1Malaysia slogan drowned in debts

The 1Malaysia slogan was supposed to be the game changer for PM Datuk Seri Najib when he took office in 2009. PM Najib tun Razak came out with 1Malaysia slogan to win back the non-Malays who have deserted UMNO/BN after the 2008 general election when for the first time BN lost their 2/3 majority and 5 states fell to PR. The slogan was launched with much pomp and pride to turn around the electoral fortunes of BN. 1Malaysia campaigns and slogans launched emphasizing the ethnic harmony, unity and improve delivery to the government agencies and civil servants and Umno politicians. Huge funds were injected into the 1Malaysia campaign and transformation initiatives. Public debt which stood at 38% of GDP in 2009 jumped to almost 55% around 2014. But the national unity, public delivery and corruption levels never improved for the better.

From the beginning Umno hardline leaders nurtured and groomed by Mahathir rejected and did not support the 1Malaysian theme of PM Najib. The 1Malaysia, the transformation programs and people first and performance now initiatives, did not receive the needed support from civil servants and Umno hardliners. Mahathir himself reported saying that he “still doesn’t understand (masih tidak faham)” the concept. Perkasa went to town against PM for introducing the 1Malaysia campaign to unite the country. Datuk Seri Najib was helplessly watching the opposition with Umno, Mahathir, Perkasa and Isma and remained silent without confronting them. Non-Malays knew 1Malaysia is a failure and Datuk Seri Najib cannot pull through the campaign to achieve its targeted goals.

Datuk Seri Najib armed with the 1Malaysia slogan and transformation initiatives programs behind him went into the 13th election in 2013 hoping to wind more non-Malay votes and keep the Malay votes. The non-Malay support did not come back to BN and for the first time BN lost the popular votes. Even though Pakatan secured 52% popular votes but could only win 89 parliament seats out of 222(40%). It’s Obvious that BN won due to gerrymandering and unfair delineation of electoral boundaries. After 2013 elections Datuk Seri Najib dumped 1Malaysia and made moves to win back Malay votes and strengthen his position in Umno. All his efforts failed and to top it Malaysians witness the MH370 disappearance, drop in oil prices and now the 1MDB.

Even though 1Malaysia initiatives did not bring the much needed national unity and harmony, but 1MDB sovereign fund turned out to be swelling pool that might drag down even the BN government. The complex money trails round the globe and the complex wheeling and dealing is simply complicated for even professionals. It’s amazing that a MOF linked company will billions of dollars being handled by personals not in the management using dubious companies and the MOF, PMO, BNM and Security Commission as just watching it happen. Within 5 years since its inception the sovereign fund accumulated 42 billion in debts and still counting.

Assets pasted their expiry dates were purchased with excessive prices and prime lands allotted at nominal prices hoping for high gains on valuations. Excessive loans with high interest rates taken to finance the purchase of overpriced assets finally exposed the unsustainable business model of 1MDB. Billions of dollars transferred out with no questions from BNM to dubious accounts in Cayman Island managed by unknown fund managers from Hong Kong makes 1MDB a thriller story. Malaysians may forget all the other 1Malaysia initiatives but 1MDB will be remembered and quoted on how funds should not be managed. It is sad that a noble initiative turned out to be colossal mistake.

Explore posts in the same categories: From the desk of Senator S Ramakrishnan

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