LETTER | I refer to the Malaysiakini report Najib: Gov't gave Robert Kuok key to become sugar king.
The government must know how to give the “key”.
I actually agree with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak that the government of Malaysia has, over the years, provided numerous “keys” to business people to become super-rich.
However, this is only one half of the story. We must remind the government, past, present and the future, of the other half of the story.
If a savvy businessman could become a billionaire with just one contract or concession from the government, what does that tell us?
I have no qualms in saying that the government of Malaysia has been either too corrupt or stupid to give lopsided deals to many businesses. We have seen many trade monopolies, privatisation and concessions that were generously dished out at the expense of ordinary people.
When business people become too rich too quickly, I can assure you it is not just due to entrepreneurship alone. The concessions, licenses and contracts have provided them with too much of an advantage at the expense of ordinary citizens.
On the other hand, we have also seen how the government wasted too many “keys” over the years on people who neither have the aptitude nor the know-how to manage any privatisation project or concession properly.
Numerous lucrative privatisation projects and concessions have gone belly up, the cost of which was ultimately borne by the people.
I do not have to provide specific examples but I think our economic history is riddled with inexcusable mega failures because the government has stubbornly selected unworthy people to helm these projects.
It is good to remind the government that dishing out “keys” is not a thoughtless job.
First, the “key” is a facilitation tool, not a profiteering instrument.
Privatisation, concessions and contracts must safeguard public interests, not just giving undue advantage to business people to make unfettered profits.
Second, there must be due diligence performed on those selected to accept these “keys”. Not everyone is responsible or entrepreneurial enough to run a business.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.