The Non-Malay Heroes of Malaysia

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I am appalled that there still are those who deny the roles played by the non-Malays in defending this country, especially during the two Emergencies; that dark 33 years of fighting communism.  The history books emphasised more on the 12-year First Emergency because of its relation to the independence of Malaya, thus many forget that not too long-ago bombs were going off in the middle of Kuala Lumpur while ordinary policemen were getting slayed.

The First Emergency broke out in June 1948 with the murder of three British estate managers in Sungai Siput.  Fuelled by the progressive successes the Communist Party of China was having against the Kuomintang, the acts of banditry increased exponentially.  Based on a priori the British found it best to both resettle the Chinese in camps while between 20,000 to 50,000 be sent back to China.  The plan moved at a snail’s pace due to the objections by many, and with the total withdrawal of the Kuomintang to Formosa, the repatriation of the Chinese came to a halt in September 1949 when the Communist Party of China closed off all ports and beaches.  Only 6,000 Chinese from Malaya were sent back (Anthony Short, 1975 pp 178-201).  The rest were settled in new villages to curb them from supplying the Communist Party of Malaya with food and other essentials.

When Ismail Mina Ahmad, the chairman of the Ummah umbrella group for Muslim organisations, claimed that only the Malays fought against invaders and communists in this country, it shows the level of ignorance on his part (Syed Jaymal Zahiid – In fiery speech cleric tells forum only Malays fought invaders communists, Malay Mail Online, 13 January 2018).  His claim is far from the truth.

At the peak of the First Emergency, the British had to not only bring in members of the Palestine Police Force who were experienced in counter-insurgency warfare, but also recruited a large number of Chinese residents of Malaya.  Tan Sri Dr Too Chee Chew, more famously known as CC Too, headed the Psychological Warfare section.  We had the likes of Tan Sri Jimmy Koo Chong Kong, Tan Sri Yuen Yuet Ling, Datuk Leong Chee Woh to name a few who spent most of their lives fighting the communists.

CC Too, Koo Chong Kong and Yuen Yuet Ling were among the ranks of the Malayan People Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) during the Second World War who chose to go against their former comrades and became targets of the Communist Party of Malaya. Jimmy Khoo Chong Kong, who was also a former member of the Sarawak Communist Party before surrendering to the authorities and joining the Royal Malaysian Police, paid with his life on 13 November 1975 in Ipoh, Perak, as did his driver Constable (awarded Sergeant posthumously) Yeong Peng Cheong who died with his gun blazing.  Without hesitation, even with the knowledge that he was also on the hit list, Tan Sri Yuen Yuet Ling replaced Tan Sri Koo as the Perak Chief Police Officer.

When a Royal Malaysian Air Force Sikorsky S-61A Nuri helicopter was shot down in Gubir, Kedah on 27 April 1976, three Malaysian Chinese personnel were also among the 11 killed. They were Captain Choo Yeok Boo TUDM, Lieutenant Chung Ming Teck TUDM and Sergeant (Air) Leong Yee Heng.  They were on a resupply mission from the Butterworth Air Base when they were shot down.

Captain Frank Chong Keng Lay TUDM (retired as Lieutenant-Colonel) flew his Nuri into a hot landing zone to rescue several infantrymen.  His two commando escorts were killed as his Nuri took 22 heavy machinegun shots.  The next day he flew into the same landing zone to repeat the task.  Keng Lay was my Chief of Staff at the RMAF Air Training Command where I was a Staff Officer and later its Adjutant.

Inspectors Kamalanathan and Robert Cheah were inside a coffee shop meeting with informers when a terrorist threw a grenade into the shop.  The explosion maimed Kamalanathan and for the rest of his life he walked with an obvious limp with a grenade shrapnel still embedded in his leg.

There were many other non-Malay police officers in particular those who served in the Special Branch who died as unsung heroes as they were not recruited nor trained with other policemen.  They were the deep infiltrators, members of the community, who went on leading a double life that even their own family did not know they were all policemen.  Their pay did not come from Bluff Road (Bukit Aman) directly. DSP Jeganathan was a Jabatan Talikom employee tasked with setting up the police’s VHF network and spent years jungle-bashing, building towers on mountain and hilltops with the communist terrorists hot on his heels so that the police could have a nationwide communications network.

There were those who were just roadside sweepers working for the municipal and town councils, collecting information.  One had his cover blown when he was discovered in a different town by a neighbour asking him loudly what was he doing there sweeping the streets.

Another was on his death bed, ridden with cancer, when he sought the help of a Malaysian daily to contact my father to tell the latter of his condition.  His real name was quoted by the daily to my father, which my father could not recall.  My father asked the contact in the daily to ask him his Special Branch name. When the reply came, my father left his golf game and rushed to the hospital and after more than 50 years of being married, the wife and family finally knew the man-of-their-house was a hero fighting the communists, not just some small-time trader.

Let us not forget Chief Inspector Chin Chin Kooi.  He was a Special Branch officer probing communist activities in Serdang, Kedah.  At 9pm on 12 July 1973, six communist terrorists stormed into his home and let loose a volley of bullets.  Mortally wounded, Chin returned fire until his last breath.

Across the South China Sea, Police Field Force Superintendent Joni Mustapha was a champion Sarawak hurdler from 1958 to 1959.  Joni was watching a movie with his son in Sibu when a policeman relayed a message to him that his men were being pinned down by communist terrorists upriver Sungai Setabau.  He asked the policeman to stay with his son in the cinema and left to rescue his men.

Constable Nuing Saling, an Iban policeman, was on a two-week leave to be with his wife Imbok Jimbon who was six months pregnant with their third child.  Upon hearing that Joni was leaving for the jungle, hurriedly joined the team.  Both Joni and Nuing had made a pact that they would help each other. They left by boat to get to the location.  Upon arrival, they engaged the communist terrorists.  Joni was felled by machinegun fire but remained conscious to direct the firefight until he died.  Another constable friend, Abang Masri was already dead.  Seeing his commander and friend die, Nuing unsheathed his machete and charged at the terrorists’ position firing at them, only to be mown down.  He had been hit in the face by a bullet.  Nuing refused to give up.  He continued his charge and was hit several times more but kept on charging, killing and wounding many.  He died inside the location of the communist terrorists.

Kanang ak Langkau is perhaps the most known warrior from Sarawak who shed blood and tears fighting against the communist terrorists.  He was wounded several times but not once let his wounds stop him from fighting.

These are stories that we should all remember.  Stories of our non-Malay brethren heroes who risked and gave their lives so that we can all enjoy the peace and prosperity that God has bestowed upon us.  Many more have gone unsung, but they shall not be forgotten.  Especially not by selfishly ignoring the sacrifices that have been made by them.

Reformasi Untuk Mahathir

Mahathir’s return to politics in 1973 was watched closely by other races, in particular the Chinese and Indians.  His meteoric rise to the Deputy Prime Minister’s post in 1976 was of grave concern by many.  His imminent Premiership caused a large number of migration by Malaysian Chinese.  Despite the economic growth in the late 1980s through 1997, some 42,000 Malaysian Chinese opted to work elsewhere.  This number includes some 14,000 Malaysian Chinese who were working illegally in Japan in 1993 (Shimada, 1994).

If citizenship is conferred on races other than the Malays, it is because the Malays consent to this,” wrote Mahathir in his book ‘The Malay Dilemma‘.

“The Chinese and Indians coming from countries with vast populations are less concerned about good behavior and manners. In their lives, nobility, which is always associated with breeding, was totally absent. Age and riches are the only things they defer to,” he added.

Calling for reforms such as the mandatory use of tamper-proof scales, Mahathir wrote of scales that can be used to shortchange customers and said, ”The small-time Chinese retailer is adept at this practice and unscrupulous enough to use it as a weapon in competition.”

Mahathir was the ultra-Malay to many including the Malays themselves.  Fears of race clashes haunted the voters during the run-up to the 1982 General Elections.  I remember being sent to Mimaland in Gombak with Datuk Latt Shariman (President, E-Sports Malaysia) on polling day in case something bad happens.  It was the first General Elections under Mahathir and it was called more than a year before the then-mandate ended.  Public rallies were banned citing ‘security’ reasons and only indoor gatherings and house-to-house canvassing were allowed (Lim Kit Siang, 22 March 1982).

Even though Malaysia’s economic growth peaked at 8 percent in the mid 1990s, it was mired in scandals involving the practice of cronyism and nepotism.  Lim Kit Siang wrote that Mirzan, Mokhzani and Mukhriz Mahathir – acted as companies’ directors, and that according to searches the DAP had made at the Registry of Companies at the end of 1994, Mirzan had interests in 98 companies, Mokhzani in 48 companies and Mukhriz in 67 companies (Lim Kit Siang, 16 June 1998).  Compared to the 213 companies his sons were directors in back in 1994, 488 is the number of companies Mahathir, daughter and sons are directors in as at end of 2016 (Wakeup Malaya, 6 January 2017).

The calls for Mahathir to resign in 1998 for practising nepotism and cronyism culminated in the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim as his deputy in September of the same year, accusing the latter not only of being a tool for George Soros’s attacks on the country’s financial system but also for leading a morally-corrupted life.  Lim Kit Siang and other Opposition leaders were quick to embrace Anwar, acccepting him into their fold when it was just a year earlier that the late Karpal Singh had made mention of allegations of sexual misconducts against Anwar in a Parliamentary sitting – a scene not much different to Lim Kit Siang’s immediate acceptance of Mahathir after decades of mudslinging the latter.

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Anti-Mahathir demonstrations were held almost daily and then held every Friday afternoon at the National Mosque.  These demonstrations were quelled using brute force.  The ‘Reformasi’ movement was born, and the likes of theatre-practitioners such as Jo Kukathas were seen on the streets and interviewed by Maria Ressa saying “Enough is Enough” to Mahathir.  Anwar and several other pro-Reformasi and UMNO leaders critical of Mahathir were arrested without trial under the ISA including current DPM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat, then known by its acronym ADIL, was born out of hatred towards Mahathir, with the aim of toppling him and installing Anwar Ibrahim.  The 1999 General Elections saw how Mahathir suffered a pyrrhic victory, losing grounds in Kelantan and his homestate of Kedah, while losing Terengganu to PAS.  Mahathir-loyalists such as Ramli Ngah Talib, Megat Junid Megat Ayub and Sanusi Junid lost their seats.  That was the beginning of the sounding of the death knell for Mahathir’s virtually unchallenged reign.  During the UMNO General Assembly of 2002, he announced his resignation from party posts as well as Malaysia’s Prime Minister.

Ever since then, with the more open administrations of Pak Lah and Najib Razak, Mahathir became one of the targets of the Opposition in their blog posts, press statements as well as ceramahs.

In June 2012, Mahathir’s newly-made best friend even suggested that Mahathir is tried for his part in the BNM Forex scandal, hinting Egyptian Hosni Mubarak’s imprisonment as a comparison (Lim Kit Siang, 3 June 2012).

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But all is forgotten and forgiven now, even when Mahathir admitted that his apology was only customary and not sincere.  Despite veiled objections from Anwar and Azmin Ali’s camp, Mahathir was named at a Pakatan convention as their Prime Minister of choice albeit interim.   This underscores the fact that the leadership of Pakatans parties do not trust the younger generation to lead the coalition as the position of the elders and powers that come with the position, may be undermined by the younger ones.

The signal of dissent is clear.  Azmin only attended the convention for a while, not waiting for the announcement to be made while Karpal Singh’s daughter, Sangeet Kaur Deo,  has hit out at Pakatan which probably is suffering from a dearth of capable young leaders.  Even Mahathir once quipped that Anwar, who is 22 years his junior, may be too old to become a Prime Minister.

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On Facebook, we are seeing people in their 40s and 50s voicing out their concern over Pakatan’s choice of Prime Minister, alarmed that the monster they have put behind them, could very well jump out from underneath the bed and into their lives again.

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But it does not stop Mahathir from wanting to become the Prime Minister.  He once hinted that he may have to consider becoming the PM again, underscoring the fact that he does not trust anyone else.

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“I may be 93 but at 71 Anwar is much older!”

Wan Azizah may be blind to the fact that Mahathir had once denied the Premiership to her husband and went as far as making sure Anwar went to jail to keep him out of the way, while Lim Kit Siang is only friends with Mahathir because he needs the Malay votes to ensure Pakatan’s seats are sustained after the departure of PAS from the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat.

Will Mahathir be willing to step aside for Anwar Ibrahim or whoever else younger who would be more acceptable to the younger and middle-aged generation aware of his antics?  I doubt.  But as Sangeet mentioned above, it will be a return to Mahathirism, an era of abuse of power, cronyism and nepotism that the Reformasi movement was totally against.

Somehow, it seems that the Reformasi movement has become a tool for what it was totally against – ushering Mahathir into the premiership and welcoming again abuse of pwer, nepotism and cronyism.

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Anwar is NOT going to be MY PM

 

And An Apology Is Enough?

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Anak emak bersemangat dah nak ke sekolah tapi kena harungi jambatan yang canggih ini. Dah setahun tak ada perubahan langsung. Jambatan gantung di Pamah Aur, Bukit Betong, Kuala Lipis,” wrote Siti Zaharah Othman as the caption of the video she took of her husband Abdul Jalil Sulaiman, leading their five-year old son Lutfil Hadi, across a dangerously broken bridge to attend pre-school.

This video collected 1.2 million views and 33,000 shares within eight hours of being posted, with many venting their anger at the government for their inaction over the matter.

Jalil said that this was the only way to send his son to school as it takes 10 minutes to get to the other side of the river versus 40 minutes by road, which is now being submerged by flood waters.

This was refuted by the local assemblyman Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail who said that the JKKK provides boats for people to cross the submerged road.

Wan Rosdy also clarified that the construction of the new bridge is to commence on Jan  8 2018.  The Department of Works had already allocated a sum of RM462,414.40 on the Dec 12 2017 but had to wait for better weather before construction can be commenced.

In a reply to comments, Siti Zaharah said that it has been a year that her husband has had to use the broken bridge to get to work, but critics pointed out that the family owns a Proton Exora, a compact 1.6L MPV.

The husband could have driven the son to the point where the JKKK provides boats for people to cross over to the other side.  And as the flooding only recently occurred, Jalil could have driven himself to work instead of using the broken bridge to cross the river.

It is not that both Jalil and Siti Zaharah were desperate enough and left without any option, they blatantly endangered the life of their five-year old son.

To top that off, Siti Zaharah brazenly mislead the public that that was the only option her family had.

Siti Zaharah has since apologised to the assemblyman but never offered any explanation to the public for her behaviour.

In my opinion, the Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development ought to take legal action against both Jalil and Siti Zaharah under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act, 2001 for knowingly exposing the child in a manner likely to cause him physical injury or even death, by using the broken bridge when there is an alternative route with the means to take the route.

But as usual, as in the case of the use of children for begging by “religious schools”, or bringing children to street protests, not one authority seems to care and enforcement of the Child Act would be a bonanza if any action is actually taken.

If it does happen, I would think that many would run to the nearest Magnum or Da Ma Cai outlet and spend their savings there.

(This posting was featured on The Mole)

Drama Kera La (Versi BM)

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Seekor beruk bermain dengan sekuntum Bunga Raya (Gambar Hiasan)

Baru-baru ini ditularkan di dalam Facebook dan WhatsApp sebuah video mengenai cara negara China memperluaskan penguasaannya dengan menggunakan kekuatan ekonomi.  Video tersebut membandingkan usahasama China-Sri Lanka di pelabuhan laut dalam Hambantota dengan usahasama-usahasama yang dijalankan di Malaysia, membuktikan bahawa Malaysia juga boleh berakhir bukan sahaja menjadi sebuah negara yang dibelenggu masalah hutang yang besar, tetapi juga bakal hilang pegangan ke atas aset-aset tersebut.

Secara kasar, berhutang keada China dengan sebegitu banyak untuk projek-projek tersebut adalah amat menakutkan, terutamanya untuk mereka yang tidak mendapat gambaran penuh.  Namun, membandingkan Malaysia dengan Sri Lanka bukanlah suatu perkara yang bijak.

Pelabuhan laut dalam Hambantota terletak di dalam kawasan bekas Presiden Sri Lanka iaitu Mahinda Rajapaksa dan kos pembinaannya adalah lebih dari $1 billion.  Sebuah lagi projek yang dibina di dalam kawasan Mahinda ialah Lapangan terbang Mattala Rajapaksa yang terletak 30 kilometer dari pelabuhan tersebut.  Sehingga kini, lapangan terbang tersebut digunakan oleh hanya beberapa ratus orang seminggu hinggakan ianya diberi gelaran “lapangan terbang paling sunyi di dunia.”

Hambantota ialah sebuah wilayah yang terpencil di Selatan Sri Lanka.  Jaraknya dengan bandar yang paing hampir iaitu Galle ialah 130 kilometer, manakala jaraknya dengan ibu negara Sri Lanka iaitu Colombo ialah 240 kilometer.  Jumlah penduduknya hanyalah sekitar 12,000 orang dan ianya merupakan sebuah wilayah yang tersisih dari sebarang pembangunan.  Masalah pelabuhan laut dalam Hambantota ialah kedalaman airnya yang tidak mencukupi untuk kapal-kapal dagang yang besar untuk masuk ke pelabuhan tersebut.  Maka, ianya tidak menjadi suatu destinasi bagi syarikat-syarikat perkapalan besar.  Tiada siapa yang ingin berpindah ke sana kerana ianya berada terlalu jauh dari pembangunan.  Ini menyebabkan kedua-dua pelabuhan dan lapangan terbang tidak dapat menjana pendapatan untuk menampung kos operasinya sendiri, apatah lagi untuk membayar pinjaman yang telah diterima daripada China.

Jumlah hutang yang ditanggung oleh Sri Lanka ialah hampir $65 billion.  Dari jumlah tersebut, $8 billion adalah hutang kepada China.  KDNKnya (Keluaran Dalam Negara Kasar) ialah sebanyak $81.32 billion.  Kadar hutang kepada KDNKnya pula ialah 75 peratus manakala rizab matawang asingnya ialah $7.2 billion.  Kerajaan Sri Lanka menggunakan 95.4 peratus pendapatannya untuk membayar hutang.  Inilah sebab-sebab Sri Lanka mengambil jalan untuk melangsaikan hutang-hutangnya untuk kedua-dua projek tersebut dengan cara menyerahkan pegangan kepada negara pemiutang (China).

Bandingkan apa yang terjadi dengan projek ECRL yang bernilai $13.1 billion (RM55 bilion).  Malaysia mengambil pinjaman sebanyak $11.14 billion (85 peratus dari kos keseluruhan projek atau RM46.75 billion) dari China manakala selebihnya dibiayai melalui program sukuk yang dikendalikan oleh institusi-institusi kewangan tempatan.

Projek Forest City di negeri Johor pula merupakan sebuah program pembangunan bernilai $100 billion selama 20 tahun.  Walaupun jumlah yang diperuntukkan bagi setiap fasa projek tersebut adalah merupakan maklumat sulit syarikat yang membangunkan projek tersebut, ianya dianggarkan sekitar $5 billion setahun.  Projek tersebut telah bermula pada tahun 2015 dan sehingga kini 11 peratus telah dilaksanakan.  Pada akhir bulan Disember 2016, Forest City berjaya membuat penjualan 17,000 unit apartmen bernilai $2.9 billion.  Tempoh pembangunan projek tersebut masih berbaki 17 tahun lagi.

KDNK Malaysia kini berjumlah $320.25 billion (RM1.3 trillion) untuk tahun 2017.  Ini menjadikan kos projek ECRL pada kadar 4.1 peratus dari KDNK manakala projek Forest City pada kadar 1.6 peratus setahun.  Jumah hutang keseluruhan negara ialah sebanyak RM685.1 billion atau 50.9 peratus dari KDNK.  Dari jumlah ini, RM662.4 billion adalah hutang dalam negara manakala hanya RM22.7 billion merupakan hutang luar pesisir pantai.

Yang menariknya, setakat bulan Oktober 2017, hutang Amerika Syarikat kepada China berjumah $1.2 trillion, iaitu 19 peratus dari sejumlah $6.3 trillion dalam bentuk bil-bil Perbendaharaan, wang, dan bon-bon yang dipegang oleh negara-negara luar.  KDNK AS pada tahun 2016 adalah sebanyak $18.57 trillion dan ini menjadikan kadar hutang AS kepada China berbanding KDNKnya sebanyak 6.5 peratus.

Sudah tentu kita boleh membiayai projek-projek di atas tanpa mengambil sebarang pinjaman.  Rizab matawang asing kita berjumlah RM414.71 billion ($102.17 billion), lebih dari mencukupi untuk pembiayaan kedua-dua projek tersebut.Jika kita gunakan kaedah di zaman Tun Mahathir, Petronas mempunyai pegangan tunai sebanyak RM129 billion ($31.8 billion) manakala KWSP mempunyai aset-aset yang bernilai $771 billion ($189.9 billion).  Ini tidak termasuk pegangan tunai dan aset-aset kepunyaan Khazanah, Tabung Haji, KWAP, SOCSO, PNB dan lain-lain institusi kerajaan.

Sekiranya kadar hutang kepada KDNK sebanyak 50.9 peratus merisaukan anda, ianya pernah berada pada kadar 103.4 peratus semasa Mahathir merupakan Perdana Menteri pada tahun 1985.  Dan suatu jumlah bersamaan dengan 24 peratus KDNK juga telah hilang dalam skandal Forex BNM pada tahun 1991 iaitu semasa Mahathir masih lagi Perdana Menteri Malaysia.  24 peratus daripada KDNK sekiranya ia berlaku sekarang bersamaan dengan hilangnya RM315 billion dari RM1.3 trillion.  Sebagai perbandingan, kadar hutang kepada KDNK Singapura ialah 112 peratus dan negara tersebut berada di tangga ke-10 dari 17 negara yang mempunyai kadar hutang berbanding KDNK paling tinggi di dunia yang disenaraikan oleh Business Insider, UK.  Jepun menduduki tempat pertama dengan kadar 239.2 peratus!

Kita tidak jatuh bankrap semasa zaman Mahathir jadi mengapa perlu kita takutkan kadar hutang berbanding KDNK sebanyak 50.9 peratus bila asas ekonomi kita jauh lebih kukuh sekarang berbanding 103.4 peratus semasa asas kita lemah?  Jepun dan Singapura juga tidak jatuh bankrap.

Dan apa masalahnya dengan pemilikan tanah Forest City?  Tanah tersebut adalah merupakan tanah yang ditambak di tengah laut.  Ini bermakna tiada tanah yang “diberikan kepada China.”  Johor mempunyai hak ke atas tanah yang ditambak tersebut berdasarkan Kanun Tanah Negara, 1965 dan selagi ianya berada dalam lingkungan tiga batu nautika mengikut Seksyen 3(3) Akta Laut Wilayah, 2012.  Sama ada ianya merupakan pegangan bebas mahupun pegangan pajakan, Johor mempunyai hak untuk mengambil semula tanah tersebut di bawah Akta Pengambilan Tanah, 1960.  Mana-mana tanah sehingga 12 batu nautika dari sisir pantai adalah hak milik negara.

Namun Mahathir lebih suka memilih jalan dengan menggembar-gemburkan cerita untuk menakut-nakutkan rakyat.  Dalam ucapan beliau baru-baru ini, beliau berkata, “Habislah tanah kita akan dijual, tidak kiralah Forest City, saya harap Forest City akan betul-betul jadi ‘forest’ (hutan)…penduduknya akan terdiri daripada kera, monyet dan sebagainya.

Taman Perindustrian Malaysia-China Kuantan (MCKIP) dibangunkan oleh MCKIP Sdn Bhd (MCKIPSB) yang merupakan sebuah syarikat usahasama 51:49 di antara sebuah konsortium Malaysia dan sebuah konsortium China.  Pegangan dalam Konsortium Malaysia pula terdiri dari IJM (40 peratus), Sime Darby Property (30 peratus) dan Kerajaan Negeri Pahang (30 peratus).  Taman perindustrian kembarnya iaitu Taman Perindustrian China-Malaysia Qinzhou (CMQIP) di negera China pula dipegang oleh sebuah konsortium Malaysia (SP Setia Berhad dan Rimbunan Hijau Group) sebanyak 49 peratus.

Mengikut logik Mahathir, bukankah China telah memberi peluang kepada Malaysia untuk menjajah negaranya?  Sebelum ini China juga telah membenarkan Singapura menjajahnya di dua kawasan iaitu di Taman Perindustrian China-Singapore Suzhou dan juga di Bandaraya Eko China-Singapore Tianjin.

Walaupun keadaan di Sri Lanka nampak suram, Jepun, Singapura dan India telah menyatakan hasrat untuk membina infrastruktur dan mendirikan perniagaan di Sri Lanka.  Walaupun Sri Lanka mempunyai asas ekonomi yang lemah, Lolitha Abeysinghe dari Opportunity Sri Lanka kekal optimistik.

Pergantungan berlebihan terhadap mana-mana negara untuk pelaburan, teknologi dan pasaran boleh memberi kesan buruk terhadap kepentingan negara dalam jangka panjang, tetapi sekiranya diurus dengan betul dan dengan wawasan yang jauh, Sri Lanka boleh mengurangkan masalah tersebut dan mendapat manfaat terbaik untuk ekonomi luar bandar domestik di dalam sebuah dari wilayah-wilayah terpinggir di Sri Lanka,” katanya.

Malaysia mempunyai wawasan tersebut tetapi malangnya sesetengah orang lebih gemar sekiranya Malaysia gagal hanya kerana kepentingan politik. Politik cara kera dan monyet.

Drama Kera La

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Singapore Army invading China?

Recently, a video clip of how China is fulfilling its hegemonic ambitions using economic means was spread around especially in Facebook and WhatsApp groups.  The video compares the Sino-Sri Lankan joint-venture at the Hambantota Deep Water Port with the ones in Malaysia, proving that Malaysia, like Sri Lanka, could end up not only with a huge debt owing to China, but also lose its ownership of those assets.

On the surface, it sounds scary to have so much money owed to China for these projects especially so for the ill-informed.  But comparing Malaysia to Sri Lanka hardly does any justice.

The Hambantota Deep Water Port lies within the constituency of the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and costs more than $1 billion to construct.  Another project that was constructed in this constituency is the Mattala Rajapaksa Airport, located 30 kilometres away from the port, which until now flies only a few hundred passengers in and out weekly and has been dubbed “the world’s loneliest airport.”

Hambantota is a remote region in the South, 240 kilometres from Colombo and the nearest city, Galle, is 130 kilometres away.  The population of Hambantota is around 12,000 people and is very underdeveloped.  The problem with Hambantota’s deep-water port is that its waters are not deep enough for large vessels with deep draught, so large shipping companies shy away from it.  It is far from any development that hardly anyone wants to move there.  Both the port and the airport cannot generate enough income to sustain operations let alone pay back loans to the Chinese.

Sri Lanka owes its financiers close to $65 billion and of this, $8 billion alone is owed to the Chinese.  Its GDP stands at $81.32 billion, debt-to-GDP ratio stands at roughly 75 percent while its foreign currency reserves is at $7.2 billion.  The Sri Lankan government uses 95.4 percent of its revenue to repay debts.  These are the reasons for Sri Lanka to opt for a debt-for-equity solution for both projects.

Compare this with Malaysia’s $13.1 billion East Coast Rail Link, or RM55 billion in Malaysian terms.  Malaysia took a $11.14 billion loan (85 percent or RM46.75 billion) from China to finance the project while the balance is in the form of a sukuk programme managed by local financial institutions.

The Forest City project in Johor is a development programme that runs over 20 years.  How much is being allocated per project is a company confidential information but if we go by average, it would be at $5 billion per annum, with a total of $100 billion over 20 years.  The project commenced in 2015 and to date has completed about 11 percent.  At the end of December 2016, Forest City saw concluded contracted sales of $2.9 billion for 17,000 apartment units.  It still has another 17 years of development to go.

Our GDP now stands at around $320.25 billion (RM1.3 trillion) for 2017 which puts the cost of the ECRL project at 4.1 percent of the GDP while Forest City accounts to approximately 1.6 percent of the GDP per annum.  The total Government debt as at end of June 2017 was reported to be at RM685.1 billion or 50.9 percent of the GDP.  Of this total, RM662.4 billion was domestic debt while RM22.7 billion was offshore loans.

Interestingly, as of October 2017, the US debt to China is at $1.2 trillion, which is 19 percent of the $6.3 trillion in US Treasury bills, notes and bonds held by foreign countries.  The US GDP in 2016 was $18.57 trillion which makes its China-debt-to-GDP alone at 6.5 percent.

Of course, we could undertake to pay for all the above projects.  Our foreign currency exchange reserves are at RM414.71 billion ($102.17 billion) which is more than enough to pay for both projects.  If we use the Mahathir-era method, then Petronas has RM129 billion in cash ($31.8 billion) while the EPF has RM771 billion ($189.9 billion) worth of assets.  This does not include sources from other funds such as Khazanah, Tabung Haji, KWAP, SOCSO, PNB and others.

If our debt-to-GDP ratio of 50.9 percent is still a scary number to you, it was at 103.4 percent when Mahathir was the Prime Minister in 1985!  And an equivalent to 24 percent of the GDP went missing as a resut of the BNM Forex scandal also during his tenure as the PM in 1991!  That is RM315 billion if our GDP is RM1.3 trillion!  In contrast, Singapore’s debt-to-GDP ratio is 112 percent at tenth place out of 17 nations with the highest debt-to-GDP rate listed by Business Insider, UK.  Japan is first at 239.2 percent.

Still, we did not go bankrupt back then. So why should we fear a 50.9 percent debt-to-GDP ratio with much stronger economic fundamentals when we have reached 103.4 percent with a much weaker economy? And neither Singapore nor Japan has gone bankrupt.

And what is with the ownership of the land where Forest City is situated?  It is a reclaimed land; therefore, no part of mainland Johor was carved out to be “given to the Chinese.”  Johor has rights over the reclaimed land as accorded by the National Land Code, 1965 up to three nautical miles as given by Section 3(3) of the Territorial Sea Act, 2012.  Whether it is a freehold land or a leasehold land, Johor can always take it back, with provisions, under the Land Acquisition Act, 1960. Up to 12 nautical miles from the foreshore, the Malaysian flag flies no matter who holds the grant.

Mahathir recently said “I hope Forest City will truly become a forest… Its residents will consist of baboons (kera), monkeys (monyet) and so on”, fuelling unjustified fears among the people of Malaysia.

The Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) has MCKIP Sdn Bhd (MCKIPSB) as its Master Developer.  MCKIPSB is a 51:49 joint-venture between a Malaysian consortium and a China consortium.  In the Malaysian portion of the shareholding, IJM land holds 40 percent, Sime Darby Property 30 percent and the Pahang State Government holds the remaining 30 percent. Its twin sister, the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park (CMQIP) in China is 49 percent owned by a Malaysian consortium (SP Setia Berhad and Rimbunan Hijau Group).

Going by Tun Dr Mahathir’s logic, has China just allowed Malaysia to colonise its land too?  Prior to this it allowed Singapore to colonise in two other areas, namely the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park and the China-Singapore Tianjin Eco City.

As bleak as Sri Lanka may sound, Japan, Singapore and India have expressed interest in building infrastructure and setting up shop in Sri Lanka.  Even with much weaker economic fundamentals compared to Malaysia, Lolitha Abeysinghe of Opportunity Sri Lanka remains optimistic.

Over-dependence on any country for investments, technology, and markets could result in some adverse impacts on national interest in the long-run, but if managed properly with a futuristic vision, Sri Lanka can mitigate such adversity and reap the best benefits for the rural domestic economy in one of the least developed districts in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Malaysia has that vision but sadly some of its people would rather see everything fail in the name of politics.  The politics of baboons and monkeys.