Over forty years ago when I was working for Malaysia National Insurance in Seremban as an Underwriter, I and my Manager, Mazlan Ibrahim, went to see the Mentri Besar to seek his assist in giving us business from the various state authorities. He asked if we were members of umno – we replied “no”. He said go join umno and we will get business from the state. We joined umno and we did get business from the state. There was no reason for me to complain about the MB asking us to join umno. He kept his word about giving us business. So I kept quiet.
And then I went into Insurance Broking. Our family business, ZETA, had a joint venture with Hogg Robinson and we called the company Zeta Hogg Robinson. In order to get business from DBKL, government agencies and Petronas, we Bumiputra Insurance Brokers formed a Consortium and whatever business we secured from the government we shared among ourselves. The non-Bumiputra Insurance Brokers were not part of this arrangement. At that time I did not see anything wrong in this arrangement where Bumiputra Insrance Brokers were favoured over the others…and so I kept quiet.
And then I went into business and at each “business opportunity” that presented itself I was ably assisted by the Chinese with whom I had a JV and the “I help you you help me ” arrangements was a “win win ” situation for both of us. I became comfortable with this arrangement in which the Chinese did all the work and I handled the umno side of business. While it kept me from really knowing the business side of things, the arrangement was financially gratifying for me….and so I kept quiet.
As the project got bigger and the financial inducements and rewards increased accordingly, I became aware that increasingly this manner of doing business was not doing any good to the Chinese or the Malay because it was not based on meritocracy but on whom you know…but the financial rewards were good. And so I kept quiet.
I started to know a few of the Malay leaders in umno who were involved in money politics, bribery and corruption as the bumiputra stakes in business in Malaysia increased at a fantastic rate….but again there was enough to go around. The politicians had their share and we bumiputra businessmen had our share…and so I kept quiet.
And then in some of the big ticket business opportunity – especially in construction – we started having problems because at every step, up front money was needed to feed the politicians who helped us secure the projects. And then once the project started we had to take care of the government servants overseeing the project in JKR. Because of all these payments we sometimes cut corners, provided materials not according to specifications and from time to time, the projects were delayed. After “negotiations” with the decision makers, progress payments were made, variation orders were approved and all the bleeding of money from the projects felt by the main contractor was somehow compensated even though it meant considerable delays in project completion and increase costs because of the VO. …and so I kept quiet.
And then I saw gerry meandering during elections, I see the EC being subservient to the wishes of their political masters and wholesale fraud etc at election time….but the Malays were still in power. Umno still dominate…and so I kept quiet.
Then I witnessed the appointment of najib razak as pm with a wife as odious as she is greedy. By then we had an umno totally unable to function at any level without the outlay of copious amounts of cash to lubricate the outstretched hands of it’s members even for the simplest of tasks while najib, its president went about amassing a personal fortune not to be sneezed at. All this I read about, saw and I know about, but none of it had ever affect my personal life. And so I kept quiet.
Fast forward to some years back when I finally decided to leave Malaysia for good because the corruption, the money politics and the greed that overcomes all other sensibilities of so many Malay leaders had already overwhelm the Malay race and me. Overwhelm the Malay race and me to such an extent that we could no longer hold our head high in the presence of others nor could the Malays claim the high moral ground it had always presume to be its own in the years gone by. You could hardly get anything done in Malaysia without some elbow grease.
That was when I realise that may be, just maybe, I am part of the problem why things are the way they are. I am part of the problem not part of the solution….and that was when I told myself to not keep quiet anymore. That is why I started writing this blog….and I have not stopped working on this blog ever since.
Are you still keeping quiet?