I agree with the fact that John Prescott was right to say that Malaysians as a whole do have many commonalities which was the main reason that racial harmony could still subsists. However, Prescott may not truly understand the factual reasons why the various races can still maintain the harmony in general despite the fact that we have discriminative policies, inequality of treatment, unmeritocratic system management, unfair distribution of wealth and common goods, deprivation and unjust legislators.
First and foremost, one of the prime reason of a stable community is the fact of the existence of a convention that jurist will term it "social contract". Over the many decades, in particular, after May 13, 1969, the various races, such as the Malays, Chinese and Indians had come to understand that violence is unbeneficial to any party and that it is not to the interest of anyone that any single community should be left out of the economic prosperity. We have to give credit to the late Tun Razak for the efforts he laid in managing the situations after the 1969 racial riot. The green book plan and the NEP instituted at that time to help the Malay community to uplift their economic status was an effective policy. The development of Felda, Felcra, Jengka, and the various social integration projects and avalanche of economic activities brought a lot of good to the people. Massive development activities were generated and the critical masses of Malays were assisted economically via the massive integrative distribution of economic activities, and at the same time, the Chinese communities benefited indirectly via those economic programmes by way of sub-contracting, partnerships and "Contractual Forced-Marriages". Many rural roads were built, many hundreds of bridges were built, jungles were cleared for township development (DARA, Ketengah, Kejora), felda schemes, felcra schemes, and hundreds of thousands of houses and palm oil estates were built for the poor Malays. So many Malays livelihood were uplifted. With the increase in disposable income arising from the massive economic activities, all the races benefited, including the Indonesian workers who arrived by the millions, mostly illegal workers, working at plantation, and construction projects.
The Chinese and Indians were happy; they reaped the opportunities together with the Malays. One fact was clear: the Malays that benefited were the masses and the lower income group, tho' the politicians and rent-seekers became multi-millionaires. But there didn't exist those greedy coterie and oligarchs.
Then, the arrival of Dr Mahathir who became Prime Minister. Not much different from Tun Razak's policies at the beginning until the appointment of Daim Zainuddin as Finance Minister and the creation of the first Oligarchaic entity codenamed Peremba. It is here that bred the "wealth innovators". The names that are familiarly associated are: Halim Saad, Tajuddin Ramli, Azman Hashim, etc, etc. These anointed groupings together with Daim built up a large empire for themselves and grabbed almost everything there is available, which was originally meant for the Malay masses. The privatisation and corporate buy-out programme was the tool used - North-South Highway, MAS, Pernas hotel chain, Banks, and many others. It was the beginning of the billionaire club for the coterie. It was from here that the Malay masses were sidelined, leftout and neglected; only a small coterie of political cronies benefitted.
Then came Anwar Ibrahim and his new game of wealth wallowing. Anwar developed a new breed of wealth-grabbers.
From then on, we can observed clearly that the NEP is no longer for the Malays of the lower income group. It became the rightful entitlement of the political cronies and the oligarchy. Mahathir too had his group of wealth-grabbers. Together, they seized the wealth coffers till the tap runs dry. But the massive development programme and the mega projects help to churn massive economic activities that ensures almost full employment and a reasonable disposable income for everyone. At such, hardly any complained eventhough they saw the robber-barons digging and looting.
However, the law of nature rules. 1986 saw the first recession that wipe out substantial wealth from the nation. It was quickly corrected and within 4 years, the economy was back to normal. Then it's time for the corporate robber-barons at work - It's Daims strategized corporate game and later, joined-in by Anwar's Coterie. Whatever it is, to the dismay of all, the 1998 East Asian Economic Crisis came and this time, it was disasterous. It nearly made Malaysia a bankrupt country save for the fact that we were lucky because of Petronas who keep drilling motherearth to extract the blackgold to sustain the government and the oligarchy.
Since then, Malaysia have never been the same again. While the NEP wasn't much of an issue early on, due largely to the existence of massive development projects which provide massive employment opportunities for everyone, the later years saw the economic grabbing game more towards styled like burglers using new creative wealth-parasiting. The NEP is no more about providing opportunities for the Malay poors or middle class. The NEP programme becomes APs generation, selling govt projects for wealth-quickies, looting, ransacking and hemorrhaging GLCs.
To appease the leftout Malays who remains poor, the oligarchy stategized the political divide centering around educational issues, religious issues, and structured the failure of the NEP by putting the full blame on the Chinese. The oligarchy couldn't put the blame on the Indians as they are mostly leftout of the economic wealth distribution except for the few associated with MIC. UMNO Youth had always been used to drive the engine of animosity and racial divide. The media largely under the control of the oligarchy was used to spread the distorted information and propaganda. It works, and it works well.
However, many fail to realise that more than 60% of the Chinese are in the middle income group and less than 10% are the millionaires of which majority of them are in MCA. 5% of the Indian rich are in MIC or are MIC-cronies. Due to the greater emphasis on education in the Chinese families, many of them managed to get better qualifications and together with their determination, they found good employment opportunities with reasonable salaries which allowed them to thrive within the marginalised economic environment. However, the Malays majorities had been extremely dependent on the government for employment - civil servants, uniformed services and GLCs.
The last few years, since the arrival of the new prime minister, Pak Lah, who declared that Mega Projects days are gone for good, that argriculture projects and batik-making will be instituted and re-instated, and govt's policy of parring the external debts. Frugality was the call of the the new PM, with the exception of his own family entrepreneurs. This caused massive contraction in the construction industry of which the Malay entrepreneurs were largely dependent. Many were hard-hit and on the verge of redundancy and insolvency.
Fortunately, the outcry of Mahathir and his abusiveness cause ripples to the regime. In order to maintain control and to mitigate the possible divide amongst the Malays, the regime had to parade some new mega projects and mega plans; so the arrival of Southern Johor Economic Zone, Northern Malaysia Economic Plan, and 9MP. The "frugal" line of talk is gone, it won't work anymore.
This new economic strategic activities helps to garner back the support for the regime. We can now observed that many institutions are trying to bull-doze out projects soonest possible. For example, the proposed Penang 2nd Bridge which was buried 2 years ago was revived. The monorail projects will be revived; Syarikat Perumahan Malaysia Bhd is trying to ditch out more projects; JKR was mandated to ditch out 880 projects; state agencies are also taking advantage of the current situation to market the development opportunities to entrepreneurs... salesmen are at work everywhere. Selling of projects have resumed. Walk the town and cities and you will now find many UMNO and Malay salesmen are hard at work, selling projects and match-making economic partnerships.
With the new events unfolding, Mahathir begins his new dilemma, this time, his own dilemma. He lost almost all his supporters, including those in his own hinterland. Those who complained to him about the weakness of Pak Lah, many had deserted him because they see the opportunities becoming available to them once again. Like what Mahathir said, Melayu mudah lupa... it isn't...it should be, Melayu ikut angin tiup; angin sudah ada, so they can set sail again. Now they are busy looking for interested entrepreneurs who are willing to pay up-front "downpayment" in return for projects. The selling games recommence...many have high hope they can match-make the deal and if successful, commissions are extremely good and motivating. Don't blame the Chinese because they are approached to pay the commissions.
Sorry Mahathir; you tried to raise the issues of those who approached you; but they are gone. However, you still have your children who need your help as they are not the major beneficiaries as compared to those days when you were the oligarchy chief. Mukhriz Opcom and Mirzan needs your help; the others, they set sail with the new oligarchy.
The crooked bridge, it's history. Proton, doesn't matter - it may die soon but before it dies, it will be dressed in another name, a European name so that it looks alive and thriving. AP? Don't worry, the game is always on except that it has a new clothing and a new gameboard; Rafidah is intelligent enough to dressed it up well.
The only wildcard left for Mahathir are those files in his hand; those files that could open up more cans of worms which may also hurt himself unless he have a new repackaging system to undress, redress and reconstruct the pages. But, I never doubt his ability to "turnaround" and turn the table. He still have another wildcard in Daim.