Many of those who worshipped The Mamak cannot understand why Malaysians blame him for the woes of the country.
I have compiled excerpts of articles which were published in the media in past years to refresh the memories of Malaysians, as to why many Malaysians feel that The Mamak did more harm than good for the country in his 22 years of office. They call him the father of modern Malaysia. I certainly beg to differ.
These 22 fiascos were published in the form of questions directed to The Mamak:-
1) On clean government
You came to power in 1981 and introduced the slogan bersih, cekap dan amanah (clean, efficient and trustworthy). What did you do to further that? Did you make the Anti-Corruption Agency more independent and effective? Did you ensure that the police and judiciary do their jobs properly and reduce corruption in their ranks? Did you ensure that ministers and chief ministers not have income beyond their legal means? How many big guns were prosecuted for corruption offences during your tenure? What happened to bersih, cekap dan amanah?
2) Press freedom
Your criticism of the government received plenty of coverage in the local media recently whereas, during your time, criticisms against you by two former prime ministers were muted in the mainstream newspapers. Editors in Umno-linked newspapers too were removed for not toeing the line. What did you do to advance the cause of responsible press freedom?
You went ahead with the national car project in 1983 despite a number of experts disagreeing with you, especially with respect to the lack of economies of scale. Isn't it true that Proton's profits over the past 20 years came from the vastly higher prices that the Malaysian public have had to pay to subsidise Proton, resulting in considerable hardship for Malaysians who need cars because of the poor public transport system? Why was it necessary for Proton to buy a stake in a failed Italian motorcycle manufacturer when it could not even produce cars competitively?
4) Heavy industries
Why did you push into heavy industries such as steel and cement in the 1980s, ignoring studies which suggested developing natural resource-based industries instead? They caused major problems and billions of ringgit in losses.
Why did you allow hordes of people to immigrate, mainly from Indonesia , in such an unregulated way that there are as many or more illegal immigrants than legal ones now, accounting for some two million or more people? Did you not realize that this would cause serious social problems?
6) Operasi Lalang
Why did you have to resort to this move in October 1987, when you used the Internal Security Act to detain over 100 people, close down four newspapers and cause a wave of fear throughout the country? Was it to consolidate your tenuous hold on power then by using an oppressive law? It was all for your own security and survival, isn`t it?
What was your motive to take action in 1988 to remove the then Lord President and several Supreme Court judges from their positions under allegations of judicial misconduct, a move which was heavily criticized by the Bar Council and other bodies? Was it because you needed more compliant judges whose rulings would not threaten your position of power in a number of cases in court?
Was this the first step in dismantling the judiciary's role as a system of checks and balances against the legislature and the executive? What have you to say to repeated assertions by many, including prominent ex-chief justices, who maintain that this led to the erosion of judicial independence?
Why did you allow our national school system, which is the ideal place to develop ties among young Malaysians, to become so divisive? Why is it that our local Universities, once the preferred choice of tertiary education, have deteriorated to a level that even students who gained admission prefer to enroll into local private Universities.
9) Malaysian Airlines System
Why did your government sell MAS (private sale) to Tajuddin Ramli who had no knowledge whatsoever about running an airline? Why did your government then later bail out Tajuddin by paying RM8 per share when the shares were trading at only RM3.60 in the open market, costing close to RM 1 billion of the rakyat's money.
Why did you allow privatization to take place in such a manner that the most profitable parts of government operations were sold away like Telekom Malaysia ,Pos Malaysia and Tenaga Nasional? Toll roads had guaranteed toll increases and compensations in the event traffic projections were not met. Independent power producers had contracts that guaranteed them profits at the expense of Tenaga Nasional .What was the justification of privatizing the government medical stores to Southern Task Sdn Bhd, and the resulting increase of prices of medicines?
What is the justification of spending RM20 billion on a grandiose government city at a time when office space was available in Kuala Lumpur ? Could the money not have been put to better use, such as improving educational resources?
12) Indah Water Konsortium
What was the basis of granting Indah Water Konsortium a concession to manage the national sewerage system? Could you explain the RM1.4 billion soft loan to IWK which clearly has irrecoverable losses?
13) Konsortium Perkapalan Berhad
Why did you rescue Konsortium Perkapalan Berhad (then owned by Mirzan, your son) and which had debts of RM1.7 billion using funds from Petronas? Was it not your administration which forced Malaysian International Shipping Company (MISC) to acquire the assets of Konsortium Perkapalan Nasional? It was a blatant misuse of public funds to bail out your son during the Asian financial crisis in 1997.
14) Time Dotcom Bhd.
Why did your administration bail out Time Dotcom Bhd which was saddled with a RM5 billion debt? Why did your government use RM904 million from Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pencen to buy up 273.9 million of unwanted Time Dotcom shares incurring an instant loss of RM280 million?
Did you not force the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to buy 81.6 million unsubscribed public portion of the initial public offering (IPO) of Time Dotcom Bhd at RM3.30 per share when the shares were trading at only between RM1.95 and RM2.10 and in the process incurring an instant loss of RM100 million?
Why did you bail out the light rail transit operators Projek Usahasama Transit Ringan Automatik Sdn Bhd (Putra), which belonged to Renong, and Sistem Transit Aliran Ringan Sdn Bhd (Star) using almost RM600 million from EPF, which still resulted in EPF having to write off RM135 million with a share loss of RM96 million?
16) North South Expressway
Why did your administration award North South Expressway concession to UEM (which then formed Plus) and then provide them with a loan of RM1.6 billion which was half of the tender price of RM3.2 billion. What was the justification for your administration to grant Plus such over generous terms, which included annual increment of toll rates and guaranteed traffic volumes?
17) PSC Industries Berhad
Why did your administration in 1998 award a RM24.3 billion contract to PSC Industries Berhad, together with an advance of more than RM2.5 billion to build naval patrol boats? Why were they also given exclusive rights to service the Malaysian navy's entire fleet? Could you confirm that the first two ships built by PSCI could not even pass pre-delivery trials? How would you answer to the Public Accounts Committee's revelation that it will cost the government another RM120 million just to salvage the first two vessels nearing completion after seven years?
18) Bakun Dam
Why did you award Ekran Bhd the contract to build the Bakun Hydroelectric Dam in Sarawak without a tender ? Why did your administration take over the construction of the dam by bailing out Ekran by almost RM200 million for 'work done'?
What was the basis of inviting Libyan-American Sadeq Mustaffa to Malaysia to set up InventQjaya Sdn Bhd and to also give him a grant of RM440 million? What was the benefit for Malaysia and how has Malaysia benefited? What happened to InventQjaya now?
20) Forex Losses
Why did your administration dabble in speculation of the money market which ultimately cost Bank Negara almost RM9.3 billion in losses?
21) Bank Bumiputra
Why did you allow the mismanagement of Bank Bumiputra, to the extent that it had to be bailed out 3 times, costing the country a total of RM 3 billion? Again, dipping into Petronas's funds?
22) Perwaja Steel
Why did your administration allow Perwaja Steel to be mismanaged resulting in RM 2.9 million of the rakyat's money being squandered?
There you are 22 fiascos in 22 years. The bad news is that there are actually more than 22! Remember the APs, Maminco, Renong and many more .
Those who remember, please add on to this list.