|Laman Webantu KM2A1: 4158 File Size: 8.5 Kb *|
ATimes: Malaysia's blueprint holds hidden dangers
By Anil Netto
7/4/2001 10:33 am Sat
[Setelah menyelamatkan beberapa kroni yang lebih berguna untuknya,
barulah Mahathir kini nampaknya cuba mengambil hati rakyat marhain pula
dengan beberapa ketul gula-gula yang nampak menarik pembalutnya. Itupun
setelah tersedak oleh pergaduhan ngeri di Kg Medan dan ekspot elektronik
yang semakin berkurang serta harga minyak kelapa sawit yang teruk menjunam.
Tetapi BSKL menjunam teruk di bawah paras 600 mata selepas beliau
membentangkan rancangannya - seolah-olah pelabur melakukan satu demonstrasi
perasaan di pasaran saham menyeru Mahathir berundur segera. Mana tidaknya,
masalah penting di sebelah atas masih dipejamkan mata - sebaliknya rakyat di
bawah disuruh sakan berbelanja pula. Padahal ada banyak cara lain untuk
meningkatkan ekonomi tetapi tidak dilaksanakan kerana ia mengugat kroni.
Mahathir memerlukan kroni untuk menolongnya menang dalam perhimpunan
agung yang akan datang. Politik wang masih hidup dalam Umno sebab itulah
pemimpinnya ramai yang kaya raya sehingga berkilo-kilo beg berisi wang
SAHAJA dibawa keluar negara. Musim pemilihan adalah musim beg itu diisi
semula... dan kali ini lebih berat lagi kerana Mahathir sudah terdesak mahu
berkuasa. Di sinilah kroni datang menyumbang samada wang atau kontrek yang
AsiaTimes : Malaysia's blueprint holds hidden dangers
From Asia Times
Malaysia's blueprint holds hidden dangers
By Anil Netto
KUALA LUMPUR - If the stock market is any barometer of investor
confidence, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad can take little comfort
from the reaction to the country's new economic blueprint for the next
10 years, announced on April 3.
The day after the plan was unveiled, the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange
Composite Index crashed through the 600-point mark to close at its
lowest level in two years after heavy selling of the top three
The index plunged 6.15 percent or 38.91 points to close at 594.26
points on April 4 - the steepest fall in percentage terms since last
As if that were not enough, the economic blueprint was quickly
overshadowed by news that jailed former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim
was briefly allowed to attend his mother's funeral after being at her
bedside when she died.
A crowd of more than 1,000 supporters shouted "Reformasi" (Reform) and
"Allahu Akhbar" (God is Great) as a wheelchair-bound Anwar made a
brief public appearance, under armed guard, during a funeral service
at the cemetery.
Under the circumstances, the impact of the Third Outline Perspective
Plan (OPP3) was short-lived. "The plan marks the second phase of the
nation's journey to realize Vision 2020," said Mahathir, when tabling
the 200-page economic blueprint in Parliament on Tuesday.
The plan aims to strengthen inter-ethnic unity, produce a
knowledge-based economy and prepare the country for globalization. It
hopes to tackle poverty and introduce agricultural reforms to assist
farmers and smallholders who are vulnerable to fluctuating commodity
The blueprint also seeks to expand the ethnic Indian stake in the
economy by increasing their ownership of shares to 3 percent. Indian
Malaysians now hold only 1.5 percent of total corporate shares despite
comprising 8 percent of the population. Racial attacks targeting
Indians in slum areas around Kuala Lumpur have highlighted the
depressing social and economic statistics of the community.
Under the New Economic Policy (1970-1990), the overall target of share
ownership was 30 percent for bumiputras (indigenous groups, largely
ethnic Malay), 40 percent for non-bumiputras (ethnic Chinese and
Indians) and 40 percent for foreigners.
By 1999, bumiputras held 19.1 percent of shares in limited companies
(almost unchanged from a decade earlier). The non-bumiputras share had
dropped from 46.8 percent in 1990 to 40.3 percent in 1999. But the
foreign stake had climbed from 25.4 percent to 32.7 percent over the
Anxious to win back the votes of the Malays, many of whom have
switched allegiance to opposition parties, Mahathir stressed that the
government's target to achieve 30 percent corporate ownership for the
bumiputras can only be realized if they cooperated. "We will never
reach that target if the bumiputras to whom we gave the shares instead
sell them to non-bumiputras," he said.
Nonetheless, the policy to double the share ownership of the ethnic
Indians and Malays is likely to have little effect on the vast
majority, many of whom hover on the poverty line, while others live in
plantations earning subsistence wages. They have few financial
resources to raise a family or to buy a decent house, let alone buy
shares on the KLSE. If anything, the continuing emphasis on equity
ownership along ethnic lines is likely to widen the growing income
gaps and wealth disparities between the rich and the poor.
While focusing in the past on increasing corporate ownership of shares
for the Malays to 30 percent, little attention was paid to how these
shares - as well as contracts and licenses - were awarded and, in the
end, a small coterie of favored tycoons and politicians of all ethnic
groups became fabulously rich.
The plan also unrealistically anticipates that economic growth will
average 7.5 percent over the next decade. Malaysia was forced to lower
its projected economic growth rate for 2001 from 7 percent to 6
percent, a target that critics say is still too optimistic.
But Mahathir pointed out that despite the Asian economic crisis in
1997, the Malaysian economy grew by an average of 7 percent annually
from 1991 to 2000, as targeted under the Second Outline Perspective
Circumstances have changed a lot since then, however. Foreign
investment, which had previously fuelled growth, has slowed and the
United State economic slowdown is likely to hurt the economy.
Still, Mahathir slammed critics of previous development plans. "Every
project to improve the living standard of the people has been
condemned, opposed and obstructed. If the opposition had their way,
there would be no Penang Bridge [linking the island to the mainland],
no Subang airport [the old Kuala Lumpur airport] and KLIA [the new KL
international airport], no Proton [the national car], no New Economic
Policy, no Malays in business and certainly none in the corporate
sector or projections."
What was not highlighted was the failure of his administration to
provide adequate affordable housing for all - in stark contrast to the
way the government has funded prestige projects.
Neither was there any mention of privatization gone wrong, when
contracts are awarded without competitive tender to favored bidders,
resulting in higher costs transferred to the consumer.
The wheeling-and-dealing on the stock market, the bailouts of crony
shareholders and the lack of meaningful political and economic reforms
have also led to a drop in confidence in the capital market.
This could be one of the reasons why the stock market remains in the
doldrums as investors shun the market, as seen in the massively
undersubscribed Timedotcom public offer.
The tabling of the report in Parliament was delayed by 15 minutes
after opposition members complained that the late distribution of the
plan meant that they had little time to study it.
The impact of the blueprint, however, is likely to be lost in the
coming weeks as the attention switches to political developments -
especially opposition gatherings in April and the ruling party's much
anticipated annual general assembly in mid-year. Observers will be
watching closely for signs of dissent in party ranks in the run-up to
the assembly. It is these developments and the effects of the US
economic slowdown that are likely to determine how long Mahathir
remains in office.