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Sakmongkol ak 47

Saturday 18 April 2009

Nimble Chess Moves

There have been many uncomplimentary comments when I started to say good things about Dato Najib. I think they became more pronounced too when I started to become mildly critical of Dr Mahathir. The comments from foul-mouthed and carcass-smelling breathed bloggers (you know who you are) are hurtful yes, but are also easily forgettable. They would rather you remain stubborn and stupid even though facts change. I suspect many of them are people who have been accustomed of saying things without censor and suddenly find themselves in unfamiliar territory in a medium, where others can talk back.

I have been critical of Dato Najib in the past and have said nasty things of him. But hey, I have even gone one step further and told him about what I wrote to him in person. If something merits unflattering comments I am not going to shy away from doing that. But if some of his actions and policies are worth defending, then I will be willing to do it. I have criticised his leadership substance in the past but I will be stupid not to recognise that he, like anyone with intelligence can change for the better. I also recognise that when leadership is entrusted upon you, you can rise up to the occasion.

On the same note, I have been a staunch supporter of Tun Dr Mahathir and regard him as our best PM thus far. It would be foolish though to take my support as an absolute an unqualified carte blanche. I have stated my stand and this stand of mine does not require approval from those foul-mouthed bloggers and intellectual gnomes – which is that I honour TDM by debating his ideas on certain issues. Take for example, his comments on the cabinet and on the new leadership. If he has the right to comment, we will have to acknowledge that others can also comment on his comments. You would be prostituting yourself if you lie flat on your back and take everything without question.

Thus when Dato Najib does something right, he deserves compliments. Dato Najib is becoming more believable. I will say this- the more he disengages from TDM's mould, the better. He must chart his own course. He has served under 3 PM and has lived under the same roof with one. Now that he has become one himself, his achievement should equal the record claimed by the not bashful Rais Yatim in having served 5 PMs.

He has created a cabinet confounding many and leaving not a few dumbfounded. He has created a cabinet of 28 people. 40 were appointed as deputy ministers. It is a cabinet only marginally smaller that Pak Lah's cabinet. Hence, there were no major disruptions. A semblance of continuity is more important than playing to the gallery and yielding to calls to have a reduced cabinet.

Even the reasons for the inclusion of a few losers in Team Najib will be appreciated later. There were several who had lost in the last general elections. The list included the Koh Tsu Koon,Shahrizat Jalil, Awang Adek Husin. Losers in the recently concluded UMNO elections were also included. The inclusion of Mukhriz Mahathir has been hailed as a triumph of sorts.

One can only suspect, their losses are less important than their usefulness.

Correspondingly the exclusion presently of a few people from Team Najib will also be justified. The two notable absentees from Team Najib now are KJ and JJ. As I said earlier, I am sure the PM has something in store for the hardest working former minister-wasn't he the one who traverses the earth and space? Plus, he is the quintessential 'hands on' ex minister. As for KJ who knows what will unravel?

One can only suspect, their victories are less important than current political expediency.

It is also not a cabinet patterned after what Dr Mahathir wants. The inclusion of too many who are not exactly fans of TDM easily weakens such presumption. Dr Mahathir can rant and rave however much he wants. It is Najib's own team.

The inclusion of Mukhriz in the team cannot be used as proof that this is Mahajib's team. How much can Mukhriz achieve? Even he understands the concept of leadership hierarchy. He has a boss. His boss has a bigger boss. The ultimate boss is Najib Tun Razak. The boss is always right.

Today the PM has announced two very important actions which the government will take. First, the government will carry out a comprehensive review of the toll system in the country. The PM has conceded that exposure of the rakyat to triennial hike of toll rates is no longer tenable. Tolls are much disliked by the people. If the PM upholds his tenet of people first, he has to take steps that endear the government to the rakyat.

The PM has also announced his government's commitment to undertake a review of electricity tariffs. If TNB has excess capacity well above the critical reserve, why should it be forced to buy from IPPs? A review on the contracts between TNB and several IPPs may lead to reduction in tariff rates. They are burdensome on both the rakyat and anathema to a government geared for efficient performance and placing the people's interest first.

Both should be well received by the rakyat.

How do these make the PM becoming believable by each passing day? A conversation with Dato Najib a few days before he became the PM is worth recalling. He spoke of his reservations on certain projects undertaken by the government. Among those he mentioned were about highway tolls and IPP. He appeared to concede that these were costly mistakes. Most were made during Tun Mahathir's time.

I did not think much about that then because I thought he was speaking en passant. Moreover who would ever dare make a move against many of such projects initiated during the great TDM's time?

Coincidentally en passant is a move on the chess board, where a pawn is captured because it has been moved carelessly. Has Dato Najib begun to reveal that he is indeed a formidable chess player on the political board? By bracing himself to tackle issues made during TDM's tenure, he may prove himself to be not a spineless leader after all.


de minimis 18 April 2009 at 12:56  

Bro Sak

The announcement that the govt plans to review the road privatisation arrangements and the TNB-IPP arrangements gives people like me much encouragement that constructive views from bloggers does add to the voices that cry out for positive change.

I agree with you that we must be big enough to encourage correct govt policies through praise inasmuch as we are unfettered in our primal tendency to scream, rant and rave when policies are felt to be ridiculous or plain wrong

Anonymous,  18 April 2009 at 14:18  

PM Najib will be respected if he cut off TDM. He can do it if he thinks that to remain in power is not everything but making changes for the nation is what is required out of him.
He should make the move that he is not the PM who wants to remain for 22 years - If he is true with the slogan of 1Malaysia, people and performance. People will forgive him when he decide to quit or at least before GOD takes him back.

Anonymous,  18 April 2009 at 15:01  

Datuk Sak

Yes TDM was a good PM during his period but with changing times and the era of internet and free information he will be irelevant now. His strong arm tactics and racial play worked then when the general public was fed government propoganda via TV's and mainstream newspapers and when there was a rumour spread all not Malays get afraid and vote BN , but after the watershed 12 th general election , the general public can not be bullied anymore by the minority.

It is time Najib to break free and set up his own governing style and agenda and proof the public he can be a better PM, human being then the others try to paint him has a corrupt , muderous and racialy baise PM. It is now or never for him to proof that it takes a man to move Malysia beyond the racial politices pratized now. This way BN will regain the lost support and time to force some house cleaning in UMNO and the BN's component parties. if the leaders do not want to quit gracefully then let loose the MACC on them. I bet MACC wil find alot on them as these who overstayed their welcome are no saints. No first prize given to name the names as all know who they are. Proof your sincerity by getting rid of these below and put them behind bars and the general public will again belief in you and forgive your pervious short comings. Every leader brings dirt baggage when them become PM or President and the trick is learn and show how to shed the dirty baggage and be clean or seem to be clean.

Mr General Public

Anonymous,  18 April 2009 at 15:17  

opps I forgot to mention that if najib sincery and truthfull move away from racial politics and treat all the same as Malaysians then he is warmly welcome to take my vote grated in next election that I will vote BN.

Mr General Public

kuldeep 18 April 2009 at 15:37  

Just a day ago in reference to the "No more Mr Big Govt" article, i commented that slogans are merely talk until the walk begins and reviewing current practises on APs,tolls,IPPs would be the right kick off>>and miraculously yesterday ds najib announced that he has already instructed EPU to look at tolls etc.

We must credit DS Najib..he has used the lengthy handover period to understand the people's concerns and have actually formulated a 100 day plan that will address and wherever possible resolve those issues.And he has encapsulated that in rallying call that is actually positive and people centric.

There are indeed signs that our PM is achieving greatness when the burdens of leadership is entrusted to him.

We should be thankful.

walla 18 April 2009 at 16:38  

I agree with Datuk that Najib must be his own man. In fact, not a few may go further to say that Najib should make sure Mahathir and his proxies be distanced as far away as possible from influencing any decisions on big projects from now on.

A lot of things happened during Mahathir's watch as PM. But responsible leadership isn't just about being witty, visionary, decisive, action-packed or even throwing money into schemes and dreams. It's also about being fair to all and making sure that risks are properly weighed before embarking on big ideas using other peoples' money.

Malaysia lost RM242 million of the rakyats' money in Inventqjaya sold as an idea by someone to the good doctor.

Coincidentally on another project, someone did some some excerpting research from:

Asia’s New Little Dragons (Steven Schlosstein):

To quote the research:

"It all started with a shady Egyptian tin trader by the name of David Zaidner. He worked for the commodities firm Marc Rich & Co in Switzerland. Actually, he first approached the Indonesian government thinking that they were stupid enough to buy his idea of cornering the tin market. But the Indonesians smelled a con job and had him kicked out of the country.

Next, he couldn’t believe his lucky stars when his idea was accepted with enthusiasm by our then brand-new Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir. A plan was quickly hatched to corner the World Tin market.

In December 1980, the state-owned Malaysian Mining Corp.Bhd. named Marc Rich as its trading agent in a move that would shock the world commodities industry. Secret large tin purchases were made on the London Metal Exchange and went unabated throughout 1981, inducing a worldwide price increase. The strategy was cheap and simple. Malaysia had to only pay a 10 percent deposit against three month's forward purchase contracts.

When the price of tin shot up in the world market, the Malaysian government thought it had scored a huge victory. But unexpectedly, the price increase attracted many world producers to increase tin production and even the United States began selling from its strategic stockpiles to take advantage of the Malaysian-induced price rises.

Subsequently, Malaysia amassed about 50,000 tons of tin and had no other choice but to keep buying just to keep prices up. Production continued to soar and even unheard-of suppliers started to turn up to cash in on the high tin price. The world tin market went berserk and it crashed. Malaysia lost an estimated US$250 million on its failure to honour forward contracts, and another local bank lost another US$1 billion in separate losses on loans it had made covertly out of its Hong Kong subsidiary.

For five years Mahathir categorically denied that Malaysia had anything to do with the plan but as outside pressure mounted, Mahathir finally revealed the details in 1986. Marc Rich was finally indicted and arrested then
extradited to the United States and convicted of massive tax fraud."

Dr Sadeg Faris of Inventqjaya and David Zaidner of Marc Rich had approached Mahathir on grand schemes. And while Mahathir might have harboured good intentions for those grand schemes, the record also stands that the road to perdition has often been paved with good intentions.

What's the diagnosis on the decision-making process behind all those grand schemes?

It has been said there are at least eight practices that leaders can implement to enhance the quality of their decision-making - direct attention, harness emotion, overcome defensiveness, deepen sense-making, engage creativity, check reality, change behaviour and nurture integrity.

Will the diagnosis reveal the internal non-compensatory failure of some or more of these eight practices when the decisions were made to embark on those and some other grand schemes unbeknown to the rakyat even to this day?

Najib has started with his hand on the pulse of the rakyat. He hasn't used a stethoscope. Hopefully things will be better henceforth for all. Otherwise en passant may conclude as zugzwang. You needn't be good in even blindfold chess to know what that means.

Anonymous,  18 April 2009 at 17:20  

a man can admit and learn from his mistakes...
a man can also pass on the wisdom learnt from the school of hard knocks..

the last 6 years we have seen nothing new ideas or creativity...
we were in a rut of multicolor books ,processes and risk adverse management..
we were given massive PR exercises of billion dollar FDIs in corridors that stretched from coast to coast,north and south..
unwittingly my office became a zone within a corridor...i am pushed out onto a corridor with no idea of where the rooms are...

walla..even fergie does not win all the games but if he wins more than he loses..he's doing much better than malcolm allison.

lets hope ds najib will be taking a few tiger lines,flop shots and going for the birdies too instead of a long iron and a pitch and run..

and the wisdom of a few good old man would be welcomed i.e his butch harmon,leadbetters,smith and haneys..

walla 18 April 2009 at 17:55  

thanks, anonymous 17.20.

your sentiments do resonate.

hope everything will be better for all of you and your families in the coming months and years.

let's do all we can to create waves and rebuild this good country.

Anonymous,  18 April 2009 at 19:40  

...hope everything will be better for all of you and your families in the coming months and years....

thats a mysterious statement..>> r u migrating?or hv the dreams been shattered?or hv u seen thru the smokes and mirrors?
enlighten us please...

PARPUKARI 19 April 2009 at 04:12  

Please read the truth about situation in Perak here, this story is from the Perak officials!

Eric 19 April 2009 at 10:11  

Dato Sak,

we have heard all this before even during TDM's and Abdullah's time. So far Najib has been a lot of sloganeering, hot air and promises.
Even though I'd like to share De Minimis's optimism, I am afraid Najib's acts are a complete contradiction of his speeches. Cases in point: the 1Malaysia talk and next day the Utusan headline. Another one, possibly no BN candidate allegedly to prevent waste at an expensive and unnecessary self-congratulatory do in Pahang. There are a lot more: allegedly reviewing the ISA but discreetly put 3 more inside, talking loftily of freer media and preventing access to online media, etc.
If you ask my 2 sen, Najib has no more goodwill left and he looks like he is going to follow his ex-boss's flip-flop ways. He has to react now if "Performance Now" means anything.

Anonymous,  19 April 2009 at 11:08  

I concur that PM Najib - ever since I heard his maiden speech during the UMNO GA - has become quite believable. Despite my initial misgivings (usually very ill-informed), I feel that PM Najib is actually the right man for the job. I'll take my chances with him than with anyone else.

mCrossings 19 April 2009 at 15:43  

Its a good move by Najib.

However, I don't think TDM will bother Najib if what Najib does, gets the consent of the majority of the people. All TDM wants is for Malaysia to prosper and if Najib does have his own blueprint to achieve the same, I don't see why TDM should meddle.

TDM make his noise on Pak Lah when we all knew what Pak Lah did was wrong, and there were none can, or brave enough to speak against him. TDM become our only voice.

TDM did what he had to do at that time, and we're glad to see the back of Pak Lah. We can only thanked TDM and wish him a peaceful retirement he deserved 5 years ago.

Anyway... the next thing for Najib to do is to look at our automotive industry. It's high time we take a second look at Proton and let it takes its own course. We have reached that point where the local automotive industry have been established and achieved and in order to move forward, the protectionism will have to go. Its costing us too much money, plus they do not appreciate like real estate. We can't win everytime.

Proton need a global partner and need not be a national symbol anymore. Its just a car, not flag or keris, flower that need to be a national nostalgia.

Cars end up in junkyards, and if they are cheap enough, it will spur the recyling industry.

If we can spend less on cars from our monthly salaries, we can spend more on other things, generating economies.

Hope TDM can be reasonable on this too?

Unknown 19 April 2009 at 17:09  

yup we should give him a chance.. and let him decide for the next malaysia... for me those who used to be my PM's was superb....

Phatty^Boyd! 19 April 2009 at 20:39  

Huw 'bout redneck 'Nahyidin' oh mr...

Check this out if u dare!!
A cool popArt version
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Greenbottle 19 April 2009 at 21:42  

your undertstanding of en passant in chess is not exactly correct but all the same, yes i hope najib do the right things. and remember najib is the PM of Malaysia and not PM of umno or BN.

thinking about tolls and TNB is a good move in the right direction for malaysia. and as a muslim myself i'm a bit worried about his thinking about Islam (if he thinks about it at all...)

will he rectify and improve the much maligned hadari concept for example? will he try to make the non muslims in his component parties undertand and appreciate islam better as PAS is doing? will islam play any big influence and role in his administration?

Warrior 885 of 1024,  20 April 2009 at 09:58  

Thank You, Parpu Kari, for that link. Wow! How can a person who blatantly lies in daylight still be kept as speaker?

And it also seem clear that in all these, the cousins Ngeh and Nga are the real culprits, the real unseen hands in all these trouble. Didn't the "we-won't wear songkok in state assembly" thing started by them too?

It's time that Malaysians realize that Ngeh and Nga are not ordinary citizens. They are people full of hatred,of spite, of vindictiveness, towards anything malay and malay-ish, especially malay royalties. They are real first-order treasonous chinese whose master is only one: the PAP of Singapore.

Mat Cendana 20 April 2009 at 17:06  

Would you believe this is at least my 10th attempt to send this comment? Been trying since Saturday night!

Anyway, concerning the foul-mouthed commentators: It's further proof to what I had mentioned to you here a few times - you won't be able to please everyone.

And you certainly don't have to care about doing so with this particular kind especially. They will praise you to the sky if you criticise someone - like you're the best thing to have happened to Malaysia since the creation of Yong Taufu. But if you question someone they like, then you are suddenly the biggest hypocrite since Abdullah Bin Ubai of the Uhud (or was it Badar) battle.

So, as always, just try to please "that voice inside" and do what you've been doing since Day One and write what *you* think. If these people aren't happy, they should write a post at their own blog. Don't have one? Go and register at or lah, FOOLS. Haha! Kita hina sikit jenis ni...

Anyway, I've been following your blog as always - through a desktop RSS reader. I had sent in a long comment at "Old school" but it got swallowed and disappeared. Usually, after writing, I'd do a Ctrl-A to "Select All" and Ctrl-V to "Copy". So, should there be a problem, I can re-send. But I forgot with that one, so when the comment failed to be sent, that's it - all the writing GONE. That sure discouraged me for a few days

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