PENANG, Sept 15 (Bernama) -- The hullabaloo over the marginalized Penang Malays died down when Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon sidestepped the issue and refused to discuss it further in the media.
"I don't want to give my reaction on whatever allegations related to the issue in the media," he told reporters who asked for further reaction from him recently.
Koh made the remarks after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi asked him to solve issues pertaining to the alienation of Malays from the state's mainstream development.
Koh, who is also Gerakan deputy president, also took the cue from Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's suggestion that the post of Deputy Chief Minister (allocated to Umno) be empowered to enable the office-bearer to assist the Malays more effectively.
In the run-up to the development, Penang was embroiled in a political fever with Gerakan which is holding the reins of the state leadership and Umno hurling accusations and criticizing each other.
At one stage, Koh wanted Umno Youth to meet Gerakan Youth for he was slighted when a group of Umno Youth members put up a banner criticizing him in front of Abdullah when the Prime Minister was opening the Tanjong Umno building here last week.
Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein reacted by asking Koh not to set a condition before meeting Umno Youth over the issue.However, after the intervention of Abdullah and Najib, Koh and Hishammuddin decided to refrain from using the media and instead resolve the issue through the Barisan Nasional's framework.
The marginalized Malay issue was first raised by Penang Umno Youth when it pressed for the rotation of the Penang Chief Ministership among BN component parties to enable Umno to occupy the post.
The call was quashed by Abdullah who said it was not relevant and would not be implemented while Najib added that it would not be instituted to safeguard the harmony among the component parties and races.
With the issue dissipating, Penang Umno Youth raised the issue of the Malays who were alienated in the state's development.
Tanjong Umno Youth chief Datuk Ahmad Ibni Hajar alleged that the Penang Development Corporation headed by Koh neglected the Malays in its projects.
Bukit Mertajam Umno division head Datuk Musa Sheikh Fadzir also alleged that Malays were not given preference for key posts in the Penang Water Supply Corporation, also headed by Koh.
To appease the critics, Koh announced the setting up of the two committees to resolve the issue -- the Land Development Committee and Tanjong Development Committee.
The Land Development Committee headed by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Abdul Rashid Abdullah will identify land which can be developed by Malays while the Tanjong Development Committee headed by a state Exco member Teng Chang Yeow will recommend fair distribution of development projects in Georgetown.
Penang Umno Youth chief Salim Bari, however, was unhappy with the measures taken and instead asked the state government to draw up a master plan for the development of the Malays and to overcome the weaknesses in the various state committees related to Malay development.
Despite Penang registering the lowest percentage of absolute poverty in the country, the state Umno Youth voiced out the disparity in incomes between Malays and Chinese.
While the Malay population in Penang is 612,300, 23,200 less than Chinese (635,500), according to the latest census, they are left behind in almost every sector. The Indians and others accounted for 91,200 of the population.
Ahmad claimed that only 18.2 per cent of Malays in the state could afford to own terrace houses, 20.7 per cent semi-detached houses, four per cent condominium units and 16.6 per cent apartments.
On the other hand, 81.9 per cent of the Chinese could afford terrace houses, 79.3 per cent semi-detached houses and 96 per cent condominium units.
The Malays could ill-afford terrace houses in Penang costing between RM300, 000 and RM1 million.
In the hotel and hospitality sector, Ahmad said, only 2.4 per cent of Malays held managerial posts compared to 6.3 per cent Chinese, while in the electronics sector, only 1.8 per cent Malays occupied managerial positions compared to 28.2 per cent Chinese.
"In the manufacturing sector, hardly any Malay is an accountant or sales manager. Non-Malays who hold the key positions lack the desire to apportion contracts to Malay suppliers for their factories," he claimed.
To alleviate the problems, Abdullah in his speech recently asked for a review of the functions and policies of the state and federal governments in assisting Penang Malays.
Penang Wanita Umno chief Datuk Jahara Abdul Hamid asked government agencies such as Mara and Perda to be proactive in assisting Penang Malays.
She said while focusing on eradicating poverty in the rural areas, the agencies should also devote their attention to help the poor urban Malays.-- ©BERNAMA
Sri Kandeh says:
I’ve written earlier on this and I like to touch it again. The Chief Minister of Penang will not help the Malays. It is UMNO and the government which are capable of helping them. This is an apt situation to take decisive actions. But UMNO leaders are too noisy, you did not need it,just rise and do it!
UMNO and all government agencies must act in concert vis-à-vis the issue of Penang. I reckon the following options must be taken into consideration immediately:
1. Transform quickly the Penang Malay mindset towards achieving excellence.
2. The number of the Malays must be restructured swiftly to surpass the current deficit by setting up the Malay and Islamic based institutions in Penang with the collaborations with the Immigration and Election Commission.
3. The government agencies must review their policies to focus on the uplifting the Malays resilience on short and long term basis in all areas - education, economy, business, management, finance and technology and as well as to establish its core and excellence centers.
4. Promote in the big way small and medium industries.
5. Promote the purchasing power of the Malays.
6. Protect and promote the overall qualities of our youths.
7. Promote Islam and enforce its infrastructures vertically and horizontally.
8. Implement law and order and fight drug menace.
Remember this, we were colonised for 446 years. We were reduced to dirt by the Colonialists. Many things were taken away from us, and our land was seized through twisting tactics. Immigrants were brought in without our consultations and asked us to accept them as partners. But they proved to be unreliable partners. They have been attacking us, anything Malay, government and Islam.
Today, we must learn to administer as well as play politics prudently and importantly restored what have been lost.Whatever!