KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 12, 2015:
Former prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said most Malays did not know how to manage money and their culture was to spend.
Speaking at a dialogue on “The Malaysian Dilemma” here today, he said as an example, a Malay businessman was given a franchise which started making money and he began to see more money than expected and invested in all kinds of other things and later was unable to pay for the franchise.
“Eventually, he lost the franchise business and at the end of the day was declared bankrupt. Malays see money as a convenience which must be used,” he said.
After the 1969 racial clashes, Dr Mahathir said the National Economic Policy (NEP) was introduced to help resolve the disparity between the Malays and other races.
Prior to the 1969 incident, he said there were 60% Malays in the country, but only 2% had wealth, while the Chinese and Indians, along with other races here accumulatively had 38% of the wealth.Dr Mahathir said the NEP had not worked as planned because it had failed to change the Malay mindset.
He pointed out that it was only supposed to last 20 years (1970 to 1990) but until today the NEP was still in use.
“It is easy to draw up a plan, but implementing it is difficult because with the NEP, there is need to change the culture of the Malays, that is making them more business-minded.”
Dr Mahathir stated that many Malays think money was for spending and not investing and the government over the years had to work to change this mindset.
The longest-serving Prime Minister said with the NEP, the government gave a lot of Malays contracts, licences, Approved Permits and other projects, and they in turn sold it off to others.
“Yes, they were rich for a period of time, but when the money ran out, they returned to the government to ask for more help.
“This is the mindset that has to be changed and over time it has worked with some Malay businessmen.”
On a separate issue on the tenure of a Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir said he had stepped down voluntarily.
He said a leader must know when it was time to go, he must look behind and see the support he had, and if it was disappearing, he should resign.
He said that if he didn’t perform and people said he was not good, he would have resigned but that did not happen to him.
On the issue of his successors, he said when he picked them they were clean and good at their jobs, adding that you could predict how a person would behave when he gets power.
Taking Lord Acton’s quote, Dr Mahathir said: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
He said some people tend to mismanage power to stay in power as long as they could.
The former Prime Minister pointed out that he had done something good as the Barisan Nasional under him was re-elected to power five times.
On the issue of his continued criticism of the government, Mahathir said as a citizen it was his right to ask questions.
“I know I can be a pain in the neck for a lot of people who run this country,” he said, adding if he saw something wrong he would continue to criticise the government.