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Sakmongkol ak 47

Thursday 25 December 2008

The Vicious Cycle of Malaysian Politics

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Is there a political vicious cycle in operation in Malaysia?. The elite begets the elite?. One form of an ascriptive norm? People are chosen because of who they are? So Najib was chosen all along because he is assumed to inherit all the wonders of Tun Razak? Hishamudin because he is the progeny of Tun Hussein? And probably, Mukhriz because he is the son of Tun Mahathir?

The implications of accepting this routinization of leadership pattern are deleterious. The top leadership becomes an exclusive club. Accessible only to those with the correct genetic make up. Unless you are a scion of the genetic elite, you are not eligible. If you are a member of the cognitive elite, that would probably still be an edifying factor. But a genetic elite doesn’t automatically imply cognitive excellence. I doubt whether the almost skin headed son of Nazri Aziz belongs to a cognitive elite.

As in the vicious cycle concept in Economics, the poor are trapped for 3 generations at least. Except in our political world, the trapped are those OUTSIDE the right genetic pool. It reminds me of the narrative about TDM meeting a group of UMNO youths. He asked the question- are you from Oxford? and the poor fellow who was asked replied he is not. TDM answered in his characteristic sarcasm- then you have no future in UMNO. In the same manner, I ask: are you a Ben Razak? Ben Mahathir? Ben Hussein? No? then, sorry, you have no future!. Ben Toyo?.No. Ben Jamaludin? Nope!

Why must this vicious cycle( that’s what it is really) be broken? Because it hinders the widening of the net to rope in good leaders. And good leaders are the sine qua non for good government.

This kind of incestuous inbreeding of future leaders must be thrown out. The greater good for the party like UMNO depends on liberalising the leadership choices. Having seen efforts to remove the quota system failed, the individuals going to the general assembly this March 2009, have within them, the power to correct the leadership imbroglio. Therefore it is unfortunate that people from the genetic pool must be set aside. This means, in practical terms, sidelining Hishamudin Hussein. Thus far, his only credibility stems from the fact that he is the son of Tun Hussein. He got into the mainstream because of Tun Mahathir. Otherwise, he would just pass as another shrilling shrieker at UMNO general assembly. That means, people like Mukhriz Mahathir must be sidelined too. For the greater good of liberalising the leadership net.

All democratic inclined people must disagree with the proposition of limiting our leadership talent pool. These people belonging to the genetic elite may be pleasant individuals and can be quite agreeable fellows. Hishamudin, Mukhriz all are nice people. DS Najib is undeniably a nice person once one gets to know him. But where leadership is concerned, that’s another matter and the correlation between being a personable fellow and leadership, is not conclusive.

Unless you commit yourself to breaking up the vicious cycle, the path to leadership for all those that come after you, is forever closed. Not unless and until providence decrees you come out from the loins of the genetic elite. .

In the ketua pemuda contest, who represent the symbol of a break from this vicious cycle? Who can we judge in terms of achievement norms? To my mind, the field is left with two persons- the Javanese Wak Khir and Khairy Jamaludin.

So dare to change means just that. Change the way leaders are chosen. Otherwise what do you have? You inadvertently create a glass ceiling for yourselves. The term glass ceiling refers to situations where the advancement of a qualified person within the hierarchy of an organization is stopped at a lower level because of some form of discrimination, You limit yourself by imputing extraordinary qualities in scions of the existing elite thereby entrenching further, the stranglehold on a few people on political power in this country. Not very clever of us, eh?.

If that is allowed to happen, then we lend credibility to the Elite theory. Which is a theory of the state which seeks to describe and explain the power relationships in modern society. It argues that a small minority, consisting of members of the economic elite and political networks, hold the most power no matter what happens in elections in a country. We must never allow this to become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Bringing us deeper into the entrapment abyss, is the recent political activism of the royal households in Malaysia. The regent of Perak who is an intellectual powerhouse in his own right has been quite outspoken of a number of explicitly political issues. Then we have the royal appeal from the Negri Sembilan Regent to reinstate Royal Immunity. The Sultan of Selangor has made similar royal presence in politics. The Malays surprisingly are silenced in the comforting thought that such intrusions further strengthen their own political standing. Again the classic behaviour of depending on others to do what they can do themselves.

These political excursions by some royals represent an aristocratic version of the Classic Elite Theory. The theory essentially rests on two ideas:

  1. power lies in position of authority in key economic and political institutions.
  2. Those having power acquire as a matter of fact, a psychological superiority. Namely, the difference that sets Elites apart is that they have personal resources, such as intelligence and skills;

The unquestioning acceptance of the elite theory either arising from the genetic trap or aristocratic version consigns the rest of us as incompetents who do not have the capabilities of governing ourselves.

So, ask yourselves- do you want to perpetuate this kind of stranglehold on our politics. The road to freedom requires us to break the vicious cycle. That’s the real dare to change for you and I.


Anonymous,  25 December 2008 at 10:48  

Again, very well said, sir.
I have submitted an article on one GLC organisational behaviour to the "proper" channels that can lead to what I termed "a vicious negative cycle of self destruction"
which is yet to be made public.

Just one question, why must we rely on politics to rule the county ?

Anonymous,  25 December 2008 at 11:31  

Many were ambivalent when Raja Nazrin waded in with his thoughts on equality, the role of a reformist monarch,etc, some 18 months to two years ago.

That the NST editors bestowed upon him an almost-blanket Page One treatment, indicated three possibilities; a) No better stories emanating from the rest of the world, nobody else was making sense.. So this Royalty was filling a void. b) Raja Nazrin raising the bar for Royal pronouncements. Royalties will have to breed top brains, no more incidents of brawling, their children should be near-top-of-the class and their academic performance scrutinised by the rakyat beginning with a census of school-going Royalties because when they start addressing their subjects they better be erudite. c) He is blessed with a certain persona and image.

Can a Royalty be part of a polemic and be told he is terribly wrong in a plain-speaking manner, minus those demeaning lexicon?

On the other hand, imagine the exertions of a opinionated, well-read Royalty? Post a blog-comment? Start a blog? Send an email to the Menteri Besar? Write to Sakmangkol or come up with a book? I have seen a Raja Nazrin-let loose at the MPH. He was tossing into the basket, well, many a title. Green-eyed? No, I admired that quality, roving in a bookshop alone, with, shall, I say, knowledge-driven intent.

No, Raja Nazrin and Sultan Selangor have not been flippant. They have not made disparaging remarks. I like to think they have been correct and proper. They have not been ridiculed for their expressed viewpoints; at times, they offered the best views of the day.

Freedom of expressions is at work here. They face the risk of being mocked for their utterances as well. If we happen to disagree, we simply have to sound smarter, and yes, point out the frailties of their arguments. As for the political elites, the admiring Umno crowd have unfailingly embraced them making them democratically-elected Aristocrats.

Sakmongkol on his part is engineering a new proletariat-class, by making us think harder and write more - smashing every conceivable barrier including the allergy to working on public holidays. A clever equaliser this.

Anonymous,  25 December 2008 at 12:13  

A thought provoking piece!

Dato U r tracking on a dangerous path where many r fear to even set foot on. This is especially so for the feudalistic Malays (excluding U, ;D), who will always waving the royal households as the undisputed proof of Tanah Melayu!

That thinking is at best lop-sided. If there r any claims to that title then the red-blooded has more right than the blue. What say U?

In the ancient China, the position of the king was not inheritated. Some of the kings were commoners, who had contributed a lot to the well-being of the populace. They were selected via popular consultations. Only during & from the Shang dynasty the kingship decame family inheritance.

Anyway, last night's merry indulgences with old friends has caused the hang-over of today. I shouldn't write this. U have a masterpiece. Any other touch-ups r pure decorative!

Hope to see more of yr thoughts in the new year, that's if U have not been outcasted & banished. :P.


Anonymous,  25 December 2008 at 13:31  

Dear SAK-AK47

I took note of your views on this. However, the way is see it, the people ( or this case the delegates-umno ) should select leaders ( contesting for various positions ) without prejudice. i reject the notion of if ur ben hussin or ben mahathir, your political future shall be doomed . that is an example of 'prejudice' the way i see it. This nation should be allowed to progress by selecting leaders based on merits, credentials, personal educationa , strength of character, social backgrounds and other factors that are necessary to be evaluated and considered by the 'people' or delegates in this case. im not a supporter of mukhriz, hisham or najib , per se, but i dont see any logic reasoning , based on your views , to expel/reject them from giving their contribution and services to the people of malaysia for this nation building for the future. your views are rather 'discriminating; to say the least, my sincere hope is that the people and delegates should chose their leaders based on those factors i listed above, and not only 'who's who' . if they feel mukhriz or hisham does not have those quality , reject them. Does the son-in-law of the outgoing PM can be considered as having any 'political link dynasty/legacy' as per your argument , and he has got to be 'cantas' too ? he seem to have been 'proved' guilty for many acquisitions by the people already , for the poor result of pr12 , then reject him too. then the delegates have no choice i guess to elect the melayu kurang ajar penyapu khir to lead the umno youth 09 onwards . he is absolutely a 'typical' kampung boy from nobody to 'still nodody ' today. this is only my 2 cents worth ... Centralist Malay ( CM )

Saya... 25 December 2008 at 13:52  

Incestuous inbreeding results in freaks and a limited capacity to think beyond the incestuous mindset. It magnifies existing genetic deficiencies.(right or not doc tabs?)

Thus we have our very own political freakshow.

Nice is good. But nice isn't going to get us out of this rut. Nice as in obliging towards cronies, agreeable to kickbacks and patronizing to the people.

Where has that gotten the melayus?

We need a strong, mean, capable, B (rhymes with custard) to whip this nation into shape.

Ok, gotta run off to PD. I will leave you intelligentsia to discuss this in an intelligent manner.


(Btw, notice how the elite benefit from wider education options not available to the wretched masses outside the pool?)

Ariff Sabri 25 December 2008 at 14:58  

anon at 13.31.

i agree with you- that's why i am arguing for a achievement-norm agenda. select leaders for the qualities you mentioned- minus the ascribed status. the sil which you pointed out, in that context, is a rank outsider.
the glass ceiling based on artificial barriers excluding the genetic elite, must be broken.

Ariff Sabri 25 December 2008 at 14:59  

sorry- the glass ceiling especially the genetic elite trap, must be broken.

Ir. Hanafi Ali 25 December 2008 at 15:32  

Vicious cycle can't be broken softly. It must be snapped like a twig.

Anonymous,  25 December 2008 at 16:12  

Let us take DSAI. Look what is happening today? We can feel and see for ourselves...

However, the mentioned kids were groomed from small, see, feel for themselves the sacrifices, errors and achievements, the tears, the joys of their fathers', IN THEIR LINE OF DUTY AS TOP LEADERS OF THIS COUNTRY.

I will definitely VOTE for them.


Of cos, not any Tom Dick and Harry. They must also be GOOD AND PROVEN statesmen.


Anonymous,  25 December 2008 at 16:13  

i think tis writing was so unfair. is it wright in order to break the glass ceiling we should left out those so called blue bred eventhough they have all the qualities and compromised to chose others eventhough they lack the quality as a leader?


Anonymous,  25 December 2008 at 17:03  

Dato Ariff

With KJ being son in law of a PM with only two kids and a protective parent, KJ is as good as son?

And, KJ is "appointed" a post (with all contenderts called or persuaded to make way) while "father" is still in office.

Poor example of t his kids like he is as good of that PM's son routine? He was given a post during his father's reign.

Great language, weak argument coming from a royal bestowed Dato'. Your attempt to play the feudel card doesn't jive.

Do you wanna save UMNO for GE13 or enjoying the thrill of being on KJ's blogroll?

Anonymous,  25 December 2008 at 17:26  

Anon at 17.03
You have been given the plesure to disagree,but please do not link Dato Ariff being bestowed a title from the King as something hes not worthy of receiving!
Who the hell are you to come into someone's blog and 'punch' him in the face?
Very2 rude of you.Shame!
Is it so sinful if Dato Ariff is on KJ's blogroll?Go and make a Fatwa then!

Ariff Sabri 25 December 2008 at 19:27  

dr putera,
i dont expect a short answer like yours to rebut my article. please show your disagreement by persuasive arguments. prove me wrong- but not just by being dismissive. that will only serve to fortify me. show some spunk man.

anon at 17:03- well , you can always see a person's weakened position when he cannot offer persuasive reasoning but has to resort to derisory personal attacks. what has my title got to do with the reasoning? even with no titles i have been consistently critical.

come on you people- prove me wrong. i have already said, if like a few here say, this article is unfair and of weak reasoning, then it will not reduce the chances of the other contenders against KJ, will it?
and please, being on the bloglist even if unsolicited, is something wrong? put me on yours then. maybe it doesnt give you the thrill?
if this attempt doesnt jive, then it becomes, what you call in legal parlance, de minimis right?

Unknown 25 December 2008 at 23:30  

The danger here, is to restrict those very capable ones just because their parents were former leaders.

Are you being fair? You go from one extreme to another.

If Mukhriz and Hishamudin are really sincere, capable and committed, would you bar them just to break this "stranglehold"

So just because someone is not an elite (you mention Khairy) you will vote for him?

Would you recommend that the future King should come from the commoners - to break this social stranglehold?

I am not against a non-elite becoming a leader but we must not use an artificial measure such as relations to a certain group.

We would then be labelled as being 'vicious'.

Unknown 25 December 2008 at 23:52  

The other factor is nurture.

Students who are trained and guided as prefects, class monitors are "brought up" to take on leadership roles later in life.

They learn as they go along.

First-born children are found to be more responsible than their siblings. In this case thay have the same set of parents.

Therefore, children brought up in a "political" atmosphere get to see politics 'live'.

It's in their blood. The ups and downs of a leader's life are being experienced on a daily basis.

This upbringing does NOT guarantee a leader born and nurtured.

But wouldn't you agree that it is a clear advantage, ceteris paribus.

Tun Dr Mahathir is not the son of a former leader.

Singh Is Kinng 25 December 2008 at 23:55  

Salam Dato' Sak,

It's agreed by almost everybody that your writing does reflect your wits, intellectual and sharp thinking. However what is puzzling me is that your jodoh with UMNO was short lived. Was it because you are not part of the vicious cycle?

Salam Maal Hijrah to you and your family. Heard from Datin that everybody is coming home.


mamasita 26 December 2008 at 00:59  

Hai P.S.
My other half is already snoring!hehehe

Selamat Menyambut Ma'al Hijrah and A very Happy and Banyak2 Rezki New Year to you and your very loving family.

My dear friend,my dearest hubby is still a true-blue UMNO member!And one of the best too!hehe
Thank you so much..salam to the 'domestic engineer' at home!

K L 26 December 2008 at 15:59  


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