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Sakmongkol ak 47

Thursday 13 August 2009

Can we have a FELDA Obama in Rompin?

With JJ going to the US sometime at the end of August 2009, I have been planning to write an article with the above title. Not that anyone can easily hope that it shall become a reality, but the title is chosen to reflect the extraordinary abilities of the man. If there is anyone able to make a FELDA Obama in Rompin a reality, it is JJ. It's not impossible; we already have an FELDA LBJ in Negeri Sembilan. If JJ now can use his considerable persuasive powers to encourage Obama to visit Malaysia, why not honour such a visit by renaming one of the FELDA schemes in Rompin after the US President? I am betting that President Obama will be visiting Malaysia during JJ's tenure as ambassador.

Sometime ago I wrote a number of articles spoofing Dato Jamaludin Jarjis. One commentator even asked me- how come, whenever JJ's name is mentioned, I can't resist taking a dig on the man. Well, I can't resist taking a dig at a fellow Pekanite. JJ has this uncanny ability to take the blows as it were. The good thing is he won't begrudge you for long.

He is popularly known as JJ. In Pekan he was either Dr Jamal or just Din. He is still spoken in reverential terms by his remaining supporters in Pekan. As a 'player', JJ has achieved notoriety. I shall not mollycoddle him in this aspect. I think JJ was a major factor in the politics of vote buying, delegate snatching and all that. I don't think his actions back when he was vying for Ketua Pemuda Pekan were excusable. The shenanigans took place when that style of politics was rampant in UMNO. If what he did then were to be carried out today, he will not be eligible to stand for any post.

Having said the above, I will not take away the abilities of the man. He is one of the smoothest political operators around.

He has had his share of faux pas. During a visit to the US, he made derogatory remarks to a Malaysian Indian student. He was reported to have attacked an imam in Kratong after Friday prayers. The man is no Honest Abe by a mile.

He shot to notoriety with the raba raba incident at a leading hotel in Kuala Lumpur. I joined many others in lampooning the guy with salaciously imagined stories. It's impossible to rationalise why someone as bright as JJ would allow himself to be compromised in that manner. But the much ballyhooed event wasn't one that lent itself to rational thought process. It was perhaps a spontaneous uncontrollable outpouring of repressed hormonal surges. And I am only saying this is an ex-post sense. He could very well been under seizure of temporary insanity then. Haha. I am sure JJ must have regretted that episode.

That episode will forever remain a stain on his character. It would be unfair however to treat that event as definitive and colouring the overall character of JJ. It would be counter productive for anyone to discount JJ's talents simply because of this event.

Where can we assess JJ? JJ's relevance to the PM and UMNO I would say, lay in his ability to function as backroom party strategist, party thinker, trusted counsel to the PM who is comfortable enough to reason out with the PM. His ambassadorial position comes after a record of serving in various ministries. He was minister of Finance 2 during Tun Mahathir, he was science and technology and innovation minister, he served as chairman of TNB. He has been MP for a long period and is a member of UMNO Supreme counsel. He has probably been tasked to explore areas of economic cooperation with the most powerful economy in the world.

The fondling of the behind episode has cost him dearly. He was left out of the cabinet when Pak Lah reshuffled the cabinet after the last election. That caused uproar among his supporters who regarded JJ as the hardest working minister. Who else worked that hard on earth and outer space if not JJ? Wasn't he the man behind Malaysia's first astronaut? Still, he did not make it into the cabinet in the proper sense of the term. Dato Sri Najib rehabilitated him somewhat when he proposed JJ as ambassador to the US with ministerial status. And the prime minister was also instrumental in ensuring JJ remained as candidate in the last elections. Pak Lah was in sixes and sevens about including JJ as the candidate. Dato Najib quickly rescued the situation by endorsing JJ's candidacy.

JJ has this demeanour that makes him very attractive for ridicule. He is a study in contradictions. He is as capitalist as anyone gets to be- enjoying the good bourgeois life with cigars, caviars and the widely circulated private life stories. He sports a perpetual unshaven beard. He is of medium built and is a master in the art of hail fellow well met style of making friends. One gets quickly disarmed with JJ. This is what catches many his political foes and opponents off guard only to realise it too late.

JJ hails from the same kampong as I do. Pekan. Pahang. I am not sure where he was born though. It's the area on the right, just as you cross the Jambatan Sultan Abu Bakar from Kuantan. He grew up in Kampong Mat Dulang, the area located across the new Pekan hospital. There is now a new state mosque being built within the vicinity of the kampong.

As far as I can remember, he grew up there. He probably played in the nearby kampong Mengkasar and possibly bathed in the Pahang River nearby. As his mother comes from Kampung Teluk, JJ may have been born there. When the mother moved to Kampung Mat Dulang, he spent his growing up years there.

JJ was brought up by his mother. His father left the family when he was still young. His late father was a senior police officer. He maintained a distant respect for his father. JJ was an exceptionally bright boy. He was particularly good in mathematics. How do I know this? A cousin of his was my junior at SABS Kuantan and JJ's prowess in maths was widely told. When he was a 6th former, he stayed at the SABS hostel and fellow boarders would often tell stories about how JJ was good in maths.

He took his LCE in Ahmad High School. He was probably a late developer because he managed to get only a B in the LCE examination. Those days, you were graded A, B or failed. He went on to do his MCE and redeemed himself by scoring very well in the MCE. He obtained a grade One with many distinctions. It was in the HSC where he achieved full blossom as a student scoring 4 principal As.

He then went on to Electrical Engineering at the University of Manchester Institute of science and technology (UMIST). He obtained a first class honours degree in that field. From there he went on to do his doctorate a McGill University in Canada.

I was very much his junior by probably 6-7 years. Even without him knowing it, JJ became a role model for Malay students in Pekan and Kuantan then. No one can say that JJ is stupid.

I am writing these little known facts as a form of making up for my lampooning of our ambassador designate to the US of America.

It was probably Dato Amin Daud ( a former deputy speaker of parliament) who got JJ into Pekan politics. He became an UMNO Kampong Mengkasar branch.

He soon caught the eye of Dato Najib who just came back to Pekan sometime in 1976. Any leader would immediately recognise the usefulness of JJ- he was the brightest in Pekan politics then. And Pekan folks at that time were only familiar with the usual run of the mill types. Here was someone with a PhD in electrical engineering and more importantly, one of them. He can talk about all those scientific hogwash and was also adept at talking cock with the kampong joes.

JJ's main forte is his prowess as the savviest political operator. Once he's onto something, he is like a hound dog hunting his prey until he gets it. He is beyond insomniac capable of working with little sleep. He is a tireless and relentless operator. His boss can have complete trust and confidence in JJ for any tasks assigned to him. What make him a formidable tasks executioner are his cerebral capabilities. He has got substance between those ears and I don't mean his nose. His usefulness to UMNO rests on his ability to move seamlessly through the ranks. He is very rich by any account and will never suffer any inferiority complex when dealing with UMNO warlords. He is plebeian enough to mix it up with the UMNO roughnecks. If your concern is results only, then leave it to JJ.

The PM now needs a person with this ability and capacity in his efforts to re-engineer UMNO. JJ is probably the closest confidante that the PM is comfortable with. He could serve as the invisible strategist laying out what UMNO must do to regain credibility and trust. The PM will be attaching great value from detached assessments. JJ is sufficiently UMNO enough who is uniquely placed on the outside looking inside. He has sufficient UMNO pedigree to provide thinking in the interest of UMNO. A total outsider would probably be able to give better insights than JJ could, but then the PM would be left wondering, whether they were done with UMNO's interests at heart. This distinguishes JJ from the professional outsider.

If JJ is useful on these terms, why should he be sent outside this country to serve a stint as ambassador to a very high profile country where pornography is tolerated but inconsequential indiscretions by public figures are savagely mauled? That would be the story in the second part.


Anonymous,  13 August 2009 at 10:29  

You said JJ maintained a distant respect to his father.

I think that was before he got reconnected to his father when JJ was in his teens.

They got as close as normal father and son afterward.

I was at the post-funeral tahlil of his late father and JJ was talking of his gratitude for being able to mandi jenazah, sembahyang jenazah, carrying the coffin and burying his father's jenazah.

JJ has a large extended family on his father's side and I am married to his not-so-distant relative. I attended the many gatherings of (large) extended family and we did talk or ask about JJ among ourselves. Yes,there are times when we can't resist making fun of his 'misadventures' but never once I heard any family member talking about his in disdain and in fact he is always spoken about with affection. While I can't say I am close to him nor can I say I know him that well, I'd say that is a measure of a man.

That is our Pak JJ.



Ariff Sabri 13 August 2009 at 11:12  

yes, i know he got close to his father later on. but because i didn't have direct information on that episode, i am not confident of putting it down.
thanks for sharing.

Anonymous,  13 August 2009 at 12:15  


You are right about not telling certain things.

Even if you do have the direct information, some past stories are better left untold.

And, before imaginations running wild, I can assure you that what I am referring to is nothing sordid, lewd, repugnant, ignoble....

Cerita peribadi lah macam kisah cinta masing-masing takkan kita nak heboh.


A fan,  13 August 2009 at 13:28  

I know the dad whom I called uncle as he was my dad's friend.
But I dont know JJ.

ssr,  13 August 2009 at 14:30  

In Malaysia there is a saying it is not what you know that matters but rather whom you know that counts,hence jj is off to the us whereas i am here in Malaysia scracthing my balls as i know nobody LOL.

Anonymous,  13 August 2009 at 15:49  

Did he do a good job at Tenaga?

Definitely was a very hands-on Non Executive Chairman..but Malaysia will never ever know the real story except as rumors.

How did he manage to privatise DARA...and was the privatisation beneficial for the people?

And ..I believe he was also involved with Airod.

Rumors will be endless and will continue to be our culture.But non-tycoons smoking Rm200 cigars is a great way of encouraging rumors.

Anonymous,  13 August 2009 at 15:59  

Exports down 20%...FDI only 10% to previous year..jobless rate up to 4.5%.

We do not need Felda Obama..we just need some Obama leadership savvy.At the rate we're moving the "Main Street" will be lined with hobos soon.

Its all very well to have 1Malaysia launches,1Malaysia songs etc ...but on a hungry stomach it won;t be much fun.

Its the economy Sir..

Greenbottle 13 August 2009 at 18:40  

"....He is as capitalist as anyone gets to be- enjoying the good bourgeois life with cigars, caviars and the widely circulated private life stories...."

hmmmm. i guess now that islam hadari is dead and gone this kind of character isn't too much of a problem in 1Malaysia.

i guess by unmo standard and criteria this kind of person is perfectly Okaaaay. a role model even.

one more reason why i will NEVER vote umno.

what i'm saying is that i'm not a saint but i'd like someone i can trust to be my leaders. bill clinton was one of the brightest presidents of usa but that cigar caper with monica lewinsky brought him down....US people are not idiots, it's not that specific incidence that was the problem but that incidence showed the real character of Bill...similarly with JJ... he has shown himself to be a randy bugger (figuratively speaking) and as far s i'm concerned he's fucked...but i guess in umno this kind of issue isn't an issue...

Anonymous,  13 August 2009 at 20:04  

I guess we are looking for leaders who live life very much like we do

i.e struggling to make ends meet,bringing up kids and filling in the gaps that the Education system forgot as important,smiling whilst squeezed in commuter trains,reading labels and prices before buying any goods to get the best deals to satisfy the needs of the family,salivating at the fancy cars that other people seems to be disposable consumables to others,praying that the lifts will be working each time you reach home...normal lives of the poor and unknowns.

Leaders who smokes cigars and drink expensive lattes won't hv the same empathy for our trials and tribulations.Their mindset thus focus will be so different from us.

Their decision is whether to have a wagyu or a black angus whereas ours will be sardines or boiled eggs.And a holiday choice of Italy or Los Angeles is more like ours kampung or sunway lagoon?

Somehow,PR have more of the leaders that live like us.Maybe I will continue voting for them until they start the cigar smoking Cayenne riding mode.

Anonymous,  13 August 2009 at 20:24  

But one have got to sympathize with UMNO leaders who are decent and lead a life more in tune with their earnings...cos compared to their peers they will be considered as paupers.

And they will have their wife,children,family and friends wondering >>"Why is this Wakil Rakyat/Exco/MP/Minister so poor?He must be a non performer?"

And watching his pennies he can't entertain his supporters to lavish hotel buffets...only a mamak stall at best so he will be branded as a Kedukut YB.

The difference is PAS rakyat belanja wakil rakyats.

Its a tough life for an UMNO chief who wants to be strictly on the straight and narrow.

Suci Dalam Debu 14 August 2009 at 08:53  


JJ could be very smart academically but is his integrity suspect?

Was he involved in corruption?

Would I ever look up to him to be my kind of a leader? NO is my answer.

Anonymous,  14 August 2009 at 16:57  

Well, one of the most important lessons that experience teaches is that, to acertain extent, success depends more upon character than upon either intellect or fortune.

I think we need more leaders and thinkers who have moral fibres within them and not only the wheeling dealing street smart characters.

Ambassador JJ has unfortunatley the brains and the brawn but we need more than that to move ahead for the country.


Anonymous,  14 August 2009 at 17:29  


How do you think Obama will feel, given your descriptions of the man, when JJ presents his credentials to him?


GreenBug 15 August 2009 at 00:21  

I am a fan of your blog, Dato Sak, and I have much respect for your views and opinion.

Your glorifying this man JJ and brushing aside his various misdeameanours shocked me. How can we accept such a tainted character with questionable integrity as the perfect / right choice?

I have never forgiven him for the insult of an Indian student during his visit to the US leave alone his raba raba incident.

Are we so deprived of good leaders we have to appoint him as Ambassador to US?

Anonymous,  15 August 2009 at 19:09  

Used to see him in action during TNB days and he is surely a smooth dealer

Anonymous,  9 September 2009 at 15:13  

Salam Dato' Sak,

U forgot to mention one name who are the behind of the scene that got Dato' JJ into Pekan Politics..Dato Drs Hj Abdul Manaf Abdullah..Dato' JJ once said" Guru murni saya atau Sifu awal dalam hidup politik saya"...

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