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MD Interview: BTN Courses Bordering On Malay Fascism

by Al Jafree Md Yusop & Aidil Syukri (Malaysian Digest)

Khalid Abdul Samad is a politician and a Member of Parliament for Shah Alam. Born in Kota Bahru, Kelantan in 1957 by Johorian parents from Muar. He obtained his undergraduate degree in energy engineering from Leeds University in 1979. Upon graduation, he joined Petronas but quit to become active in politics in 1986 and later founded his own company.

Khalid joined PAS in 1983 and became a central committee member from 1987 to 1993. In the 1986 Malaysian General Election he unsuccessfully contested for Kuala Krai parliamentary seat under PAS. He went on to contest but lost in Arau, Sri Gading and Shah Alam parliamentary seats.

It was only in the 2008 Malaysian General Election that he was finally elected to the Dewan Rakyat. In 1987, he was detained under the Internal Security Act during Ops Lalang.

In this exclusive interview with Malaysian Digest, Khalid talks about his personal views on the current political events in Malaysia.

How is your relationship now with Datuk Dr Hassan Ali?

My relationship with Datuk Dr Hassan Ali is not as good as it used to be but we still have a strong working relationship and he is still the PAS Selangor State Commissioner. Whenever he calls for a meeting I will definitely come. But obviously when I was the Deputy State Commissioner we were meeting more frequently.

I know this is old news but what was the reason for Datuk Dr Hassan Ali to criticize SELCAT (Selected Committee on Competence, Accountability and Transparency) openly?

PAS has always looked upon its traditional support coming from the Malays. When SELCAT was in progress he was unhappy with the way some of the civil servants were being pressured. It is something new when it was done live and can easily be accessed online. He felt that it wasn’t a very smart move. He was having all these civil servants complaining to him about being humiliated in public and he reacted towards that situation by making a statement to the press. Even though he has supported SELCAT in principal he questioned the wisdom of publicly humiliating the civil servant who would make for a few hundred thousands of potential voters for Pakatan Rakyat. The only mistake, if I may use the word, is that for him to have made the statement publicly.

Hence, you openly announced your disagreement with his action?

Yes, because I felt that it is not wise for him to be in contradiction with the State Government.

You are formally trained as an engineer and a former employee of Petronas. You made a statement that Malaysian as an oil producing country is selling petrol at International Price. Can you elaborate on that?

It’s the government’s prerogative to decide on how much they want to sell it. The term subsidy is obviously confusing because they are not selling it below cost. If you consider it as a property of Petronas then you will say Petronas is selling it below market price and then you’re buying from Petronas at market price, only then you are selling it below cost. Its part and parcel of the whole economic system where you do allow foreign oil companies to participate in a competitive market.

It’s a policy decision that you can obviously reverse by saying that this is the price which is still be at cost plus and if the foreign companies find it impossible to match them they can opt to leave or have an agreement with Petronas to buy the local crude at prices which Petronas can set for the local market and then work on a cost plus basis from that angle. It is a question of how the government sees the economy at a macro level. It doesn’t have to be at the same price as say Venezuela but what we want is a situation where the rakyat can benefit from our oil wealth.

Again, based on your background as an engineer. On the recent accidents with government projects like the stadium in Terengganu, the Dipang bridge, in your opinion what is going on with all these government projects?

The easiest conclusion would be that there are forces at work other than the normal regulatory kind of process. You are in a situation where you awarded the project to a crony who doesn’t have the ability to do the work, he then sub it to the sub contractor who then re-sub it and in the end the person that actually does the work does it at a price that is below the market price and start cutting corners. Then you’ll have a compromise in quality. This is what happened if you don’t have a transparent and thorough enforcement.

If this happened in a country like Japan for instance there will be an outburst, and we will see officials resigning as a result from it. Why do you think the Malaysian people are quite forgiving when it comes to this matter?

We have been thought to be tolerant for the sake of the Malays. We awarded the projects to cronies because they are Malays when the job should be RM40 million it became RM60 million because they are Malays. The most important thing is that the Malays will benefit from it. This is the kind of mentality that UMNO has inculcated in the mentality of the Malays resulted in the Malays being afraid to be critical and fear to take actions against those who are responsible because we fear that in some way or the other the Malays will suffer because of it. This kind of siege mentality has to end. We should look upon ourselves as a race and nation who is a proud and honourable nation which cannot be happy with being second best.

What is your opinion on the BTN courses?

I think the BTN has been misused when it is supposed to develop a sense of patriotism amongst the Malays but actually it is bordering on Malay fascism. They have been thought to hate the non-Malays, not to trust them and to do whatever necessary to ensure the Malays are on top all the time. It is being used in order to bring political support to UMNO. What BTN should be is to develop understanding amongst the younger generation and the government civil servants of the form of Government in Malaysia, the need for an independent judiciary, the need for the separation of power, understanding democracy, the need for an opposition and how all this will work together for the betterment of this country.

Courtesy of Malaysian Digest
-Pejabat YB Khalid Samad-


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