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Sakmongkol ak 47

ariff.sabri@gmail.com

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The Ambassador to the USA

My article on our ambassador designate to America drew out several comments. By and large, the comments zoomed in to the question of JJ's character. The incident at a 5 star hotel in Kuala Lumpur was treated as the defining event that forever coloured JJ. There are also some comments which send down UMNO for being devoid of leadership stuff, if a person like JJ is treated respectably.

I recognise these comments. They were not unexpected though because they either came from those who are genuinely opposed to UMNO or from the faction within UMNO who longed for the Old Order. The former deserves respect, the latter deserves scant attention.

I will not trivialise the comments that were sent following my article on JJ. On most of them I agree. I have said what most commentators found troubling. JJ has some questionable business deals, most of which however, I believed were envious add-ons. JJ was a successful businessman. He bought out an unknown manufacturer of switchgears and later listed EPE power. He is after all an electrical engineer. He then went on to expand into other businesses. Therefore, there are strong reasons to believe that a man with his talents, intelligence and networking capabilities could honestly succeed.

Hence, the insinuations that JJ secured prosperity on the back of questionable business dealings may not be entirely true. Those were statements having the nature of insinuations which were mostly unsupported by facts. Their 'truth' value was established through innuendos and corridor whispers. Fortunately, the truth is not established ala loud shouts on a trading floor. These to me, in the famous words of a judge, are not relevant. I am not going to begrudge him for his penchant smoking cigars or dressing in haute couture just because I couldn't afford to or if I can afford it, wouldn't want to.

Let us turn to one particular issue that never ceased to be brought up. The one incident at a leading hotel is treated the tipping point defining JJ's character trait. Although I was also among those who lampooned him over this and shared many good laughs with friends, I do not think they were sustainable. Of course we needled him for that particular event. We punished him for that. But I find it difficult to accept this questionable incident as one that goes to the root of his character making JJ a flawed character ab initio. Do we now condemn his as a perpetual amorous person?

Yet despite this incident, the PM was willing to take diplomatic brickbats and insist on appointing JJ as ambassador suggests the measure of confidence in the man. On his abilities and diligence there are no doubts. To persist in spite of the negative character perception suggests PM thinks the incident was all politics.

From the date of the event until now, there hasn't been a case of sexual harassment brought before the courts against JJ. We can humour ourselves with storied versions as to the reasons why no such a case was placed before the court. Just as the incident gave us the fodder for many a comic relief, why no case of sexual harassment was brought before the courts, will remain matters of conjecture. But for us who insist that JJ was a culprit, no amount of excuses or defences will change our settled opinions of him. On such opinion came from an anonymous commentator who has the smell of rancid kari curry about him.

But suppose we look at the whole mess from a different angle. Granted some untoward incident did occur but not in the manner as was reported in the papers. What if, what actually took place was different from what was reported? The funny thing was, that incident was swiftly reported in the press. Was it a coincident that the press people were there at that time or were tailing JJ?

Just suppose further, unseen hands were at play at the highest reaches of the media world, to knock off Najib's supporters one by one. Begin with JJ first. That JJ is today continuously maligned suggests that there are forces within UMNO itself and outside UMNO, though operating independently, which are worried about Najib-led UMNO resurgence. Why not continue to character assassinate one of his closest confidantes?

After the previous PM lost 5 states to the opposition mainly through his uninspiring leadership, there were ground movements to request him to own up and resign immediately. The ringleader was assumed to be JJ. JJ was to suffer the first consequence. Despite winning the Rompin parliamentary seat, he wasn't included in the cabinet. The former PM would have wished he had stuck to his earlier feel not to put up JJ as candidate. Excluding JJ from the cabinet was therefore a small measure of revenge and consolation.

But JJ is also seen as Najib's chief enforcer, lieutenant and Mr. Fix it, all rolled into one. Why not engineer some incident that will not only incapacitate JJ but also strike fear in Najib's heart? Now, everyone who has come into contact with JJ knows at social events, he can be garrulous and boisterous. Why not exploit these facets of JJ's behaviour into some political capital? At this particular leading hotel in KL, JJ was a familiar face. I have already told readers of JJ's hail fellow well met style of striking friendship. Almost every worker knows JJ. By the way, JJ emits this kind of friendliness not only in this particular place. If one were to encounter him at Nikko Hotel for example, the same style of friendship can be seen.

Maybe there were touching and slapping here and there but not to the extent of suggesting sexual overtures. They became looked as such only when the media people who were obviously tailing JJ there spin that kind of salacious behaviour. It became a scandalised story that not only damaged JJ's character but did not fail to send a coded message to Najib, that if we can embarrass your main man, we can also do that to you.

This whole scenario has to be revisited as it is troubling not only to fair minded Malaysian citizens; it is also disturbing to the ambassador designate. We have lynched him in the press. Now it is incumbent upon us to clear him.

I said he was a role model- back then. Perhaps the commentator who strongly disputed the treatment of JJ as a role model back then, underestimated the background of Malay students in rural Pekan and not so urban Kuantan in the 1960's and 1970's. The appearance of a really bright student in our midst back then, was treated as an inspiration for most of us. I suspect the same reverence is never felt in advanced states where bright students are a rule rather than exception.

JJ has got his share of human foibles. I accept that these shortcomings will make people dealing with him to be circumspect.

So despite this, why do I think good of him still? Perhaps because I feel it justifiable to give him the benefit if the doubt just as I am willing to give Anwar Ibrahim the same. We are herded into thinking ill of him because he is so inviting for that. Perhaps also because as he comes from the same place as I do, there is a sense of shared pride.

17 comments:

Anonymous,  18 August 2009 at 10:07  

Dato'

We understand our leader's wish to have someone that can act as a confidante on US matters to be made the Ambassador, regardless of his personal problems/obsessions....
However, would it not be wiser to appoint a Professional/Career Diplomat in this position? A person well versed in US politics/sentiments and well as trained in Diplomacy and Risk Mitigation?

We often hear of Third World Diplomats caught frequenting red light districts in the US, some even listed in certain Madam's Black Book. These people put their country's security at risk through blackmail or other means. Let's hope our new appointment is aware of all these risks and put the country's interest first in the performance of his duties.



Joe Black

Anonymous,  18 August 2009 at 10:09  

Dato,

I don’t share yr sentiment about yr anak se kampong!

Perfect pearl can only come from one single clam, within the same field of clam culture. There could be even more rotten clams within that field, though that field is a selected closed experiment with all ‘given’ nutrients!

Why najib selects JJ to be M’sia’s ambassador to US could be due to his ‘experience’ in helping TDM to get a casual meeting with President Bush jr. Along the way, TNB ‘donated’ RM30M(?) to some lobbyists who were subsequently impeached by the Congress.

A meeting between President Obama & najib will boast najib & rosmah’s ego to cloud nine, especially if the meeting place is in the White House.

That’s JJ’s mission & he has claimed so as his first priority as the selected ambassador!

Yr takes about JJ’s role in EPE is wrong, too. His actual role was typical rent-seeking, with his connection to get contracts from TNB s’haja.

U r showing the sign of moving away from yr understanding of the principle of 'Xiushen qijia zhiguo pingtianxia'.

What takes now?

anomie

Anonymous,  18 August 2009 at 11:09  

Dato,

Just as you claim that JJ maybe the subject of a witch hunt, the others who were not investigated may have been protected too. The palatial home of the dentist and the 3mil of a certain son of Muhammad comes to mind. This is all part and parcel of politics. Look at what is happening in the PKFZ case. Suddenly, former good friends are trying to outdo each other with juicy revelations to show that each is not as pristine as they seem.

Anonymous,  18 August 2009 at 12:54  

I guess Dato' what you are trying to put across the point is -character does indeed maketh a man not circumstances, however in this instance Ambassador JJ is caught in the power play.

bindi

GreenBug 18 August 2009 at 14:01  

Just like the candidate for the ongoing by-election for Permatang Pasir, why does UMNO choose to have a tainted candiate as ambassador to the US? I say tainted because he was alleged to have committed those wrongs. He might be innocent or guilty but he was tainted. I don't give 2 hoot if he groped any bums but to be using racist remarks on an Indian student while visiting the US - thats unacceptable for Najib's 1Malaysia.

If UMNO truly wants Malaysians to believe that they are serious on reforming the party, these two selection of candidates obviously negated that opinion.

It was just like appointing the loser in the UMNO Youth election as Dy Minister and leaving the winner out in the cold. It doesn't really bother me or impact my life but it does show again there was no sincerity in UMNO's reforming efforts.

Are You Gonna Go My Way,  18 August 2009 at 14:08  

Tell me a man who is very successful with lots of money to spent, getting a little male pattern baldness due to high testosterone level either naturally or from tongkat ali wouldn’t act a little notty sometimes. So what…if he is. Wouldn’t we want to trade places with him? I would…

Anonymous,  18 August 2009 at 14:52  

Sak,

There are times when we read the papers about something that we knew about and realised that the fact of the stories came out significantly different from what they should be.

Also, some writers would colour the stories so that the understanding of the readers will be clouded the way the writers wanted them to be.

I have always been cautious on everything that I read.

I do know JJ -to a limited extent, of course. I should do, as I call him Pak Long JJ.

Reading your stories on him, I'd say what you wrote have been very fair and that also further reshaped my personal perspective on your other stories.

Thank you.

-E.G.

Anonymous,  18 August 2009 at 15:08  

Whatever it is about JJ..one can be very certain that he is not a disbarred lawyer.I suppose benchmarking from that "ethical baseline" JJ is a indeed a fine character.

Anonymous,  18 August 2009 at 16:15  

Well done you have proven the fact that morals are only for those who can be trampled and not for those who walk in the corridors of power or don't tell me jj called you.

Anonymous,  18 August 2009 at 19:34  

Have you not heard, Team A and Team B in umno? That was the front runner done by a team member with fore sight. Now the members are falling in line. Sam@yahoo.com

BC 18 August 2009 at 19:51  

Datuk,

A slap on the back to say: "Hey, nice to see you" and an "Mmmm...I love the squeezy feel..." on someone's fanny are two different languages altogether.

I think you need to have someone take a look at the crosshair of your AK47, Datuk.

Venom for Anwar and a spinning gasing for JJ and Jibby, eh? Come on...you're better than that, Datuk.

donplaypuks® 18 August 2009 at 21:57  

We are talking about our Ambassador to the only Superpower in this WORLD, not some 3rd world country!

Surely he should be spotless, squeaky clean? All it needs is some 'expose' in USA Today or 'News of the World' in London, for Malysia's reputation to be globally compromised and to be mocked at!

Don't we have have high class career diplomats who could have been elevated to that exalted post? Why does our Govt continue to court controversy and set itself up for egg in the face?

dpp
We are all of 1 race, the Human Race

Anonymous,  19 August 2009 at 01:36  

who is and where is Yusri Ishak?

your name is really on the line...
u who can be trampled on for a bigger cause..
ur options is either to fight and redeem ur name..
or to enjoy the option of being the big bad boy..

you hold the cards..the credibility of umno is in ur hands..

i don't envy you..wherever u r..
to be pushed into the limelight in this manner..

but the nation will forever remember ur name..Yusri Ishak.

Anonymous,  19 August 2009 at 05:05  

Dato'
What a joke!!! JJ is talented. Are you out of your mind now.
With that kind of background though he has so much money and with that money that he is prepared to splash around in the USA as his usual modus-operandi in getting recognitions and with PM personal interests rather than the national interest rumored to be the basis of his appointment...wonder whether Malaysia will one day be the 53rd states of the USA.
Hopefully I am wrong and you are right!!! dh9753.

Anonymous,  19 August 2009 at 08:00  

Dato' Sak,
You don't have to be talented when you use RM30 million to pay a lobbyist to fix a meeting between two leaders. I won't be surprised if he will be using RM300 million to do the same thing again with half the amount going to his own pocket.
Pak Tua

Anonymous,  19 August 2009 at 12:38  

Pardon my disbelief, dato' but:

Assuming your spin is correct, it does not change the fact that the world views JJ as such. How would the US think of this rep?

A big question: is there a dearth of "clean" candidate that UMNO has to resort to these (as repeated in the coming by-election)? Or is it because it is "payback" time for some unknown services rendered?

kuldeep 23 August 2009 at 00:14  

umno just can't get it right these days...the situation hv changed a lot..the mood of the people is more critical because they believe that its possible to change the govt.

in the past..it seems unlikely that there will be a viable alternative to BN thus the rakyat can only see and accept watever BN dishes out.

But umno got too much history..and baggage..the leaders hv too many favors to return..thus,thats why JJ is in NY.

Nothing else can justify his appointment and the historical impact of having an MP abroad on a full time job.

That will one day come to haunt BN.

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