Hornbill Unleashed

June 25, 2012

Dr Mahathir’s bad medicine

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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S Thayaparan

I admire its purity. A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality – Ash (Alien)

Where do we begin? For a start let’s stop blaming former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for everything which is wrong with Malaysia as though he is the sole architect of the mess we find ourselves in now. If you see someone setting a trap and you determinedly (for whatever reasons) walk into it, you have only yourself to blame. And this is in essence what Mahathir the predatory politician has been doing his entire career, setting traps for willing victims.

Let’s take this brouhaha about vernacular/mother tongue education systems being an impediment to national integration.  First off, he right. They are an impediment to national integration. Culture (including language) in a multicultural country like Malaysia is the responsibility of the parent, not the state.

azlanI’m sure many people would find heartwarming, stories about how a teacher from a different ethnic community in a vernacular school “taught” his or her students about their culture but the reality is, is a single teacher truly representative of a whole culture? The best way a different culture (in all its diversity) is transmitted to young children is if they are forced to deal with each “other” in a disciplined and well-run school environment.

But here’s the trap. Discover some emotive issue that would appeal to the baser racial impulses of a community and set it up as a prize worth fighting for. So “Chinese” education is the prize and for decades the MCA seemed like the champions of the community for making it a part of its agenda in the odious “power sharing” formula.

If they weren’t doing a good enough job, there was always the “chauvinistic” DAP to pick up the slack. This way Umno appeared to be the paterfamilias, keeping its wayward demanding children in line.

Instead of fighting for a national school system free from bigotry and an education system which was not merely an indoctrination tool for Umno and not the state, the Indian and Chinese leadership hooked on the Umno crack pipe of gaining little advantages over each other were content to champion individual communal interests instead of the ultimate prize of all-inclusive national participation.

Another example would be Islam. For years Mahathir baited PAS, who in turn questioned the regime’s Islamic credentials. What did Mahathir do? Crack down on the so called “extremist” thereby proving to the non-Malays/non-Muslims that only Umno could keep the Islamic boogeyman at bay. Whilst doing this he also begun an Arabisation process that has far reaching consequences that I fear that will make itself known in the not too distant future.

And what did PAS do? Instead of seizing the middle ground (like any shrewd political organisation would) it retreated further into its Islamic preoccupations. Now of course they realise their mistake and are determinedly if gingerly staking the middle ground (with the help of its coalition partners), leaving the “extremist” territory to Umno.

Assimiliation but not integration

National integration was never part of the plan. Assimilation maybe but “integration” implies some sort of harmonious embracing of a shared ethos, at least in this context. But neither Mahathir nor a significant section of the voting public wanted this (integration).

Sure, you could point to the flawed electoral process but the reality is, just as the 2008 elections demonstrated that a significant section of the Malaysian voting public wanted something else, pre-08 it was more or less wanting what Umno was pushing.

azlanUnderstand now, that I am not questioning the quality of vernacular education systems (well at least not in this piece) but rather pointing out its deleterious effect on national integration. If I had a say in the education policy of a newly-elected regime, I would suggest that whatever is working in these vernacular schools be integrated into our national school system.

The genius of Mahathir is that he understood the limitations of the “power sharing” formula, which is the distribution aspect of the equation. He realised that if each community was constantly questioning the size of its share of the pie, Umno could easily appear to be magnanimous in its distributions so long as there were easily identifiable variables for each community which were defined by Umno.

It would be a mistake to consider Mahathir an average racist of the Perkasa variety. He’s far too self-aware for that. This is a man who very early caught on to the fact that there was a deep well of post colonialist racialist anxiety that could be tapped for the benefit of the political party of his choice.

He never hid behind any politically correct justifications for his policies, making the social and economic inequalities faced by the community he claimed to represent as something beyond their ability to overcome and exacerbated by the presence of “foreigners” who took advantage of their hospitality. This of course is pure rubbish but it is the narrative in which he chose to frame the racial discourse.

When he bemoans the fact that everyone is more race conscious in this new “liberal era”, where everyone throws about the term racist with impunity, what he really means is that in this era, nobody is afraid of calling Umno or him racist.

You see in the reality Mahathir and Umno have created, drawing attention to the systemic inequalities faced by non-Malay communities is a racist act. Criticisms directed towards the government or civil departments are considered racist acts because the majority of those who comprise those institutions are Malays. It was getting to the absurd level where simply being a non-Malay who didn’t support the government was considered a racial provocation.

And we are still falling into his trap. These days you find people more than willing to subscribe to the premise that “as Malaysians we are all racists in our own ways” as shorthand to dismiss any constructive objections to racists or racialist ideas.

In this way it legitimises the Umno/BN ideology as not a moral failing but as a failure of execution.  It implies that the only route for a functional Malaysia is a racial one. Hence the usual BN plea of “give us more time” or “the Malays need not worry, because even in a class-based approach, the Malays are the majority” assurances from Pakatan Rakyat.

The difference is the subject matter

This brings us to Mahathir’s reminder to vote with our heads and not hate. And he’s right; the Umno regime is not like some of the authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. And he is right that the opposition is spearheading a “hate campaign”. This is nothing unusual in politics. BN is carrying out its own hate campaign against Pakatan Rakyat. The difference is the subject matter of the hate campaigns.

While Pakatan highlights the financial malfeasances of Umno and whips up a certain section of the voting public into a frothing hate for BN, Umno uses its propaganda organs to either whip up racial discord or demonise individuals critical of government policies, which so far has not played well with the urban multicultural segment of the voting public but I hears it’s going gangbusters for a certain rural demographic.

But again he is right. Voting with your “head” means voting in the pre-08 pragmatic mode. It’s a vote which acknowledges the fear of the unknown, of what Umno could do if it loses. It’s a vote that basically acknowledges that (for all its corruption) Malaysia is not as bad as some of the dysfunctional third world countries out there and that we should be thankful.

It’s a vote for comfort in that you will never need to worry about fighting for your rights because your rights will be defined for you. And for some this is acceptable.

Now, voting with “hate”. I understand that Haris Ibrahim and Co’s ‘Anything But Umno’ (ABU) is more nuanced than its detractors make it out to be but for most people, hate for Umno means voting for anyone but them.

For some a hate vote is the acknowledgement of their own part in the mess this country is in. For some it’s an opportunity to finally chart a new course even if they are unsure of the captains they are voting for. They are willing to take that risk for greater rewards.

It is a tragedy that these are the only motives Mahathir and us, could come up with.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.



  1. Well, talk about bad medicine…reason why Dr Mamak also pushing 1Care healthcare scam surely wanna tolong his kid lah…must keep getting big long-term hospital contracts….

    —>>>“…1Care aims to place private medicine under government control, a step further than Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s sweeping health privatisation upheavals in the 1980s that delivered a hefty windfall to Umno’s partners, including Dr Mahathir’s son Mokhzani…”

    Dr M’s argument on 1Care is ‘warped’
    by Stephanie Sta Maria, FMT, February 17, 2012

    A health activist blames Mahathir’s healthcare reforms for the dismal state of the country’s healthcare system today.

    PETALING JAYA: Former premier, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s, defence of the proposed 1Care healthcare system as a means to counter the rising cost of healthcare has come as no surprise to the Citizens Healthcare Coalition (CHC).

    Mahathir had said that the government could no longer support the country’s current healthcare costs alone and that the need for contribution towards healthcare could be valid.

    But CHC representative, Dr T Jayabalan, said that Mahathir’s comments were to be expected as he was the “architect of healthcare reforms” in 1983.

    “By 1994 the pharmaceutical services were privatised, but with the government being a stakeholder,” he said in a statement.

    “With the privatisation came a 15-year monopoly for pharmaceutical supplies to the government health facilities by Pharmaniaga. It was a closed tender and this disallowed competition.”

    An online news report had earlier noted that “1Care aims to place private medicine under government control, a step further than Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s sweeping health privatisation upheavals in the 1980s that delivered a hefty windfall to Umno’s partners, including Dr Mahathir’s son Mokhzani.”

    Jayabalan stated that privatisation had caused the prices of generics to sky-rocket, subsequently denying the underprivileged and the less fortunate access to medicines.

    He added that the privatisation process had also involved co-payment by the patient wherein the patient had to purchase essential drugs and devices that were expensive and not in the inventory.

    “A study by researchers from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in 2008 on pre and post privatisation prices of drugs showed a price increase of 10.42% from 1995-1996 compared to the pre-privatisation price,” Jayabalan quoted.

    “There was also a massive price increase of 64.04% in the prices of drugs from 2001-2003. The study also indicated that drug prices don’t match the inflation rate or the Consumer Price Index (CPI).”

    Poor can’t afford IJN

    Jayabalan used the National Heart Institute (IJN) as an example, saying that its corporatisation made it the costliest specialists centres in the country where the poor wait for about two years for treatment while the rich are allowed to schedule overnight surgeries.

    “This is what privatisation does and we can credit Mahathir for this dismal state of affairs,” he said.

    “It is a warped argument to suggest that rising costs of pharmaceuticals has made healthcare unsustainable since the government only spent 2% of its annual gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare over the last 13 years.”

    Jayabalan called the privatisation of healthcare a “great disservice to the people” as up to 70% of Malaysians are dependent on public facilities.

    “Healthcare is a public good and should not be made to fit into a market system,” he asserted.

    1Care has sparked outrage from industry practitioners and consumer associations who claim that wage-earners would be forced to contribute 10% of their income to a government-run insurance scheme.

    The new scheme however is said to provide limited benefits and force the public to fork out more money for basic healthcare.

    3 firms likely to get hospital support services HSS concession renewal
    By DANIEL KHOO, The Star, Thursday December 29, 2011

    KUALA LUMPUR: Three parties – Faber Group Bhd’s wholly-owned subsidiary Faber Mediserve Sdn Bhd, Pantai Medivest Sdn Bhd and Radicare (M) Sdn Bhd which are vying for the hospital support services (HSS) concessions by the Government are likely to get their contracts renewed within the next month, according to sources close to the matter.

    “Yes, I know the contract had been extended for a duration of six months initially, but the contracts will be extended for the next 10 years. This announcement will be made within a month,” a source said.

    According to sources, the Government had renewed the contract for a period of six months initially and had called for a tendering process by these three companies about a month before their contracts ended in October 2011.

    “We have reached an initial consensus decision to get their contracts renewed. We will inform them in due course through official channels,” the source added.

    It is learnt that Faber, Pantai Medivest and Radicare were the only companies which were called to submit their tenders for renewal because of their experience and expertise in providing HSS for hospitals in Malaysia.

    The three companies are presently providing HSS for all government hospitals and clinics in Malaysia and a selected number of private healthcare companies.

    The contract value is not fixed when the concession is granted but it is estimated that these three companies had raked in a total of RM1.1bil in revenue from these government concessions alone last year.

    It is learnt that the revenues raked in per annum by these three companies were not fixed per se as this very much depended on how much actual volume was handled by each respective company. Should the volume increase due to the increased number beds per hospital or any extension by the hospitals that required their services, revenues to these companies would rise accordingly.

    Industry sources said that of the three, the only listed entity was Faber, which has a 50% market share in terms of revenues, while Radicare was the second largest with a 30% market share, and Pantai Medivest with a 20% share.

    Faber’s concession covers 81 government hospitals in the Perak, Kedah, Penang, Perlis, Sabah and Sarawak; while Pantai Medivest’s concession covers about 25 government hospitals in the southern region of Peninsular Malaysia; and Radicare’s portion includes government hospitals in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang.

    HSS’ activities cover the upkeep and cleansing of linen and laundry, biomedical engineering management services, facilities engineering maintenance services, clinical waste management services, hospital planning development services and cleaning and upkeep of the hospital building infrastructure.

    These comprise a crucial link to the government healthcare system which provides maintenance of government hospital and healthcare infrastructure.

    Faber is 34.3% owned by the Government’s investment arm, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, 12.5% owned by unit trust company Universal Trustee Malaysia Bhd, and about 10% by Lembaga Tabung Haji.

    Other than being a HSS provider for Malaysian government hospitals and those in India and the United Arab Emirates, Faber also derives a portion of its revenues from property development projects. This figure fluctuates from quarter to quarter depending on the progress of its property projects.

    According to the notes in its financial statements, in the third quarter of its financial year ending Dec 31, 2011 (FY11), Faber derived 16% of its revenue from the property industry while the rest came from the integrated facilities management (IFM) services portion of which the HSS segment is also parked under.

    Government HSS contracts contributed to 45% of its third-quarter revenue in FY11 compared with a 74% contribution in the second quarter due to additional incoming revenue stream from overseas IFM services in the third quarter.

    Faber recorded profit before tax margins from government HSS concessions of an average of about 15% in both the third and second quarters.

    Kencana Capital is a cornerstone investor of IHH US$2bil listing
    By B.K. SIDHU, The Star, Thursday June 14, 2012

    PETALING JAYA: Kencana Capital Sdn Bhd, which is controlled by Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir (pic), has emerged as one of the cornerstone investors in the US$2bil listing of IHH Healthcare Bhd, sources said.

    Mokhzani is no stranger to the heathcare industry as he used to be the major shareholder of Pantai Holdings Bhd, which he controlled via Tongkah Holdings Bhd. He was previously also the chairman and chief executive officer of Pantai Holdings.

    “Mokhzani was the former controlling shareholder of Pantai and he knows if there is value out there,” said a source.

    The IHH IPO has thus far attracted some big names as cornerstone investors and more are likely to emerged over the next two to three days.

    Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir

    Due to growing demand for the shares, the board of IHH will decide today whether to increase the size of allocation for the cornerstone community, though there is already speculation that the size will be as big as 1.3 billion shares from 600-800 million allocated earlier.

    Some of the cornerstone investors that have emerged thus far are Blackrock Inc, Capital Group, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, Government of Singapore Investment Corp, Fullerton Fund Management, AIA Group and Hwang Investment Management.

    The International Financial Corp, a member of the World Bank Group, has said it planned to take part in the IHH listing.

    A report said Prudential Plc’s Eastspring Investments, Permodalan Nasional Bhd and Lembaga Tabung Haji were also investors for the IPO but details of all cornerstone investors should be made known in the coming days.

    IHH is the healthcare arm of Khazanah Nasional Bhd. Its assets include Turkish hospital group Acibadem, Singapore’s Parkway Holdings, India’s Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd, Pantai Hospitals and International Medical University.

    It is offering 2.2 billion shares, of which 80% will be new shares while the remaining secondary. IHH is slated for a dual listing on the Malaysian and Singapore bourses in July.

    Comment by Teddy Gumbang — June 26, 2012 @ 3:34 PM | Reply

    • Malaysians had been fed and drugged by UMNO led BN for 55 years! It is time we seek new medicine even if it has yet to be proven effective.

      Comment by Irene Kana — June 27, 2012 @ 4:35 PM | Reply

  2. No former Presidents or Prime Ministers in any part of the world had continued to attack their political foes and spreading lies and striking fear in the voters, once they had retired. Mahathir is notoriously the only one in the world.

    Comment by Effendi Nawawi — June 25, 2012 @ 5:45 PM | Reply

  3. Mahadevil / Mahathief … please go to hell

    Comment by tigeryk — June 25, 2012 @ 10:46 AM | Reply

    • He will be met by Mubarak there.

      Comment by Azlan — June 25, 2012 @ 4:33 PM | Reply


        According to the Quran, hell is a place of raging, fiercely blazing fire (Surah 73:12; 92:14; 101:11) with leaping, piercing, burning flames (Surah 4:10; 17:97; 25:11; 37:10; 48:13; 77:30-31; 85:10; 104:6-7), in which people “neither die nor live” (Surah 87:12-13). In addition to flames, hell also contains scorching winds, black smoke (Surah 56:42-43), and boiling hot water through which the disbelievers will be dragged (Surah 40:71-72; 55:44). In fact, unbelievers will both drink and be drenched with boiling water:

        Lo! We have prepared for disbelievers Fire. Its tent encloseth them. If they ask for showers, they will be showered with water like to molten lead which burneth the faces. Calamitous the drink and ill the resting-place! (Surah 18:30, emp. added).

        These twain (the believers and the disbelievers) are two opponents who contend concerning their Lord. But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads. Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted; And for them are hooked rods of iron. Whenever, in their anguish, they would go forth from thence they are driven back therein and (it is said unto them): Taste the doom of burning (Surah 22:19-22, emp. added; cf. 6:70; 10:5; 37:67; 44:48; 56:54,93)

        The ingested boiling water will cut and tear the bowels (Surah 47:15). Yet the drinking of boiling water apparently will be accompanied by an occasional cold drink: “Hell, where they will burn, an evil resting place. Here is a boiling and an ice-cold draught, so let them taste it, and other (torment) of the kind in pairs (the two extremes)!” (Surah 38:57-59, emp. added; cf. 78:24-25). Ali renders the phrase: “a boiling fluid, and a fluid dark, murky, intensely cold!”

        In addition to liquid, the diet of the unbeliever will include some solid food: “On that day (many) faces will be downcast, toiling, weary, scorched by burning fire, drinking from a boiling spring, no food for them save bitter thorn-fruit which doth not nourish nor release from hunger” (Surah 88:2-7, emp. added). The Quran alleges the existence of a specific tree from which hell’s occupants will eat:

        Is this better as a welcome, or the tree of Zaqqum? Lo! We have appointed it a torment for wrong-doers. Lo! it is a tree that springeth in the heart of hell. Its crop is as it were the heads of devils. And lo! they verily must eat thereof, and fill (their) bellies therewith. And afterward, lo! thereupon they have a drink of boiling water (Surah 37:62-67).

        All will certainly be gathered together for the meeting appointed for a Day well-known. Then will you truly—O you that go wrong, and treat (Truth) as Falsehood!—you will surely taste of the Tree of Zaqqum. Then will you fill your insides therewith, and drink Boiling Water on top of it: Indeed you shall drink like diseased camels raging with thirst! Such will be their entertainment on the Day of Requital! (Surah 56:50-56, Ali’s translation).

        Lo! the tree of Zaqqum, the food of the sinner! Like molten brass, it seetheth in their bellies as the seething of boiling water (Surah 44:43-46).

        Mahathir for your sins against not just Malayans but doubly against Sabahans & Sarawakians you deserve a slow painful death and then you will drink the Tree of Zaqqum in hell after you experienced the above levels of rewards.

        Comment by abang — June 26, 2012 @ 7:43 AM | Reply


    Why are UMNO bosses stirring up the language (& RELIGIOUS) issue now?

    These are their last trump cards. If they don’t trump- UMNO is trumped!

    Let’s hope the people have woken up sufficiently and dump DUMNO forever!

    No No No Umno!

    Comment by anon — June 25, 2012 @ 7:51 AM | Reply

  5. National integration through a common language? Didn’t Indonesia do that? What happened?

    Now even Indonesia is allowing the setting up of Chinese schools?

    Tun, had all the while divided Malaysians and not united them, UMNO/MCA/MIC, aren’t they all alike? All racists parties? Can a Chinese join UMNO? A Malay, MCA? A Chinese, MIC and vice versa? UMNO/sycophants had all along embarked on a mission to divide Malaysians so that they can rule eternally. But, Malaysians are going to have none of that.

    Now, why are International schools allowed to grow? Why are normal Malaysians deprived of English education? The poor and rural will always be manipulated by the rich who studies English language in International schools.

    Chandra Muzaffar taught me to TUKAR in 1998, I got worked up, Tun advised Malaysians to vote ABU, and Tun said UMNO is rotten to the core! And now, do they want me to vote UMNO? For them? No, I will not! I have a mind of my own!

    Vote Pakatan Rakyat folks! Surely, it will give us hopes!

    Comment by Ahmad Sobri — June 25, 2012 @ 2:22 AM | Reply

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