By Mariam Mokhtar
Every Malaysian has, in their daily activities, had dealings with Macom Bhd., the company which flourished under the tenure of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Even foreign investors have been involved in transactions with Macom. Just in case you’re not aware, Macom stands for ‘Makan Commission’.
At some point in the past, our integrity was compromised. Umno and to a large extent, Mahathir, were responsible. Umno Baru was created to keep the Malays ignorant and stupid (Melayu di perbodohkan), as Mahathir might say.
It is a story which has been told repeatedly. The Malays, under Mahathir, became rich beyond their wildest dreams. In one generation, the Malays and their values were compromised. The non-Malays are not blameless, especially the ones who played along with Macom.
The people who control Macom don’t want things to change. The Malay who prefers to keep quiet and not rock the boat, is preferable to one who makes his government and leaders accountable for their every action.
During Mahathir’s time, it is alleged that one Malay lawyer, who sold a listed company which was owned by an Umno crony, received RM10 million in commission. It is also alleged that bank managers, who earned good money, would resign to become remisiers and make fortunes from insider trading.
In those days, teachers took their responsibilities seriously because they wanted to provide their charges with a sound education. Many helped finance, with their own money, the poor children who could not afford pencils and exercise books. Nowadays, teachers are more interested if the contents of the students’ tuck-boxes, in case they contain haram food that will upset the sensibilities of the “Umno Muslims”.
Today, the Malay is but a shadow of his former self. He brandishes his kris, knows not what he is talking about and is more suited for a role in drama. He champions violence in the name of Malay supremacy.
He talks about the sanctity of the Malay race and Islam, but when he is abroad, he is the devil incarnate. He says nothing about corruption, but gets angry about yoga or the poco-poco dance. He is holier than thou and at the thought of PAS making inroads into any state, the Umno man declares that hudud law is good and that Umno will implement it first. The first cut is the deepest and who in Umno will get the first punishment under hudud, for stealing from the rakyat?
The ‘Chinaman’ who built a textile empire can still be found stitching away, despite his success.
The first to flounder
He does not go out and buy fast cars. When the economic bubble burst, the ‘Chinaman’ scaled down his trade, but the Macom men went out of business. The Macom men were the first to flounder because they did not build their wealth on a bedrock of hard work and perseverance.
Recently, a few people have spoken up against the injustice and wrongdoings of the past.
Former EC chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman claimed that in the 2008 election, he was criticised for not using indelible ink to stop multiple voting because of security concerns. This prompted Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz to confess that he had blocked the use of the ink.
Former minister Dr Lim Keng Yaik (right) in an interview with The Edge was cynical about Najib: “I give up lah, talking to this government,” and added, “Politicians who think they can become rich quickly by joining politics should be condemned and kept out of politics and government.”
Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said that the government had paid inflated prices for the procurement of weapons and described it as buying toys for the boys. Meanwhile, former deputy minister Tan Kee Kwong Tan criticised Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for “single-handedly destroying” Felda’s prudent management, siphoning off its wealth and misleading both parliament and the public.
Mohamed Rahmat, the late information minister, admitted that he was more of a ‘propaganda minister’ tasked with toppling the Kelantan PAS government in 1977. Former minister Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said that BN used government agencies to court rural votes and resorted to bribery during elections.
Why did they wait until now, to speak up?
Why are there are so few men of character and integrity like student Adam Adli, Professor Aziz Bari and cartoonist Zunar who are prepared to shatter the myth of the comatose Malay and speak up. They faced arrest, persecution and suspension.
Despite being pestered by two Umno datuks behind the cheap publicity stunt involving the cartoonists recently, Zunar (left) rejected his award and RM10,000 prize money.
Ambiga Sreenevasan has risked her life to bring hope and change to Malaysians in the form of clean, free and fair elections. Najib says it is “not our political culture to debate”, then is the sight of Malay men showing off their butts, part of Malay culture?
Many performers who have openly supported the opposition, like Hairie Othman, Aishah, Dayangku Intan and Bob Lokman, have found that they no longer get exposure on RTM or government events. In contrast it is alleged that artists like Jamal Abdillah, Amy Search and Ibnor Riza, are rewarded with RM10,000 each and every time they declare their support for Umno.
Annie Ooi (left), better known as Auntie Bersih is another of the courageous women of Malaysia. We all remember the picture of her, drenched with chemically laced water in the Bersih 2.0 march. She wants an end to corruption and injustice like another of her fellow Malaysians, Irene Fernandez, who for giving a voice to migrant workers, was charged with sedition.
A few with guts
Even in BN, there are a few with guts. Kian Sit Har, the Malacca MCA Wanita chief, attended the Bersih 3.0 march and declared, “As a responsible citizen, I support two issues highlighted at the gathering, namely eradicating corruption and for the coming general election to be fair and clean.” For this act of treachery, she was told to resign by Ali Rustam, the Malacca Chief Minister.
These men and women are to be commended for they have inspired others with their bravery and their sacrifices.
The culture of fear which Mahathir bred and which Najib has promulgated has encouraged two things; thugs who use violence to get their own way, and people who are too afraid to speak.
How much longer should we tolerate the “cari makan” excuse that these men used, to justify their silence in the past? Perhaps, we should overlook their reasons waiting until now to speak out and encourage more to come out in the open. Umno cannot thrive when all of its secrets are exposed.
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.