Our prime minister's call for Towering Malays seems another rallying effort to bring out the best from the Malays. What are the definitions in order to be towering? I would venture to say that one can be towering in any field if one is outstanding by world standards.
Before we start, we should make clear our objectives and the standards of achievements. We should provide the necessary aid only after careful selection so that there is minimum wastage of funds and facilities.
Often, government policies fail because of political involvement and unfair distribution. Once allocation of funds have been made, slack control invariably sets in, resulting in abuse. For example, from the feedback given by borrowers, the PTPTN situation can be attributed to indiscriminate approval of study loans, inadequate internal controls and supervision.
The lack of follow-up action to recover the loans is reminiscent of the apathy in some Land Offices and local authorities. In the commercial sector, discrepancies would have to be dealt with within a short time, failing which the person responsible would have to hand in his resignation or be sacked.
In the case of PTPTN, unless there are adequate checks and balances in place, I would not rule out fraud. Already some people have suggested the possibility of the study loans being given out using certain names, with or without those people's knowledge.
There could have been loans given for non-existent courses, just like what happened to the EPF scheme for buying home computers some years ago. How accurate have the repayment figures been when compared to the outstanding loan amounts, especially where the payments were in cash?
It would seem that one of our priorities would be to have more efficient accountants and auditors with integrity when dealing with government funds.
And recently, our deputy prime minister mentioned about maintaining the supremacy of the Malays. What is confusing is that supremacy is sought, yet with special assistance in education, employment and business being continued.
Often, 'the struggle' is mentioned - but struggle from what? During the British colonisation and administration, struggle would have been appropriate but since then, Umno has reigned supreme and still does, so what is the struggle about? With all its political power, why has the target percentage of bumiputera ownership in certain sectors seemed ever elusive?
People are driven by necessity and adversity. Some thrive on it. Race does not matter. What we have seen from our government is that in its efforts to help the Malays, it has inadvertently encouraged a dependency syndrome.
Often funds are made available first and only then likely candidates found when it should be the other way round. How are we able to produce Towering Malays if they are not driven by their own passion and ambition to succeed in a big way?
But then again, what if there is someone with potential and he happens to be in the opposition? Can Anwar Ibrahim be considered a Towering Malay? At the moment, while he is in Oxford University, Britain, he cannot fit in the numerous requests from British parliamentarians, European and American politicians, Muslim activists, as well as fellow Malaysians for him to speak at seminars and so forth.
If politics come to play, then half of the people suitably qualified might be neglected and the chances of making the Towering Malays programme a success reduced. Like everything else, if there is fairness and sincerity, any towering personality will be better appreciated.