can't agree more

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

just something if u're too bored with what you are doing ^^

*/Why can't we build more universities? We spent RM100 million to
celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Merdeka last August. That is one
university complete with equipment, fittings, libraries, and whatnot. We
spend RM300 million a year on the Terengganu Monsoon Cup. That would be
another three universities a year./*
Raja Petra Kamarudin/
More than 50 years or so ago, when I was still a baby, my mother weaned
me off my bottle in quite a shattering manner, literally-speaking of
course. After I finished drinking my milk, I would hurl the bottle over
the cot and it would go crashing to the floor and shatter into a million
pieces. In those days, milk bottles were made of glass, not of plastic
like nowadays. Plastic technology, then, was not as advanced as today so
bottles were made of glass -- and tins from tin, tyres from rubber, car
dashboards from wood, and so on. Today, of course, nothing is original
any longer and most products are manufactured from synthetic materials.
Even 'wooden' car dashboards and faces of certain Menteri Besar are made
from plastic.

The cost to replace my bottles was certainly pretty exorbitant and
eventually it became cheaper to carpet the entire room to cushion the
bottles when they came crashing to the floor. One day, however, my
mother removed the carpet and when I threw my bottle out of my cot it
hit the floor and smashed into smithereens. My mother stormed into the
room and raised quite a ruckus. "That's it," she said, "now you have no
more bottle. You will have to drink from a cup from now on."

When it came time for my next milk routine, my mother brought my drink
in a cup and I of course refused to drink it out of a cup. I wanted my
bottle. My mother then reminded me that I had just smashed my bottle
that very morning so I would now have to drink out of a cup or else no
milk for me. It was either a cup or no milk so I reluctantly agreed to
the cup. It was I, after all, who had smashed my bottle so I really had
no one else to blame except myself. Eventually the cup became second
nature until I discovered that there are certain drinks that are best
drunk straight from a bottle. But that would be another story for
another time though.

When my wife and I got our first baby, the deal was: she had carried our
daughter for nine long months so it was now my turn to suffer -- I had
to wake up at 3.00am to feed the baby. The first week was very tiring
and I went to office the following day feeling very groggy. The second
week, however, I filled the bottle with plain water and after three days
or so my daughter no longer woke up in the middle of the night. She
probably did not find it remunerating enough to wake up just for a drink
of plain water.

There is currently quite a bit of brouhaha about the continuation of the
New Economic Policy or NEP. Even 'progressive' Malays like Shahrir
Samad, surprisingly, are of the opinion that the NEP must be retained
because the Malays are not yet ready for the removal of their 'security
blanket'. I suppose, as long as you still bottle-feed the Malays, they
would continue to demand it. But once the bottle is smashed or you feed
them plain water, they may decide to move on and not keep clinging to
their baby ways.

There are two things about the NEP. One concerns education and the other
business opportunities. The education part is actually not as complex as
what some make it out to be. Sure, there are certain quotas allocated to
Malays while non-Malays are given a token quota. And because of the
limited places in local universities, the non-Malays have to pay for
their own education, in particular at overseas universities.

But does this need to be so? China has more than 1,000 universities with
more than 100 in Beijing alone. Malaysia, which has only twice the
population of Beijing, does not even come close to the number of Beijing
universities. Based on the Beijing population to number of universities
ratio, Malaysia should have at least 250 universities as opposed to less
than 10% that at the present moment.

Why can't we build more universities? We spent RM100 million to
celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Merdeka last August. That is one
university complete with equipment, fittings, libraries, and whatnot. We
spend RM300 million a year on the Terengganu Monsoon Cup. That would be
another three universities a year. We are spending more than RM3 billion
on the second Penang bridge. That would be about 35 universities. With
savings from this, that and the other, we could have 100 new
universities built over 10 years.

Yes, we do have money. It is only that the money is spent on the wrong
things. According to Umno circles, Daim Zainuddin has transferred RM42
billion of our taxpayers' money out of the country and has sunk this
colossal amount into about ten banks that he owns in Africa and Eastern
Europe. That RM42 billion plus all the other money that has disappeared
into the pockets of Umno cronies could have built 1,000 universities, as
many as they have in China though our population is just twice that of

If our money had been well-managed and better-spent, today we would have
more universities than students. We would be begging Malaysians to go to
university because most of the lecture halls would be empty. Who would
need the NEP? There would be no need for racial quotas. Our problem
would not be about limiting places in universities so that these places
could be reserved for Malays. Our problem would be about how to convince
non-Malays to stop going overseas and instead go to local universities
because there are just not enough students for the too many universities.

But the reality of the situation is, our money has been wasted. Billions
have disappeared into the pockets of Umno warlords and their cronies.
Billions have been spent on the wrong things. I have estimated that,
over 30 years, Petronas has earned about RM1 trillion. One Petronas
consultant tells me that I am wrong. The figure should be RM2 trillion,
he says. RM1 trillion or RM2 trillion what's the difference? Both
figures are equally exorbitant.

If just part of that money had gone into building one new university a
year, today Malaysia would have no less than 50 universities. They could
have even built 100 universities over 30 years with RM2 trillion. And we
would then no longer need to reserve places in these universities. We
would no longer require racial quotas. And this means we would no longer
need the NEP.

The NEP started in 1970 and has gone on for 38 years now. We started
earning petroleum revenue in 1974 and have continued earning for 34
years now. But the petroleum money did not go into addressing what ails
this country. And soon this petroleum money will dry up but what ails us
will remain. We missed a golden opportunity to resolve our race problems
with the income from the black gold. But we did not. And because of that
we still need the NEP because, without the NEP, Malays would not have
places in local universities.

The NEP is not just about education or places in universities, some
would say. It is also about business opportunities. Sure, but is that an
excuse not to solve at least half the problem; racial quotas in
universities. If we solve one problem then we will have only one problem
left to solve. Now, after 38 years, we still have two unresolved
problems, and both involve race and racial quotas.

Okay, say that the government had solved the problem of racial quotas in
local universities by building so many universities that there are no
longer enough students, Malays or otherwise, to fill them up. This would
still not solve the second problem of creating more business
opportunities for Malays, many would argue. Actually this is not quite
true. Malays have been in business since before 1969 and these Malays
were actually very successful in their time.

Take Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's ex-father-in-law as one example. Mahmud
Ambak was a very successful businessman, as were his peers such as
Safuan, Mat Jan, HM Shah, and so on. No doubt there was only a handful
of such people and you could count them on your fingers of one hand. But
the numbers were beginning to grow and, in the East Coast, the Malays
were involved in all types of businesses and were even beating the
non-Malays on top of that.

Then came the NEP and with it came the quotas and Umnoputeras.
Eventually the rent-seekers and commission agents monopolised the scene.
Furthermore, you had to be an Umno warlord to obtain businesses,
contracts and quotas -- so eventually your Umno membership and not your
business acumen decided whether you got ahead or not. The genuine
businessmen soon folded up and the Ali Babas; Umno Malays backed by
Chinese towkays; took over. And what we see today are products of the
NEP rather than genuine businessmen who made it because they are good in

The NEP killed the 'real' Malays. In their place emerged the
Umnoputeras. Without the NEP and with a level playing field, Malays
would have made it -- but only the good Malays, not the commission
agents. Granted, without the NEP, there would have been fewer Malays in
business. But these few Malays would have been the quality Malays. Now
we have the 'low-class' Malays who made it only because they are
Umnoputeras and for no other reason. Why play the numbers game? Why go
for quantity without quality? Would it not have been better to see the
birth of the Robert Kuoks, Queks and Tan Chin Tuans of the Malay
community, people we could be proud of?

To say that the Malays would never reach the level of the Robert Kuoks,
Queks and Tan Chin Tuans without the help of the NEP is an insult to the
Malays. I, for one, believe I can make it with or without the NEP. To
say I am who I am because of the NEP and that I would be nothing if not
for the NEP is a great insult and I take it as an insult. I believe that
without the NEP and without the unfair advantage given to the
Umnoputeras there would be no 'ceiling' above my head and the sky would
be my limit.

But alas, I need to be Umno to get ahead and I need to be an Umnoputera
to get my hands on quotas, contracts and permits to make it in the
business world. It is not a level playing field and unless I am prepared
to play the game according to the rules of the game then I had better
not bother to play at all.

The NEP is our milk bottle. But eventually we need to grow up and
discard the bottle. We are now 38 years old so surely we should stop
drinking from the bottle by now. But we are still being given the
bottle. And the bottle is in the form of the NEP. And because of that we
are still babies even at 38 years old. And our 'mother' tells us that we
are still going to be given the bottle over the next 50 years. I will
not live another 50 years. I may not even live another ten. But I shall
still be offered the bottle till the day I go to my grave.

Yes, we Malays are going to die as babies. We shall never be allowed to
grow up. We shall never see that bottle go crashing to the ground and
getting smashed into a million pieces. And because we have never be
weaned out of the bottle we shall know no other way in which to drink
our milk. And we will never learn how to eat rice because we do not know
how to grow and cook rice. But one day, when the 'mother' dies, we shall
cry and cry, asking for our milk that will never come. And the baby will
die when the mother dies because the baby knows no other way in which to
feed itself other than waiting for the mother to bring the bottle.

That is the sad future for the Malays. Do you now know why the baby does
not want the mother known as Umno to die? This is because the baby needs
its daily dose of milk which only the mother can provide.