On 9, 15 and 25 February, this author (among several others) observed that UMNO hardliners were attempting to sabotage Prime Minister Najib and his 1Malaysia policy to ensure the continued dominance of Malay or more specifically UMNO (read here and here). On 22 and 24 February, veteran opposition leader, Lim Kit Siang, challenged the Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin — prime suspect as proxy for the hardliners — to state his unequivocal support for Najib and the 1Malaysia policy, to which Muhyiddin avoided making any clear stand (read here and here). However, this attempt to smoke out the hardliners was too late, as by 27 February these well organised Malay opportunists and fundamentalists had already check-mated Najib, through the formation of the Majlis Perundingan NGO Melayu (MPM/Malay NGO Consultative Council) (read here). Najib’s defensive manoeuvres which were inadvertently tilting Malaysia towards fascism came to nought. Fearing for his own survival, Najib appears to have capitulated to their demands.
On 7 March, the MPM passed several resolutions which not only undermine Najib’s efforts to return the Malaysian economy back on track but also undo the reforms he has already announced (read here, here and here). These resolutions were:
- The government should not do away with Malay or Bumiputera quotas in “strategic sectors”;
- The government must be prepared to launch market intervention to ensure that the national agenda (Malay and Bumiputera interests) do not fall short of its purposes;
- The economy should not be liberalised to the point where Malay and Bumiputera entrepreneurs have to face “brutal competition”; and
- Government-linked companies (GLCs) should be more involved in helping Malay and Bumiputera control value chains in strategic sectors.
In response to the demands of MPM, Najib has once again postponed the announcement of the New Economic Model. He will now make the announcement in two stages — a “preview” first stage, at the end of March and a second stage “full details” in the middle of the year (read here and here). This demonstrates uncertainty over the most important policy to Najib and Malaysia at such a late stage.
MPM has threatened to reject the NEM (and therefore Najib) if their demands are not met. MPM blames Malaysians of Chinese decent for monopolising the Malaysian economy. They note that despite the introduction of whole scale affirmative action (the New Economic Policy) forty years ago, wealth distribution in Malaysia remains unfavourable towards Malays.
Ironically, the spokesperson for MPM and the key mover of this outfit, Ibrahim Ali, was once an independent non – executive director in a company owned by Vincent Tan (read here). Vincent Tan, a Malaysian of Chinese heritage, who made it to Forbes list of billionaires this year, is notorious for his alleged involvement in the fixing of judges in Malaysia (read here , here , here and here) and a close accomplice of Mahathir (read here).
There have been several analyses of what MPM and PERKASA are all about (read here and here). Nevertheless, Malaysians and Malays in particular, do know that the “Malays”, such as Ibrahim Ali represented in MPM are merely opportunists and supremacists who want to ensure their continued privileged position (read here, here and here). Meanwhile, Malaysians and the international community wait for Najib’s NEM and how he will reconcile two diverging paths for Malaysia.
Update 1: 15 March 2010 – Snap Elections in Malaysia? There are strong rumours that Najib will call for a snap election. Read all about it here.
Update 2: 17 March 2010 – Najib’s Challenge – Clean up UMNO! An excellent analysis on Najib by Barry Wain.