49th annual general meeting of the Malaysian Muslim Welfare Organisation (Perkim), here.

Tun Dr Mahathir, who is also the Perkim president, said extremist missionary activities not only tarnished the image of the Islamic religion but would also result in the Muslims being looked upon with contempt and create splits within the Muslims.

Worse still, Tun Dr Mahathir said there were those who felt that violence must be used to topple governments on grounds that they did not follow the wishes of Islam, without thinking that violence was a form of cruelty.

Meanwhile, Tun Dr Mahathir was returned unopposed for the post of Perkim president which he has held since 2006.

Perkim honorary secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Abdul Hamid Othman announced the result at the general meeting held at a hotel here.

Four people elected as Perkim vice-presidents were former Perlis mentri besar Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim, Datuk Dr Ariffin Suhaimi, Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman and Datuk Dr Mustapha Ma.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dr M is Manipulated by Perkasa and Gertak?

Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali said Nazri’s statement was unsurprising and that he was not “bothered at all” with the latter’s words.

“Nazri (picture) speaks as an individual but Perkasa is an organisation with thousands of members now. So I hope he feels great with his statement and I am not bothered at all.

“I feel great too,” he told The Malaysian Insider via SMS this afternoon.

The Pasir MAS MP said that Nazri, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, had an axe to grind with Dr Mahathir and merely wanted to please all those who opposed Perkasa’s struggles.

“He might have problems with Tun since Tun is a great leader and world renowned. So he must feel proud and great when he can attack Tun,” said Ibrahim.

Perkasa Youth chief Arman Azha Abu Hanifah agreed with his leader, saying that if Nazri’s “boss”, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, could accept Perkasa’s struggles, he should follow suit.

He said Najib had shown support when he accepted five of the 32 proposals made by Perkasa to be included in the 10th Malaysia Plan.

“If his boss can accept us, why can’t he?” said Arman Azha.

He added that the five proposals included strengthening the economic status of the Bumiputeras and protecting the welfare of the Bumiputeras in education.

“Furthermore, Nazri claimed that Perkasa is strong because of Mahathir but this is wrong because even before Mahathir supported us, we were already around.

“He is just supporting us because he saw that we are a non-governmental organisation that has been very consistent in fighting for the rights of the Bumiputeras,” he said.

Arman Azha added that Perkasa would always be relevant with or without Dr Mahathir so long as it continued to champion the rights of the Bumiputeras.

“As long as we are consistent, if we keep protecting the rights of the Bumiputera which are enshrined in the Constitution, we will be relevant.

“Also, it is not true that we are against Najib — we have always supported him and we are merely bringing to him the voice of the grassroots. Sometimes as a leader, you are not aware of the people’s voices.

“Nazri is just trying to stand out,” he said.

Gertak, or Gerakan Kebangkitan Rakyat (People’s Awareness Movement), chief Razali Idris accused Nazri of being an opportunist who would side with whomever was in power.

“He is a three-era man. He was there during Tun’s time. He was there during Pak Lah (Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi). He is here now during Najib.

“He just wants to be their strongest soldier, their general, so he will defend them to the end. His style is to try and make sure that he stands out so that people will say ‘wow, he is a great leader’,” said Razali.

He claimed Nazri was clueless over the true purpose of Gertak, which was why he claimed that the movement would die if Dr Mahathir stopped supporting it.

“Firstly, we are not about Tun. We invited him to speak for us because he is the one true leader who has been there through the tough years in the past.

“He was there during Merdeka, he was there during the May 13 riots. He knows our history first-hand whereas Nazri only read from history books,” he said.

Razali pointed out that unlike Perkasa, Gertak was not an organisation but a movement to remind the Malays that they should not be complacent.

“We do not want the Malays to have this complacency, to sit back and think they do not need to work hard because they would always get opportunities from the government.

“This is why we called our rally ‘Melayu Bangkit’. We want the Malays to rise and be aware,” he said.

Razali said that Nazri should not simply “spew out” comments and criticisms against movements like Gertak if he did not have the right information on what its struggles were about.

“I challenge him now — can he sit down and unite all the Malay NGOs in the country? Can he get them together and sit on one table and share one motive?” he said.

He added that as the Marang Umno division deputy chief, he was very much still an “Umno man” but was able to sit together with political leaders from across the divide for the purpose of championing Gertak’s cause.

“I can sit and talk with DAP leaders, PAS leaders, PKR leaders. Can Nazri do this? Can he?” he asked.

Razali said Gertak’s “Melayu Bangkit” rally in Kuala Terengganu on June 14 had attracted not only Malays but those of other races as well.

“We invited Mahathir because he was the one political icon who could speak on the history of Malaysia and the position of the Malays,” he said.

He noted that the rally had only attracted 2,000 people although the target was 5,000 people but claimed that those who turned out had done so voluntarily.

“We saw not only the Malays but the Chinese and the Indians too. I heard some even cried during Mahathir’s speech. So Nazri does not know what we are about and he is wrong to say we will be irrelevant without Mahathir,” he said.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dr Mahathir Provokes Singapore Malays

Singapore Malays have united and slammed Dr Mahathir in unison for his remarks made to a gathering of right-wing Malay groups that they are “marginalized”.

He claimed that “even though Malay Singaporeans enjoy the benefits of a more developed country, they have to ‘terbongkok-bongkok’ (kowtow) to others.”

A deluge of letters appeared in the Straits Times Forum today defending the PAP’s track record and system of “meritocracy” in Singapore.

Mustaffa Othman is quick to give credit to the PAP:

“While Dr Mahathir’s opinion on Malay Singaporeans enjoying the benefits of a developed country is spot-on, we have never kowtowed to others. Singaporeans of all races, including Malays, engage in healthy debate and discussions with our Government. The decisions made by the Government, after hearing feedback from its people, are respected as we trust it is in the best interests of all Singaporeans.”

Mr Jeffrey Law puts up a robust defence of the Singapore system:

“‘Most people will dismiss Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s remarks as merely political rhetoric. Singaporeans of all ethnic backgrounds have come a long way since 1965, having embraced the system of meritocracy in all aspects: education, employment and social standing. Most important, our ability to be a developed country within such a short time is due to the concerted effort and sacrifices of all Singaporeans – Chinese, Malays, Indians and others.”

Ahmad Abu Bakar felt that Singapore Malays achieved what they have today through their own merit:

“I strongly object to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s remarks. Like others, Malay Singaporeans work hard for the benefits in a meritocratic system. They are not born with a crutch of ethnic rights, quotas and ‘unfair’ opportunities. When Singapore Malays graduate from universities as doctors, engineers and scientists, they can hold their heads as high as the others, because they have done so by their own hard work and merit.”

Malays form some 15 percent of Singapore’s population and is the largest ethnic minority in Singapore. The Chinese forms the majority at 75 percent.

While the Malays have made great strides over the decades under PAP rule, some grievances remain such as the dearth of Malay officers in the Singapore Armed Forces.

In the last few years, the PAP has been mass-importing Chinese from mainland China to maintain the ethnic ratio. PAP strongman Lee Kuan Yew said in an interview last year that it is a “good” thing that Singapore brings more Chinese as they are more “hard-driving” and “hard-striving” than the locals.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Malays Could Be Marginalised In Their Own Land

Mahathir Mohamad warns against marginalising Malays

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has been accused of trouble-making, for saying Malays could be marginalised in their own land, unless they unite politically. Dr Mahathir, whose book, The Malay Dilemma, generated huge controversy 40 years ago, made the speech in the Muslim-dominated state of Trengganu. Civil society groups have accused Dr Mahathir of being provocative, as race and religion are sensitive topics in the multi-racial nation. However, one of Dr Mahathir's former colleagues has jumped to his defence.

Presenter: Sen Lam
Speakers: Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, former Malaysian Information minister and former senior office holder in the ruling UMNO party.

FADZIR: There is definitely a debate in Malaysia about the position of the Malays and Bumiputras in general, in comparison with the economic status of the Chinese especially. Now, they know that everybody agrees that there is definitely a gap an economic and social gap between the two major races in Malaysia. And we agreed a long, long time ago that this gap must be brought down closer, otherwise it is a recipe for disaster. In any society, if there is one race who is very much left behind and another race is so much advanced, it is a situation for trouble.

LAM: Malaysia has had over 40 years of pro-Bumiputra, pro-Malay policies. Why do you think that gap still exists?

FADZIR: Yeah, because obviously somehow or other, the policy of closing the gap which was supported by all the races, slowly it got hijacked.

LAM: Hijacked by whom?

FADZIR: Yeah, hijacked.

LAM: Hijacked by whom?

FADZIR: Well by various people, so instead of helping the Malay masses to come up, you know, it became a policy of just entertaining a small group of elite.

LAM: So you're saying that a small group of elite leaders benefitted from the new economic policy, that it did not filter down to the Malay community?

FADZIR: That's right, that's right. If it is a question of just helping the masses, the masses who are left behind, who are poor, I think that everybody supports, the Chinese do support, everybody supports, there is no quarrel about that.

LAM; The rally was called Melayu Bangkit, or Malay Awakening. Some people would say that is quite a provocative title. Do you think Dr Mahathir was irresponsible in addressing a rally that is obviously attended by hard core Malay nationalists?

FADZIR: Not necessarily, because they were also members of the ruling party who attended the meeting.

LAM: This is the ruling UMNO Party?

FADZIR: Yes, and some of them are quite moderate.

LAM: But many of the people who attended were from this group called Gertak - this is the umbrella group for 45 Malay NGOs and Malay Nationalist groups?

FADZIR: Well I don't know, but from what I understand from the various debates going on, people just want to go back to the policy which was launched by Tun Abdul Razak a long time ago, when he launched the new economic policy, that's to help the Malay masses, the poor Malay masses to come out, to close the gap.

LAM: How different was Tun Razak's policy from present day policy and I might remind our listeners that Tun Razak was the father of the current prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak?

FADZIR: Yes, I think .. er well, you know, when Tun Razak launched that policy, there was very deep study before the policy was launched. And he got in everybody, all the races in this study and he ultimately, when it was launched, he had the support of everybody, including the Chinese Opposition Party. Eradicating poverty amongst all races. But when it was implemented, unfortunately, we left behind the poor amongst the Chinese and the Indians, especially the Indians. Even the policy of helping the Malay masses was slowly replaced by helping, just promoting a small group of Malay elite.

LAM: There has been a push by non-Malays in recent years, for more rights and better treatment. Do you think that some sections of the Malay community might feel threatened by it - that this group, Gertak, the umbrella group for Malay activists, that they might feel that it is time for them to seize back more Malay rights, rather than grant the non-Bumi population more rights?

FADZIR: It is quite obviously in Malaysia to everybody, the Chinese have done very, very well. But they did very well because they are prepared to work very, very hard, they are prepared to spend wisely and they are very capable, so they have a right to be rich. So even on their side, they should be more muted in terms of clamouring for more, because naturally, we are in a democracy, there's bound to be some noise and turmoil of democracy and obviously there is some reaction from some Malays.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mahathir: Only cowards sue critics

Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad has taken a swipe at politicians who file legal suits against critics, calling them cowards. He could also be taking a swipe at Singapore's leaders who are making it a ritual to sue anyone who dares comment about them.

In his latest blog posting, he says he will not sue author Barry Wain, who in his book 'Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times' writes that he misappropriated public funds when he was prime minister.

“I am leery of politicians who sue their critics,” he said.

“I suspect that what they want is to make the issue sub judice so as to prevent the critics from attacking them on the issue. This is a cowardly move and in fact proves that the criticisms are fully justified.”

He urges the public to be cautious of such politicians, saying they are prone to abusing their power.

He said a politician should be able to fend of criticisms without going to court if he is innocent.

Mahathir probably is suffering from amnesia, as he has conveniently forgotten what he did during his years in as PM, during whose years in power a number of publications had their licences suspended or cancelled. Politicians who use the legal process to muzzle criticism are no better than a government that shuts down publications which are critical of it like that of Mahathir's.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mahathir in Sri Lanka

Mahathir Mohamad makes his mark in Sri Lanka
By Natasha Gunaratne

Former Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad, credited with engineering rapid industrialization and modernization in Malaysia over his 22-year tenure, said the key to economic development and growth was stability amongst the main ethnic groups in Malaysia and a strong government which worked towards the success of the private sector and enhancing the lives of its citizens.

On a three day visit to Sri Lanka this week, Dr. Mahathir said he met with leaders in both the private and public sectors and expects Sri Lanka’s growth, which was stunted over the past 30 years due to the war, to improve.

At a media briefing on Friday, Dr. Mahathir said Sri Lanka was growing at a faster pace over Malaysia when it gained independence in 1957 but was hindered due to the ethnic conflict. He said this shows that it is better to resolve differences through negotiations and arbitrations than fighting.
Dr. Mahathir added that leaders in Sri Lanka are keen to develop the country but that the per capita income is low. He said Sri Lanka needs wealth in order to develop and will be forced to borrow.

Malaysian Experience

Dr. Mahathir said Sri Lanka was far ahead of Malaysia at the time of Malaysian independence in 1957 when Malaysia was primarily an agricultural economy with some mining before becoming an industrialized economy. When Dr. Mahathir resigned from office, Malaysia’s per capital GDP had grown to US$9,000 from US$300 when he first took office in 1981. It was industrialization that contributed to Malaysia’s rapid progress.

Delivering the keynote address at the International Business Leaders’ Forum organized by the Sri Lanka – Malaysia Business Council on Thursday, Dr. Mahathir said Malaysia also moved ahead due to achieving peace and stability amongst its three main ethnic communities. If issues were allowed to slide, he said there could have been large problems since the ethnic communities have different religions, culture and language. “If left to itself, Malaysia could have seen confrontations,” he said. “Early leaders decided to welcome the three races to participate in government.” This was achieved through a coalition of ethnic political parties, formed to share in the wealth of Malaysia.

The country’s focus was on economic development as industry created more jobs whereas agriculture did not create enough jobs for a growing population. Dr. Mahathir said Malaysia had no technology and experience in industry and no knowledge of markets or capital to start industries at that time. Foreign investors were invited to start industries which helped in job creation. Malaysia welcomed foreign direct investment (FDI) although investors would have no participation in the politics of the country. Investments were made in highly labour intensive industries which created employment. Malaysia even had to allow in foreign workers due to a shortage.

Focus on Education

Dr. Mahathir said Malaysia wanted its people to enjoy a high of living and spent a huge sum totaling 25% of the country’s development budget on education. Initially, there were only a few government universities and most students went abroad. Malaysian’s were studying in Germany, Belgium, Russia and Ukraine. The quest for knowledge became a big part of the country’s development programme.
Now, Malaysia has around 30 government universities and 30 private universities. Dr. Mahathir said students still go abroad but Malaysia is seen as a centre for excellence with over 100,000 foreign students in universities. He also noted that the literacy rate of 97% is very high and has been a contributing factor to Malaysia’s development. He added that now, Malaysians can go abroad and contribute to the construction of other countries whereas before, Malaysia was dependent on foreign companies for infrastructure development.

Look East Policy

Dr. Mahathir said an efficient government is needed which is dedicated to the development of the country and makes improvements in administration. In Malaysia, various institutions were created to improve the quality of administration. “We also tried to learn from the experience of other countries,” he said. Thereby, Malaysia adopted its ‘Look East’ Policy which was replaced by the previous ‘Look West’ policy. Malaysia looked to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

Dr. Mahathir said Japan had rapidly rebuilt itself after World War II and had big corporations which were helped by the government. He also said one of the most important lessons Malaysia learnt was about the work ethic in Japan and South Korea that contributed to their success. Malaysian workers and students were also sent to Japan and South Korea to acquire knowledge and skills but to also learn about their culture.

Good leadership and democracy in Malaysia

Dr. Mahathir stressed the need for good leadership. He said the government has to have deep knowledge on the economy and administration. With the wrong leaders, a country may not achieve the growth that its people want. In a democratic system as in Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir said people have the right to vote leaders out of office. Therefore, he said it is an incentive for leaders to work towards the development of the country and the welfare of the people.

Dr. Mahathir added that Malaysia does not subscribe to any ideology. They are capitalist, market oriented people but more importantly, they are pragmatists. “We believe in doing what can be done, not because it is dictated by any ideology,” he said. “We are willing to reject capitalism when it is not good for us.”
Dr. Mahathir said the present global crisis is due to government’s abdicating their role in the market.
He said he does not subscribe to the beliefs that the market should be free to regulate itself and that there should be less government. “This is what resulted in the sub prime crisis in America. We are pragmatists and not being tied to ideology has proven to be useful to us.”

Dr. Mahathir said Malaysia was willing to go against the accepted wisdom during the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis when it questioned accepted rules and did not succumb to what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) thought was the solution.
“Sri Lanka could take Malaysia as a model while learning from other East Asian countries” said Former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad addressing the media in Colombo on ‘On the way forward for Sri Lanka’.

Sri Lanka should encourage more foreign investors to fast track development and not depend too much on foreign loans.

He said the country needs external resources but should not depend too much on borrowings which could stifle growth. People should work and generate capital for development.

“Malaysia rejected aid from the IMF during the Asian financial crisis as it did not want dominance from an external force. Malaysia implemented its own policies to revive the economy”, Dr. Mohamad said. The West had been a model but today the focus has been shifted towards Asia which is an emerging region.

Malaysia is a model for its accelerated economic growth spearheaded by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad during his tenure of 22 years from 1981-2003. The per capita income in Malaysia increased from US$ 450 to US$ 9000 in 2003 due to the dynamic leadership, vision and foresight of Dr. Mohamad.

Asked whether he had been called upon to be an advisor to Sri Lanka Dr. Mohamad said that he was more comfortable to deliver speeches than undertake that task.

“The war is history and now the country should focus on development. Sri Lanka should live in Asia and not necessarily need to look at the West for a model”, he said that he noticed changes in the country since his last visit five years ago and added that there will be rapid growth in the country following the end of the 30-year conflict.

“Growth in Sri Lanka was affected due to the long conflict and now there is room for development.

The leaders are keen to develop the country and achieve objectives”, he said.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dr M Criticizes Jala's "Bankrupt" Claim

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has criticized the report by Datuk Seri Idris Jala, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who said that the country will go bankrupt if the subsidies were not reduced. Dr Mahathir said that Idris had exaggerated in his claims and that the country would instead become ‘poor’ and might not go bankrupt.

He said “Perhaps Idris was exaggerating. We are not going to be bankrupt but we are going to be poor. When the country is doing well, most people are working and they are creating wealth and then the government will tax them but in a recession that is when most of the people are unemployed and yet that is the time when we need the most amount of money. At the time when the country is in recession and the government has no money. We need to accept but I hope that the government will do this gradually and not suddenly pull the carpet from under your feet,”

He added that “In Malaysia, we must accept that when prices of raw materials go up then the prices of the end-product must also go up. You know the prices of petrol during my time was US$30 but at one time it went up to US$140. Imagine the amount of money that the government has to roll out. Especially now when our country’s oil production has been reduced to less than 500,000 barrels per day and we use more than 400,000 barrels a day. Therefore we only have 100,000 barrels to sell,”