By Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad , published in The New Straits Times 27 July 2013.
WIN-WIN DEAL: Accusations that the Chinese are sidelined politically ignore the fact that it is power sharing that has made this country prosper.
AS more young Chinese grow up without the experience of British rule, they are not able to appreciate their gains upon independence.
They were, therefore, easily influenced by DAP’s argument that the Chinese had gained nothing from independence.
They did not see any benefit from the role of the coalition of Chinese, Malays and others upon independence. The believe in the merit of meritocracy, in the ablest and the most qualified taking all.
But under the British, the Chinese were not allowed to go beyond becoming petty traders and shopkeepers in towns and rural areas.
All the big businesses were monopolised by British firms. Companies, such as Mansfield, Sime Darby, Scott and English, London Tin, Straits Steamship Co, giant plantation companies, importers, exporters and trading houses were all British. As for government procurement, all had to be through the crown agents.
Banks, especially those carrying government accounts were all British. Only OCBC and Ban Hin Lee Bank (a small bank) were Chinese owned. They did not do much business with the government.
Upon independence, however, no limits were placed on Chinese business expansion. True, some of the European firms and businesses were acquired by the government, but the rest were either acquired by the Chinese or new Chinese companies replaced the British firms in all areas of business. Chinese companies grew by leaps and bounds.
Agencies and dealerships of imported goods accrued to Chinese firms largely. Banking licences were given to the Chinese. Most government contracts for constructions and services also went to Chinese firms.
Construction and development of housing estates and business premises were dominated by Chinese companies. Independence has clearly benefited the Chinese much.
Towns and cities grew because of the dynamism of the Chinese. Even when government contracts went to Bumiputeras under the New Economic Policy, sub-contracts and supplies went to Chinese enterprises.
So successful were the Chinese under the Barisan Nasional “kongsi” government that they can now venture abroad, buying foreign companies, setting up businesses and undertaking contracts all over the world, especially after Malaysia became better known internationally.
Chinese Malaysians became millionaires and billionaires after making their first million in Malaysia.
The Chinese are not well-represented in the government administration. This is simply because the Chinese see limited opportunities as salaried workers. Even when they join government service, they tend to leave early to go into business. There is a distinct dislike for the uniformed services.
The average income of the Chinese after Merdeka is far higher than the average national income. The poverty rate is also lower than the national rate.
The Chinese have their own colleges and universities. Many of the private educational institutions at all levels are Chinese-owned and this includes private universities. Most of the students in these private institutions are Chinese.
To say that the Chinese have gained nothing from independence and the “kongsi” government in which MCA is the second most senior partner is to deny the reality in Malaysia. We are not practising meritocracy simply because it will create great disparities between the rich and the poor as well as between the different races.
DAP ignores all these and keeps on painting MCA as the lackeys of the Malays. This is racist in the extreme. In the cabinet, MCA leaders sit on the right side of the prime minister. The prime minister is a Malay simply because the Malay party, Umno, is the biggest party in the coalition.
The Constitution does not preclude the Chinese from being prime minister but it must be with the support of the majority of the people. DAP, by undermining MCA is what causes the Chinese representation in the government to be weak. Without DAP, MCA is likely to garner more seats in Parliament and in the government.
Whatever, the “kongsi” government has benefited Malaysia greatly. It has brought peace and stability without which economic growth and development would not be possible. It is unthinkable for any race, Chinese or Malay, to take everything for themselves, to dominate the economy as well as the politics of Malaysia.
But, nevertheless, DAP believes and strives to make a Singapore out of Malaysia where the Chinese wield political as well as economic power.
Battered, accused of being lackeys of Umno, MCA has gradually lost the support of the Chinese. It is now but a shadow of its former self. And with its weakening, the idea of sharing with the Malays political and economic power has become insupportable.
For more than half a century of independence, the Chinese have shared wealth and power with the Malays. The idea of a Singapore-like Malaysia seems tempting and Penang has shown the way.
The dilemma for the Chinese is whether to make a grab for political power while dominating economic power or to adhere to the principle of sharing which has made this country what it is today. That is the Chinese dilemma.