With Thanks to CPI
‘Ubah’ is an illusion of change
Written by P. Waytha MoorthySaturday, 16 March 2013 15:54
This is the fifth day of my Hunger Viratham. I am beginning to feel weak. I wrote this article last night, so I am still able to directly communicate with you all. I will continue publishing my thoughts but it will be from articles I had prepared in anticipation. My resolve gets stronger with each passing day.
In this fourth part, I will be penning my thoughts on the way the resources of a nation are allocated by the policymakers.
Only what promotes and preserves the interests of the elite gets the resources
As I begin this part, I would like to clarify who these people “the elite” are that I keep referring to so often. In short, they are the top-level people who hold all decision-making authority in their respective large organizations and who collectively make policy decisions of the country as a community. I have made an attempt to list them in a table at the end of this essay to clarify.
The elite have various methods, devices and processes to achieve this influence over national policy. The chambers of commerce, the industry associations, the think tanks, the analyst community who evaluate and comment on policy, the ratings agencies which evaluate policy and give credit ratings, the stock markets, international agency advisories and the movement of investment funds are some key methods and devices by which the elite influence and control national policy.
A situation of control of national policy falling into the hands of the financial elite of the US is described in this seminal article ‘ The Quiet Coup’ in the Atlantic Monthly magazine about the situation in the US at the peak of the sub-prime crisis. This will throw light on how it may work here in our country.
The politicians are really only front men for these elite. Their job is to ensure that the policies dictated by the elite are made palatable to the people. They develop justifications, campaigns, high-sounding programmes in order to achieve this. The more effectively they can front for the elite, the more support they will get from these members of the elite and the more funds they will get and have in their war chests for the next elections.
In our five-year blueprint for the upliftment of the Indian poor, we had laid out several plans. I would like to just touch on one of those plans and relate it to this discussion on national policy to help understand why we are facing resistance from the political class to its adoption.
Why do they object to a plan that is entirely justifiable whichever way you look at it?
DEW similar to Felda scheme
Hindraf has proposed a contract farming project that would allocate land to displaced estate workers (DEW). It is conceived as a programme similar to the Felda scheme in that each participating household is to get 10 acres of land that they would put to a variety of agricultural use.
The agricultural activity could include paddy farming, livestock farming, vegetable farming, fresh water shrimp or fish farming, among others, that may be feasible. Our proposal was to develop this programme for 20,000 DEW households.
The budget that we had proposed for this project was to be RM2 billion per year for five years or a total investment of RM10 billion over the period of development of this project.
Here is the interesting part. This is only an investment. The money plus more will be returned to the nation when the project gets successfully implemented. The benefits of this programme are significant and many:
1. Currently wasted human capital will be put to highly productive use. So many Indian youths get sucked into crime because they cannot find alternative and productive employment with potential for upward mobility. This programme will absorb a large number of such youth. Besides utilizing this potential, it will be a great programme to reduce crime in the country.
2. About a million metric tones of rice and about 100,000 metric tones of milk powder are imported annually, just to take two of the potential agricultural products that could be made part of the scheme. This will reduce our import dependence on two key food items and save valuable foreign exchange.
3. Upstream and downstream activities can be nurtured and further value-added activities can be generated within our economy that could have a further impact on imports, foreign exchange and development of the productive potential of the economy.
4. Land is the key capital input for this project. Currently idle land could be put to productive use. Getting idle capacity to be productive simply means greater efficiency in our economy.
These are all significant benefits for the nation. But do the policymakers see it in this way.
Unless the project has significant benefit for the elite, projects such as these for the DEWs that largely only benefit the people get put on the backburner. Benefits for the elite come in many forms – rentier commissions, fees, bribes, profits, subsidies to the elite, soft loans, loan guarantees, inflated pricing and guaranteed purchases are some examples.
Policy slant to National Feedlot Centres
The policymakers have no trouble in spending our national resources in setting up National Feedlot Centres and giving out hundreds of millions of ringgits that get spent off somewhere else or in the purchase of military hardware that cost billions that we will never ever need.
There is not the same impact to the economy with those decisions, yet that is the slant of most decisions made by the policymakers.
These things do begin to make sense when you have an appropriate model for understanding how things really work in our universe. The principle that applies here is that “whatever promotes and preserves the interests of the elite gets the resources and everything else gets the boot”. The interest of the people will always be forsaken by the elite.
But the elite cannot get away with all that – can they? – you may ask. The answer is they always do, except in occasional cases when there is a conflict or there is a slip-up, then we get a glimpse of what really happens at all other times. But this is quickly whisked off as the occasional aberration of the system. Some unfortunate rookie takes the hit and life goes on as usual after that.
The elite control everything, including what we know and what we think, so no problems lah!
When the politicians say “Ubah”, what they mean is something that looks like a change – an illusion of change. They create these illusions so that they may be seen to be doing more for the people than their contending opposition.
However the unfortunate fact of life is that the system will only change when the elite decide it is time to change or the elite are defeated by the people in a conflict with the people and have no choice but to change.
That is one of the purposes of my Hunger Viratham. It is to focus attention on the nonsense in all this and hopefully to create the awareness of how things really work in our universe.
The elite and the politicians pit people against people with their confusing illusions and they get away scot free with their pillaging. This will stop when the people become sufficiently aware of how things truly work in the universe. I hope this Hunger Virathamwriting contributes to that education.
The Malaysian economic and political elite:
|The richest individuals and families in the country
|Go to Forbes website for the top 40 Malaysians
|( http://www.forbes.com/lists/2012/84/malaysia-billionaires-12_rank.html )
|The Top and Senior level politicians and their families from the ruling coalition, serving and retired
Dr Mahathir Mohamed, Ling Liong Sik, Samy Vellu
Nasir Razak, the brother of Najib Razak and group managing director /CEO of CIMB
Harris Hussein Onn, the brother of Hishamuddin
Major shareholder of the DUKE highway
|The top and senior level civil servants, currently serving and retired
Former DG of Ministry of Health and presently Pro Chancellor and chairman of MAHSA, Dr Mohd Ismail Merican
Sidek Hasan, the former head of the Malaysian civil service, now the chairman of Petronas
|The top and senior level police and army brass, serving as well as retired
Tun Hanif Omar the deputy former CPO, Now executive chairman of Genting Berhad
Gen. (R) Tan Sri Mohd Zahidi Zainuddin, chairman of the board of Affin Bank
|Top level Executives in GLCs
Petronas executives see the list
Khazanah executives, see the list
|Top level executives in private businesses
Directors in large publicly and privately held businesses and their top management