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Sakmongkol ak 47

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

The Blackest of (leadership) Treachery

This statement may not be palatable to many. Many say politics is about perception and here's one to ponder. What this concept means is, it is excusable to be deceitful and self assuring to be deceived.

We don't have to actually be the qualities that we say, but it's sufficient that others believe that we have those qualities. We do not have to be actually religious, but sufficient if others believe us to be so. So we adorn skullcaps, run our fingers over prayer beads, wrap our bodies with robes, utter religious verses, hey presto, we are what we make believe ourselves to be.

It is similar about leadership. We don't need to have substance. We need only the form by which to project our make believe selves. We let out noises which we want people to use as excuses to believe we are leaders of substance. Hence we offer people a slew of liberalising measures unclogging certain areas of the economy. The untrained and eager beavers say Malays are ready to compete. Of course we do- we compete in selling goreng pisang and, apam balek. We compete and indeed over compete in those low-value added economic activities. But the high value added economic pie is still exclusively shared by the well connected and powerful.

We want the people to believe that we are actually doing something by carrying some cosmetic reforms over the financial sectors when we are actually skirting around the issues. Once again, because perception is everything, it is alright to be deceitful and excusable to be deceived. This falsity around which we wrap ourselves has enabled form to triumph over substance.

We have this Munchausen's Syndrome and sadly, Malays are advanced than others in this department. We actually believe that economic sufferings cleanse the soul. Will that mean, that because, by and large, and this is accepted as a cardinal maximising postulate of the Malay, it should be all right if they remain poor? To complete this process of economic immolation, we shall let loose the minister in charge of religious affairs to instruct those well meaning religious proselytisers to dish out appropriate comforting religious sermons.

Our leaders continue to assail us with inexhaustible menu of mental and attitudinal defects, thus clearly displaying their politically masochistic tendencies.

I hope by now, many more people will realise the farce surrounding this statement- that the age of leaders know best and better is over is but a huge mollycoddling sleight of hand and a twist of tongue. Not a single day passes without those who have just ascended the leadership ladder continue berating us and continue making fools out of us. The application of draconian measures and carrying out of repressive actions on disagreeable but lawful political dissent has completely and utterly discredited the goodwill announced by the present administration. This administration is slowly going into credibility deficit.

By what standards do we now measure the current leadership with?

I have recently written about the legacy of Tun Razak. More will be forthcoming. That particular article was supposed to be the preamble on the discussion on leadership. I am also ambitious in wanting acceptance of Tun Razak's leadership standards be used as the yardstick.

Assuming Tun Razak's leadership standards are accepted, one is immediately led to measure the current PM to his father. In extracting the leadership principles of Tun Razak, I have chosen to rely more on anecdotal assessments. These are at once recognised as merely perceptions and are likely to be discounted by the rigorous analysts. But, didn't the majority say, perception is everything in politics?

A contemporary of Tun Razak is Tun Ghazali Shafie. He is still alive but in the poorest of health. Ghazali Shafie was nicknamed King Ghaz. He was also perceived as a pugnacious SOB. That perception is second religion to his detractors of course. Abdullah Ahmad (of Machang infamy) would certainly be on top in the list of Ghazali Shafie's haters.

King Ghaz was a very intelligent individual whose razor sharp analytical mind but overbearing personality was off putting most of the time. But Tun Razak valued these qualities in Ghazali Shafie. Because Tun Razak knew he could milk Ghazali Shafie's talents and networking. Ghazali Shafie's usefulness and his talents overrode personal defects and these were valued more by Tun Razak.

Compare the two buddies and you will hear the following assessment. Everyone knows Ghazali Shafie is a clever chap. But in his presence, he brings out the adversarial alter ego in everyone. He makes everyone wants to challenge him and dispute him. But Ghazali Shafie thrives on adversarial relations.

But with Tun Razak, you have this feeling of wanting to serve him. In his presence, even those sharper witted than him feel like submitting to him. Possibly that's a gift from God. Razak was a quiet and contemplative man. He stood in direct opposite to the boisterous and rambunctious King Ghaz.

Tun Razak was by any measure a refined and subtle thinker. Always able to cut through the chaff he was mindful of what constitute pragmatism. Political expediencies are not pragmatism to Tun Razak. To Tun Razak pragmatism means taking a decision that leads to capacity building. For example, building on the concept of PERIKATAN to morph it into a more inclusive BARISAN NASIONAL was pragmatism. Will this action bring benefits? Will it be politically profitable? If they do, how will things work out in the long run? Pragmatism to Tun Razak is always tied up with longer term interests. Expediencies are for short tem gains.

So when Malaysian Insider stated that:-

Pragmatism, and not bending to the will of former prime ministers, has emerged as the dominant principle behind decision-making in the early days of the Najib administration, as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak seeks to reconnect the Barisan Nasional government with the elusive non-Malay and younger vote bank. And there are two factors which are driving Najib to look at matters in a practical way rather than through party lenses: fear of leading BN into defeat at the next general elections and knowledge that time is not on his side.

I find myself unable to agree to that statement. If pragmatism means preference for longer term interests, lets look at a few of the PM's recent decision making.

Take for instance the recent decision to stay away from Penanti in Penang. That decision was funded on the pragmatic principles of not wanting to waste precious time and money. That reasoning was quickly proven hollow when these two elements were obviously disregarded when UMNO now wants to go to Manek Urai. Differentiating the two on the basis of the former being the product of political ploy and the later as having a valid reason to participate hasn't gone down well with the Malay rakyat.

The longer term principle that sustains UMNO and keeps it relevant is self respect. The second thing is the foundation upon which UMNO builds its relevance- that of fighting for, preserving and expanding Malay interests. The decision to stay away from Penanti actually means, the UMNO president is favoring political expediency (short term interests) over pragmatism (longer term interests).

That, Tun Razak would not have approved.


Dhahran Sea,  27 May 2009 at 19:58  

Salam Tok Sak,
Gee! You're really in your element! Couldn't agree with you more! Kalau ye pun trying to be "different" from TDM, tak le perlu buat decisions yang pelik2 & merugikan bangsa & negara kan Tok? Nampak macam... susah nak cakap le... macam somebody's balls are in somebody's hands... ada macam "tangan" dibalik tabir lak, you know what I mean?... alahai bangsa ku!?

Jalil,  27 May 2009 at 19:58  

Dear Dato Sak,

"I find myself unable to agree to that statement. If pragmatism means preference for longer term interests, lets look at a few of the PM's recent decision making."

I refer to your writing as above and I thought you would be listing few things but only Penanti issue was written.

Is it possible if you can list the rest of the PM's recent decision making?

Thanks for your well written articles, really enjoyed reading your writings.

Anonymous,  27 May 2009 at 21:46  

Chase the elusive non Bumis and younger voters...and risk losing more of the "taken for granted " core support?

Or myb pragmatism>> cost too much for UMNO to campaign in by elections..or Perak fresh elections.Heard that no dough no gerak even posters...wat more the poster boys. Dato..hv u considered that >>myb UMNO got no more money?Possibly the new treasurer comes in , take a quick peek at the accts and find that there's more liabilities but no ready cash?

Be fair to our main guy..

Suci Dalam Debu 27 May 2009 at 22:03  


Instead of facing the problems head on, they would rather bury their heads in the sand and think that with their propaganda machine in the form of MSM, they can hoodwink the public. They still believe in fooling all the people all the time.

Little do they realise that the MSMs have no credibility at all. They are living a life full of illusions. The younger Malaysians would not be taken in by their silly excuses. Only the mak ciks and pak ciks in the kampongs can be bought over but alas, the old ones are shrinking in numbers.

The current leadership knows very well that they will be annihilated if they contest in Penanti. But to true leaders, they will turn weakness of Penanti into strengths. The phoenix will rise from the ashes.

What we have are only lame ducks manned by a cunning civet cat.

What we have are leaders hell bent on getting more Ali Baba contracts and trying out all means to remain in power in order to satisfy their insatiable greed.

The first 100 days has been used not to strengthen the remaining foundations but to speed up the demise of good governance.

I can't help but think that come GE13, BN will be history.

Young Malaysians, if you are reading this, please wake up and do the right thing. Vote BN out. Start now!It is never too early.

nightcaller 27 May 2009 at 23:50  


Perception is one thing, pragmatism is another.

Whilst PR can gloat that BN is afraid of facing them in Penanti, what PR failed to realise is that BN do not wish to be drawn into unnecessary by elections.

Let PR dance on his own. Even then, Aminah Abdullah has raised issues that PKR needs to answer, Whether what Aminah claims is true or false is not important but PKR must maintain the perception that they are transparent.

In Malek Urai, the vacancy is not by choice but by god's will. There, BN has to enter the fray.

With all the PR/media consultants under BN, I failed to see why BN cannot come up with better statements that the reasons why they shy away from Penanti is to save money (funds) and time. BN may need to have better PR/media consultant next time. And that is why they need Rashid there to do what he do best. But since BN is full of opportunists, it may be difficult for him to be there, helping Najib out...

mat t,  28 May 2009 at 18:36  

Dato it said a leader is also one who willing to lead without fear or favour but sadly this qualities are with a dying breed.Malaysia today is at a crossroad where it should be the will of her citizens to decide which part she should take.That being the path taken post independence or to start with a total regime change without violence.

kuldeep 28 May 2009 at 21:17  


Just a few months ago its worse case -1 its -5%.Who is running the country?In Japan some one will have to apologise to the nation and resign.
This distils leadership >>accountability,honour and responsibility.
We're not there yet.

walla 28 May 2009 at 21:47

Anonymous,  28 May 2009 at 23:06  


Why are people thinking UMNO people all bad,corrupted and very rich like get commision? submarine 500m,fighter jets 300 m

Its no check Malaysia Forbes richest>>where got Minister?Umno?

Now its fact so no more talking corruption pls

flyer168 29 May 2009 at 00:14  

Dato Sak,

Malaysia badly needs “Role Model” established Leaders & Politicians of HONOUR with Calibre, Maturity & Tolerance without Fear or Favour on Both sides of the Political Divide....

Further, this nation Desperately needs Intelligent, Time Proven Pragmatic Successful modelled, Financial & Politiical “SOLUTIONS” on Both sides of the Political Divide NOW , to mitigate the IMPENDING Political & Financial fallout.

With the Global Financial Meltdown, NO Country or Government can understand & appreciate the "Actual Impact" to the "Nation" & its "People" until they get hit "Hard" like "Iceland."

- Today even their "Millionaires" are "Crying" when their Icelandic Kroner is only worth 20%, so you can imagine how the rest are surviving...

- No jobs, no money, no future in sight....hungry people....

- so they "Protested" until the Government of the day....



- A "New Government is now in place" trying hard to "Salvage" the nation!

We are now seeing PM Najib "Inheriting" his father's NEP Policy which has NOW "Descended" into this "UMNO Ketuanan CLONED MONSTER" on its Auto Pilot Self Destruct Mode!

The "UMNO Ketuanan CLONED MONSTER" mindset is now beyond redemption against PM's 1Malaysia Rhetorics...

UMNO, its Ketuanan Leaders & their “Mercenaries” have lost the “Plot” completely & are “Bankrupt” of Honourable & Intelligent Political, Financial & Economic Solutions to MITIGATE this nation’s WOES.”

So how can they be "Honourable" to carry out their duties diligently without "Fear or favour" or "Step Down Honourably", even after taking an "Oath" to the King/Sultan/the nation & rayaat."


flyer168 29 May 2009 at 00:21  


Dato Sak,

UMNO, its Ketuanan Leaders & their “Mercenaries” have lost the “Plot” completely & are “Bankrupt” of Honourable & Intelligent Political, Financial & Economic Solutions to MITIGATE this nation’s WOES.”

So how can they be "Honourable" to carry out their duties diligently without "Fear or favour" or "Step Down Honourably", even after taking an "Oath" to the King/Sultan/the nation & rayaat."

If they just “Swallow their False Pride, be Honest & Sincere”, the “Whole Nation and the World” will be with us to HELP out!

We only have to “Look, Acknowledge, Ask and Learn” from our neighbour down South – their COST EFFECTIVE TESTED, TRIED and PROVEN solutions which have “ENDURED THE TEST OF TIME” –

DYNAMIC and RESILIENT SUCCESSFUL Political, Financial, Economic & Social POLICIES, ETC.

Our Southern neighbour adopts the best criteria Brains, Politicians, Implementers, etc with Academic, Professional, Long and Proven Track performance of “Excellence”, who are “Accredited and Remunerated” very well (from a few hundred thousand to more than a Million Singapore Dollars per annum) with “Structured Job Specs” in this 21st century context....and they DELIVER!

The right person for the job at hand!

Integrity and Accountability – Either “deliver or else you are out”.

With such a Policy in place, their Senior Leaders, Generals, CEOs, etc do not even have to be seen....but everything runs the way it should for the nation and its rakyat’s “Guaranteed Basic Needs”

They are the “True Leaders” involved in the “Bigger Vision” for the Nation’s International Political, Security, Economic, R & D, Manufacturing, etc Policy and Standing....

The DBS, MAS and Termasek together have financial “Reserves” of more than 600 Billion Singapore Dollars.

For a small nation, they have acknowledged, deliberated, identified and mobilized a “Structured and Dynamic” contingency financial plan to mitigate this financial meltdown

– with an initial package of 20.5 Billion Singapore Dollars and they are “Rock Solid” with their cash reserves.

Anyone involved in “Graft, Corruption, etc” would rather “Self-Destruct” than have to face the Senior PM and their peers.

In Bolehland, our Jaguh Kampung Wannabe UMNO/BN Leaders are still....

Playing with “MARBLES” when all the other nation’s Leaders, Politicians & Government are playing “CHESS”, Synergising & Strategising on the Global Political & Financial Chessboard....

Some Economist have said....

US should stimulate. China should restructure....

"Malaysia should undergo a "MAJOR overhaul."



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