Jun 16, 2014


The nature of man is that he is forgetful. He not only forgets who he is but he also forgets who made him into what he is. This is unfortunately a tragedy for every man who aspires to become somebody other than what he is. In the recent spurt of words from a well-accomplished business tycoon on what he perceived as the case of crony capitalism in Malaysia, the role he wanted to play played him out by placing him on target of public lashing from his benefactors who nurtured him into what he is. When I travel by the KL-Express to KLIA I see the world this tycoon has carved out and the world he has sculptured for himself. He has a foundation in honour of his dad that hands out scholarship to students. He has the KTM lands in Sentul all to his conglomerate where he is erecting creepers that gives a fresher look to the dusty environment. He has the deal that could cement the relations between my beloved country and Malaysia through the speed train. Yet he chose to speak on a sensitive topic and found himself on defense, nay to deny by saying that the media has misquoted him. Poor media again!

He is not the only one to bad-mouth the country that made him into what he is. I know of many individuals, including eminent academicians and politically aspiring leaders, who gave vent to their flair for being articulate, go across the causeway or any other way and talk about the tagline of crony capitalism in Malaysia. Every country has this problem. Take America it is full of cronyism. UK has its own form of cronyism. Even my beautiful country has its own version of cronyism deeply embedded in the system that it is almost institutionalised. May be in Malaysia it is not that sophisticated.

The case of this tycoon is that he was flying high that he lost his anchor and his roots. Like many others who benefited from such generous gestures from the government he too received his token from the crony-capitalism and became what he is today. The only difference is that unlike many of those recipient he did not waste his wealth in foolish and lavish lifestyle but planned his expansion prudently and strategically and quickly extended his wings to overseas. He is a success story of how crony-capitalism enriched a member of the non-Muslim minority in a Muslim majority country. This only shows the magnanimity of Malaysia in allowing people from other races to prosper as the country prospers.

I can understand when poor non-Muslims complain about Malaysia being selective in giving preferential treatment to Bumis. They concern that even the rich Bumis are benefiting from such treatment when they buy expensive properties. They suggest that as long as the person is rich he must be exempted from such preference. This may sound very logical. But then what is the price of being a bumi (the native or indigenous or son of the soil)? This is his right no one can question it. Even in America and Australia the natives have special rights. A Bumi can deny or relinquish his right just because he is rich. But it would be better if he voluntarily declines such preference to show that he be accorded the same treatment as other rich people. That is his personal decision.

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