THE Malaysian Indian dilemma. What happened to the billions of ringgit stolen under the guise of the Malaysian Indian Quota?
Let me first declare that I am not a politician, nor am I a member of any political party. I write this as a concerned Malaysian and a keen observer of the rapidly changing climate of fighting corruption in Malaysia Baru.
The Malaysian Indians contribute to some of the highest incidences of gang related violence and other misdemeanours. They also constitute a high proportion of the significantly under-privileged in Malaysian society. There have been several attempts to systematically uplift this community with the financial backing from the government of the day. Up until 2003, all government backing was routed via a single political party, the MIC. Post 2004, however, the Fourth-floor rabble was established in the PM’s Office. And, with this, the government backing for the Malaysian Indians began to get diversified.
The Najib era began to see the dilution of the backing via a slew of newly established political parties, NGOs and highly placed luminaries who were close to Najib, his wife, senior civil servants and the Fourth-floor rabble.
While we may raise demands to review the excesses that the MIC had taken without funnelling back to the community, we must first stop to consider the actual dilution that had been effected by the Fourth-floor rabble. The funds that Najib had handed to the community via the Fourth-floor rabble was even bigger than the funds handed by any previous administration for the cause of uplifting the Indian community. But, how much was actually funnelled to the community and how much actually end up in the hands of the few luminaries? The way I see it, a mere 2-5% ended up with the community, MIC took 10%, and the rest, 85% or so, was happily held by these luminaries who became overnight billionaires.
The list of these luminaries would not exceed 10-15 individuals who are seen as beacons of the Malaysian Indian community. These are the few Malaysian Indian Tan Sri’s, Datuk Seri’s and Datuk’s who received numerous aviation, rail, port, infrastructure, low-cost housing and broadcasting contracts that should have ultimately helped the Indian community but only ended up increasing the individual net worth of these luminaries. All handed on a direct award basis under the guise of the Malaysian Indian Quota.
One good case example is the MAIKA sale to help re-pay poor MAIKA investors. MAIKA held an un-utilised insurance license. This could have been monetised by MAIKA themselves in order to re-pay poor MAIKA investors. But instead, the Fourth-floor rabble had to intervene to bring in a “white knight”, to stand in as intermediaries while the actual license was sold to none other than an airline owner and a former prime minister's brother who ultimately listed the entity and walked away with a tidy sum of money. The poor MAIKA investors got a minuscule pay-out while these luminaries significantly increased their individual net worth with a dormant MAIKA asset. Why couldn’t MAIKA have sold the asset directly to the airline owner and a former prime minister's brother in the first place? Was the introduction of the ‘White Knight” merely to handle future pay-outs for the various luminaries and the Fourth-floor rabble?
Another case example is the Malaysian Indian Blueprint unveiled by Najib in April 2017. While it could be hailed as a nice effort on the part of Najib, one should ask who really benefited from this? Who was the consultant brought in to write a blueprint with no specific or measurable action items? How much was paid to this consultant? What criteria was used to distribute the SEDIC and SEED funds? Who were the real beneficiaries of these funds? How much has the net worth of the individuals heading SEDIC and SEED grown with the establishment of these individual units?
It is a well-known fact that the senior most civil servants in Malaysia claimed Indian ancestry as highlighted in public by none other than Najib himself during the launch of the Malaysian Indian Blueprint. These civil servants were actually business partners of some of the above Tan Sri’s and Datuk’s.
The key modus operandi was to have intimate business meetings in the private rooms of an Indian restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. Lucrative business deals were consummated between these luminaries and these civil servants over a hot masala chai specially made by the proprietors of the said Indian restaurant.
Let us not overlook the fact that the primary consideration for these luminaries to secure these major rail infrastructure, aviation infrastructure, port infrastructure, broadcasting, or advertising contracts on a direct appointment basis was not the individual luminary’s business background or their stellar credentials. It was their proximity with Najib’s power-base, the business relationship with the particular senior most civil servants, the cosy relationship with the Fourth-floor rabble and the fact that they were utilising the Malaysian Indian Quota.
The resultant effect, was that these luminaries made billions of ringgit, the senior civil servants grew their individual net worth, the Fourth-floor rabble got their fair share. …. But, how many Malaysian Indian small and medium businessmen got sub-contracts from these large deals? How many Malaysian Indian professionals got high paying jobs? How many Malaysian Indian educational institutions got sizeable grants? How many Malaysian Indian students got scholarships? The list of questions abounds!
What I am highlighting here is the tip of an ice berg of financially lucrative programs that have been hijacked by the few who have used their know-who as opposed to know-how. These were actually financially lucrative projects that were ultimately meant to help uplift the marginalised Indian community. Unscrupulous individuals have greedily hijacked funds that was meant to help this community, all under the guise of the Malaysian Indian Quota.
Fighting the scourge of corruption is a major priority of the Malaysian electorate. There must be a clarion call from society at large to stop rent-seekers from stealing funds meant to uplift marginalised Malaysian communities. We must immediately call for a forensic audit of all funds that was allocated by previous administration(s) in the name of uplifting the Indian community. We must ascertain if these funds were indeed utilised to help uplift the community as opposed to self-enrichment.
• Let us not seek fresh funds to be allocated from the government of the day until we have a salient plan to claw-back the funds from the above-mentioned luminaries, the heads of SEDIC and SEED, and the Fourth-floor rabble as a genuine example of reforming the Malaysian Indian community. • Let us institute tangible actions that will help to economically progresses this community. • Let us apply true governance as we drive the economic reform of this community under the new dawn of “Malaysia Baru”. • Let us avoid, yet again, being misdirected by the very wolves in sheep skin who used the Malaysian Indian Quota to steal the funds handed to improve the economic status of this community. • Let us stay vigilant lest these individuals enact a silent get-away to safe havens to enjoy their stolen wealth. - selliyal.com
* Ravindran Devagunam is a former Director of Pemandu (Performance Management and Delivery Unit) under the Prime Minister’s Department