KUALA LUMPUR: Saying Kelantan produces efficient people and good businessmen, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad wonders why they prefer to work and do business in other states, and even Singapore, rather than in their own state.
“Perhaps there is something amiss with the environment; let’s study that environment together and find out why this is the case,” he said when speaking at a question and answer session at the Congress on the Future of The Bumiputera and Nation 2018.
Mahathir said many Kelantanese businessmen and workers were doing well but questioned why they couldn’t do the same in the east coast state.
He noted that the Kelantan government could not afford to run the state as it didn’t collect enough revenue from taxes and needed to be supported by Putrajaya.
“We have to study this, is it true that it is because the federal government does not help the state government? But as I’ve said, the federal government helps the state government.
“If we don’t help they won’t have enough money to run the state government.”
Mahathir said he was confident that if the people of Kelantan could “fix” this, they could develop the state faster than other states.
Mahathir, however, said he was happy that in Kota Bahru most of the traders were locals compared with other states.
“Why does this happen? Because Kelantanese have advantages in all fields except one.” He didn’t elaborate, but he said this after talking about the Kelantan government’s financial inability to run the state.
On the issue of Bumiputeras, Mahathir said he was confident they could succeed but the question was whether they wanted to.
“There is a difference between ‘can’ and ‘want’. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink,” Mahathir said, quoting a proverb.
Saying Bumiputeras were given many opportunities to study at the tertiary level and that the vast majority who took this opportunity were women, he asked: “Where are the boys?”
Mahathir also spoke on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), saying Putrajaya would renegotiate certain aspects of the deal signed by the previous administration.
“We have reviewed it, many things don’t benefit us. We are a developing country and some countries which are part of the CPTPP are developed countries.”
He said competition between the developing and developed countries wasn’t “fair”.
Previously, some NGOs and even Pakatan Harapan MPs have urged Putrajaya to pull out of the CPTPP, citing its apparent disadvantages to Malaysia.