Saturday, 26 February 2011

MRT- our penchant for big, bigger projects.

The KVMRT ( Klang Valley MRT) project is a behemoth RM36b, 33b, 37b or even 43b project. The numbers keep on changing. Put this idea to the residents of commercially conscious people, they say why don't we built the MRT underground.
Then the cost will balloon. Sometimes I think remarks from corporate denizens are purposely highlighted to form a public opinion that will not be shocked by the astronomical costs. Gamuda-MMC will once again perhaps employ the German engineering firm, Wayss & Freytag of Germany using the Tuah and Gemiling TBM- Tunnel Boring Machines. Gamuda-MMC is the 21st century apek contractor now known as PDP- Project Delivery Partner.
The people in charge of this project are presently acting as a much pressured midwife, running helter skelter trying to do a job which should be done by the PDP. The notices on tress remind us of the notes from Tukar Tiub, Volcano Massage and Adult Toys notices.
Why not ask the PDP to conduct the research and come up with the paper? After all this EPP was touted as a private sector driven project which is the driving force behind our great Economic Transformation Plan.
The 'great' component of this project now seems to be the cost- indefinable as yet. It could be anything.
When people start questioning about more details about this project, don't skirt around by saying people are politicizing the project. Politicians do what they do best- ask irritating questions so that answers are forthcoming forthrightly. If we cannot come out with reasonable answers, the public has a right to insinuate some hidden agenda.
Somehow, this project does not fit into the agenda components that can win Najib elections. Where is the rural development agenda? I mean, this MRT benefits only people in the Kelang Valley who are not likely going to vote BN in the next general elections. You are going to spend money in an area where you are NOT getting the votes while ignoring much needed development in rural areas.
The spillover effects are going to benefit precisely those who are rooting for this project. The land owners and people who have the money to park shopping premises at strategic locations on the MRT lines. According to an assessment, properties near MRT's will tend to have a 20% to 30% premium. The biggest beneficiaries of the MRT project are developers or owners of large land banks near MRT interchanges in Kuala Lumpur city with high density development potential.
In a telling passage the same assessor noted that these people have strong and well-connected shareholders with strong balance sheets and a track record in high density development to bid for MRT stations to be integrated with or located near their projects.
So who will benefit most or more than other people? They will include people like YTL Land & Development Bhd, Selangor Properties Bhd, Guocoland (M) Bhd, Bolton Bhd and SP Setia Bhd which have the highest Revalued Net Asset Value exposure to potential interchanges. Ah yes, the ubiquitous SP Setia who gets 51% while PNB gets 49% percent in a recent venture.
Already property prices would start moving ahead as developers price in improved accessibility and higher traffic from the MRT.
So when property prices rise can Malaysians afford them? Malays can afford them? Malays are pushed outwards as they become displaced by rising property prices. If Malays don't get housing, will they vote BN?

 

 

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Friday, 25 February 2011

DUN Kerdau, Jemaah PAS- antum jangan tabor fitnah.

Walaupun ana jahil dalam banyak perkara agama, ana tidak tergamak mencerca dan mencaci orang yang mencapai maqam ulamak. Sebab Nabi pun ada kata- ulamak itu pewaris nabi. Kalau ana dapat berjumpa dengan Tok Guru Nik Aziz , ana rasa ana akan mencium tangan nya. Pertama dia sudah mencapai maqam ulamak, kedua- dia orang tua yang patut di beri hormat dan ke3, kita hormat sesama Islam. Perbezaan politik tidak perlu di jadikan alasan untuk bemusuhan.

Habib ibra ben yahya ketika berjumpa dengan almarhum habib al maliki, dia merebahkan diri memegang kepala lutut habib al maliki. Demikianlah hemah nya syed Ibrahim ben yahya ini. Demikian juga, bila Jemaah PAS tuduh di beli sijil, dia hanya tersenyum sahaja. Tapi tentu dia tersangat terguris hati kerana Jemaah PAS yang menghayati tata susila Islam sanggup menabur fitnah.

Ana tidak menyangka, hari ini ana akan mengatakan bahawa Jemaah PAS hari ini, belum tentu menghayati tata susila. Hari ini ana kena menyatakan mereka kaki temberang dan pembohong.

Dalam kerakusan hendak menang DUN Kerdau dengan cara apa pun, mereka sanggup menuduh bahawa Syed Ibrahim ben Yahya membeli ijazah nya. Kalau mereka ada bukti, janganlah lengah, sila kemukakan. Jika tidak boleh, dan ianya bersandarkan kempen bisik2, maka ternyata PAS membohong rakyat kerdau. Ana ingin sarankan- hendak tengok hebat tak hebat ben yahya, ni, elok di ada pedebatan dalam bahasa Arab di antara calun PAS dengan calun BN. kita akan lihat, dari segi penghujjahan, syed ibra ini ada ijazah atau tidak.

Ana mahu pesan pada sahabat ana syed ibra- enta jangan layan orang PAS macam ini. Anda mempunyai tata susila lagi baik dari Jemaah PAS. Selama ana bersama enta, enta tidak pernah mencerca atau berkata buruk mengenai calun PAS. Dan rakyat tenyata senang hati bila mendengan enta membaca ayat Kulilla hummama likal mul kitu'til mul Kaman tasya'…Allah akan menaikkan sesiapa yang Dia kehendaki. Ternayta, enta lebih menyerah kepada Allah di dalam menentukan siapa yang akan naik dan turun.

Yang ana musykilkan, ialah mengapa PAS tidak mencalunkan Nasarudin Hasan Tontowi untuk berdepan dengan enta. Nasarudin pun belajar di Mesir. Jika di lihat dari umur, rasa nya dia enta punya junior di Mesir. Daripada nama nya, ana rasa di belajar di tonton. Enta belajar di Al Azhar. Mungkin dia kenal enta. Rakan dia yang ada di mesir atau yang datang kemudian dari enta, tentulah akan bertanya rakan yang terdahulu perihal enta. Mereka akan cerita bahawa enta sudah 7 tahun di Mesir dan belum balik2. Mungkin dari situ mereka buat telahan enta tidak lulus al azhar. Al maklum lah anak anak muda cepat membuat telahan. Kalau lama sangat di Mesir, jawab nya tidak pas pas. Ana tidak tahu sistem pembelajaran universiti di Mesir- berapa kali boleh di benarkan tidak lulus atau berapa tahun di benarkan untuk menghabiskan tahap degree.

Sahabat2 enta tahu apa yang berlaku. Enta seorang yang suka berguru di pondok dan pesanteren di Mesir. Rakan enta bilang kerje enta ialah mendapatkan guru guru masyur untuk belajar hel ehawal agama. Oleh kerana asyik mengejar ilmu agama secara bertalakki itu, enta mengambil masa yang lebih untuk mendapat degree.

Nasarudin Tontowi tentu tahu mengenai hal ini. Kalau dia was was atau tidak tahu, sebagai seorang yang berperwatakan ulamak muda, dia mesti menghentikan Jemaah PAS daripada menyibar fitnah. Jangan biarkan perbezaan politik menjadi halangan untuk bertata susila.

Ana tidak hendak tuduh sape sape dalam hal ini. Tapi kumpulan yang boleh menabur cerita temberang macam ini tentulah dari kumpulan mereka yang belajar di Mesir. Apatah lagi, di Mesir walaupun belajar di berlainan university tentulah sesama pelajar ada kala nya berjumpa dan berkumpul. Bila berkumpul, mesti lah ada yang menyatakan- sheikh, ana dengar orang kata, syed Ibrahim ben yahya tu dah tujuh tahun kat Mesir ini. Asyik lingkup je.

Jadi boleh jadi puak Pas dengar cerita buah mulut. Syed Ibrahim memang lah lama di Mesir. Orang ambik 3 atau 4 tahun, dia ambil masa 7 tahun untuk dapat ijazah. Tapi orang mesti selidik sebab apa dia lama disana. Pertama, mungkin bidang pengkhususan yang di ambil memang susah. Jadi dia ambik masa yang lebih lama. Atau mungkin, dia sengaja nak duduk lama dekat Mesir.

Tuan syed Ibrahim al yahya ni, dia punya kesukaan ialah pergi berguru dengan ulamak di Mesir. Jadi dia buat stail ulamak ulamak zaman dulu- pergi berguru dari seorang tok guru kepada tok guu lain. Sebab itu dia belajar bahasa dan kesusateraan Arab untuk mendalami jiwa pak arab. Dengan keahlian bahasa dia dapat faham mesej yang hendak di sampaikan oleh tok guru sama ada yang tersirat atau tersurat.

Ana merasakan lama nya syed ibra besuaka di Mesir adalah satu hidayah untuk kita semua. Bahawa dalam UMNO pun ada bakat yang boleh membawa dan membudayakan Jemaah UMNO ke jalan kebaikan.

Kepada para pengundi Kerdau, antum semua jangan gugup dan gundah gulana. Jemaah PAS yang sanggup membuat fitnah dan bohong antum semua, sudah kehilangan modal untuk mengalahkan calun UMNO.

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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

On the rounds with UMNO.

I have written many essays about UMNO. I have written about the dangers of feeling superior. It breeds arrogance and complacency. That feeling seems to be nourished further by the recent wins by UMNO of some by elections. Galas was won basically by the figure of Tengku Razaleigh. In Tenang, those who actually went there, if they take 'the presented facts' with a pinch of salt, know how we won Tenang by election. We did it the old fashion way- mostly paying our way through.
Some people say the win in Tenang bears the hallmarks of Isa Samad's modus operandi. We all know how he won the UMNO vice presidency. Somehow UMNO people seemed to think, if the wrong is committed by an UMNO man, that wrong is forgivable. How stupid.
I am surprised at the recent stout defense of Isa Samad when a corporate leader provided some adverse remarks of Isa. Why the defense? If UMNO people can't get rid of this destructive idea of stubbornly defending actions and behavior that can make UMNO weak, UMNO hasn't got a chance to defend itself in the court of public opinion. Because UMNO will be seen as standing on the side of the wrongdoer, the fornicator, the corrupt, the wrong side. It stands opposed to the people. Look at Egypt. Look at Tunisia.
I have said it many times, and I say it gain- I want to save Malaysia. Anwar Ibrahim isn't the only one with ideas to save Malaysia. But if UMNO leaders shy away from debating and engaging Anwar, UMNO loses by default. Our refusal to debate him on the way to manage the economy only serves the widespread perception, that our ideas are just empty rhetoric.
We have our ideas to save Malaysia. But the way to do it is to place UMNO under capable hands. Those who are committed to democratic ideals, the rule of law and economic and social justice. Those who are committed to good governance. UMNO should condition its mind, that it governs not 60% of the population but the 100% percent of Malaysian citizens.
If Isa Samad does indeed cause the stock market some adverse repercussions, let that young ciku, however obnoxious he sounds and acts, say his piece. If he is wrong, then let him suffer the end of the big stick. Already he was made to eat humble pie by being directed to say sorry to Isa. Meantime, Isa spends RM 2 million refurbishing his office suite at the 10th Floor Felda building. Each week he sits on his imperial throne, dishing and dispensing wisdom from his short physique. Some of us would be fools to delude ourselves this is the kind of leadership that can save UMNO and save Malaysia.
So much of the Felda resources were committed to winning the Tenang by election for Isa Samad. Felda vehicles were placed at the disposal of Felda settlers in Tenang. Cars were filled with fuel and were literally handed over to settlers to do as they wish. Other resources were used mainly for the benefit of our kind of voters. Our kind means those voters who think they owe us a living when we give some form of consideration. Ballot boxes were literally on army trucks without anyone guarding them. Who would when flood waters were neck high? Everyone would be more interested to save their lives and property.
So, to the UMNO people, the recent wins must not be fodder to our exuberance.
As regards, Kerdau and Merlimau by elections, I have no doubts that UMNO and BN will win. We don't know who the BN candidate in Merlimau is. But with resources and concentration already channeled to Merlimau, no opponent to BN can stand a chance. As for Kerdau, the candidate is personally known to me. I wrote an earlier article about his impending candidacy. It has been proven right. I don't see any real threats to him becoming the ADUN there. With only 28 UMNO branches in that division, there will be little room for UMNO backstabbing. Kerdau is a sure bet.
Bu these are specific instances. Overall, the picture is not that upbeat. That will be in the next article. Meanwhile, maybe I can be categorized as a declinist. Because I see the decline of UMNO.
Let me touch briefly the scenario as a precursor to the next article. Penang is a gone case. Lim Guan Eng is simply a good leader. He is a good person. Penang is well managed. Ignore the staged protestations of the street hawkers who have not been paying the rates. Ignore Rizal Merican. The majority support LGE. Penang stays opposition.
That thamby in Perak is just there warming the MB's seat. Support for him in his own constituency is dwindling. Perak will be returned to the opposition with a vengeance. In the meantime, we hear Zambry is making hay while the sun shines. UMNO people are saying- kita salah rampas. Kedah- even the UMNO people like Ustaz Azizan. He says he now sleeps better when Najib appointed Bashah. Because Najib appoints a person he trusts more than a person he knows can work. Kedah will stay opposition. In Perlis let the warring factions in this land the size of an ape's straddled legs fight it out. There even the UMNO grassroots want to punish Najib. Selangor? Even the Auditor General says it's the 2nd best financially managed state after Penang. Who wants to be MB Selangor? Noh Omar? Zain Badak? By the way, where did PLCE ( passed LCE) Satim Diman got his doctorate? Did he buy it or what?
Kelantan? What can we say about Kelantan? Except that every UMNO leader will one day become the president of the Kelantan FA. They will then fight out who gets to manage the team and who gets to build new stadiums. In Terengganu, there are signs it's going to the opposition. Pahang in the meantime will stay under BN but question marks hover over the fate of at least 7 parliamentary seats. Johore will remain BN. Negeri Sembilan can go either way unless Mat Hassan is jettisoned fast.
New leaders must come to rescue UMNO.

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Sunday, 20 February 2011

Razaleigh’s wishes to Lim Kit Siang


I am sending some interesting articles over to Free Malaysia Today. They cover some thoughts on my recent meeting with The Oracle of Syed Putera. Readers who are interested may keep a lookout for the articles. Yes, I am hoping to be a regular contributor to FMT.
At the moment though I want to comment on Tengku Razaleigh's felicitations and birthday wishes to the old warhorse of Malaysian politics- Lim Kit Siang. I don't know Lim Kit Siang personally but certainly know of him. When I was a student at UM in the late 70's, The Rocket was a reading favorite alongside Mimbar Sosialis. The DAP's headquarters at that time was at Paramount Gardens in Section 20 PJ.
Needless to say I felt singularly honored when Lim Kit Siang sometimes uploaded my articles onto his own blog.
Kit Siang's first book that I read circa 1977 or 78 was Time Bombs in Malaysia. After that I read several of his other books and there were so many of them. When I was working with an oil Multinational, Kit Siang amazed everybody when he devoured the entire report of the BMF affair and debated the issue in Parliament. Barisan MPs were mostly caught napping I thought. Most probably many of them were on page 3 still with many wishing the page 3 they were reading was the UK Sun newspaper.
What can we make of Razaleigh's felicitous wishes to Kit Siang? Kit Siang is probably 2 years younger that Ku Li and has been around, in fact a pillar in Parliament for as long as anyone can remember. He is undeniably part of the Malaysian Parliament. Which is why, the dearth of salutations from brother MPs to this more or less permanent fixture in Parliament is baffling. In Malaysia, political differences easily translate into deep-seated hostilities.
That is why; Razaleigh's readiness to openly convey best wishes to Lim Kit Siang is refreshingly uplifting. It shows people can set aside political differences and embrace each other in a brotherly manner. And I hope this will open a new page in Malaysian political book where people with seemingly different political ideologies and inclinations can unite for the cause of a greater good.
There is no cause for the greater good at the moment more deserving to be taken up other than a fervent wish of a Malaysia founded on the rule of law, Malaysia that is run on democratic principles, Malaysia that is managed properly.
But can people read in between the lines on what Ku Li has said? I re quote some of the passages and perhaps we can gloss over it.
You have consistently upheld and stood your ground on matters relating to the fundamental rights of all the rakyat, irrespective of race, to free and responsible speech, the rights to enjoy a just and fair distribution of the economic and social wealth of the nation, and to political, judicial and legal justice. You have consistently and courageously spoken up against the corruption and the various misdeeds and defaults of the government and demanded actions, both in Parliament as well as outside it, despite the possible reprisals, the threats and even possible punitive actions that might be taken against you, which in fact you have suffered in the past.
The elements of the greater good must include championing the fundamental rights of the rakyat, pushing for democracy and striving for economic justice. The cause for the greater good entails, by necessity, speaking out against the excesses of the government- any government of the day for that matter and condemning corruption as the heinous scourge that it is.
Why is it important to remain steadfast in fighting for these things? Because as Tengku Razaleigh rightly points out:-
By sticking to these: -
In the end, it seems to me you are the winner because, despite what your opponents say about you, as long as you know and believe what you stand for is good for the people and the country, you are on the right path.
This should be a clarion call to all fair minded Malaysians of all races.Of course by the way, i join the many others in wishing Lim Kit Siang a happy birthday.

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Saturday, 19 February 2011

Calun winnable UMNO di DUN Kerdau.

Bila Dato Sri Najib melihat kepada 4 nama yang di kemukakan sebagai bakal calun DUN Kerdau, dia akan kenal satu sahaja nama. Nama tersebut ialah nama Tuan Syed Ibrahim bin Syed Mohamad al Yahya.
Saya tidak nampak ada calun yang boleh menyaingi Tuan Syed dalam segi boleh memenangkan UMNO. Ini lah masa nya UMNO menunjukkan yang ia mahukan calun yang winnable. Saya percaya calun calun lain semua nya bagus bagus belaka. Tapi kalau kita nak cari yang terbaik, yang winnable dan paling penting kepada saya, yang kuat berkerja, UMNO Pahang dan Kerdau mesti sokong Tuan Syed Ibrahim.
Sana sini kita dengar kita mesti selamatkan Malaysia. Saya sangat bersetuju dengan gesaan dan teriakan perang ini. Saya pun mahu selamatkan Malaysia dengan meletakkan UMNO itu pada asas yang betul. Antara cara nya ialah meletakkan bakat pimpinan yang kredibel. Kita lakukan apa yang di buat oleh Tun Razak dahulu- memilih calun berdasarkan kapasiti dan kemampuan berkerja.
Dan saya boleh bercakap mengenai Syed Ibrahim ini kerana saya mengenali dia dari bemula mula dia bertugas dengan MB Pahang sebagai pegawai agama. Ketika itu dia belum terkenal dan MB sendiri pun tidak menyedari tentang kehebatan Syed Ibrahim sebagai pendakwah dan pemidato yang hebat. Kelemahan ini sebahagian dari kelemahan UMNO yang lebih besar iaitu tidak memupuk atau groom pemimpin.
Kita tahu tradisi UMNO mencari pemimpin. Prinsip utama ialah siapa kita. Bukan nya prinsip apa kita boleh buat. Kerana orang UMNO melihat 'siapa kita' sebagai pembayang kepada kepimpinan, maka UMNO berdepan dengan banyak masaalah hari ini. Sebab nya, kita tidak ada simpanan modal bakat kepimpjnan untuk mengelokkan UMNO.
Jika kita anak bekas ADUN dahulu, maka kita di anggap mewarisi bakat kepimpinan si bapa. Kalau kita ada kedudukan tinggi dalam masyarakat, itu di anggap sebagai pembayang mutu diri kita. Maka kalau kita SFINO, dah- itu dah cukup untuk mengatakan kita berbakat besar. Ini disebut orang sebagai perlaksanaan norma norma askriptif- ascriptive norms. Yakni, greatness is inferred from the inherited social status of that person. Jika prinsip ini di pakai, maka UMNO akan ketandusan pemimpin yang berkualiti kerana ruang pencarian nya akan terhad kepada sama ada si fulan dan fulanah itu anak si anu, ada kedudukan, ada pertalian dengan pimpinan yang ada dan sebagainya. Kita pilih encik X sebab bapak dia lah yang membuka kampong ini. Kita pilih encik X kerana di pegawai kerajaan tinggi. Semua kriteria ini tidak menyebut lansung sama ada Mx X Mr X yang hendak kita pilih, boleh buat kerja atau tidak.
Negara dan parti yang maju memilih pemimpin bersandarkan prinsip achieved norms- yakni kita pilih seseorang berdasarkan pengamatan dia boleh melakukan sesuatu , boleh berkerja. Ini prinsip yang di pakai oleh TUn Razak dahulu. Dia tanya, boleh tak si fulan ini buat kerja bukan nya boleh tak si fulan ini di percayai( untuk senyap jika pemimpin lain melakukan aniaya).
Jadi, dalam memilih bakal ADUN Kerdau, elok lah UMNO memakai kriteria yang betul betul mentransformasi politik. Kita laksanakan apa yang kita cakap dengan memilih calun yang boleh malakukan perkara positif. Kita tidak mahu calun yang mempertaruhkan masa depan UMNO pada siapa dia, siapa keluarga dia, pada siapa dia kenal tapi kriteria yang utama iaitu apa dia boleh capai dan sumbangan kepada pencapaian- yilek.
Dan saya melihat tiada lah pegawai MB Pahang yang lebih kuat berkerja daripada Syed Ibrahim. Dan bila saya sebut kuat berkerja bukan nya berlakun kuat kerja depan si Samseng Kampung Dusun tu- tapi benar benar kuat kerja. Dari segi kerja kuat, saya rasa semua orang yang mengenali Habib Ibra ini tahu bagaimana kuat dia berkerja. Walaupun ada gastrik dan lembikkan diri, dia akan terus berkerja. Sesiapa yang mengenali Syed Ibra tahu, setiap bulan puasa, Syed Ibra ini akan lemah selemah dan longlai longlai nya, namun kecuali nak pengsan, dia akan terus berkerja.
DS Najib akan ingat begini: dari tahun 2000-2004, inilah orang yang sering kali datang ke daerah Pekan menyampaikan ceramah penerangan. Dalam tempoh tersebut, saya memegang jawatan sebagai ketua penerangan UMNO bahagian Pekan.
Ketika itu, Syed Ibrahim atau Syed Ibra seperti dia di panggil oleh saudara mara dan rakan terdekat, baru pulang dari Mesir. Dia mempunyai kelulusan dalam bahasa dan sastera Arab dan saya di beri tahu, beliau tinggal di Mesir agak lama untuk menghabiskan pembelajaran nya. Jadi penguasaan nya keatas bahasa Arab sangat tinggi atau superb. Mungkin penguasaan bahasa Arab yang tinggi ini lah yang membolehkan Syed Ibra mengikuti kelas kelas pengajaran dan bimbingan ugama secara dekat daripada sheikh2 di Mesir. Dan si Syed Ibra ini belajar agama secara bertalakki. Cara bertalakki orang Arab saya di fahamkan anak murid duduk seolah olah nya berlaga lutut dengan tuan guru untuk mendapat ilmu dari tok guru. Tempoh yang agak lama di Mesir di gunakan oleh Syed IBra untuk mendalami bidang agama.
Dan berdakwah merupakan kegemaran Syed Ibra. Semasa membantu saya dalam melakukan siri ceramah di daerah Pekan lah, Tuan Syed ini menyampaikan mesej agama kepada para pendengar. Dan Syed Ibra mempunyai cara yang unik dalam penyampaian. Suara nya yang garau dan kepetahan serta kelancaran mengupas dan menghuraikan masaalah keagamaan menarik minat semua yang mendengar termasuk lah pengikut parti PAS.
Sebab nya satu sahaja. Kami bersetuju untuk tidak menyampaikan ceramah politik. Sebaliknya kita lebih gemar menyampaikan ceramah dan tazkirah mengenai perkara perkara kerohanian, keimaman dan tarbiyah membersihkan diri.
Daripada 150 lebih program yang saya aturkan di pekan dari tahun 2001-2004, Syed Ibrahim terlibat dalam lebih 40 program tersebut.
Saya rasa tidaklah ada orang dan tokoh yang lebih bertenaga membantu Dato Sri Najib mencapai kegemilangan setelah hanya menang tipis dalam pilihanraya 1999 dahulu dari Syed Ibra. Biarlah UMNO memperlakukan perkara dan layanan yang betul keatas orang yang berkerja keras untuk UMNO. Kerana memperlakukan yang hak dan betul keatas orang yang layak, merupakan satu kelamahan UMNO. UMNO kurang pandai dalam hal ini. Selalunya orang macam ini, tidak di pedulikan oleh UMNO.
Sebagai bandingan ada seorang lagi individu yang banyak melakukan kerja kuat untuk UMNO yang saya kenal. Orang yang saya maksudkan ialah Ustaz Hamid Derani dari Kelantan. Orang ini seperti juga Syed Ibra terlibat dalam lebih 40 program penerangan UMNO Bahagian Pekan dari tahun 2001-2004. Apa yang UMNO lakukan kepada orang seperti Hamid Derani? Dia tidak di hargai dan tidak di pedulikan. Hari ini Hamid Derani menjadi pemidato PAS yang sangat berpengaruh. Di Pekan dahulu, bila Hamid Derani membacakan ayat ayat Quran atau membaca Quran sebagai mukaddimah, ada pendengar yang mengalirkan air mata.
Jadi dalam hal memilih calun untuk Kerdau, elok kita pakai prinsip memperlakukan yang hak keatas yang layak.
Saya rasa calun yang winnable untuk UMNO di Kerdau ialah Syed Ibrahim bin Syeid Ahmad al yahya.
Dan nasihat saya pada Syed Ibra ialah: sheikh, kalu boss tanya enta , enta berminat tak jadi calun, enta kata minat. Jangan ah.ah.ah. sebab puak dalam UMNO ini bukan faham erti kehalusan budi dan rendah diri. Selamat ya sheikh.

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Thursday, 17 February 2011

Will Sarawak reach the tipping point?

No, this is not a direct essay about and on Sarawak. But I hope this article by Gary S Becker will help us understand and perhaps appreciate what is going on and can happen in Sarawak.

The article which I reproduced here is taken from Becker's essay entitled Abrupt Change of Authoritarian Regimes.

The Tunisian and Egyptian political eruptions were pretty much totally unexpected by the governments of the United States and of other countries, and by the vast majority of experts on Egypt and the Islamic world. To be sure, experts were aware that the government of say Egypt was not popular among many segments of the population, including The Muslim Brotherhood, most intellectuals, and many members of the growing middle class. However, the timing and speed of the uprising there (and in Tunisia) was rather a complete surprise since Mubarak and Ben Ali were in power for over 20 years, and seemingly in rather complete control.


 

I was first impressed by the unexpected and speedy nature of the overthrow of authoritarian regimes in 1979 when a combination of religious and leftwing groups forced the Shah of Iran from power. Until very close to the end he looked invulnerable: he seemed to be in full control of a strong and well-equipped army, and had an active and dreaded secret police, the SAVAK, that imprisoned anyone who vocally attacked the government. That the overthrow was unexpected is objectively measured by the stability of the international value of the Iranian currency, the rial, until just a few weeks before the Shah was ousted. Had the overthrow been anticipated, the value of the currency would have plunged as Iranians and others tried to get out of rials into dollars and other hard currencies. The rial did plunge in value shortly after the revolution appeared to be succeeding.


 

The rapid disintegration of the Soviet Union is another telling example. In 1989 my wife and I took a train from West Berlin through East Germany to go to Warsaw. The customs agents in East Germany were unpleasant, and the East German government headed by Erich Honecker seemed totally in charge. Much to my surprise, less than six months later, close to one million younger men and women were demonstrating in the streets, and the government was soon quickly gone, along with most of the Russian empire.


 

The unexpected nature and the speed of the overthrow of these and other authoritarian regimes is what is so glaring and challenging to theories of authoritarian rule. Analytically, what happens is that over time such a regime may be shifting in unnoticed ways from stable equilibrium positions, where the government is in rather complete control, to an unstable equilibrium where seemingly small events trigger massive changes, including the ouster of the government. The overthrow of the government may be quick and without much violence, as in the East German and Tunisian cases, or involve considerable violence, as during and especially after, the Iranian revolution.


 

Such unstable equilibria are sometimes called "tipping points". This term was first used to describe rapid changes in housing neighborhoods from being mainly white and Christian to "tipping", and then rapidly becoming mainly black or Jewish. A neighborhood may remain basically say all white until a few black families move in. If more black households move in over time, their fraction may become large enough that many white residents begin to panic, and put their houses up for sale. After that the neighborhood quickly "tips" into becoming a mainly black neighborhood.


 

The basic underlying reason that authoritarian regimes fall quickly, with or without violence, is that, as Posner emphasizes, they do not have any natural succession process. A strong man like Mubarak would be in power, but as he ages and gets weaker who is to succeed him? His son or confidants? Opposition groups may begin to see opportunities, or the unhappiness and frustration of young people and others may spontaneously erupt into mass demonstrations, as in Egypt, or in Iran after frustration over the outcome of the presidential elections two years ago. Sometimes these demonstrations succeed, as in Tunisia and apparently now in Egypt, and sometimes they fail, as in Iran after those elections, and in the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations in China.


 

Will similar demonstrations spread to the rest of the Arab world in North Africa and the Middle East that without exception have non-democratic regimes? Already the Jordanian government and a few others have started to make concessions to the opposition, including giving greater representation to various disaffected groups. I do not know how many of these governments will change radically and speedily. The theory offers little guidance on the timing of major political changes, but I do believe that large changes in this region toward freer elections and greater representation will occur before very long.


 

The Internet, Facebook and other online social networks, are changing the dynamics of the political landscape in all countries, including Islamic countries. In addition, the middle classes are growing in importance throughout Middle East and North Africa. As a result, these countries will experience the same aspirations for greater freedom of expression and greater representation in the government, as is found in other parts of the world. Eventually, these aspirations will force a conversion of the political institutions of these Islamic countries into something that may not be the same as Western democracies, but will offer more contested elections, greater political and social freedoms, and probably also greater economic freedom.

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Monday, 14 February 2011

Camno nak handel Malott?


 

Saya tak tahu apa nak cakap. Apo nak den kato?

Kita ada menteri yang tak mampu berdebat, maka saranan nya ialah mengenakan arahan tidak boleh masuk ke nagara ini. Jadi kalau caliber menteri kita hanya berdaya menggunakan kuasa fiat dan undang undang, orang akan mentertawakan kemampuan minda bangsa 1 Malaysia. John Malott bekas duta USA telah menulis suatu artikel. Artikel tersebut di katakan agak keras mengecam pemerintahan DS Najib.

Kita bebas menyatakan kita tidak setuju. Kita validate lah bangkangan kita dengan penghujjahan. Kita lawan minda dengan minda.

Saya sendiri telah menulis dua artikel sendiri menyatakan tidak bersetuju dengan pandangan Malott. Sebelum itu saya telah muat-turun satu artikel oleh Umar MUkhtar. Saya pun kena hentam dalam artikel yang pertama. Dalam artikel kedua bila saya mengupas point by point, kita dapati penghujjahan nya melarat kepada perkara lain.

Kepada saya itu petanda bahawa apa yang Malott katakan bukanlah definitive. Maka kalau ianya bukan definitive, apa pasal kita hilang akal sebentar dan mahu kenakan travel ban?

Sepatutnya, kita jemput Malott datang untuk memberi pandangan nya. Dan jika Nazri terror, dia boleh berdebat dengan Malott. Kita akan sokong kalau dia menunjukkan kejantanan nya dalam gelanggang.

Kalau menteri UMNO bersikap tongong macam ini, susah lah kita hendak mempertahankan kredibiliti kepimpinan UMNO. Ada orang kata, kita tak perlu layan Malott sebab dia bukan taraf itu dan ini. Adakah ini bermaksud, hanya bila kita ada taraf dan kedudukan, maka kita ada hak untuk beri komen? Kalau macam saya ADUN pencen, di kira takde taraf, tak boleh beri pandangan keatas buah fikiran bangang pak menteri , ADUN atau MP?

Ada menteri kata pandangan Malott ketinggalan zaman. Kalau ketinggalan zaman, ekau tunjukkan di mano jang. Jika main beri kenyataan yang umum, tidak lah ekau terer eh jang.

Kalau kita nak ban orang sebab dia beri pandangan yang tidak menyenangkan kita, ini nama nya macam ke budak budakan.

Yang paling saya meluat ialah kita memperkecilkan pandangan Malott sebab dia di katakana berkawan dengan Anwar Ibrahim. Siapa dia nak berkawan sepatutnya tidak mendatangkan masaalah kepada kita. Anwar Ibrahim ini dahulu kan Timbalan Perdana Menteri kita dan TImbalan presiden UMNO. Suatu ketika , semua mereka yang sekarang ini dok hentam Anwar cium tangan Pak Sheikh. Kita harus membezakan antara penyakit peribadi dan ingatan tulus ikhlas.

Wallahu'alam bissawab.

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A primer on Sarawak politics by Anthony Anak Ibong.

Now here is a piece about Sarawak politics written with much panache. Bravo to Anthony Anak Ibong.


 

Oh, how a seemingly innocent breakfast between Anwar Ibrahim, the Ketua Umum (of PKR) and Sng Chee Hua, a long-time friend of his, together with a few other respectable men could send some people in our party into a tizzy. The occasion was held in the open, not in secret. Why then did a simple chow ignite the proverbial rashes and hives among some? Politics being what it is, what could be the significance of the event?

In case you are wondering why a meeting of men talking amid the soothing flow of background music in a hotel restaurant got strong reactions from some people, consider these two words: Sarawak matters.

Sarawak is said one of the so called "fixed deposits" for the governing BN. In a manner of speaking, Sarawak (and Sabah) anchors the Government. In 2008, its MPs managed to keep BN in power in Putrajaya. For now, for better or worse, the loyalty of Sarawak's many MPs is still a primary factor in keeping the BN government in Putrajaya. In the future, where goes Sarawak, so goes the Government.

It was an apparently innocuous enough breakfast. In addition to the national leader, it was said that there were YB Dominique Ng; the newly minted Dato John Tenawie, PKR Vice President; Jimmy Donald, a long-time MP who is currently in between roles, although he is understood to be keenly eying the state seat of Bukit Begunan. Jimmy is known to the many local political aficionados as Sng's ally and friend. In our PKR hierarchy in Sarawak, he is a party "bigwig", a member of the state's leadership. And then there was, if the news reports were to be believed, the man himself, Sng Chee Hua.

And by the way where was Baru Bian, the chief of PKR Sarawak? He appeared to have been somewhere else when this breakfast took place. How come? Your guess would be as good as mine in this respect.

Sng was having breakfast with Anwar? It was said that eyebrows were raised because of this. To those gnashing their teeth at having just found out about the event, I say this: save your energy. Don't bother to raise even half an eye brow. Whatever phase of denial mode you are in, get a good dose of reality. Get over it, for by virtue of his present connection, Sng is embedded in PKR whether formally or informally. It appears that Sng has many more friends in PKR than people would like to admit. Therefore, appreciate the situation for what it apparently is. Only then can you begin to appreciate some elements of Sarawak politics.

In any case, it is Anwar and Sng's right to have a meal together, even if the issues they discussed never went beyond the level of talking about the curvature of Sarawak River and its alleged e coli contents as it meanders through Kuching. Who among us could be so maniacally suspicious that we become apoplectic when a group of people sit around has a meal and talk? Surely they have the right to do so. Anwar Ibrahim and Sng, like the rest of us, have the right of to assemble - or meet. In my view, they can meet anywhere, any time. Not just over breakfast. And the wise James Masing, who has known Sng for years, is reported to have said the two men met all the time. So there you have it.

The relevant thing is that observers do remember well that Sng is a veteran political operator. It has been said that he was active in Sabah in the 1990s and of course Sarawak for many years. The man is known for hard work and is no stranger to success. Perhaps those who have had a string of disaster stories lately, including by-election losses, need to rub shoulders with old friends in the hope that the downward trend could be reversed. It was, after all, a New Year and wishing for loads of luck should not be out of order.

Still, why did some people go ballistic when they found out about the event?

It is a measure of the (Sarawak) political climate that we are in and the capabilities of some political fixtures we have that when these two and a few others on sat together for some food in Kuching, the event immediately set tongues wagging. The appearance of Sng together with Anwar Ibrahim, no matter how innocently contrived, does elicit intense discussion among some people. Particularly so since Sarawak is in the brink of a state election that could spell the beginning or the end of political careers.

As a consequence, questions were asked too. What were they doing? What were they thinking? More importantly, what are they going to do, if anything, in Sarawak politics? Does this represent a new alliance and how will it impact anyone's roles and political future? Or, to put it more graphically: who will win and who will lose?

These are no idle concerns. It is particularly pertinent to those who rather not share the same political bed with Sng. For one thing, they probably have different political dreams from him. For another, politics being what it is, they possibly have had a few brushes with him in the past. And so perhaps, if they could help it, they would rather not revisit those experienced or engender new ones lest they be subjected to the stresses that those are likely to entail.

To many people, Sng exudes the image of an accomplished gentleman. Many knew him when he was with the Sarawak National Party (SNAP). And then he was with the Parti Bangsa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) and finally with Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS). If you should wander through the major towns in Sarawak, it is likely that you would find someone who knows him or knows of him. If we want to accentuate only the positive here, which is what I want to do, you could say that he was a particularly effective political operator. This was why the breakfast he had with Anwar Ibrahim assumed an importance of enormous local proportion: it was pregnant with possibilities.

But that is the man's alleged past. How about the future. Particularly the immediate future? Here lies the real enchilada: Sng is that he is said to have a stable of candidates ready to face the coming state elections. By some accounts he has fifteen (the number varies) all primed and ready to be launched at the right time and some pundits say that at least five are capable of winning seats. If this is correct, then his domain is even bigger that a couple of BN political parties in Sarawak whose number of designated seat allocation is certainly a lot less than 15. And, to cap it all, there is this little but highly vital factor: he is said to be financially sound and a keen player, if that is the play. By any measure then, Sng is potentially a major political force in Sarawak. You better believe it.


 

If he has his strengths, Sng also has his needs and ambitions. What real man does not? His son is the young and hard working Larry who is the Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri member for Pelagus. Larry is said to have no known vices. No cock-fighting for him, no gambling. None whatsoever, sir. And he was ensconced as a senior leader of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) until it started to unravel, albeit briefly, a few years ago.


 

Larry's apparent predicament is that he is partyless, a consequence of having been entangled in the internal political struggle that sent PRS to its near death experience in 2008. It is a measure of the man's crucial positioning, not to mention his extended networkings, that despite being without proper party support, Larry retains his seat of Pelagus and his assistant minister post in the Sarawak government. Not surprisingly, many in the PRS leadership consider his ministerial position as an anomaly and have made it known that they want him replaced as assistant minister and as candidate in the coming election by a person of their choice.


 

But to be a minister, even an assistant one sans a political party, is clearly not a satisfactory arrangement. It is too much an ad hoc, a makeshift and politically rickety effort that probably would not last. Besides, if you have even bigger ambitions you will begin to ask yourself how you could climb the political ladder if you have no organization with a strong foundation.


 

It seem clear then that Sng's need is to find a political party for son Larry, one that will allow the YB to contest again in the coming election and even attain greater position. Could Sng the elder then be sizing up PKR as a possible party to accommodate his son? Anwar Ibrahim said that they did not discuss politics during breakfast. And who is to disbelieve him? After all, there would be plenty of other occasions when they could meet and discuss various issues.


 

And so, what could critics of the breakfast meeting really want? They should remember, in PKR the byword is inclusiveness. As Anwar Ibrahim himself was reported to have said: people should be more mature in politics and take a view of befriending everyone but exercise the rights to preserve the interest of the party. In other words, if someone is to show up, no matter how unexpectedly, at least one could be decorous to the visitor. Thus, for those who want a different tack to be taken, those who dream that Sng be made some kind of persona non grata in this circle, the message is as obvious as the colour of the waters of the Rejang River (which is dirty brown, by the way): it is not going to happen.


 

Sarawak (and Sabah) are therefore the present Ground Zero when it comes to Malaysian politics. That makes the goings-on in Sarawak important at this time. For those in the state who view themselves with a sense of exceptionalism and some kind of manifest destiny (to have one of them be the next CM, no less?), any slight movement or any new wrinkle of perceived prior advantage at the local scene would be subjected to hard and close scrutiny. After all, a new development or event could spell the beginning of a change. The irony is that those who have been screaming for change could all of sudden become sullen and even abusive should changes happen to disadvantage them. Witness, for instance, the epithets thrown at SNAP recently. Here was a party that is merely trying to regain its footing, to be wholesome again, after years of being involuntarily moribund. How has the response been to SNAP's initiative? From what I can evaluate, the party is fast gaining strength as veterans and new members realise their potential. There are others, for reasons better known to themselves, who are clearly uncomfortable with SNAP's recovery. And they have responded with sniffs and brickbats.


 

And now, evidently, what we have is the apparent emergence of a person with a history of executing uncommon things and unprecedented consequences in the person of Sng Chee Hua. Many observers believe that he has the capabilities of a "game changer." No wonder those who believe that they hold a kind of franchise in the PKR leadership and an exalted position in PR in Sarawak appear to be greatly perturbed at the apparently changing situation.


 

And so, where does that leave those in PKR who simply do not like Sng and the way that he has been carrying on. Assuming that there are those in our party who hold those attitudes, the choices of these critics are basically three.


 

You could, if you like, do nothing. What could happen is that you accept the apparent emerging trend. If you have difficulties accepting this trend yet want to remain in the party, you could always bury your head in the sand like an ostrich and hope, like all ostriches in a similar predicament, that no person or thing would come by and pluck your feathers out.


 

The other choice is to fight it out internally, in which case such questions as resources and manpower become relevant. Presuming that Sng is really interested in PKR, could you hope to match his reach and power base? Even if you think you have the resolve to fight, and you think you have the time and resources, there is no guarantee that people will adhere to your views.


 

The last option is, well, you have to identify it yourself and follow it, if you wish.


 


 

ANTHONY ANAK IBONG

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The issues Malott raised

The irrelevance of Mr. Malott's essays can be attributed to two factors. Firstly, the end of the American century where the prognoses of America and by Americans in general are not heeded as they would once. That was the theme of my essay previously. So folks, it wasn't an attack on Malott, but an attack on the American century in general. On Malott? Not interested.
Secondly, the generalizations made by Malott from isolated observations allowed him to paint a skewed picture serving the interests of those who seek to bolster their own prejudices. His failure stems from over reading events as representing a more deep-seated story. Not quite right.
Hence the racial riots of 1969 were adduced as the benchmark by which to measure racial tensions. The isolated events of the cow head incident and the unfortunate over exuberance of the PM's official requesting a number of dos and don'ts over the former's visit to a church were offered as representing a more sinister backdrop. And finally, the alleged causal link to intrinsic racism of the government with economic performance. Malaysia's economy is said to slow down because the talents on which productivity depended left the country.
There was one comment that berated me for writing such a shoddy article about Mr Mallot. The commentator went on accusing me of inconsistency when I have written so many negative things about Najib. In particular my mention of Najib being a weak leader.
For the commentator's information, that impression hasn't changed. I can cite so many examples that reinforce such an impression. And it's also an impression shared by many UMNO people. The commentator further groups me in the same category as Ibrahim Ali. I will decline the honor.
I have also allowed the comment to pass through because it also contained and accusation that I have written that way because I blamed Najib for not selecting me for a second term. I am not afraid to allow such a comment because it's not true. I do not think that personal malcontent alone can sustain a consistent critique. Rest assured, I will still be writing with the same intensity.
Moreover, I don't think my political career has ended just because UMNO didn't choose me for a second term. It only ends if I allowed it to. We shall see.
It appears to me, from the comments, Malays are placed in a very awkward position. They are placed in the same position as those who speak about Jews being accused of being anti-Semitic. In that case, people actually speak against Jews. Here in Malaysia, Malays speak about THEIR own fears and hopes and aspirations and they are accused as being racist.
The main reason why Malott's thinking has caused an uproar is not so much  because it's directed at Najib per se, but because it places Malaysia, OUR COUNTRY in the category of a despicable country as South Africa was placed once, or in the same category as some imaginary despotic countries.
I have been asked to debate Mr malott's thoughts on a point by point basis. I shall be glad to. There was also a commentator who writes under the name blogmaster who writes as though he is Mr Malott. This Mr ' Malott' asks me to read his interview with Malaysian Chronicle which I did. Unfortunately a great deal of that interview presents Mr Malott as such a wonderful and caring person who keeps in touch with Datin Sri Azizah when her husband was incarcerated. He regaled readers on how the family exchanged birthday greetings and all that. Good for the Family Album but of no relevance to the issue at hand.
But Ok, we shall have to accept that Mr Malott is a decent man who bears no malice when he talks about Malaysia.
The recent deterioration is due to the troubling fact that the country's leadership is tolerating, and in some cases provoking, ethnic factionalism through words and actions. For instance, when the Catholic archbishop of Kuala Lumpur invited the prime minister for a Christmas Day open house last December, Hardev Kaur, an aide to Najib, said Christian crosses would have to be removed. There could be no carols or prayers, so as not to offend the prime minister, who is Muslim.
Let's apply some decent thinking. Can this faux pas be used to prove widespread religious intolerance? Do we see Muslims burning churches like in Indonesia or elsewhere where religious bigotry is an accepted fact? I think we shouldn't over read one official's honest attempt to make things pleasant for everyone as a barometer of religious insensitivity. Do we now see the government directing crosses be removed in churches or carols and hymns banned? If we do, then we can use that isolated incident as a description of what is happening overall in Malaysia. Hence Malott's use of Hardev Kaur's request is not a good fit for a measure of things. Hardev Kaur is what she is- an apple polisher out to make things pleasant for the boss or who thinks that's what the boss wants.
Similar examples of insensitivity abound. In September 2009, Minister of Home Affairs Hishammuddin Hussein met with protesters who had carried the decapitated head of a cow, a sacred animal in Hinduism, to a Hindu temple.
For Malott's information, the organizers of the incident were punished. What Hishamudin defended was the anger directed at the foolishness of locating a temple in a majority Muslim neighborhood. It wasn't a defense on the transgression nor can it be read as intolerance towards the Hindu religion.
Two months later, Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told Parliament that one reason Malaysia's armed forces are overwhelmingly Malay is that other ethnic groups have a "low spirit of patriotism."
We all know that despite Zahid's Ph.D., he isn't a particularly bright fellow. We all remembered his "give him some humanity' stout defense of Mat Taib once. But it is mischievous of Malott to equate low spirit of patriotism with inborn racial characteristics. How is low patriotism linked to racial differences? There are some more rational reasons why Chinese don't go into military service. These may include low pay, aversion to military life, difficulty in achieving higher positions which is expected in a career dominated by Malays.
On the government's part, the reason may be the same as why Malays are not joining the SAF in droves. Nothing to do with inborn racial differences but everything to do with achieving a certain degree of security comfort. Obviously the Singapore government with its constant paranoia of being attacked by people at large carries out a policy as regards military participation for its own strategic considerations. Malaysia must be accorded the same assessment. If Singapore can say we don't want a situation should war breaks out, we could have situations where loyalties of our Malay solders who have relatives in Malaysia are suspect. Nothing racial, pure pragmatism.

 
The leading Malay-language newspaper, Utusan Melayu, prints what opposition leader Lim Kit Siang calls a daily staple of falsehoods that stoke racial hatred. Utusan, which is owned by Najib's political party, has claimed that the opposition would make Malaysia a colony of China and abolish the Malay monarchy. It regularly attacks Chinese Malaysian politicians, and even suggested that one of them, parliamentarian Teresa Kok, should be killed.

 
Rightly or wrongly, Utusan Malaysia is regarded as the mouthpiece of the common Malay. It writes the way it writes to keep the Malay ground. That is why the cosmopolitan Najib is not equipped to shut it down despite its overt racial intonations. But the position of Utsuan Malaysia as a whole can be likened to Singapore insisting it must be armed to the teeth- so that it deters others from even having the idea of attacking the nation. The existence and presence of Utusan Malaysia is tolerated and even indirectly supported to serve as a check on non-Malay chauvinism through their own media.
The ideas and thinking represented by Utusan Malaysia are not universally shared by Malays here in this country, but its presence does in fact hold in check the insults hurled against the Malay community. The presence of Utusan Malaysia should be seen more as a balance of power tool. As to the messages carried by Utusan Malaysia, they are NOT given absolute free space. They continued to be condemned by many quarters and these served as internal brakes on Utusan Malaysia.
By the way, has Malott analyzed the general import of the more Chinese of the Chinese newspapers? Then he would understand why Utusan Malaysia has more circulation that NST.

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Saturday, 12 February 2011

Al Fatihah buat Dato Zaharudin bin Abu Kasim dan takziah kepada ahli keluarga beliau.


 

Al Fatihah buat Alahyarham YB Zaharudin bin Abu Kassim. Beliau yang merupakan ADUN Kerdau, meninggal dunia petang tadi. SEmoga roh Allayarham sentiasa di rahmati Allah. Amin.

Kepada yang hidup janganlah terlalu beria serta ghairah sangat memikirkan soal pilihanraya kecil. Kita harus memberi penghormatan kepada keluarga dan rakan rakan terdekat menerima keadaan ini dengan setenang mungkin.

Saya telah menghantar text sms kepada Naib Ketua Bahagian dan beliau telah menjawab demikian bunyi nya:

BERDOALAH TERLEBIH DAHULU MOGA ROH AL MARHUM SENTIASA DALAM RAHMAT DAN MAGFIRAH ALLAH. AMIIN.

Dan seterusnya:-

YANG HIDUP PERLU BERKHIDMAT KEPADA YANG PERGI MUNAJAT KEPADA ILAHI SEMOGA ROH SENTIASA DI RAHMATI. AMIIN.

Saya mengucapkan takziah kepada keluarga Allahyarham Dato Zaharudin Abu Kassim.

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Debating Mr. Mallot- 2

Like many others, I watched the news coverage on TV about the demonstrations in Egypt. One of the media coverage is by Bloomberg- Taking Stock. The anchorman appeared disappointed the disturbances in Cairo have nothing to do with USA despite excruciating imputations by several people interviewed, to suggest some links to Israel's interest. If there is a link to Israel, then America can validate a more substantial involvement.

Why would the measure of all things be USA? People are actually surprised that democracy can emerge without American involvement. Most of all Americans. Get real man.

But to everyone's (mostly Americans) surprise, there have been no directions leading to an anti-America movement or a mention about Israel. The only person taking pains to suggest some links with America and Israel is a former Ambassador to Egypt.

What is it about former ambassadors? They have a tour of duty in their respective countries, perhaps taken an affinity and emotional embrace of the countries they served and felt compelled at any time they fancy, to make a more than cursory mention or feel just nostalgic about the places they once played. They felt urged to get involved, perhaps try to impose their values.

How about our Malaysia? Ambassadors and expatriate workers like it here in Malaysia. Perhaps that is why they feel they must get involved. But if they do, then they would have to accept that their views are going to be treated on par with the views of the local. Their views do not necessarily contain undisputed truths. Because views by expatriates are by no means righteous nor are they gospel truths.

Where I once worked in a multinational, I enjoyed taking pot shots at expatriates on cross-postings here. Those coming from western countries get an allowance they euphemistically termed as culture shock allowance. Actually it's just an excuse to get paid and get laid.

Indeed, I relished telling my expatriate friends in that multinational company, they are enjoying the cultural benefits. They get to go to groceries past 6pm (in their countries most shops closed at 6pm), they get to enjoy all kind of delicious foods (have you seen the kwailos tuck into our foods? - it would seem they have never eaten for years); most of all they get to screw our women of various races. So as I often tell these people, you can shove that cultural shock allowance up your alley.

The point is, in general expatriates carry within themselves a condescending attitude- what they say are undisputed facts and truths. Their thinking must be demolished and they must be put in their places.

Here in this region, in particular where Malaysia is concerned, there is also a former ambassador, John Mallot. I wasn't planning to be drawn into a debate on the article written by John Mallot in the Wall Street Journal. It would be pointless to do a point by point rebuttal. That would make Mr Malllot's day. You can be sure; he can come out with extraordinary details to demolish your arguments.

He is at it again, nitpicking at us. Mr. Mallot is a former US ambassador to Malaysia. While Ambassador he saw it fit to engage in political debates with our own politicians. We remember his flare-outs and conflagrations with Dr Mahathir over a number of issues. Mr. Mallot has also been a crusader for what Anwar Ibrahim represents. We are not going to penalize Mr Mallot for making friends with whom he wishes. To each his own, my friend. And I wouldn't go as far as to suggest some sinister motives out of his friendship with Anwar as did our overstaying Goebbels- Rais Yatim.

Let us instead see Mr Mallot as a product of an Imperial America trying to operate in a world, where American influence is no longer of prime relevance. Where could we place Mr. Mallot?

I found an interesting observation in a passage written by Paul Starobin in his book Five Roads to the Future. Mr Starobin sat down with James Schlesinger who served as Director of CIA in the Nixon Administration. Schlesinger conceded that after WW2, we (USA) were the Fairy Godmother for a world on its knees. In a telling elaboration- Schlesinger intimated that this could never be a permanent situation, because the rest of the world, contrary to what many Americans think, does not want to be "like us" …and now the world is going to quite ostensibly pay less attention to what America thinks. Schlesinger is disturbed as what he sees as America's refusal to recognize how things have changed from the past. America is suffering from a form of mental illness.

Place John Mallot now as a person trapped in a make believe world who thinks we Malaysia want to be like America. In that world, America talks down on us- giving us unsolicited advice and pointers on how to run our business. We are actually part of the world that is going to quite ostensibly pay less attention to what America thinks.

That is because Mr. Mallot has offered us half an analysis as argued by Umar Mukhtar. Indeed if we looked at the mirror really hard as suggested by Mr. Mallot, the reflections from America's past, gives Mr Mallot and the US no moral grounds whatsoever to pontificate on such things like race relations, or on more practical things such as handling the economy.

Now Mr. Mallot pontificates about the race relations in Malaysia. He says race relations are worse during Najib's tenure as PM. This has been brought about because the current leadership countenances such divisiveness. The chiefly Malay government discriminates against the non-Malays. The media it controls mocks the non-Malays. Its ministers questioned the loyalty and patriotism of other races. It continues to paint a gloomy picture of Malays being subjugated by china or India. He cites cases of religious intolerance. He cites the case when crosses had to be removed and carols not sung when the PM went visiting churches. Malaysia has to carry out actual reforms says Mallot.

All these translate into economic costs says Mr. Mallot. Because of government's affirmative policies, the economic growth rate is held back whereas it can grow at 8%. Perhaps Mr Mallot would care to identify how many countries in the world grow at 8%. Maybe he can even explain, in countries that are supposedly free from religious and ethnic differences- if they fail to grow by 8% per year, to what is that sluggishness attributed to?

The source of growth namely human capital, which by definition of Mallot, is represented by the many non-Malays are leaving Malaysia because they couldn't see a future for themselves.

You could almost sense that Mr Mallot is disappointed that Malaysia in run by Malays.

How do you explain Mr Mallot?

The only way is to see Mr. Mallot as an unfortunate victim trapped in time within the Pax Americana or American century syndrome. That unfortunate mental incarceration places Mr. Mallot as a crusader proselytizing American values onto his external world. Our only line of defense is to affirm our refusal of becoming stooges of his pontifications. The same mental incarceration sees Mr. Mallot appointing himself judge jury and executor in so far as Malaysian politics is concerned.

Why does Mr Mallot continue running down Malaysia and its leaders? Probably because during his tenure as ambassador, he has found Malaysians not as stupid as he thought they were. Instead he has been made to look stupid so many times that he carries vengeful thoughts about Malaysia. He decries the fact that Malaysians are a patient lot so very unlike testosterone driven Americans. Why can't Malaysians be like "us"? Because, Mr. Mallot, you lived in a make believe still existing American century.

Miss Rosa Parks.

We didn't have a Miss Rosa Parks type of race relations. That makes Malaysia on a higher moral ground than Mallot's America. Not better, but never less morally. The way we handled our race relations may not have been exemplary. 1969 was indeed a black moment in our history. But we have not gone through a more damning period of race relations such as that exemplified by what Miss Rosa Parks had to endure in America's own experience in race relations.

We didn't go through conscious and deliberate racial segregation, we didn't go through a for whites only bus period, or seats for whites first on buses. We didn't have KKK phases. We certainly didn't go through the horrifying pogrom described by Dee Williams in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Can non Malays here in Malaysia point out these events occurring here in Malaysia?

For those not familiar with this name, Rosa Parks symbolized the defiance of African Americans in their struggle against the racism of white America. Regrettably Mr. Mallot appears to conveniently forget America's own history when he chooses to pontificate to us about American values. We know these values are often packaged as universal values, which whether we, the non-Americans like it or not, must be enforced on the uninitiated and unenlightened world.

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Friday, 11 February 2011

Debating Mr. Mallot

Here is a response from a writer who calls himself UMAR MUKHTAR. This is an article in response to the one written by a former US ambassador to Malaysia, John Mallot. I myself am writing a commentary to John Mallot's which I hope to post soon. In the meantime, please read this riposte from one Umar Mukhtar.

JOHN MALLOT'S WSJ ARTICLE: A RESPONSE


 

John Mallot has waded into the debate on Malaysian race relations with half an analysis when obviously a fuller one would have been of greater service to the discourse. Granted, his piece was intended more than anything else to be a critique of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's handling of the current situation in the country. However, in doing so, he has highlighted only the non-Malay responses to what is described as Malay racism. This is very misleading and the reason for my saying that he had written only half an analysis of the situation.

A more robust and honest assessment of race relations in Malaysia would take into account the fact that what appears to be Malay racism is in itself a response to non-Malay racism against Malays. Yes, two wrongs do not make a right. But as the Malay saying goes, "It takes both hands to clap". That is to say, Mallot's article runs the risk of completely absolving non-Malays from any responsibility in the racial predicament that the country is in. That is nothing less than avoiding reality and counter-productive to any effort to improve race relations in Malaysia. Malays have their grievances too against the Chinese. The fact that they seldom get aired does not make those grievances any less legitimate or valid.

Education for the very young is one obvious area where racist attitudes can be nipped in the bud. The importance for racial integration to begin at a young age is recognised, so much so that in the 1960s and 70s, the U.S. supreme court sanctioned the forced busing of students in order to break down the racial segregation between white and African-American schools. That was in America. In Malaysia, a different approach towards early education was adopted. In concession to the non-Malays, especially the Chinese, vernacular education was retained as part of the national school system. The liberalism was well-intentioned and in line with the spirit of Malaysia's constitution whereby minority communities are given the right to use and develop their own languages.

In practice, and perhaps this was unforeseen by Malaysia's founding fathers, the national-vernacular dichotomy in the school system has resulted in precisely the kind of early-age racial segregation that the busing laws, upheld by the U.S. supreme court justices, sought to eradicate in America. While desegregation of schools may or may not result in greater racial integration, segregation virtually guarantees that there will be no racial integration.

The racial polarization that we see so shamelessly capitalized on by politicians in Malaysia today is partly, if not wholly, attributable to that segregation in the school system. When you see not a few non-Malays unashamedly, even proudly, declaring that they cannot properly speak Malay, the national language, you can bet your life that these are the ones who graduated from the vernacular schools. This is forty-four years after Malay was declared the national language.


 

The Chinese community jealously guards the existence of the vernacular schools, implicitly reinforcing the message of their racial and cultural separateness and exclusivity but yet insist that they should not be looked at as the 'other' by Malays. For many Malays, including this writer, that smacks of having your cake and eating it too.

Often the excuse given by the Chinese for insisting that their children go to vernacular schools and for more such schools to be built is the poor quality of national schools. Surely the solution is not to build more racially-segregated schools but to join hands with Malays and Indians in insisting and ensuring that the quality of national schools be improved for the benefit of children of all ethnicities. Perhaps that is considered such an outlandishly 'out-of-the-racial box' thinking that I have never heard any Chinese make that call.


 

Any sincere and honest effort to improve race relations has to take cognizance of the fact that racism exists in and racial discrimination is practised, to one extend or another, by all the races in Malaysia.

However, my own honest observation is that the Chinese never want to admit or acknowledge their own racism against Malays or other races.

Official and overt discriminatory policies can easily be criticized as institutionalized racism but covert racial discriminations by their very nature are harder to pinpoint. That does not mean they don't exist or any less invidious than the former.

When a "Mandarin speakers only" requirement is stated in job advertisements, even for jobs which do not conceivably require much language skills, that surely is equivalent to saying "Chinese only". But you will be hard put to find any Chinese who would admit that the practice is racially discriminatory.

When Malaysia's most famous blogger, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, related some years ago in his blog how Chinese businesses ganged up to ensure the failure of his motorcycle dealership, none of his Chinese readers cared to acknowledge that he was the victim of racism. His was probably just the tip of the iceberg of similar cases.

And it's always with a mixture of amusement and sadness when I read the many comments in the internet from non-Malays complaining about the racial policies of the Malaysian government which scarcely conceal their own racism towards Malays in general. If Mr Mallot doubts the truth of what I am saying, he should read the comments that followed the publication of his recent article in Malaysian news portals.


 

To many Malays, given the refusal of non-Malays to even acknowledge their own racism, the prospect of a rollback in whatever few affirmative action policies left on the plate appears to be concessions which are unlikely to be matched in a similar spirit by the Chinese in the spheres that they predominate, namely the commercial and economic.


 

If Najib can be accused of pandering to militant Malay groups, Chinese political leaders in the government and opposition too can be accused of pandering to their racial constituency.


 

In my lifetime, I have yet to hear of any Chinese leader asking that the Chinese to join in and contribute towards the betterment of national schools. I have yet to hear of one calling for Chinese businesses to assist or at least not to gang up against their fellow non-Chinese businesses or to not practice discrimination in their employment policies.

Mallot failed to take into account one side of the equation in his brief exposition of the race relations situation in Malaysia. Hopefully, I have managed to redress that and allow a better understanding of why things are the way they are in Malaysia.

It would have been more gracious of Mallot if he had used his relationship with Malaysians during his tenure as a diplomat to impart his country's experience and firm action with regard to vigilance against the emergence of the evil that is racism, than to make things worse by dogmatically adopting the attitude that sympathizing with the minority makes one righteous.


 

UMAR MUKHTAR

February 10, 2011

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Thursday, 10 February 2011

Addendum to Malaysia’s Littoral Combat Ships

From the ever razor-sharp Walla, something which is worth putting up as a full article:-

Defence is where governments must do it right the first time, not try again through bailouts.

The rakyat can't be blamed for being jittery. After all, a whole fleet of skyhawks Mindef had bought seem to have disappeared either in the Arizona desert or over the Bermuda triangle. At least they didn't end up in some LATAM ( Latin American) country like two of our jet engines. And then there's that squadron of f-16's. How did we end up being sold planes without firing codes? And next we have Mikoyans which are now too costly to maintain just after five years. That's after the rakyat came to know about DRB's non-movable personnel carriers. We may have to wait awhile for the next drama on the Eurocopters but then we already have had dessert on our c4-class submarines.

Why can't defence procurements be straightforward, right the first time, and professionally managed end-to-end? Why so messy and mangled one?

Just imagine if there had been an aquatic dispute during the time when those Amin-class vessels would have been direly needed to tilt the outcome, our national diet now might have to be sup buntut with ayam sos merah.

It's also strange. Normally littoral vessels first and then submarines afterwards to extend the range and stealth of those vessels. Instead, the other way round...Do we really have an integrated defense system? What are we saying? We don't even have a flood warning system!

Anyway back to this topic. The underlying message is this:

One, whether black-boxed procurements like Mindef or harmonized expansions like Sime or acquisitions galore like Lotus, Sauber, Agusta, InventqJaya and Felda@USA, the rakyat have concluded this government is incapable of doing things right the first time; in fact its incapability is directly proportional to the size of the procurement or acquisition; meaning the bigger the sum involved, the more incapable of delivering right the first time;

Two, there is absolutely no conscience about opportunity costs, except maybe opportunity for the players;


 

Three, the govt tends to shoot itself first in the foot through its own double-tap cleverness; this double-tap thing is the SOP used in big-ticket items, namely there must be at least two advantages obtained; in this particular case, it is right-to-left hand 'open' tender.

The problem with double-tap methods is that they tend to overtap. They lock up the minds of the buyers.

Mindef gives to Boustead which belongs to LTAT which belongs to Mindef, so you get happy shareholders, happy suppliers, happy users and very happy Bagan Datoh minister. Therefore, suppliers and vendors will be even bolder to markup the price because it is a confirmed kill. Since its hand-holding specifications, the markups are already incorporated into the budget. There will be the customary renego's and they will cut a bit; but the cut bits will be magnified and added to the (a) maintenance, (b) variation orders, and most important of them all, (c) the spare parts.

If ever the MACC starts an academy, the first research thesis it must do is this: THE REAL COST OF SPARE PARTS IN GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENTS.

This is put in caps to signify that people tend to think leakages is just about taking things out of the kitty. No, it is official siphonage through inflated pricings that are tacitly accepted without question at great opportunity cost to the rakyat, if not the original objective of the procurement.

The savings for instance could have been used to buy better sonar or more accurate capitation torpedoes or hardier bulletproof suits for our naval special forces or even an aero-ambulance to ferry dying passengers thrown out of crashed buses on tolled highways.

The same mindset lock by double-tap methods is aggravated by mindset lock that what is entered into a budget must be spent without calculating how savings could have been used in other areas and places. Because people forget where the money comes from. It's not the gomen's; it's the rakyats'.

There is another thing about double-tap methods. They put the buyer under the duress of inflexibility. The specs are like that but does that mean they cannot be something else? Must it be just ship defense from General Electric Boat Division or Marconi? The compulsion to fixate becomes subconscious, persuaded by double tap rationale; it becomes benefiting the parties involved and not the final objective of the acquisition. When secondary objectives supersede primary objectives in double-taps, that's when things go haywire.

Umno has been practising double-taps ever since Gene Kelly double-tapped.

Having said that, i am cognizant that our armed forces must have means to modernize. We can't have our airmen, sailors and soldiers sitting for years on outdated hardware and software. Training and familiarization take time. Confidence must be built. Cutting edges must be sharpened. But at the least do the right thing right the first time.

Which is more than what we can say about how the govt has been managing inventories. You can read in Jane's that news about how a large quantity of firearms were broken into in an army barracks some years back.

But you don't need Janes to read about the theft of ammonium nitrate in Sabah recently. That's the sort of fertilizer used to make the sort of explosives that were used to blow up one Oklahoma federal building.

Comprende', home minister?

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Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Malaysia’s Littoral Combat Ships.

The defense ministry's allocation of a RM 6 billion budget to build 6 Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) has raised some controversies. The DAP's economic czar, Tony Pua has raised some reservations about the budget allocation. He calls for more transparency and straightforwardness in the defense contracts. The ships will be built by Boustead Naval Shipyard which is a subsidiary of LTAT.
Pua's comments have stirred up a chorus of accusations that MINDEF may be over spending. It has also invited a rebuttal from a writer with a weekly defense journal. A blogger who has a hobby reading up on any military hardware and technology has also responded to Pua's comments.
Pua may have fouled up in his comparisons. But I am ready to concede in this case, facts are not that very important- the meaning and reading into the meaning of the contracts are. Pua's comments were meant to raise awareness about the possibilities of shady deals and deals that will later turned bad.
Consider the record. The ships built by Amin Shah are probably better employed as deep sea  fishing vessels now. We bought submarines that had difficulties in submerging. We have airplanes mothballed in the desert in America. We have had magee mee and screw drivers sold to MINDEF at extortion exorbitantly inflated prices.
So when MINDEF makes public its allocation on any project, any right thinking people will stand up.
So I will not denigrate Pua's concerns too much. It has everything to do with financial discipline and financial good governance.
That aside, my main concern is the RM 6 billion sufficient at all to build 6 LCS such as that commissioned by the US Navy?
Usually in any defense contracts, technical teams from MINDEF will be working closely with contractors. Granted that in itself is no guarantee that ships will be built to specifications. That is also no guarantee that the ships built will be operational even.
The ships infamously built and contracted to Amin Shah have not been operational and have been plagued with all sorts of technical deficiencies. So I wouldn't place too high a premium, even if experts from MINDEF were to sit and hold hands with the contractors. Probably they will do that in karaoke bars and over some beer mugs.
Normally I would relish tearing into the contracts to see whether there are any possibilities of grossly inflated numbers which can only mean one thing:- money and commissions passing hands.
I am more interested in the reasoning given by the Minister of Defense. His remarks hardly inspire confidence in our defense capabilities.
Out of the RM 6 billion allocation, 2 billion will be allocated to vendors. The minister says he will monitor to see that vendors are paid. Hello? Are we missing something here? His role is not to oversee that vendors get paid- there will be a committee doing that. Unless the vendors are UMNO contractors mostly from Perak who will be campaigning for Zahid, his primary duty is to see the second generation patrol vessels are built according to technical specifications and will be delivered on time. More important his duty is to ensure there are enough funds to build such an LCS. The US Navy for example is spending around USD600-700 million per vessel.
So in the end, if you under-build, what will the vessels be employed for? To provide escort services for our fishing vessels?

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Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Adjusting to after-UMNO Malaysian politics

The last article I wrote attracted a wide array of opinions. To me, the diverse opinions show, UMNO matters- whether it's regarded as loathsome or boon.
But to me, it's more important to make UMNO people see things in perspective. The future of Malaysian politics to my mind can be described as a post UMNO politics. UMNO will still matter but it has to come to terms to the reality that it is no longer the unrivaled and absolute voice of Malays in particular and Malaysians in general. It's a political theater where there are several contending parties vying for allegiance of the people to their causes.
The more than 3 million Malay voters who did not vote UMNO in 2008 cannot be all wrong. They didn't come to the position of not wanting UMNO because the opposition made them more aware and conscious. More likely they came to that position as a result of instantaneous voluntary and independent awareness. The opposition better not pat themselves on the back and indulge in an orgy of self-flattery.
So, it will be stupid if the opposition ignores to harness this general disenchantment by offering just some flippant commentaries on current politics. People will look at leadership, policies, intellectual honesty and articulation of your policies. That way I think, the disenchantment will likely remain and can translate into still, a rejection of UMNO.
For UMNO it will be a bigger challenge. It's like the multi-polar world of geo politics. USA is no longer the sole and unrivalled source of but one of several. India and China have become centers of attraction. Even that little dot down south has become a centre of attraction of global convergence.
So, when Dr Mahathir called for a return to UMNO's fundamentals, I am not sure, we can do so in its pure and unadulterated form. Or in the form, I understood to be what he meant. Because in the meantime, since 2008 at least, the external environment has changed.
UMNO must come to terms with the new realities. The new realities mean, UMNO cannot relive history as therapy. It cant live in the past.
Failure to adjust will lead to depression. In 1901, Thomas Mann wrote a novel called Buddenbrooks about a wealthy family that saw its fortunes reduced over 4 generations. But family members lived in a make believe world that their family is still the focus of things. Yet the world around them has changed but the Buddenbrooks insist they are still the middle kingdom. They don't acknowledge that the prestige and power of the family has declined.
In a similar manner, we can describe the current UMNO in that way. They don't acknowledge that the prestige and power of UMNO has declined. This is the biggest mental block UMNO people are saddled with. Yet, I have to state things as they are.
I don't think, to describe my stand as UMNO my party right or wrong is correct. My interest is to see the RIGHT UMNO emerge. By right I mean UMNO that reaches out as a rational organization and a political party of reason. One that attracts people to its cause. And I think UMNO can reconstruct its commitment to Malay interests without hurting the interest of all Malaysians.
Let's tackle the first of UMNO's hot-spots. The severest attack against UMNO has been its advocacy of preferential treatment of Malays. I have stated this on many occasions. We get incensed over the ownership of 30% of the country's wealth yet, we are accommodating about who owns the 70% of the wealth. I am not saying the Malaysian Chinese own the 70%- whoever owns the 70% should be as hot an issue as the Malay attempt to own 30%. It makes practical sense; to alleviate the anguish of over 65% of the population who cannot share the wealth of this country is a just manner.
And we have to accept this. No one group acquires eminence without economic might. The Malays are asking for a portion of the economic cake to validate its eminence. The way they achieve that may be contentious and maybe at times unconscionable. I don't expect the champions of the Malay cause in this department to be apologetic. If Malays don't acquire economic might, the whole country can explode. It's that simple a proposition.
Even if we accept the necessity of re- structuring the wealth of this country along affirmative lines, it will not be a tenable position to take over the long run. It has to be dismantled at one point in time.
Unless it's etched in stone, the insistence of mandating a 30% ownership will lose ground against normal course of economic development. People become more competitive, the economy becomes more open, that the only way to prosper, will be to link to the external world. The open market is unforgiving to any abnormalities such as insisting on a 30% monopoly which I think is an abnormality.
Having a 30% requirement is essentially isolationist by nature. You can't insulate yourself behind a facade of legislative device because doing so, locks you out from mainstream economics. Sooner or later, whether the Malays like it or not, the normal course of economic development, presses you to adapt to external environment.
The more that 3 million Malay voters who rejected UMNO maybe the critical mass that no longer clings to that legislative device that isolates the Malay. They may represent the new Malay with the new mindset willing to compete and confident of their abilities. Unless UMNO reaches out to them, offering respectable avenues for self-expression in politics and economics, UMNO will never get them back.
In politics, the freedom to differ, i.e. being free to differ without being persecuted. UMNO must realize that more and more Malays want to be treated as thinking adults rather than mere digits in a guarded ward. In economics, the freedom to compete on an even playing filed and wanting to see vestiges of cronyism, clique-ish control of the economy wiped out.

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Friday, 4 February 2011

Its UMNO, not PKR or PAS


 

The former UMNO president said the party struggle now was only about contracts, APs and licenses. He stressed that the party must return to its roots and help unite a divided Malay community.


 

"We can unite the Malays if we are willing to work hard and explain that UMNO's struggle is for religion, race and country," he told the audience during a talk on "Malay race and the future" at the Tun Hussein Onn Memorial here.


 

Finally it has to come out. Dr Mahathir is saying something that I have also been writing about. His voice is of course louder and more impactful. Mine is the voice of an interested observer and also a stakeholder in UMNO's future.

The problem is with UMNO. It's a party for contracts and APs. In other words, self-interests override everything else. It's a party that has lost its bearings. It has dislodged itself from the founding principles- to struggle and push the agenda for race, country and religion. Two, not only it has lost bearings on these founding principles, UMNO hasn't been successful in re casting the principles with the new realities. UMNO has to contend with other stakeholders in this country. These stakeholders have become emboldened partly because they dominate the economy (the Chinese) and because of a more assertive leadership as in the case of the Malaysian Indians. UMNO degenerates because it can't offer competent leadership to contend with these groups. Three, UMNO has retreated from its role as the principled and steadfast spokesman for Malay interests.

In a nutshell, the present UMNO has failed to distinguish itself in a positive way from the rest of the pack. Hence for example, a small but vociferous pressure group such as Perkasa can rattle UMNO. Other NGOs have proven to be persuasive enough to steal the thunder from UMNO in a number of issues such as fighting corruption, abuse of power, decadence of its leaders. UMNO hasn't been nimble enough to seize the initiative in dominating the alternative media. The media companies that it owns have lost credibility not because they churned out untruths, but because they have not been able to win people over to their causes.

Devoid of an appreciation and understanding of its principles, it has spawned a different breed of leadership. On the whole, the leadership is one that's more interested in harnessing the trappings pf power instead of applying that power for the greater good. Hence there is a continuous mad scramble for positions in UMNO.

But UMNO can't attribute its shortcomings to others. UMNO's problems must be sorted out by UMNO people.

Dr Mahathir's recent statements must also be viewed as open criticisms on the leadership of DS Najib. Lee Kuan Yew's characterization of Najib as a rational leader and the attributes that qualify Najib as a rational leader is not exactly placing Najib in a strong position to galvanize the Malay ground. Indeed it can serve to alienate Najib further as he will be seen, as part of the make-up of the rational leader, to compromise many things of interest to the Malays.

I differ slightly as to the causes of the waning influence of UMNO. Dr Mahathir and many other UMNO leaders are not able any longer, to lay claim that UMNO is the absolute and undisputed voice of Malays. As I have written many times, the wisdom of the many and in this case the majority of Malays can't be wrong. Out of the 5.7 million Malay votes in 2008, UMNO got about 2 million votes. Its own members were not convinced of the UMNO leadership.

First we put our own house in order. Second, we reach out directly to the majority of people. We cannot wish PKR or PAS to fade away being our competitors for the Malay ground. UMNO has to offer credible and competent leadership, sound policies, communicate them and win people over to UMNO's cause. UMNO has to distinguish itself from these two in more positive ways.

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