‘Doomed to fail’ projects: Is this the same Mahathir talking?
KUALA LUMPUR: While it is not new and has been pointed out before, criticism of Malaysia's tendency to package investments and developments into construction-based projects has risen again, ironically from the very person responsible for the trend in the first place.
The same man who not only created the real-estate development-based concept for Malaysian development but some say concerted Umno from a party of activists to a party of subcontracting contractors who use the projects to line their own pockets.
"A lot of FDI today is for the construction of buildings. They are huge but I don't think they benefit Malaysia much. I don't think they bring in technology which we do not have," wrote Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed in a recent blog posting.
Ironically, the former prime minister was the same man who just over a year ago praised the high numbers of cranes in the KL skyline which he said is indicative of a thriving construction sector, which he then said is good for business, joking that the crane should be included into the city's coat of arms.
"For a country to become developed we need to diversify. Building spectacular buildings and shining skyscrapers alone will not make us a developed country whatever may be the per capita income or the GDP," he wrote further.
Though it was Mahathir who led Malaysia's drive towards Vision 2020 with many construction projects in the mix, from iconic tall buildings to massive government-funded construction projects.
The good doctor also admitted that the core push of Malaysia's FDI policies from his days were for labour intensive industries, to create jobs for Malaysians but ended up creating too many jobs until foreign labour was imported.
Then he complained that every year billions of ringgits are remitted to their countries, urging a study on what this means to our economy, sardonically adding "I don't know", as if he does not recognise his own handiwork.
Again irony of ironies, he borrowed a leaf from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's book on developing Malaysia, a person he had attacked as inefficient, or perhaps a leaf from the premier’s highly paid economic consultants' book.
"What we need to improve our income is to have investments in hi-tech industries, particularly by Malaysian investors.
Better qualified Malaysians can work in these hi-tech industries. There must be many of these Malaysians as a few thousand vacancies in the government attracted more than one million applicants," continued the former premier.
He argued that it is time to define Malaysia's objective, to aim for high income for some or growth and development for all to qualify as a developed country.
Again irony of ironies as he was the one who started giving the keys to Malaysia's economic kingdom to well-chosen corporate figures or cronies, the legacy of which is the rising income disparity between elites and the middle class and the poor.
Mahathir had earlier criticised the rising cost of governance in the Najib administration asking them to cut costs instead of rising prices to absorb the government's splurge.
Again this from the man who presided over massive government bail-outs using public funds of under-performing and crony-administered GLCs.
Indeed it is baffling if in this case is Mahathir bashing Najib or Mahathir bashing Mahathir as most of the outcomes he spoke against were from decisions made in his own time as premier.
WHY DOES THE UMNO GOVERNMENT CONTINUE TO GIVE AWAY RM200 MILLION YEARLY TO A SO-CALLED SUCCESSFUL COMPANY NAMED PROTON?
CAN MAHATHIR EXPLAIN?