Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Of Speaking Bahasa And Racism

This comment and picture was posted in my alumni eGroup in the usual no holds barred Tiger fashion:

"Hi all,

Am attaching an interesting article from the Sun on 17th Apr 09. I am sure that everybody in this egoup can write, read and speak good Bahasa. If there is unfortunately anyone who cannot do so, please attend night classes and make yourself proficient. I suggest that those who are ignoranus of Bahasa and wants to be that way shud think of leaving the country, although its not big deal. Go and live in France, Japan or Switzerland, you will find your Hokkien or Tameel very helpful!!"

Click on image to enlarge.
One of the comments to the above came from famed communist fighter Tiger Dato' Seri Yuen Yuet Leng as follows:

Dear All,

We have selfish racist bigots in every community who see everything with only one eye. Those with and see with two eyes they call them freaks. Forget about ethnicity which is basically a mirage of the skin for below that mantle of colour, creed and religion we are organically all the same. Take it closer subjectively nearer to our personal self. If the majority of our own precious children have only one eye do we have to go to the surgeon to remove one eye from our other children with two eyes because it must be the rule by majority within the family as those with two eyes are freaks. When they go overseas with only one eye they wonder why they are the centre of attraction in borrowed emperor's garb. I remember in 1963 when I was in the US for the first time, in Washington on official government business, I saw a swaggering expensively dressed young African complete with bowler hat, walking the streets twirling his fitting black umbrella thinking he was still performing on a Black and White Minstrels Show on Broadway. Although gazed in wonderment by both black and white, he just saw what he could only see with one eye - deceptive recognition and identity. That is our national dilemma now, the negative and racist product of an otherwise positive but too often and then consistently abused national policy during the last 3 decadesand silently abetted in the sympathetic name of unitary race. This was coupled with the failure of incumbent politicians to honestly review their GREAT successes for race and GREAT failures for nation. We are now stuck with not only the frailties but the greater failure of our political multiracialism. RACE IS INDEED THE GREATER THREAT TO NATION NOT RELIGION BECAUSE NO RELIGION IS RACIAL. RACIALISED RELIGION DEFNITELY IS WHATEVER THE RACE..

I personally feel that the current PM's ONE MALAYSIA, whatever his alleged deficiencies, personal or by association, should be supported by more, even the Opposition for is that not its rhethorics as well. There is one difference. Incumbent government has little time to sincerely walk its talk. The Opposition has but not in the states they control politically. My view to both is to stop playing the normal dirty politics. Pass the anti-party hopping law.
Be judged or support positive and constructive restructuring of an old policy that was so necessary in the aftermath of the infamous 1969 May 13 for which all communities, when acting as narrow community, and more so the "econoputras" the only qualified at the time, are to be blamed if blame is a fair word.

On one hand the inbalanced of one major community felt left out too long while the imbalanced of another major community who also felt left out in similar and yet dissimilar ways, rightly or wrongly. Many had, since and before the "Liberation" and earlier during the Japanese Occupation thrown in their lot with the Chinese controlled, Chinese majority and socialist rakyat Communist Party of Malaya where Malays and Indians were still in the minority partly because of the omnipresence of good British intelligence.and executive policing.

If we are to deliver ourselves out of the racial or chauvinistic chasm into which so many of our people have allowed themselves to fall into in the sympathetic name race, religion or creed but is in essence a subterfuge for personal or selfish self and family we should now all cry and shout One Malaysia everywhere and all the time and irrespedtive of all denominations and aspects of nation - in politics, race, religion,schools and all positive activities. This should not only be done only by BN but also within BN in UMNO, MCA and MIC and all component parties in Sarawak and Sabah. If we must still at this stage shout "RACE" in party, let the final shout be SATU MALAYSIA" to show that community and nation have to go together and if a choice has to be made it must be NATION BEFORE SELF and COMMUNITY with Values That Do Not Die and for which all Malaysians shall willingly die..

I suggest that our younger generations and insufficiently tutored politicians read the new wisdom of Tun Mahathir with the enhancement of his honest reflections during his years in the political cold after his retirement. He said (NST 16.04.09), " WE NEED TO KNOW HOW WE BARELY MANAGED TO ESCAPE BEING A COMMUNIST STATE." It wasbecause we united in trust as a future nation and primarily we had faith in the legal tenets and spirit of the Constitution which was with no prejudice to perspective Royalty, the Malay language, Islam, fair to all communities and assures that the sons of the soil" will not be marginalised in the future. It does not provide for uncontestable and extreme Malay overlordship.

I should also state that In the course of positive nation building and national security over the long years, there had, at certain times, been exceptions in enforcing the rule of law. We did not prosecute certain members of the CPM first because of a weakness in evidence but also very importantly the decisive, critical and longer term role they could play in the immediate and the future. All this was subsequently proven and justified by. our successes in the fight against communist terrorism - a fight that took us more than 40 years to win and could only be won, not with only multiracial Malayan or Malaysian forces but in concert with sympathetic British and other Commonwealth forces for common national interests. Evidence of the sincerity of all who contributed irrespective of race, religion or origin of nation lie in so many locations all over our nation in Malay, Chinese, Indian and Christian cemeteries like God's Little Acre in Batu Gajah which will soon in June this year see a symbolic congregation of survivors from all nationalities, young and old, the strong and the weak to commemorate again those who sacrificed their tomorrow so that we could have our today.

Yuen Yuet Leng

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

One And Only Malaysia: Update - An Opinion

A valid opinion from the Malaysian Insider by Tunku Aziz.

Tunku Aziz, one of the prime movers in setting up Transparency International Malaysia, in happier times was regarded by Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi as "one man (who) was able to harness his personal passion and deep commitment to the values of ethics and integrity, give it a larger purpose and meaning, and turn it into a force to transform society for the better." Why then was he left out of the MACC Advisory Group? He is regarded as being too outspoken for comfort and, therefore, difficult to handle.

by Tunku Aziz

APRIL 27 – It never ceases to amaze me how simple and trusting we Malaysians are.

We have heard all these promises before. Pak Lah, the Mr Clean and Mr Nice Guy of Malaysian politics proclaimed his great mission of fighting corruption after 22 years of unprincipled and largely unaccountable governance under Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

We lapped it all up, initially at any rate, and believed every word the spin doctors spewed out about Abdullah Badawi.

It was not too difficult a job for Abdullah Badawi, or anyone else for that matter, after Mahathir, to look ethically spotless, clean and pure as the driven snow.

Badawi, with his religious credentials, gave every appearance of being the reformer that this country had been praying for. Alas, his leadership proved a total let-down for Malaysia.

What began as a journey full of hope and promise turned very quickly into a national nightmare. Abdullah, who skippered the good ship MALAYSIA, was in truth an incompetent and inept rating playing at being Admiral of the Fleet.

We discovered soon enough that he could not tell north from south and a sexton from a pair of compasses. We had to put up with his erratic command, watching with increasing anxiety as he set the ship adrift aimlessly, with no prospect of ever making landfall.

Now let me move away from naval to boxing metaphors, and I hope I am not mixing them in the process.

Abdullah had come to lead us laden with his own strange stock-in-trade. It was a mix, in no particular order, of Islam Hadhari that he himself could not explain to save his life, the memorably inane “Work with me and not for me” catchphrase, and the almost absurdly messianic anti-corruption clarion call that he had used to fool the entire nation.

I am embarrassed to admit, on reflection, that he had me fooled from Day One.

Abdullah was persuaded by close family members and advisers that he was doing a brilliant job, and this was what he wanted to hear.

He believed that he had what was needed to punch above his weight. He did not realise until too late that the Islam Hadhari as he had postulated it was no match for the reality of Umno politics with its long-established culture of money politics (for which, read grand corruption), in-fighting and back-stabbing.

Soon enough, he found himself out-pointed at every turn by his own seconds, Najib and Muhyiddin, whose protestations of eternal love and loyalty made with a straight face before the disastrous March 2008 elections seemed the height of black humour.

They pushed all the responsibility for the electoral failure to him, and with indecent haste, distanced themselves from him. They turned collective responsibility on its head. This was their interpretation.

And now, they are now leading Malaysia.

I am recalling the Abdullah years as a way of reminding ourselves not to be tempted into swallowing the “right noises” that Najib is making, hook, line and sinker.

He is apparently good at developing popular policies on the trot, and all his reform promises seem to flow so effortlessly and glibly off his silvery tongue and that worries many people who are looking more for substance rather than form.

His 1 Malaysia is a case in point. How does Najib propose to give practical effect to his excellent concept given the reality of Malaysia’s race-biased policies of racial discrimination?

Does he not see a contradiction? Is he clear in his own mind what he is talking about? For now, it remains a slogan and, without a clear vision of what 1 Malaysia is intended to be, it could well turn out to be nothing more than a grand illusion.

Does he really believe that he has what it takes to reconcile Umno’s pathological obsession with bumiputra rights on the one hand with the principles of inalienable equality for ALL Malaysians on the other?

1 Malaysia without complete equality of opportunity is nothing if not a cruel and dishonest practical joke.

So, until Najib sets out his plan for 1 Malaysia that accords with the conditions for a truly “Malaysian Malaysia” (with apologies to Lee Kuan Yew), I suggest, in a manner of speaking, we do not put the champagne on ice as it could be premature.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Agreeing To Disagree; An Evening At The RSGC

Had a very interestinglast Saturday night at the RSGC. Tiger Mike Naser hosted dinner and drinks for a bunch of his mates and I was invited. The personalities there have left their respective indelible tracks in cyberspace and it was a pleasure engaging them in conversation. Others present were AB Sulaiman, Dr KJ John, Dato' Dr Abu Hassan and ex-Kuching MP, Sim Kwang Yang.

As Mike aptly put it, "...this is microcosmically Bangsa Malaysia!" and with the diversity came the need to sometimes "agree to disagree". Perhaps this is the formula forward for the country and a political society is as good as we will get.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

One And Only Malaysia

So much ado over another slogan. There have been many before "1Malaysia"...Who can forget, "Bersih, Cekap, Amanah", "Work With Me, Not For Me", "PM For All Malaysians", etc, etc...can Malaysians be blamed for being indifferent and immune to meaningless slogan? The following was a conversation in my alma mater eGroup yesterday:


From: Tiger Colonel Mike:

Hi all,

Can somebody please tell me the concept of "1 Malaysia". Does it mean we must agree to what UMNO does for us? Does it mean that Ketuanan Melayu is with us forever? There are 27 million versions. This is the utter stupidity of not knowing the concept of "political community" vis-a-vis "Bangsa Malaysia".Please adumbrate asap and prove to me that you are not an ignoranus.


Reply from: Tiger Dato' Seri Yuen:

Dear All,

I know only One Malaysia as I knew it in my childhod in the 1930s as a student in multiracial KE7, then as a multiracial Malayanpre- and post early Merdeka as first a jungle fighter up to 1953 and as a SB observer and professional on the political sidelines as our people argued, quarrelled, disagreed and finally agreed on the concept and fundamentals of a new nation founded on a Constitution that was perspectively fair to a retained monarchy, Malay as the national language and Islam as the national religion and the provision of certain safeguards to assure that the Malay community shall not be marginalised in their own country of origin and yet does not prejudice the interests of other communities.These safeguards could be reviewed after 15 years, extended if necessary or rescinded. The tenets and spirit of our constitution certainly did not intend Ketuanan Melayu type of imbalanced overlordship which had developed in recent decades in the minds of new political warlords. The sad wisdom of Tunku Abdul Rahman inChapter XVII and XVIII in 1969 in his book on "May 13 Before and After" is an indictment of those who wanted to run the communal race too much faster on unnatural steroids which created progress in extreme racial nationalism and new elites and allowed the growth of the bacteria of political power, decadence and corruption which had eroded and destroyed the pillars of progress and achiement. I fought and was willing to die for the Constitution as it once was and in general structure still is for a fair and reasonable Malaysia for all communities and the correction of imbalances irrespective of race.- as so many ex-Edwardians did and so many Edwardians are trying to do, hopefully within the purview od the law and national security where the police has to be more conscious of a more enlightened and broader Malaysian society who better educated can think out of the racial box and the police must begin to think out of old and aged policing box. Of course, the new society must know and understand the limitations of our developing society and that purist expectations must be accompanied by perspective responsibilities and social discipline.

In addition to Tunku's thoughts from his heart quoted above, below is what Tun Razak said at a senior police conference in 1970 after May 13 on what his concept of One Malaysia was:

Tun Abdullah Badawai tried in his characteristic persuasive way towards a similar objective but failed because racial entrenchment was too strong within the Party. To some extent those around him was bitten by the same bug of race, opportunity, greed and self. He could only put in place legal measures for the future. Today PM Dato Seri Najib, as Prime Minister of Nation and not just President of Party will face the same problems as all past and future Prime Ministers how they each have to work for community as well as nation and if the excesses of racial community threatens the well being of total nation they have to act as leader of nation or go down as only a communal leader with not enough political will and courage to lead a nation. Will PM Najib have that will and courage to press on. Does he have around him, similar men for courageous nation which actually has to look after community but not imbalanced community and elements of which will ultimately destroy the fabrics of community itself because the reason is actually self in the name of community. WHAT IRONY! Will DS Najib be able to complete what his father could not because death took him too early for nation.?

Yuen Yuet Leng
PS: I have said enough. I have just typed my feelings as the esseance of this is the message not the composition.


My reply:

Dear Tigers Mike/DS Yuen,

I read this thread with a sense of irony and foreboding yet, I feel there is hope for future generations of Malaysians to avoid Malaysia being a failed nation. Both of you have seen the country through the most significant periods in its relatively short history and in your respective distinguished careers, often risked your lives in defense of a concept of nationhood you believed strongly in. In short, you were willing to die for a “Malaysian Malaysia”!

Yet today, in your
autumn years and in more than 50 years of nationhood, I sense you feel your “work” is yet undone. You still wonder and are hopeful for the possibility of a truly integrated Malaysian society that was epitomized by what we had in the KEVII of yore. You have swapped guns and bullets for the keyboard and I dare say your efforts have not and will not be in vain.

Most Tigers here are post-Merdeka Malaysians and many have experienced the post-May 13 paradigm shift which created the greed and exploitation that have consumed the nation in the name of nation-building. The nation was lucky it could create more than it consumed up until the beginning of the Abdullah Badawi hibernation. Now we have Najib “1Malaysia” Razak espousing a new slogan. Who can be blamed for thinking, “…here we go again!”?

Today, one thing that any government cannot stop is information flow. This has made a telling difference that eventually determines the government. Malaysia is but a speck but significantly Barack Obama is a product of the ICT Age. His call for real change reverberated in cyberspace long before he actually became President. We have witnessed our little March 2008 tsunami but although a few telling by-elections have come to pass, neither PR nor BN can neglect accountability. I think we will eventually have One Nation and a two-party system with neither being able to rest on laurels; I am hopeful. It can only be good for the nation as most Malaysians now realize in their heart of hearts this nation can only go forward if the people move as One People. Affirmative action by race will have to end and independence of the Judiciary has to be restored. For all his baggage, Najib also knows it; therefore his “1Malaysia”.

Alas, he has not been convincing so far. Much like his bungling with the release time of the ISA detainees, the timing of his “1Malaysia” speech vis-à-vis the Utusan “Bangkitlah Melayu” headlines, etc, he seems to be struggling with his own machinery. The nation is waiting to gauge him by hearing what he exactly means by “1Malaysia” and making him accountable by holding him to his own definition of the term. His version of “Fourth Floor Boys” seems to be struggling to cope with too much damage control work for now. How else to explain why even his supreme credo seems still a work in progress (see below). Whether Najib is a fake or a genuine leader, his actions will have to speak the loudest or else in three years or so he will be sitting on the opposite side in Parliament. Conversely, our Saudara Anwar Ibrahim who now seems lost in transit will have to be more convincing than he is.

To try to see what Najib wants to mean by his “1Malaysia” the best way would be to check out his “own ‘paid for’ blog”; what an oxymoron. They are now at “1Malaysia” value number 6 (out of supposedly 8) and it appears they are still trying to figure out what should be number 7 and 8!
Wishy-washy? You decide!



Reply from Tiger Colonel Mike:

Dear Ah Swee,

We shall be a little clearer after tonight when we discuss with three scholars - an Indian, a Chinese and a Malay who are passionate about Bangsa Malaysia. Ab Sulaiman has printed his book, " The Malay Mindset"."

1 Malaysia" has no social construct and is as amorphous as Islam Hadhari.

The socio-political problem in Malaysia is not wholly Malay. Hindraf rioters carried Gandhi's photos and the Indian flags. They are fighting for the release of Indian Hindraf leaders from Kemunting but not for all Malaysians incarcerated in our own Guantanamo. Very unclever. Most Chinese start a conversation by saying, " We Chinese......" Chinese ethnocentrism can be a blardy pain in you know where?!!

When a non-Malay calls a Melayu a moderate, it means the SOB gives in to non-Malay habits and puts up kindly to their ethnocentricity. That's the reason why I feel we are a million years from Bangsa Malaysia. Let us become just a Political Community - I have defined it in the past.See you tonight. It will be fun.

P.S. Tigers are roaring like mice on the subject!!

Sunday, 19 April 2009

How Do You Believe In God Malaysia?

This is rather good from Kit "Antares" Leee:

Where Malaysia is headed (Part 5)
by Antares


I get asked this question quite often. But it isn't very often that the enquirer has the patience or the time to stay around for my response, which involves deconstructing the unquestioned assumptions of conceptual semantics. As far as I know nobody has ever come up with a definition of "God" acceptable to all.

The notion that the physical universe was created by an all-knowing, all-powerful, ubiquitously existing Maker is fairly common, especially amongst the more conservative, more traditional - and therefore less adventurous - thinkers.

When I gaze upon any object - be it a butterfly, a banana, or a blossom - it doesn't occur to me that some humanoid with deft hands wielding clever tools actually sat down at a workbench one morning and fabricatedthese wondrous forms that are able to self-replicate and perpetuate their own species, ad infinitum.

I'm more inclined to admire the hidden geometries, complex architecture, and ingenious mechanisms underlying these forms which are also discernible in other forms that constitute our physical environment. A healthy appreciation for the miraculous nature of all forms ultimately leads one to focus on the mystery that is oneself.

For each of us is every bit as amazingly designed and constructed as a grasshopper or dungbeetle or seahorse or giraffe or walrus or duckbill platypus or an entire coral reef. The interlocking biochemistries and interwoven electromagnetic patterns that give rise to living forms are at once complex and simple.Inevitably, one is compelled to marvel at the breakthrough discoveries in recent decades of the fractal nature of the holographic universe - and the curious effect that consciousness appears to have on how it evolves and mutates. It is, indeed, as cutting-edge physicists declare, "an observer-created universe.

"Pioneering researchers have detected micro-macro consonances between the subatomic and the supergalactic realms, wherein the essential architecture of a single atom is echoed in that of a galaxy. This fact alone ought to qualify as a theophany that can yield an endless quantity of eureka moments - enough at any rate to induce an ecstatic vision in anyone who spontaneously comprehends the divinity and perfection of all that exists.

You could call this approach to answering the age-old question of God's existence (or otherwise) the way of the mystic-scientist. It's not dependent on culturally or genetically implanted beliefs or on faith. Rather, it is a metaconceptual gestalt formed from free associating a random sequence of sensory inputs with a variety of analogies drawn from personal experience as well as what C.G. Jung called the Collective Unconscious.

Anyone who has, by chance or design, embarked on the quest for meaning and significance must pay attention to signs, omens, auditory, visual and perceptual clues left as a legacy by thousands upon thousands of conscious thinkers who lived and died and whose insights were recorded externally in the form of artefacts - or internally through subtle alterations of the chromosomal data banks.

Each new pilgrim on the journey towards enlightenment will have a unique experience, though universal truths have a habit of recurring like strangely familiar motifs. In effect, any authentic attempt to grapple with the question of God is necessarily an individual process. Other people's narratives of "divine revelation" most certainly constitute a valuable reference - but they can never be a substitute for direct knowing, distilled from unique, personal experience.

This is why at an early age I found myself unsubscribing from prescribed belief systems passed down the generations. All the conflicting doctrines that constitute man-made religion serve merely to anesthetize the masses against the anguish of fully accepting our human limitations, in order that we might ultimately transcend them.

Religions are packaged and processed forms of accumulated mystical insight; and although there will always be precious glimmers of truth to be found in the crude ore of inherited or acquired beliefs, the unthinking and unquestioning acceptance of these dogmas is akin to condemning oneself to a lifelong diet of junk food bought off the shelves of a cosmic convenience store.

To visualize God as an eternal parent figure is to forever infantilize our apprehension of reality in simplistic terms of Good and Evil, Right and Wrong. These opposite polarities represent extreme ends of the moral spectrum; but as the sum-total of all existence, God embodies the entire spectrum of possibilities and is therefore beyond categorization and classification. In analogous terms, God is not just the Father but also the Mother and the Child borne of their primordial union.

In ancient days when the majority of humans were illiterate, an elite corps of Scribes arose that took it upon themselves to interpret on behalf of the others what was purportedly the Word of God. This special breed of human we call the Priesthood. In India the priests established themselves as the Brahmin caste and exalted themselves above the ordinary folk.

An effective division of labor developed wherein the priestly caste collaborated with the kingly caste to form the earliest governments. The priests took on responsibility for the spiritual affairs of men while the kings ruled over the material domain, as evidenced in the political pact between the Bishop of Rome and the Emperor Constantine.

In the Book of Exodus we saw the same partnership in action with the brothers Aaron and Moses: Aaron took charge of administrative and logistical matters, while Moses played the role of divine visionary, receiving direct instructions from on high.

To this day the Mormon church classifies its membership as either of the Aaronic or the Melchizedek lineage. Those of the Aaronic Order undertake the day-to-day management of church affairs, like the raising of funds and the construction of temples; and those of the Melchizedek Order propagate the spiritual message of the founder, Joseph Smith, who received his revelation through an angelic messenger named Moroni.

What I'm waffling on about, then, is the sheer futility of identifying oneself with any particular religious doctrine. Our understanding of life matures with experience - or, at least, it ought to. It's fine to believe in Santa Claus when you're five years old and thrilled to bits at the prospect of finding a stack of prettily giftwrapped presents under the Christmas tree. However, by the time you're fifteen, you really ought to have realized that the fat guy in a red suit is actually your own dad - or some guy hired by the department store to lure kids and their parents into a ritual shopping spree.

I'm not going to denounce or deconstruct all the institutionalized religions in our midst. It's generally a waste of breath anyway. Many people cling desperately to their beliefs because they fear the bottomless abyss of uncertainty. Some will violently strike out at or even kill anyone who attempts to shatter their faith or so much as joke about it.

With some folks, loyalty to the faith into which they happened to be born can be even stronger and more fanatical than their loyalty to a favorite soccer team. Just as there are soccer hooligans at every game, you will encounter violent mobs of the religiously intoxicated. Best to stay clear of them rather than attempt to engage them in rational discourse.

These mobs constitute what you might term the bottom rung of consciousness. Everybody goes through such a phase - though many today express their fanatical urges via ardent hero-worship of a particular popstar or screen actor. Left to their own devices, most people eventually outgrow these obsessions.

I'm absolutely convinced that Malaysians of all creeds will co-exist in sweet harmony when jingoistic politicians stop stirring up the shit. Is there any way we can compel them to cease their pseudo-religious rabble-rousing? None that I can think of, short of maintaining some barbaric law like the ISA for exclusive use against those who exploit racial and religious differences for their own political advantage.

Nevertheless, I don't advocate such quick-fix methods. Censorship of any kind is anathema to me. I'm utterly convinced that when people are regularly exposed to all kinds of ideas - no matter how lunatic or extreme - they will swiftly learn to discern what's palatable and what's poisonous in the way of opinions.

So, instead, of cringing at the absurd utterances of rabid religious reactionaries, all we really have to do is ignore them. And, if they refuse to stop after a decent interval, we could simply pull the plug on them, switch off their microphones, so to speak. That harms nobody at all - and they will eventually fall silent when their voices grow hoarse from shouting at the wind.

Some rights reserved © Antares/Magick River You may borrow and/or modify content for your own blog but please credit and backlink, thanks.

Monday, 13 April 2009

"Hail To The Chief"?

So it has come to pass; the R.A.H.M.A.N. prophecy is finally complete with the "N" attaching itself to "Najib"! I suppose we could have been worse off...we could have drawn say, Nazri or Neuman (Alfred E.) but we definitely could have been better off. Imagine if "N" were perhaps, "Nelson" (of Mandela)!!!

Anyway, "M" Bakri Musa had this to say about "N"...ajib:

The Last UMNO Prime Minister
by Dr M Bakri Musa (Morgan-Hill, California)

Newly-sworn Prime Minister Najib Razak created buzz when he released 13 prisoners detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and lifted the ban on Harakah and Suara Keadilan, publications of the opposition parties. He also promised “a comprehensive review” of the ISA, a statute long abused to silence the government’s critics.

Malaysians long yearning for a change applauded him. There were skeptics, of course.

Alas that was last week. This week the hopes of those citizens were cruelly crushed when they saw the real Najib with the announcement of his new cabinet. Far from being a team that would wow Malaysians, Najib’s cabinet was, as Tunku Aziz put it, “a team of recycled political expendables.” And a bloated one at that!

The skeptics were right; Najib’s earlier act was nothing but a big and cruel tease.

This roster of “political expendables” was the best that the man could offer, from a leader who only a week earlier warned his party that it should “change or be changed.” When given the ultimate freedom to choose his own team, Najib stuck to the tried and true, or what he thought to be so. So this was Najib’s brave version of “Berani Berubah!” (Dare to Change!).

Najib is incapable of change; there is nothing in him to suggest otherwise. He could not even recognize the need for one, much less respond to it. Change would be totally out of character for the man. Far from welcoming or be invigorated by it, change would threaten him.

Unfortunately for Najib, Malaysia has changed. Incapable of change, he is doomed to be changed come the next general elections, from Prime Minister to Leader of the Opposition. He will be our shortest serving chief executive, our Gerald Ford. Ford was the unelected American President who assumed office following Nixon’s forced resignation over the Watergate scandal. Like Ford, Najib too was not elected to the highest office. Ford was subsequently rejected by voters; the same fate awaits Najib.

For Malaysia, that would truly be a wasted decade, with the first half already being squandered by Najib’s predecessor, Abdullah Badawi.

The True Najib

Najib is the obedient first son, the loyal subordinate, and the traditionalist aristocrat. He even inherited his father’s ancient tribal title, Orang Kaya Indera Shahbandar! How quaint in this 21st Century! His career path has been straight and narrow, on a track that had been conveniently laid down for him by others who felt indebted or grateful to his illustrious father.

Najib has never shown a talent for striking new paths. Even his ascendance to the Prime Minister’s office was paved by others, in particular Tun Mahathir and Muhyiddin Yassin. Najib must remember that a favor offered is a favor owed.

Just as he was the obedient son, Najib was also the dutiful and loyal subordinate. His blind obedience to Abdullah Badawi drew the wrath of Tun Mahathir. As for experience, Najib has been dependent on paychecks from the public purse all his adult life. He never had to meet a payroll; he has no idea of the trials and challenges of that endeavor; nor does he appreciate the sense of accomplishments and independence of those who have.

This is not the profile of a leader capable of making radical changes that Malaysia so desperately needs now.

Unfortunately the track Najib is on now ends at his office. Ahead, for him and the nation, is uncharted territory, with steep hills to climb and wide canyons to traverse. Turning back is not an option, as that path so carefully crafted by earlier leaders is now destroyed for lack of maintenance and prudent use.

That Najib is now portrayed as an agent for change is more a tribute to his highly-paid public relations operatives and the all-too-eager-to-please toadies in the mainstream media. However, you could pedal a dud only for so long; sooner or later the ugly reality would emerge and the bubble burst.

When that inevitability happens, beware! Voters react with vengeance when they feel that they have been hoodwinked by their leaders. Ask Najib’s immediate predecessor, Abdullah. The by-election results since the last general elections are portends for Najib and his party.

Totally Inept and Inadequately Prepared

Najib assembled his cabinet only last week. Even then he spent that limited time talking with leaders of his Barisan coalition instead of with potential candidates. He is clearly being negligent. He knew he will be Prime Minster months ago; he should have been interviewing and short-listing candidates all along. Being unopposed as president of UMNO and thus freed from having to campaign, he had plenty of time to preview his choices prior to last week.

I am particularly concerned with the choice of his deputy. Did Najib have a private session with Muhyiddin before selecting him? Nowhere is it written that UMNO Deputy President should also be the Deputy Prime Minister. Najib is trapped by tradition.

Najib should have done a “Khairy Jamaluddin” on Muhyiddin, that is, keep him out of the cabinet and make him focus on rebuilding the party. God knows, UMNO needs intensive rehabilitation as much as its Youth wing, if not more so. Dispensing with Muhyiddin would strengthen Najib’s image as a reformer, quite apart from taking the sting out of having singly excluded Khairy from the cabinet.

Najib gave the very important Education portfolio to Muhyiddin. Is Najib assured that Muhyiddin agrees with him on the major policy issues, in particular the highly contentious matter of continuing the teaching of science and mathematics in English? Muhyiddin is unusually quiet on this.

It is equally hard to be enthusiastic on the rest of Najib’s team. This is what happens when you choose your cabinet based on pleasing others, especially those whom you owe favors.

Najib struggled to get his team, just like Abdullah and Mahathir before him. Like them, he too found the pickings slim as he fished only in the same polluted and shallow puddle of UMNO and Barisan. He did not have the courage to venture beyond.

Najib unwittingly revealed much in his first few days as Prime Minister. Thanks to his PR team, Najib managed to sound very positive, at with his promise of “a comprehensive review” of the ISA. That sent orgies of praise for the man in the mainstream media and elsewhere. The more perceptive (or skeptical) would note that he specifically did not mention anything about repealing it.

Then there was his announcement on the release of the 13 ISA prisoners “with immediate effect.” In Najib’s lexicon, “with immediate effect” means at least three days later! This shows how much he is in tune with the actual workings of the civil service.

If I had been Najib’s communications director, this is what I would have done. Knowing how easily our civil servants could screw things up, I would first check with the Home Ministry, specifically the Chief of Police and Prison Director, to arrange for the release of the prisoners. Send them to the nearby rest house at government expense if their families were not yet ready to receive them. I would then alert television stations and other news media so they would be there to cover it.

Only after assuring myself that all those meticulous preparations are in place would I have Najib make his announcement. Imagine the dramatic impact when the split screen on the nation’s television screens would also show the prisoners being released as he made the announcement. It would also showcase the crispness of Najib’s new administration. Had he done so, he would have been spared the embarrassment of his orders being delayed for days because of – you guessed it! – paperwork!

On the day Najib announced his new cabinet, the judge in the long running Mongolian model murder trial rendered his judgment. Najib had been trying hard to ignore the grizzly tragedy, but it kept cropping up at the most inopportune time. His strategy is to stonewall, banking that the success of his policies would make citizens forget the gruesome crime.

Najib is gravely mistaken in this. Even if his ethics were beyond reproach, Najib would find his policies a tough sell. Conversely, if he could clear up those sordid allegations (assuming of course he is innocent, a huge supposition) he would find that with his personal credibility now enhanced, the public would more likely buy into his policies. Stonewalling is no strategy.

As it now stands, Najib is doomed to be the last UMNO Prime Minister. He will not be even a “one-termer.” He will go down in history as our shortest-serving Prime Minister. Worse, it will be recorded for posterity that he was the Malay leader who brought down a once glorious organization, UMNO, an institution his late father was so instrumental in setting up. All destroyed in just two generations; the first to build it, the second to destroy. Truly a very Malay story!

For those who warmly applauded Najib on his first few days in office thinking that his was the dawn of a new day for the nation, I hope they would translate their disappointment into effective action. Deliver to Najib his own KPI (Key Performance Index) at the next general elections. It will be less than four years away; plenty of time to lay and grease the track for Najib’s (and UMNO’s) exit.

Sim Kwang Yang had this to say:

Sizing up the new PM

So we Malaysians have a new prime minister, a new cabinet, and a new administration.

From the way the BN controlled mainstream media cover the event, you would think that the whole country is exploding with joy at the arrival of a new Messiah and his twelve apostles.

Inevitably, the press will publish “positive” response from the BN component parties, business leaders, community leading lights, and the odd selected men and women on the street.

I have lived to watch five prime ministers come and go. Najib Abdul Razak is my sixth PM. To call him “my” PM is a little awkward, for I did not vote for him, but the convention of linguistic usage has to be observed.

Thanks to alternative media like Malaysiakini, my cynical “anti-social” voice has found a perfect platform. But my cynical voice is not born from any form of destructive nihilism, but from my idealistic dream of what Malaysia could be.

From that seemingly paradoxical position of idealistic cynicism, let us proceed to evaluate the early days of the new premiership of Najib Abdul Razak.

Please do more

Hardly has he warmed the PM’s seat in Putrajaya when Najib announced lifting the suspension of the two opposition publications, and the release of 13 ISA detainees, including two of the Hindraf group.

A reform-minded prime minister according to my cast of idealistic cynicism would release all ISA detainees, shut down the infamous Kamunting Camp, and declare an intent to abolish the notorious ISA altogether.

Detainees who are suspected of real crimes against the state would be charged in court of course. By that standard, the new PM has failed.

The new political top-dog in Malaysian politics has announced that he wants to see a freer press, for reporting without fear of the consequences. That sounds noble.

But noble declaration of intent does not make for an open democratic society. He would do more to meet the aspiration of the new Malaysians by initiating legislative change to all the stupid laws that has curbed freedom of speech and stifled our national soul for the past half century in Malaysia.

The official Secret Act and the Seditious Act will have to go. The publications laws will have to be amended so that the publishing licenses of major media do not have to be renewed annually. I would like to see a new law banning political parties from owning any media organisation, but that would be detrimental to the freedom of speech of political entities.

As long as opposition parties can be given the chance to own media organisations, then we will let market forces to determine their fate. Can we be assured that under the new PM, opposition parties can also own and publish major daily newspapers? If not, then the new PM is not reform minded. He fails in my idealistic/cynical book.

Then there is this proclamation of the new PM for a One Malaysia.

It is an attractive slogan. Many Malaysians are dreaming of the day the Malaysians will live as one people, equal despite their differences, enjoying the fruit of their labour without having to climb the high mountain of racial discrimination.

The zero sum game of the NEP has to end, and the government will help all Malaysians based on need, and not on creed. The people of Sarawak and Sabah are particularly in need of help from the federal government.

But the new PM’s One Malaysia is an empty slogan, devoid of bone, meat and blood. It sounds good, but it lacks content. Is it just spin, or is it a real reformist declaration of doing away with all the exclusivist divisive and debilitating policies of Umno in the past 50 years?

(He has even launched a One Malaysia website, but would I even begin to log on it to check? Naw, it is probably manned by cyber mercenaries anyway.)

If the idea of One Malaysia is going to flourish, then the idea of Ketuanan Melayu has to go. The BN race-based parties will have to be dissolved and merged into a single multi-racial party.

Otherwise, I will just watch this shouting of the One Malaysia slogan just as another creation of the PM’s spin doctor, like Dr M’s “Efficient, Clean, and Trustworthy government” of 1982, and Pak Lah’s vacuous “Islam Hadari” when he took over the helm from his predecessor. They are catchy but empty slogans, and nothing more!

What about his much touted “mean and lean” cabinet?

Out of the 28 ministers, 19 are from Umno. MCA gets 4. All the other component parties including MIC and Gerakan share out the rest with one each.

This is a reflection of the twisted ethnic power sharing so often touted by the Barisan Nasional. The new cabinet is an Umno dominated cabinet, just like many old cabinets in the past. It will formulate and implement Umno’s Ketuanan Melayu policies first and Malaysian policies afterwards.

Note how all those key cabinet positions like finance, defence, home, agriculture, works and education are all held by Umno. As the top administrative institution of the country, it gives the impression that the other BN component parties are there as decorative window dressing to the delusion of power sharing only.

Sabah gets four and Sarawak gets two inconsequential cabinet posts. So much for One Malaysia and national integration!

Recycled politicians

It is notable that some eleven senators had to be sworn in to fill out the ministerial and the deputy ministerial positions in the new cabinet.

It seems as if there are not sufficient talents in the current crop of MPs in parliament for the new PM to choose from. Once again, BN personalities rejected by the voters in the last general election can be recycled into political circulation through the Senate backdoor.

Then this new PM simply cold-shouldered the newly minted Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, while appointing Dr M’s son to be a deputy minister!

For as long as I can remember, this is the first time an Umno Youth chief has not been made a member of the cabinet.

What the new PM did there was like toeing a thin shaky line. He would do well not to antagonise Dr M, but he too must be his own man one day to leave his own legacy to posterity. In the days ahead, Dr M may just become toxic asset to the beleaguered Umno.

While the list of the new cabinet was announced, we are told that a Chinese language net portal The Merdeka Review was banned from covering the PM’s press conference without any reason given. There is a freer media for you!

Nah, I do not see how Najib can become a reformist PM at all.

He was elected MP when he was 22 or 23. He became a minister when he was 24, and has been in the Umno political mainstream ever since.

In all those three decades of his unimpressive career in government, when was the last time that you heard something inspiring or original from him? When was the last time when you heard some proclamation of a major policy that could change Malaysia?

He has been so entrenched in a corrupt and repressive system that his worldview must have been shaped by all those senior bureaucrats who surrounded him all those long years. The bamboo curtain of the Malaysian officialdom must have shielded him from the daily reality of the ordinary people on the ground. Does he know what the retail price of a kilo of grade 3A rice is to-day?

He is the product and a survivor with a political system that has brought Malaysia to the moribund state that we are in to-day. To expect him to reform the Malaysian institutions of state is like asking a fat man to lift himself into the air by his shoe laces!

Judging by what Najib had done in recent months in Perak, plunging the state into a political impasse and a constitutional crisis, his ascension to the highest political office of the land is no cause for celebration, and plenty of reasons to worry for the uncharted seas ahead.

Then again, he could be the last Umno BN prime minister in the history of Malaysia.


What else is there to say? "Be very afraid!!!"