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Sakmongkol ak 47

Wednesday 30 September 2009

The immorality of the moral high ground-2

The morality underpinnings of writings regarding Isa's nomination come in various forms. The DAP old warhorse Lim Kit Siang viewed Isa's nomination as a contest between the country's political past and future – between the politics of corruption, injustice and oppression prevalent before March 8, 2008 and the politics of integrity, justice and freedom struggling to be born after the March 8 political tsunami.

Isa is a tainted fellow who has been convicted by the UMNO court as someone who bought votes. Suddenly what UMNO says become binding on self righteous people. That UMNO did not remit its disciplinary board's findings to official authorities such as MACC or even brought them before the courts shall forever remain a sore point. It is, not only for those outside UMNO but within UMNO itself. How do you explain this absent –mindedness on the part of UMNO?

Very likely, the findings of the disciplinary board are meant for internal discipline. The dos and don'ts it listed were meant as club rules and those who violate them, were punished in accordance to forms of punishment provided for. In Isa's case he was punished with the harshest of punishment for a politician- banished from the flock, forced to resign from all official posts. Having served the punishment, we, the moral police now want to step in and punish Isa once again? We took his flesh and now we want his blood too? To make things worse, we do that via the tortured definitions of morality. The depraved past vs. the pristine future, penny wise and pound foolish etc.

The form of punishment given to Isa is nothing other than a version of enforced sabbatical? We are more severe in our judgments- a person who has endured his punishment has no means for salvation. He is a sinner until he dies.

By doing so, what are we doing? We arrogate upon ourselves the status of the morally pristine. We consciously adopt this touch me not status that lends some semblance of religious immunity from the rational investigation normally applied to other sources of authority. The issue is what is the social impact of our 'method'? What are the grounds on which we condemn Isa Samad? The wrongs done by UMNO politicians and the punishments given them are open book see-all. We have evidence, we punish. Only with that evidence to hand can some kind of judgment - moral, political or whatever -be made.

But for those acting as moral gendarme, what do we offer? We offer some vague reference to a higher moral order. We may discover actually the grounds on which we eternally condemn Isa Samad is nothing but just an extension of our private pieties and our own version of moral celibacy. Well intention (conforms to our self interest) but not necessarily good (meant for society) intention. But strangely, in that reservoir of private piety, there isn't room for forgiveness. The punishment given by UMNO D-Board did not mean anything as it does not conform to our OWN private morality standards.

How, can the leaders of our opposition justify not condemning miscreants in their own ranks? The case of Elizabeth Wong is an example- yes we are all appalled at the intrusion of her privacy. But this person is also a contributor to her own misfortune. How can the immorality of her private life exposed, be forgiveable and tolerable because she was a victim? Admitting in private that they are appalled by these activities, while keeping silent in public, makes them complicit in all the excesses. They have a moral responsibility, to come out in the open and say these actions are wrong.

Why do you think the opposition and its supporters and their moral carabinieri restrain themselves? Because to unrestraint themselves would remove the cloak that protects their high moral ground from criticism, and this would make their own positions vulnerable.

So we the moral policemen and gendarmes confer on ourselves the audacity of religious-like built-in immunity from criticism and serious investigation of the grounds of judging Isa Samad. We guard our own private values jealously from open discussion. That's an immunity eerily borrowed from an encompassing immunity encapsulated in the mystical apophatic tradition that nothing can be known about God. In our case, the moral policemen are saying- your lot is to obey our moral precepts, not to question them. Don't question. That's dreadful!

We have to accept them because WE SAY SO without having to justify the grounds on which our judgments are made. How then are we to take the moral basis of judging Isa Samad seriously when we are prevented on knowing the grounds on which you condemn Isa?


The immorality of the moral high ground


The debates surrounding the candidacy of Isa Samad or who UMNO chooses to stand in Bagan Pinang has convinced me of one thing. That, basically Malaysia is a religious society. Private piety is making its presence felt. We want to impose our private value system on social issues- religion, education and of course politics. The obviously glaring example is the assumption of the moral high ground when evaluating Isa Samad. The gapping funny thing is the land on which the moral high ground stands is claimed and taken possession by moral rightwings.

What about TDM? - challenged the moral gatekeepers. Tun Mahathir is beyond classification- he goes to wherever no one has gone before and no one is going to stop him. He is bigger that SS Enterprise. I suppose such privilege is gotten when one is a former PM with 22 years of stewardship. He is in actual fact, a Minister Mentor sans title. He gives his opinion unsolicited and as he pleases. The current PM listens in embarrassing filial piety. Let us just say, his opinions are taken in studied deference and therefore, noted as an important footnote. His scolding is that of a stern father who wishes only good for the son.

Not so, with the people across the divide. To them, this decision by UMNO to field Isa is symptomatic of a morality depraved political being whose salvation lies only in total rejection. That kind of protestations takes us on a different level and shall not be left unchallenged. But those who come with morality admonitions must themselves be pristine and pure too.

We shall return to answer them later. First, let's turn to UMNO.

There has never been any instant in Malaysian political history, has the candidacy of someone for a mere DUN election attracted so disproportionate an attention. That only serves to show how politicized Malaysian society is. Or it shows that in this particular instance the choice of the candidate has so many ramifications. For the PR people, they will take position on the much overrated political contraption known as the moral high ground.

For UMNO, it shows that they have decided to miss a step on its journey towards long term interest and adopt an immediate interest. It realizes it must have a win. Now that Isa Samad has been chosen, UMNO must get its act together. It must act as a unified party. Otherwise all its pontifications about unity are but hollow verbiage.

What it must do now, is to subvert all internal dissension. Quarrels within the family shouldn't be made public. If domestic quarrels are made public by those opposing us, that action can be turned against them. Only the morally depraved will scavenge on the spoils of internal fighting of OTHERS. If our opposition does that, then all their missionary-like zeal preaching on morality is duplicitous. We can expose the immorality of these moral high grounders.

Ignore them. Lest concentrate on UMNO. Let's do the right thing. That is morality. That's the only morality in politics.

Like many others in UMNO (sadly a small number) I too am not overjoyed over this choice. But in the interest of UMNO let us do the right thing and that is to subvert our personal frustrations. Let us not wash dirty linen in public. In that respect, I find the public behavior of Israeli politicians quite instructive.

Sometime in 1981/1982 Shimon Peres was embroiled in a bitter political conflict with Yitzhak Rabin I think. In that year he came over to the UK for a visit or something. I was a student in the UK then. At the airport, an eager British journalist asked him- Mr. Peres, you have been quarrelling with Mr. Rabin on a number of political issues- would you care to give your thoughts on that? Peres in his heavy Polish accent answered- we Israelis may quarrel vehemently with each other, but all of us observed an unspoken rule of never to allow our internal quarrels be made public. It has been many years, but this is one portion of the interview that never left me.

UMNO people must observe the same unspoken rule. Internal quarrels must never be made public lest they be food for the morality scavengers. The common enemy is the PR people. This is no time for UMNO people to finish old scores. Hence all the talks about kito mandikan Isa are ventilated internal bitterness and intrigues. These must be banished completely.

For UMNO, do not think this by election is a shoo-in. you take things for granted; you do so at your own peril. The PR machinery is working super efficiently- with ceramahs every night and attended by swelling crowds. Do not discount the attendance at these rallies. We can always trivialize crowd attendance at opposition rallies as a natural proclivity of Malaysians to lap up to juicy stories about scandals and listening to personal tirades. Mat Sabu is always entertaining with his public excoriations. But that's about it. People forget that Mat Sabu is merely exploiting his coign of vantage as a self appointed moral police and an irritable busy body. It's good to remember Mat Sabu was also vocal in his very public fraying of Anwar Ibrahim once upon a time.

The danger is when UMNO people rationalize by saying- ceramah yang hentam orang sana sini, memang orang suka!. Unless they counter every issue by equally vehement response, the lies repeated will be accepted as truths. The Mat Sabus of PR will be making big lies because they are diligent students of the Hitler doctrine on propaganda- -the broad mass of a nation…will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.

Take the case about postal voting. Its practice is not a recent phenomenon. But for Bagan Pinang it has been turned into a bitter issue on the internet. We have exposed the specious claims about ballot papers bearing serial numbers. If they thought these markings to be of questionable intent, they should have raised the alarm or forcefully reject them at that particular juncture. By making noises now, they are behaving in the Malay proverbial sense of ` the house is already completed; only now the chisels are making noise'. By their own inaction, they forfeit their rights by their conduct. In which case, they should forever hold their piece instead of piously protesting about ballot papers.

Now let's see whether the PR people especially those from PR are about to violate their moral high ground posturing when the PKR boss himself stated that they won't pick on Isa's tainted past.



Tuesday 29 September 2009

If it catches mice, does it matter what colour is the cat?

can it catch mice?

On Sunday I wrote this article. It's becoming clear that UMNO is finding it difficult to balance its long term and short term interests. It's between signaling the beginning of a transforming process in UMNO. It heralds the infusion of a value system that upholds elements such integrity, honesty and all that. The short term and immediate interest is wining this battle.

It's balancing the competing interests of a long drawn process vitally important to UMNO to regain the people's trust and the necessity of an immediate win.

Right now, winning the battle is more important. Let's say, UMNO increases its chances of losing by selecting other than Isa Samad. It loses this battle, but the wisdom of the detached crowd says, it can win the larger war. What larger war? The next war may be the culmination of all losing battles.

This is puzzling. How can it win the war when it loses continuously? It takes the victory in several battles to win the war. My own personal opinion is, UMNO must take care of its immediate interests first. It's the series of immediate interest settled and won, that will contribute to the winning of the whole war.

The selection of a pristine candidate that results in a loss will only entrench the de-moralizing effects. The troops need a battle to re- energize them. The generals must deliver a win in this battle.

Suppose UMNO increases its chances of winning by endorsing Isa. A win by Isa is not going to derail the fundamental direction which UMNO is taking right now, which is transforming itself. UMNO leaders should ask this question- can a loss here, an UMNO strong hold, be anything other than disastrous.

Your troops will abandon you. The leaders will be seen as capitulating in the face of mushy and softy ideals which are suitable of being crafted in a more sedate environment. At the battle front, decisive and robust action is needed. Suppose UMNO wins by fielding Isa which the opposition within and outside have been devouring in a feeding frenzy. What will that victory  do? It will put UMNO as a party in charge. How so? Because even after receiving all the worse and the low blows it can still win, it's on the mend.

What about Isa Samad? Disregard the colour of the cat. As long as it can catch mice, that's all that matters now.


Monday 28 September 2009

Pesan untuk Bagan Pinang


Saya menyusun jari nan sepuluh dan menundukkan kepala nan satu memohon semua orang Bagan Pinang memikirkan masa depan mereka. Memang benar UMNO banyak menyimpang dari asas perjuangan mereka. Tapi itu semua bukan berpunca dari kecacatan azali UMNO. Penyimpangan tersebut di lakukan oleh pimpinan yang korap, yang angkuh, yang bermutu rendah. Rakyat di Bagan Pinang khususnya nya orang Melayu mesti menghantar isyarat yang nyata bahawa UMNO yang mereka mahu ialah UMNO yang mesti berpulang kepada pangkal perjuangan. Dan anda semua menghantar isyarat tersebut bukan dengan mencederakan UMNO tapi memberi nya tiupan semangat. Inilah masa nya pertubuhan Melayu yang membela rakyat memerlukan pembelaan pula.

Cuba kita bayangkan. UMNO muncul pada tahun 1946 ketika orang Melayu mennghadapi ancaman yang amat berbahaya. Bererti UMNO itu adalah pelindung ketika bahaya. UMNO mungkin tidak constant- ia berubah. Kemurnian perjuangan di cabul, di rosakkan oleh jenis pimpinan yang korap, angkuh dan bodoh. Yang constant dan bersifat tetap ialah kehidupan ini berubah dan setiap perubahan mengandungi ancaman dan kebelan. Walaupun kita tidak dapat memastikan apa bahaya yang orang Melayu boleh hadapi, kelemahan dari sudut itu tidak boleh di jadikan alasan untuk menghumban keluar UMNO.


Bagan Pinang- why vote for PAS?

Why indeed. Because some PAS people want to scale the perimeter fence? Have they done anything more than UMNO as regards Islam? That's about it really. Talking about Islam in terms of intangibles. Spiritual cleansing, spiritual salvation and all that. Let's talk tangibles. Let's talk about their delivery. UMNO and BN can do that. Not perfect. But they can do that nevertheless.

By Tuesday, we will know who the UMNO candidate for Bagan Pinang is. Whoever UMNO chooses, it must win Bagan Pinang. Our opposition is making all the noise about the injustice associated with postal voting. Despite the personal narratives of people who claimed to have seen and have inside knowledge about the mechanics of postal voting, the fact remains, it shall remain that way. The voting done by military personnel is as transparent as it could be. If you don't accept it as it is now done- too bad. It's not going to be changed just because some PAS people are going to scale the parameter fence.

If there is cheating, it is an exception to the rule. One person may be late coming to the polling station, so it's closed. The papers are placed in the postal bags to be escorted to the counting station. There's no mystery over postal voting. The SPR has been on TV explaining the mechanics of postal voting. But if you have pre-judged the issue, there's nothing to explain anymore. In cases where postal bags or even boxes en route had gone missing, there was nothing to stop the contending parties from raising the matter up. Otherwise, the tales of missing boxes and bags are old wives tales. If you didn't raise hell then, you are estopped by your conduct from raising it ages after the fact. What you are asking us to do is to rectify and make good your shortcomings and diffidence the last time. You done anything to us?

Everything in the army is serialised ie personnel equipment duty roaster and what not. This is for easy accounting, control and check and balance. Take for example in the list of army voters, serial Ten is Ahmad. When Ahmad approaches the controlling officer, his name is checked, ticked and given the voting slip. He goes to the booth and put a cross on the slip without anyone knowing where he put the cross and finally into the postal bag. There is no serial number Ten on the voting slip to indicate that it belongs to Ahmad. It may have changed I do not know?? The controlling officer will check against his list who has not voted yet and will send out some soldiers to look for them/him. Thats is all that happens in the army voting.

There is indeed no serial number on the voting slip. It's the same as in civilian voting. We bring our ID and it's checked against the voting register which is numbered. The officer will take the ruler and draw a line across our names to indicate we are present and accounted for. We take the voting slip which isn't numbered and do our duty. No one knows who we vote.

So what is the real purpose of disputing postal votes? I have read the comments appearing on my articles regarding the postal voting. How do you explain when soldiers voted against the government? When our navy boys voted against the BN candidate of DUN Beserah recently, no one was punished precisely because it's impossible to say who voted for whom. In any case, the government respects each individual's voting preference. No one was punished when the flyboys voted against BN candidate of Paya Besar in 1999. In 2004 and also 2008, there were still protest votes and yet no one was hauled to be court martial or whatever.

The truth is the celebrated consciousness you speak of when sections of the military voted against BN fail to reach the tipping point beyond which the qualitative change you desire can take place. The numbers game equalises you- more soldiers feel they can identify with the BN. You only wish the same will occur on a widespread basis. It hasn't. Have you looked at the composition of our soldiers? How many are officers and how many are generals? The generals that came out lambasting the government are probably those who had some of their business proposals turned down. You know how officers from major upwards live? They have drivers, cars, batman who is his dogsbody. It's a pampered life. Who knows when they were in service, they acted like tyrants?

There were also totally unrelated comments saying that the soldiers were fighting with substandard equipments. I don't doubt that- but the generals have meetings every time with their superiors, why didn't they do anything about that? The real possibility is that some of your brother officers were the ones making deals to procure certain equipments from certain suppliers and because of the esprit de corps among fellow officers; you were willing to go along. That will make the soldiers even more rebellious and disregard whatever the generals say.

Some may even complain that soldiers earned low incomes. These complain are unsupported by facts. Things have improved vastly in the lives of our soldiers. They have good living quarters, facilities, schools, and all that. They have recreational facilities. These should be added to the income they received. Let's be rational. You can't expect a recruit to earn the same pay as a bank executive do you? By and large, the soldiers and their families who supported them to become soldiers feel grateful just to be taken out of listlessness and poverty. To most of them, it's a new beginning.

So soldiers, ignore the brickbats, vote according to your conscience.

The real purpose of disputing postal votes is to provide a deception and rationalise your own shortcomings. As I have said before, PAS Negeri Sembilan knows, it rode on the general wave of discontent during the 12th GE. It knows it has nothing intrinsic to offer.



Sunday 27 September 2009

A simple matter that is proving so extremely difficult


When Dr Mahathir offers to stand in Bagan Pinang, that ennobles him as the emperor of sarcasm. He is no longer insistent. He speaks as a de facto UMNO president. He goes over for Raya at Mat Hassan's Raya do and gave his statement on Isa. When Dr Mahathir goes all out and takes position, this is grounds for circumspection. Why is Dr Mahathir so insistent? What has he got against Isa Samad. Isa Samad was ousted by Pak Lah and I would have thought anything done by Pak Lah, Dr Mahathir will automatically reject offhand. Very strange indeed.

I have been told, last night there are 5 to 6 groups meeting in Telok Kemang. They were adamant to give their unanimous support to Isa Samad to stand as candidate. Muhamad Hassan wants to propose the ketua wanita. UMNO members want Isa Samad.

UMNO is battling itself. It is exorcising its own demons. Who shall UMNO decide on? The top leadership seems to favour some other than Isa. But the ground wants Isa. It looks like the leadership is on a collision course with its followers. It risks alienating its own people. These are the people who are going to do the grunt work.

This places UMNO in a quandary. Like Sherlock Holmes said – it seems, from what I gather, to be one of those simple cases which are so extremely difficult-
The Boscombe Valley Mystery. Indeed, what should have been a simple matter is proving so formidable for the UMNO leadership. Nothing in UMNO nowadays seem simple anymore. Your past comes to haunt you.

UMNO desperately needs to bag this Bagan Pinang thing to stop the momentum. UMNO is gravely imperiled if it loses this.

So we ask, what is it that UMNO want? Is it to win or to start a cleaning up process? Which should be given priority? The UMNO people want Isa, the leadership balks at this idea. The wisdom of the crowd says they don't want Isa. It is bad for UMNO because it needs to send a strong signal to the electorate that it's on the mend. UMNO has already begun the process of restructuring. It is throwing out the quota system and election by just 2500 delegates. That shall put a stop to money politics.

But its paradoxical I must say. UMNO says it wants to begin anew. Why start at the ADUN level? For that matter why start at Isa Samad's level? The fish rots at the head. If UMNO wants to reform or transform or whatever, it should start with the top leadership. Throw them out. That's credibility. That's principled.

Away from the inquisitive minds, this battle at Bagan Pinang is between Isa Samad and Mat Hassan. Mat Hassan's hold on NS UMNO is fragile and the prospects of a man with 22 years experience as the MB sitting in the Dewan across the current MB's bench, disturbs Mat Hassan. If anything were to happen to Mat Hassan, the man NS UMNO will look up to will be Isa. That is second coming for Isa.

In the end UMNO is looking for deliverance. 
Just flip the coin.


Saturday 26 September 2009

Dato Rahim Bakar dalam kenangan.

Dato Abdul Rahim bin Abu Bakar( 1943-2009)

Apakah satu satu nya ingatan yang kebanyakan dari kami, jenerasi immediately selepas Dato Rahim Bakar ada tentang beliau? Dalam tahun2 akhir 70an, saya baru hendak memasuki university Malaya. Rahim Bakar ketika itu sudah pun jadi menteri Besar Pahang. Memory yang terpahat dalam ingatan kami dan memberi impression kepada pelajar pelajar university ialah Rahim Bakar adalah jebat moden.

Beliau lah orang yang di katakan 'mendurhaka' kepada Sultan Pahang melalui keengganan beliau meluluskan kawasan balak tambahan kepada pihak Istana. Tapi ramai orang hanya menumpukan kepada aspek ini sahaja didalam menilai Rahim Bakar. Walhal, Dato Rahim Bakar lebih ketara dalam perwatakan nya sebagai seoang yang mempunyai no-nonsence dalam mentadbir negeri Pahang. Sebelum memasuki lapangan polituik, Rahim Bakar sudah pun mejadi pengurus besar PKNP ketika itu. Bakat pengurusan nya di 'lihat' oeh Hussein Onn yang menjadi PM. Hussein Onn sebagai mana yang kita tahu ialah seorang yang hidup dengan disiplin. Dalam Rahim Bakar, Hussein Onn melihat ujud suatu 'kindered spirit'. Rahim Bakar di lihat sebagai seorang yang mahu menjalankan kerja yang betul dan betul betul kerja.

Kehadiran Rahim Bakar dalam senario politik Pahang yang di ramaikan dengan tokoh tokoh yang melihat tugas wakil rakyat dan ahli politik sebagai suatu kerjaya yang hanya untuk mengisi masa dengan keraian dan suka ria, tentulah mengjengkilkan Rahim Bakar yang berperwatakan ' a man in a hurry'. Terlalu banyak perkara yang di lihatnya perlu di tukar. Working ethics sang wakil rakyat, cara negeri memantau pengurusan syarikat syarikat milik kerajaan dan yang terlebih penting, bagaimana kerajaan negeri menjalankan amanah mengurus harta benda milik rakyat.

Saya berpeluang berjumpa dengan Dato Rahim Bakar beberapa kali. Dato Rahim Bakar merupakan seorang sahabat karib kepada rakan saya, Wan Iqbal Wan Hamid. Wan Iqbal seperti saya, merupakan bekas ADUN dalam satu kawasan di Parlimen Pekan. Rahim Bakar banyak menhadhiri majlis majlis yang di adakan oleh Wan Iqbal sama ada bersifat rasmi atau secara informal seperti majlis makan makan di rumah Wan Iqbal. Rahim Bakar has no problem interacting with a younger and crtical generation.

Maka di rumah saudara Wan Iqbal inilah saya berkesempatan bertemu dengan Dato Rahim Bakar dan berpeluang mendengar dan menimbang 'kedalaman' fikiran Dato Rahim Bakar. Kali terakhir saya berjumpa dengan Rahim Bakar ialah kira kira 5-6 bulan yang lalu di rumah Wan Iqbal. Kebetulan waktu itu, hanya kami bertiga sahaja yang ada dan kami telah dapat bercakap secara terbuka dan candid.

Dato Rahim Bakar ada menyentuh mengenai pergeseran dengan pihak Istana. Cerita nya tidak lah seperti yang di gambarkan oleh pihak media. Diantara beliau dengan pihak Istana tidak ada pergeseran yang fundamental. Rahim Bakar terus dan secara konsisten, mendaulatkan institusi Istana. Dia hanya berbeza pendapat apabila kepentingan rakyat tidak sehaluan dengan kepentingan Istana. Dan apabila kepentingan rakyat bertembung dengan kepentingan Istana, kepentingan rakyat di dahulukan. Ertinya, Rahim Bakar melihat tugas primary nya ialah menjadi menteri besar kepada rakyat. Dia tidak berkonflik dengan pihak Istana- dia hanya tidak berkompromi diatas kepentingan rakyat.

Konflik yang terurai ke pengetahun umum dan di dramakan oleh pihak media, adalah suatu konflik yang di reka oleh petualang petualang politik. Rahim Bakar menerangkan bahawa kehendak pihak istana semua di selesaikan setakat yang di perbolehkan. Selebih yang di perbolehkan, Rahim Bakar bertegas dalam hal tersebut. Yang tak boleh, tetap tidak di bolehkan. Dan dia tidak buat keputusan sendiri. Kesemua di bincang dalam exco. Dan Rahim Bakar menerangkan dalam banyak kes, exco bersetuju dengan tindakan yang di ambil. Mistake Rahim Bakar ialah membuat andaian semua orang ikhlas seperti nya. Sebab ada dalam barisan exco dan ADUN2 ketika itu yang bermuka muka. Mereka lah yang berkejaran ke istana menambahkan cerita bahawa Rahim Bakar lah ketua pendurhaka.

Apa yang saya hendak nyatakan disini, ialah Rahim Bakar tidak berkonflik dengan istana. Aspek ini sengaja di gembar gemburkan oleh musuh poilitik nya. Apa yang dia ada, yang tersangat kurang pada diri kebanyakan pimpinan UMNO hari ini ialah tidak berkompromi diatas prinsip.

Ada dua perkara yang saya ingat daripada pertemuan saya dan rakan rakan lain dengan Rahim Bakar. Kali pertama saya berjumpa dengan Rahim Bakar ialah sebaik sahaja pilihanraya ke 12 berlansung. Kami telah bertemu di rumah Wan Iqbal untuk bertukar tukar pendapat mengenai masa depan UMNO.

Dalam pertemuan yang pertama ini, beberepa bakas ADUN yang di gugurkan hadir sama. Majlis kali pertama di hadiri 7-8 orang. Terdapat 2 atau 3 orang yang telah memutuskan untuk berkerat arang dan berpatah rotan dengan UMNO. Mereka telah memberi alasan mengapa UMNO yang menyepak mereka keluar, harus di tinggalkan.

Rahim Bakar yang merupakan bekas MB dan bekas Ahli MKT UMNO mendengar dengan penuh perasaan 'kebapaan' terhadap rintihan bekas bekas ADUN.

Pada penghujung perbincangan Rahim Bakar telah bertanya satu soalan. Sudahkah anda semua fikirkan mengenai alternative kepada UMNO?

Soalan tersebut disambut dengan beberapa jawapan yang tidak bersemangat dan kurang meyakinkan. Rahim Bakar meneruskan- with respect kepada perasaan yang menyerlah pada hari ini, kita semua kena fikirkan mengenai alternative kepada UMNO.

UMNO itu, landasan perjuangan nya apa? Jawapan nya ialah Melayu dan Islam. Ini prinsip asas UMNO. Melayu erti nya, UMNO itu tempat suaka tenteram orang Melayu. Itulah tempat bergantung harap orang Melayu ketika susah dan perlindungan kepada malapetaka. Bagaimana status sebagai tempat bergantung harap dan bentuk mana perlindungan di beri tertakluk kepada kualiti kepimpinan UMNO. Bahagian itu kita boleh berbeza pendapat tapi bahagian fundamentals dan asas kita tidak berkompromi. UMNO tidak boleh meningalkan dua perkara ini- iaitu peranan nya sebagai tempat bergantung orang Melayu dan pendukung agama Islam.

Saya faham saudara saudara semua tengah marah- tapi fikirkan hal ini. Boleh kah PKR memainkan peranan ini? Saya tidak fikir mereka boleh lakukan ini. Kepada saya, UMNO sudah pun nazak, kerana ia sudah tidak faham fundamentals perjuangan UMNO. Alternative yang paling serious saya lihat ialah PAS. Sama ada saudara boleh melanggani prinsip perjuangan PAS, saya tidak tahu.

Saya tidak menyokong atau suruh saudara saudara menyokong PAS. Tapi lihat secara rasional- jika UMNO gagal, alternative nya hanya satu- PAS. Saya tak cadang kita semua berbondong bondong masuk PAS- tapi think of the possibility of aligning with PAS.

Rahim Bakar telah berjaya mengutarakan satu persoalan yang membuat ramai antara kami melupakan tujuan kami bertemu pagi itu. Secara kebetulan, dalam pertemuan itu, seorang emissary dari PKR juga turut hadir. Kami telah memberi dia peluang untuk berkempen mengapa PKR pilihan lebih baik dari UMNO.


You tahu, Ariff, Musa Hitam once told me- penyakit UMNO ni ialah penyakit tua. Ubat nya ialah meremajakan UMNO.

Saya tak tahu macam mana Musa Hitam berfikir, tapi pada saya, penghujung sakit tua ialah mati. Ini yang saya tengok berlaku pada UMNO. Tengok saja kualiti pimpinan UMNO. Ada setengah nya( identity di lindungi) entah apa apa cakap nya? Saya sendiri pun pernah menyergah pemimpin ini- apa yang kau cakap ini? Berbelit belit lah- kalau aku tak faham, orang lain lagi tak faham.

Saya lihat masaalah UMNO sekarang ialah masaalah mutu kepimpinan. Tak de prinsip. Sebab itu negeri Pahang ni tergadai. You tengok, berapa bayak harta benda negeri ini yang tergadai. Saya pergi ke Rompin tempoh hari, saya lalu ikut jalan Kuantan-Segamat. Tiba tiba saya tengok ladang IOI. Aik, saya tanya dalam hati- bila pulak IOI ini ada kat Pahang? Saya rasa masa saya dulu, saya lulus tanah ini kepada LKPP. Saya tanya rakan saya dalam kerajaan- macam mana ni terjadi. Bukan kah taanah ni LKPP punya dulu? Oh- LKPP kena paksa jual ke satu pihak, pihak ini yang jual ke IOI.

You tengok pula Berjaya Resort di Tioman. Ini dulu LKPP juga yang punya. Apa pasal LKPP jual ke Berjaya. It's the same modus operandi , kata Dato Rahim Bakar.

What's wrong with UMNO sekarang? You ada so many fronts to lawan. Tekanan Islam, pressure dari jenerasi muda, dari UMNO warlords,. Dalam keadaan begini, you perlu ketegasan. Don't compromise.

Saya nak beritau you satu wisdom yang saya sendiri belajar dari Hussein Onn. You tahu, dia ini bekas askar. Penuh disiplin dan ada ilmu ketenteraan. Dia kata pada saya- Rahim, you remember this- you want to go into battle, don't open up so many fronts.

Itulah beberapa perkara yang saya dapat ingat dari perbualan saya dengan Dato Rahim Bakar. Setelah bersalaman dan berassalamualaikum, kami pun beredar dari rumah Wan Iqbal. Rahim Bakar drove off in his trusted old Benz with the number plate 55. Alfatihah- semoga Allah mencucuri Rahmat ke atas roh nya.


Friday 25 September 2009

Different kinds of Equality

Equality of opportunity or equality in results?

Here is a delightful debate of the two propositions. The debate involved 3 passionate individuals who believe in their cause. Although coming from different persuasions, they can still debate in a civil and respectful atmosphere. Judging from the tone of debates here in Malaysia's blogosphere, it's difficult for me to come to the same conclusions.


Thursday 24 September 2009

Bagan Pinang. Let us decide the UMNO candidate

The joke going around nowadays is how many letters of the alphabet do the people of Bagan Pinang know? The answer 6! What are they? They are I, S, A, N, J, B. combine any of those letters, you will get, the two recognizable names of ISA or Najib. Isa being the father and Najib being the son.

If the people in Bagan Pinang and especially the UMNO people know only these 6 letters, UMNO is imperiled. It will indeed show the world UMNO hasn't got a talent pool. Its poverty here is caused by mass desertion of talented people disillusioned by UMNO style politics. Your advance in this career is dependent on your status by being who you are. Progress isn't made to depend on what you are capable of doing. Hence the qualifications that matter in UMNO nowadays are who your father or grandfather is. Once those credentials are established, you are assumed to be a chip of the old block. In what turns out to be contumelious logic, you are assumed to inherit only the good genes minus the tainted ones. That's the kind of arrogance and insolence people come to view as the UMNO type.

If Isa Samad wants UMNO to win, he must come out with a declaration that he will support any candidate chosen by the party excluding himself. Yes! he must declare he doesn't want to be considered as candidate so that UMNO is spared from agony. Next he has to say let's give other UMNO division committee members a chance other than his son. For god's sake, Isa has been the MB for 22 years. Isn't that enough already? If you haven't accomplished most of the things you set out to do as MB in those 22 years, what kind of leader are you? Next spare UMNO the agony of treating BP as a personal company by having your son to contest. UMNO people will abandon you if UMNO does this.

UMNO must get out of this mental rut of believing leadership talent is hereditary. Yes I have said that in the worst case scenario, if UMNO rejects Isa, they could choose his son. But only if the son passes a more stringent set of tests. I am entitled to change my mind as I give more serious thoughts about this. I go back to my previous thinking on this subject. It's time for UMNO to break beyond choosing its leaders on the basis of who they are. Let's choose our leaders based on capability of doing.

How do you judge that? How are you going to identify some measures of a person's capabilities of doing something? I know that UMNO leadership has never subscribed to any process of talent spotting, but let's start one. You can't go on in life, expecting willy nilly, by some fortuitous event, some blokes will surface to take over the reins. You need to have a process of grooming and cultivating leadership talent. It is said that Lee Kuan Yew was jolted to look into this aspect of leadership after watching the nearly catastrophic incident on Apollo 13. If the astronauts hadn't the collected presence of mind and coolness, the mission would have failed and the astronauts would have perished. It stirred Lee Kuan Yew's interest to discover the principles by which these few men were selected over the millions and millions of people qualified to become astronauts. How did the Americans identify these few people?

You need besides a desire to be one, some other objective qualities. If you ask around, all the UMNO leaders in Bagan Pinang have the DESIRE to be an ADUN. So, how do you go about selecting among all who have the same desire?

I go back to the assessment principle practised by my old company Shell. You analyze people on the basis of HAIR qualities. Its practicality lies in the fact that it's reduced to assessing 4 qualities. That should be a boon for the UMNO leadership whose attention span is just a few milliseconds!

First there's the helicopter quality- the ability to see the bigger picture. It's the ability to soar above petty considerations and see things in perspective. The bigger picture with a high degree of immediacy is to ensure UMNO the party wins, not the individual. If Isa insists on standing or he forces the Party to choose him, which rules him out as having the helicopter quality. He has none if he could not see past himself or his personal interest. That rules out the son too as the bigger picture is not to continue the legacy of your father. The bigger picture is ensuring UMNO wins.

Next there is the analytical ability and this is basically inferred from the qualifications you have. If you are just FLCE, sorry we have to say you are inferior to a degree holder. There must be some objectivity in our assessment. I have nothing personal against FLCEs. It's just business.

Next, the candidate must have imagination or the creative quality. He can think of some creative ways to shore up loyalty of people to the leadership. By imagination we don't mean the pointless voyage of the mind but purposeful imagination. It's the ability to picture a number of possibilities at the same time.

Then, the candidate must have a sense of reality. This is the ability to match your desires with your capabilities. If you have limitations, you should be realistic enough not to dream the impossible. If you are an FLCE, please don't impose your desire on the party. Just be a class F contractor.

If this person has all these qualities, we can then project his potential. We can actually predict where he will be in 10 years time. If UMNO leaders don't think about these things, they are not thinking actually about UMNO's future. If they don't, we can only conclude, that UMNO has no future.

I have been inundated by calls from friends asking me who I thought will be UMNO's candidate. I don't know, I said. The usual method is to submit a list containing the names of all AJK BAHAGIAN and give them to the KETUA PERHUBUNGAN. Let's face it. Every UMNO dickhead wants to be an ADUN even though you have only an FLCE qualification. (Failed LCE) Next the KETUA PERHUBUNGAN will talk to director of operations and he in turn brings the matter up to the UMNO president. That's how a candidate is chosen.

UMNO needs somebody who is qualified and not tainted. Doing so, they don't have to answer questions relating to qualifications or some past indiscretions. They can concentrate in offering voters what UMNO wants to do with the state and country and their lives. How can UMNO make their lives better?

The latest I hear, UMNO is still sorting things out. The whole thing is in a mess. I too am fed up of the game these UMNO men play. So I decided to have a poll on who we think  should or shouldn't be UMNO's candidate for Bagan Pinang. The poll will run until the 28 because on the 29th September, UMNO will announce the candidate.

There are 3 choices. Isa samad, Najib Tan Sri Isa or anyone but Isa and Najib. Let's send a clear message.


Wednesday 23 September 2009

When Soldiers vote

My article on Bagan Pinang- vote for normalcy stirred up abnormal interests. There were some colorful though not flattering descriptions of sakmongkol. That's all right as I have said I have no problems with disagreeing in debates of this kind. As long as you do it in a civilized manner. Don't lah call people stupid or pokemon or what. I have been described in worse terms by UMNO members. I like to consider myself as one of the most strident critics of my party. Unfortunately I have this stubborn principle that once I hold on to a burning ember, I will do so till it becomes ash. I have all the 'right' reasons to disown UMNO if I wanted to - being abandoned after one term and having spent a good number of years of my life with UMNO with no perceptible benefits. But just like the Pakatan people, I too have my idealized version of UMNO.

Bagan Pinang. It seems to me, the bone of contention is the postal voting. There have been claims by someone who said he was a former army chap saying there are coercion and all that. As a result, military men are prevented from voting on their own freewill. I do not agree with his claim which unfortunately is not supported by facts. What is preventing this person and others who say they have proof and evidence even narrative ones, from saying them on the net? Say it out in the open so we can rebut if there are grounds too. We can then debate on their statements.

Of course, like anywhere else, the possibility of cheating is there. Everything is possible. Cheating also occurs when civilians vote. I tell you when cheating IS possible and this is probably just one of the many possibilities. The presiding officer calls the names of those who are about to vote. They are not present, so the officer retains the voting papers. Assume that there 300 absent. He has 300 voting papers. The officer can then 'vote' on behalf of these absentees or if he is a ruffian, can call the contending parties, whether they want to pay for the 300 votes.

But then, this is an exception to the rule. It may and does happen but the fault is with this particular person and the commentator who claimed there's cheating may be this person. That is why he appears to have personal knowledge.

Allow me to tell you this. Not all camp commanders are pro UMNO and BN. These people are intelligent people some are very qualified. Not all officers are pro UMNO and BN. And non officers- they campaign among each other. They do not live on a deserted island. They mix socially with civilians, read papers and even surf the internet. I am told by friends that many also read sakmongkol's web. While the majority like what they read, there are also some who get peeved by my extolling the AK47, the weapon of choice by communists and other rebels. They can form independent opinions on politics.

We have no guarantee that whatever is said by the camp commandant is followed by his troops- that is not a marching order. There is no guarantee that they will vote for UMNO. In 1999, the air force troops in the Air force camp in Kuantan didn't vote for UMNO. In 2008, the navy boys in Tanjung Gelang in Kuantan rejected the UMNO candidate. They are capable of forming independent opinions.

The register of voters is given by the SPR. The duty officer calls the army chaps and hand them ballot papers. Once they have the ballot papers, they go over the polling booth to vote and vote whomsoever they want. No one knows who they voted- not the commanding officer, the duty office ror whoever they are. Mind you, while this process takes place, the political parties have their representatives watching over the whole process like hawks. If they notice any peculiarities they will immediately take them up unless they sleep on their watch.

So by and large, the rule is, voting by the military is as transparent as voting by civilians.

As far as campaign is concerned, no parties are allowed into army camps to canvass for votes. No UMNO people, no PR people. The defense minister does not campaign there on a 24 hour basis and he doesn't have the capacity to watch over the troops at all hours. If PAS people want to cling on the perimeter fencing, please do but you will encounter the risk of tasting the bullets from the M16.

So how do you explain that generally, army chaps vote for the government? Can you explain this away simply by saying there is coercion? You think you can force our soldier boys with M16 in their hands and other explosive materials to vote for a particular person? I have been a wakil rakyat in an area with a large army camp. Each time I enter the camp, I do so with much trepidation because you enter an area with sentries bearing M16's and hours under the burning sun can alter the brain chemicals.

You simply can't explain the track record of pro government voting just by saying- ah there's coercion. Soldier boys don't vote as civilians do because the voting centers are in the camps. Let me also say, there are even stricter protocols to observe when soldier boys vote. They do so in a more orderly fashion free from the heckling of mamat UMNO and mamat PR.

There were also comments challenging me that if I have faith in our soldiers why don't you allow them to vote like civilians? Ok. How do civilians vote? If I remember when ever civilians voted for UMNO/BN, the PR people still insist they do so under force, coercion and all that stuff. This means that this allegation will surface irrespective of the place of voting. You will still say the same thing. Who says the army votes any differently from civilians? They do, except they do so in their voting centers which happen to be in camps.

Let me try to explain why in general the army boys vote for the government. It called simple reciprocity. Imagine this. You take in thousands of boys with elementary education, make them into recruits. Which means you offer them a second chance to become worthwhile individuals. You infuse them with skills and training, discipline; provide a rewarding passage through adulthood. Most get married and with army salaries take care of their immediate families and parents too. These are human beings. They are appreciative of the efforts made by the government of the day. They feel it is only right by reciprocating through supporting the government which has accorded them a second chance. It's called gratitude.

That's good culture. If people question their record and if people imply that because they voted for the government because they are forced to, then these people are teaching us to reject the virtue of saying thank you.

Thank you.


Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

One piece of news that caught my attention was a statement issued by Dato Shahrizat Abdul Jalil. She has been at the forefront expressing reservations about the caning of Kartika Sari Dewi Sukarno. Sari Dewi is the model (as she calls herself) who was caught drinking alcohol by the Pahang religious authorities. She was tried by the shariah court and ordered to be caned in accordance with the Islamic way.

At the 11th hour the God fearing religious authorities made a volte face, deferring the sentencing. Ok, the excuse was acceptable. It was the fasting month and in keeping with the holy month, no punishment of that kind can be carried out. Perhaps the judge or officers of the religious court can enlighten us by which 'nas' was the suspension of the sentence be made permissible? Is this the same with cessation of hostilities during the holy month of Ramadhan?

I have supported the caning by way of reasoning I wrote in several earlier essays. I was also hoping that such a sentence must be carried out consistently on everyone irrespective of social ranks. Now the shariah court in Wilayah Persekutuan will be given a chance to show everyone in Malaysia whether the application of the laws is done in a uniform manner. It will be interesting to see whether the application of this aspect of Islamic laws pertaining to drinking alcohol is the same in Wilayah as in Pahang.

There may be a case to test the universality of such laws. It is provided indirectly in the case involving the ongoing dispute between two royal households in Malaysia. It is reported that members of 2 royal households were involved in a terrible altercation. One was grievously hurt. He then went with 15 or more people to the hotel in which the other party was staying to seek retribution. The other party had, it is said, 4 minders with him. The 4 people were able to overpower the 15 or more people and inflicted on the latter punishment of their own. The 4 must be Kung Fu fighters.

Like many others, I want to know, how come 4 bodyguards can overwhelm 15 or more people from harming a person whom they were protecting? Unless of course the 15 or more hired hands from the Negeri royal house were too drunk to do anything of any significance. Wait a minute- did I say too drunk? Then whatever court conducts the hearing, it must establish the state of mind in which the 15 men were in. if they were drunk and proof can be adduced, then the highest religious court can only do one form of sentencing- have them caned in accordance to the Islamic way.

That's the issue of caning. It's now the other way. It isn't a case where the person convicted is afraid, it now appears that the Government is the one stalling.

Let us go back to the statement issued by Shahrizat. When Shahrizat said the SIS has right to seek a revision because it is looking at bigger picture, I am puzzled. The convicted says she accepts the caning as a form of penance. This is a private matter between kartika sari (the wrongdoer) and the shariah court. So, how could SIS who isn't a party in a purely private adjudication matter acquire locus standi to seek a revision and file for a stay of execution? I am puzzled as to how a 3rd party can butt in into a case not involving a wrong against the state? The government must now promulgate a retrospective legislation to first make drinking alcohol a crime against the state. If SIS succeeds, will this create a precedence that in future any public spirited individual or group can interfere in the judgments of shariah courts? Isn't there a procedure such as that found in civil law that requires for such person/groups to do that, he or they must apply for leave from the AG or some other judicial enforcers?

It seems to me, Kartika is placing the whole nation on tenterhooks. Kartika is facing the caning sentence but the actual pain is felt by the nation. If kartika had been assigned a lawyer when she was tried, maybe that lawyer could have argued against the sentencing by referring to religious principles.

Now on what basis does SIS want to intercede in this case? Will it adduce arguments based on civil law and try to overturn shariah law? If SIS is allowed to do that on this basis, it will place the government uncomfortably between the devil and the deep blue sea. If it countenances the approach proposed by SIS, it will be seen as rejecting Islamic tenets. If it rejects SIS's approach, Malaysia will be seen cavorting with Stone Age druids.

Pray tell, where and what is the bigger picture. Seems to me the one on trial here are the shariah courts. They are in a between the devil and the deep sea situation.


Tuesday 22 September 2009

The Future of UMNO-2

There's an interesting management book written by two authors which must be taken up as reading material in addition to the current UMNO vogue of mentioning Blue Ocean Strategy. Yes, we know lah, the PM reads BOS- but we get turn off when others trip over each other trying to see who mention the title more in the hope the PM notices them. There are many people around who make it a habit of quoting management books which are the rage of the times treating as though they contained some formula of biblical significance. Itulah- the last time your mothers told you to take up the harder subjects, you chose to membaca hikayat and all those books with fairy tales. Now as you grow into adults, you suddenly come across some literature totally alien to you and therefore you quickly adopt them as breakthroughs. To you that is.

Barry J. Nalebuff and Adam M. Brandenburger used the term co opetition as the title of a book on game theory. ( Co-opetition) The term implies that while you compete you must also cooperate. Two seemingly contradicting postulates but which are in reality two sides of a coin. For example, UMNO needs to cooperate with its competitors on common grounds- such as the war against corruption, advocacy of the rule of law, establishing the rules of the game to compete. We are all for those things. But UMNO people must have an open mind- UMNO's willingness to co-opetitate must not be seen as a weakened position. Remember our long term interest is to secure market leadership. Our competitors too need to embrace this new way of competing and cooperation at the same time. We can agree on certain principles and universal values. Otherwise, we ALL shall be seen as digging in our partisan foxholes. But never mind if they don't. We do well for ourselves.

This new paradigm is worth looking into. In the business game we can have several winners: 'The goal is to do well for yourself.' In the game of politics, the same idea should be adopted. We all can do well for ourselves. Very often politicians from both divides have the human tendency to try to 'blow them out of the water' when challenging other competitors. Sadly this tendency is present in the 2 biggest Malay parties- UMNO and PAS. When challenged in turn, the tendency is to denigrate the opposition and to engage in wishful thinking about its certain total failure: when that fails to materialise, the next step is to go to extremes in the attempt to assert the threatened superiority. PAS has been quick to label UMNO people as infidels( when its 'superiority as spokesman of Islam is threatened) while UMNO has been calling PAS as empty vessels making a lot of noises about Islam but hasn't implemented anything to that effect.

Think of wastage. Nobody has calculated the total cost UMNO lost in the effort to drive PAS from its position in Kelantan. Or the costs involved when trying to blow PAS out of the water and the cost to PAS as it attempts to inflict the same on UMNO. UMNO itself handed Kelantan into PAS's lap in the 70's when it decided to include PAS into the BN. UMNO became host to the political germ in the form of PAS. Both are offering similar products complementing each other.

UMNO could have spent resources better had it applied them to states like Penang , Perak and Selangor. Because these are offering competing products. The problem with UMNO is, it has this 'enemy' syndrome which encourages wasteful choking up of resources on its part which is confronted with reciprocal behaviour from PAS that in the end result in the weakening of the two political parties. Sadly this enemy syndrome is more pronounced in UMNO than in PAS. PAS has concentrated to do well for itself in Kelantan rather than expend resources in blowing UMNO out of the water. Not so with UMNO- they adopted maniacally xenophobic tactics when dealing with PAS. In doing so, they come perilously close to opposing Islam as PAS is closely associated to that cause. As the opposing side, I like it when PAS is represented by the bellicose voices of Messrs Tantowi and gang.

In reality, the two protagonists in the world of Malay politics have more similarities rather than differences. Both are Malay based, both Islamic and share the same cultural and historical heritage. I mean we can compete but not to the extent of each trying to do scorched earth tactics on each other. If you offer similar products and you compete mercilessly, it's a zero sum game. You can't get more without lessening what the other gets.

What about the blow them out of the water attitude? These reactions, are basically more emotional than rational. As Nalebuff and Brandenburger note, the 'win-lose' is the best strategy so long as you get the win. As the last 7 or 8 elections have shown, UMNO can't win like it usually did in the past. And in the 12th GE, UMNO lost 5(now 4) states and its 2/3 commanding majority. So, it has to abandon this notion, that it can annihilate the enemy. It's better for UMNO to focus on how to do well for itself.

Doing well for itself calls for UMNO to re-examine and transform its own structure. Build up on its organisational strength by ensuring good and capable leadership all around. Imbibe UMNO with better values. Don't compromise on quality and similar values. Adopt elements of the new nationalism- declare war on corruption and mediocrity. We know the Pakatan people haven't got superior quality people too. They are scrapping the bottom of the barrel which is abundantly clear when it is forced to accept renegades from ruling coalition partners. UMNO cannot bank its resurgence on the demerits of its opponents. It must rebound on its own native strengths and capabilities. Hence rather that applying resources in trying to blow out its opponents, better spend them on rebuilding UMNO.

Most times the 'win-win' is the most effective approach: 'You can compete without having to kill the opposition.' The choice has to be made by 'hard-headed thinking.'

So, the task for right minded Malaysians is to find hard headed thinkers. When UMNO wanted to establish common grounds to cooperate with PAS, I was sceptical about the idea if such a move only serves to act as deterrent to UMNO undertaking its own transformation. That is no longer my position if UMNO does what are needed in transforming its brand. UMNO therefore appears to have saner voices and hard headed thinkers than PAS. Old school PAS is restrained by the conservative thinking of people like Nik Aziz and Husam Musa and their supporters who are hardened in their thinking that UMNO is the enemy.

An understanding of the idea argued by Nalebuff and Brandenburger is instructive. Their advice argues that the strategic/tactical stance is decisive.

For example, in many markets, it's a positive gain when new competition arrives. If you're running the only antique shop for miles around, far fewer people will call than if half-a-dozen others cluster round you. The more companies supply connection to the Internet, and the more sites that are established on the World Wide Web, the more users will pile in - to the advantage of everybody. You have to be both Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde, because...

• There's a bias towards seeing every new player as a threat
• But many players complement you as well as compete with you
• Look for complementary opportunities as well as competitive threats

How do hard-headed and clever planners react to this kind of scenario? Most probably, the hard-headed politicians will react to this seemingly gentlemanly theory by pointing to the innumerable cases where those thuggish competitors have attacked by undermining successful initiatives with me-toos. They retaliate in kind, believing they are likely to win. Take an example. Islam Hadhari. It was implemented probably to undermine what PAS has been doing believing that with its resources, UMNO can cut off PAS at its base. I think, in the classic Hollywood terminology, this is one Islamic show that bombed badly. No one talks about Islam Hadhari nowadays and the former Brig- Gen who now sits as minister in the PM's office is left with the responsibility of how best to salvage the idea. At one time, he was also a vocal purveyor of the idea. Let's see whether he can adopt the co-opetition strategy.

If he is a hard-headed and clever planner (not just hard-headed behind that steely persona), he copes with this by building defences against aggression and/or imitation into that hard-headed and clever thinking. As Nalebuff and Brandenburger explained:

1. When N&B say build the strongest possible customer franchise, with the highest possible customer satisfaction translates politically into franchising all the suraus and masjids in this country with the same module and start selling it to the public. . All the imams and even the chairman of the management committee must be instructed with the same modules so that they speak consistently and with the same voice. They must be turned into knowledgeable workers. Nothing is more depressing, when imams don't seem to know what they are talking and even worse by saying they admit they don't know anything about this new product. Your own people kill your product. This kind of honesty doesn't come from the purest of intentions but results from stupidity- you simply haven't learn the new skill sets.

2. Support the franchise by investing heavily in the brand translates into saying you concentrate resources at the frontlines not in the backrooms. The ones needing resources and help are those in the frontlines dealing with customers on a day to day basis.

3. Raise volume to take advantage of the learning curve - which reduces costs as output increases. This will entail doing the maximum number of programmes on a continuing basis. Remember, victory over an idea must be won over and over again.

4. Aggressively protect your market share/volume to prevent others from winning the above economies of scale. This translates into leaving no room for your competitors to duplicate the steps you have taken because you have offered the public better services and products which are consistently supplied.

Co-opetition requires different skills and mind-sets. The excellent strategist seeks to gain market share, not through having the lowest costs in the business, but through using that position as a means to an end - the object being industry leadership. That's where co-opetition comes. Take the example of trying to outdo PAS in Islam. UMNO came out with its Islam Hadhari image. It flooded the market with this brand hoping to undercut the Islam PAS is offering. PAS retaliated by offering its Islam through the usual and more cost effective method- that of 'selling' their products and services through the ubiquitous suraus and mosques. UMNO wanted to do it with much fanfare and festivity. At the end of 5 years, our understanding of Islam Hadhari is probably not much better than our understanding about it when Islam Hadhari the brand was first announced

Think of co-opetition in the more familiar comparison between tactics and strategies. Tactics are short term which appear to contradict with strategy, which is long term. The tactics which you take need not oppose strategic interests but complement them. That's why divorcing strategy from tactics is impossible. UMNO's strategy was to resume fast growth by expanding strongly into re-branding Islam. The tactical drive was to inundate the market with its Hadhari brand in such manner which PAS wouldn't seek to match. PAS stayed clear using this method. The result for UMNO was profitless growth. We still don't understand what Hadhari is while our understanding of Islam remains unaffected by Hadhari. The strategy of gaining leadership in the cause of Islam would have been obtained more cost effectively by carrying out complementary tactics – by offering better preaching methods and better preachers. Surau and mosque goers want knowledge deepening services and not just book-cover understanding. Surau and mosque goers want less fire and brimstone-free proselytising and more spiritual soothing calls to religion. The idea is to manage the powerful combinations of strategy and tactics or using the novel management term, stratics and tactegy.


Monday 21 September 2009

Bagan Pinang- vote for normalcy

All UMNO needs now is to hand PR its first defeat. It will break them. It seems to me, the PR people are bringing up 1001 excuses to rationalize their coming defeat. Why should it bother them who UMNO chooses as candidate in this Bagan Pinang election? The PR people will still have to contend with the BN machinery. So why the noise about insisting the postal voters be given a fair 'space' to vote?

Because the PR people know that they have won and can win only in a chaotic environment. When UMNO was facing their own internal upheavals, the PR won up to 82 seats. Otherwise how would anyone explain the election of a joker like Gwo Burne whose only fame was because he recorded the conversation of a lawyer? Similarly there were many others who, under normal circumstances, don't stand a rat's ass of a chance to get elected, won. PKR for that matter may have been surprised themselves by the outcome of the general elections. They won simply because the political climate was abnormal. They won because UMNO weakens itself with so many ills and not because PR or PKR offered the public any substantive agenda. Any agenda they have, they make them up as they go along.

But once things get back to normalcy, PKR starts to get panicky. This is what the situation in Bagan Pinang represents. Things are getting back to normalcy. Postal voters represent a more stable political state of affairs. Soldiers and police don't get politicized 24/7- they are free from politics allowing them to pursue a normal life. This is the thing that is actually worrying Pakatan- the existence of a large pool of postal voters introduces a new element in the political situation- order as opposed to chaos. PR wins in chaotic conditions; it will lose when things get back to normal.

But there is one important proviso. I hoped that UMNO is conscious of the messages it got after being licked 8 times. If UMNO people go on behaving they are God's gift to Malaysia and relapse to its old debilitating habits, then Bagan Pinang can also prove to be its harbinger of death.

What do the PR people do? So, PR agitates for a change in the rules of the game. It must simulate uneasiness and unrest. Dig up something. That something is postal voting. It must be made out as something evil devised by UMNO.

Postal voting isn't a peculiar practice in Malaysia nor is it unique for Bagan Pinang. That's immaterial- it must be made out as something sinister. It disembowels public opinion, turn them against the government of the day, making out postal voting as something manufactured by the ruling government to disenfranchise the people. There must be something underhanded if soldiers vote for the ruling government. The truth is, if more military voters voted for the government- they are voting what they see as someone who is bringing back normalcy. The public can't tolerate an incessant stream of by elections preventing them from leading a normal life.

Suppose the normalcy that is found within the postal voting community affects also the mood of non postal voters- the ordinary general voting public. It will become a re-learning curve for the public; that they must recapture their normal way of life by voting in a government that proposes to bring order and structure. Bagan Pinang will be a start.

This coming win by BN in Bagan Pinang will expose the PR as a party which thrives only under abnormal conditions and that their extensive win at the 12th General Elections was just an aberration. This coming by elections, the Bagan Pinang folks are voting for normalcy. That's why they are voting BN.

There are 14,000 voters in Bagan Pinang. During the last outing the late BN candidate took a 2000 vote majority. In the 2008 elections the BN candidate got 6430 votes against PAS who obtained 4097. He had a majority of 2333.

Pas improved its performance from 1556 to 4097 votes. That's an increase of 2.6 times. For 4 years, between 2004-2008, they managed to convince another 2 for every one fellow they had, to subscribe to PAS's cause. UMNO managed to improve from 5967 to 6430. That's an increase by 1.08 times. Meaning they have succeeded to get another 1 person to the existing one to convert to UMNO. PAS therefore assumes that this surge in support is indicator of their acceptance. It forgets that UMNO did too, though by a smaller margin. People still believed in UMNO.

It would however be a mistake to infer from the PAS figures, that more people subscribed to their cause because they BELIEVED in PAS's intrinsic agenda. PAS knows it has done nothing other than being a fortunate beneficiary of UMNO's own implosion. Hence, PAS's improved showing from 1500 votes to 4000 votes was at best a qualified performance. It wasn't obtained through PAS's intrinsic accomplishments- they have done nothing there. They were just there at the right time and the right place.

PAS knows this but they want to convince their partners they can convert more people to their cause. They think they can convert another 2.6 times the previous votes they got. They want to get another 4000 votes and those votes they can get only from the army votes. They seem to be cocksure they can secure these votes and they are clamoring for many things regarding the postal votes. PAS is banking on winning if it can get the army guys to vote like civilians.

I believe UMNO will sort out its candidate. I am certain it will not be Isa Samad and that will neutralize the sting from the opposition. If any other candidate than Isa is chosen, more so if Najib Isa is, the Pakatan people will not be able to overexploit the issue. The Keadilan and DAP practices the same style of dynastic politics that UMNO stands accused.

How does that affect PAS? As one commentator said in my blog, he is feeling lucky that his party (PAS) doesn't practice this kind of dynastic politics. It affects PAS because PAS is associated with the group that practices them. PAS faces the same affliction they accuse UMNO of- that by being an integral part of a larger group, it falls prey to the old Malay adage- 'one buffalo covered with mud, will also cause others to get strewn with mud'.

PAS shouldn't be swell-headed into thinking they improved in Bagan Pinang in the last election as a result of their own efforts. They benefited from (1) the general disapproval of the rakyat of the government (2) because they also benefited by being part of the PR team. On its own, PAS has nothing to offer other that the usual ammunition of religious sanctions. These things don't bring food to the table. Pragmatic practical ideas and temporal ideas do. Normalcy does.

Soldiers who vote are not mere putty you know, malleable and easily shaped into submission. Despite being under the 'regime' of postal voting where many voted for the government, many too voted against the government. Therefore you can't say, that because postal votes are handled the way they have always been, the votes are sure to go to the BN. The BN foot soldiers are facing the same barriers as the opposition does. They can't go into army camps to campaign. How much can one defense minister accomplish?

This postal voting issue is just an excuse offered ahead by PAS to blame UMNO for its loss.


Friday 18 September 2009

Why UMNO can’t choose Isa Samad for Bagan Pinang.

It's not healthy for UMNO's long term interests.

UMNO will announce its candidate for Bagan Pinang after Hari Raya. UMNO appears to be more circumspect this time around in choosing its candidate. The debacle in the choice of its candidate in the Permatang Pasir election is causing red-faced embarrassment. An immediate effect is a lessening of noises and big talk from UMNO leaders.

I have written 3 articles about the coming Bagan Pinang by elections. In the first 2 articles, I have differentiated between UMNO's short term and immediate interests with its longer term agenda. In these two articles, I mentioned that if UMNO's single obsession is winning, then Isa Samad may be the chosen candidate. If Isa is chosen, something's got to give.

In a 3rd article, I said perhaps I have used the first 2 articles to test the waters. The general impression is the general public presses for new values that UMNO must adjust itself to. The mood which underlined voter's preferences during the 12th GE hasn't subsided and indeed it seems to have fortified into a hardened resolve. The public has punished UMNO for the endemic corruption that has permeated the corridors of power, rejected the abuse of power and looked with disdain at UMNO's overall arrogance, exemplified by the behavior of its leadership across all levels. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, the much respected UMNO leader has also given his thoughts on this matter.

In my 3rd article I wrote in the interest of its long term interests UMNO must adopt elements of the new nationalism- intense love for this country that results in an equally passionate rejection of things like corruption, bad governance, arrogance, abuse of power and advocacy for the rule of law, justice integrity, credibility and all that. It's imperative for UMNO to unreservedly adopt these elements of the new nationalism to ensure its relevance with the changing environment.

Because the long term interests are what UMNO looks out for, it must reflect this belief in a basic mater like in choosing the candidate for Bagan Pinang. It's true that UMNO stands a very good chance of winning if Isa Samad is chose. We have already said what his strengths were. But the one taint that comes along is not compatible with UMNO's resolve to adopt new values. Integrity and credibility being two of them, would therefore exclude Isa Samad from contention.

In my 3rd article therefore I have stated the possibility that Isa may have to give way to his son to stand as candidate. The son will still benefit from the clout and influence Isa has. He will get the father's support as well as support from his father's followers. His candidacy will also minimize potential sabotage from UMNO people.

He has to prepare himself from charges of being chosen on account of his father. He will have to confront the issue of dynastic style politics- from grandfather to father to son. But as our past experience in this aspect has shown- being the offspring of a previous leader hasn't disqualified many from being chosen and risen through the ranks. The PM, the Home Minister, the deputy trade minister, and many others are all sons of past leaders and that haven't barred them from coming on their own. The opposition party too is replete with examples of politicians being children of political leaders- Anwar Ibrahim, Karpal Singh, Lim Kit Siang all have children entering politics.

Because of these reasons, UMNO will find that it is in their best and long term interests to have a candidate other than Isa Samad but who is capable of leveraging on Isa's credentials. I have said who he might be in the 3rd article.



Lady Yoda- the leader

momo- the intellectual cat

Eva-the Himalayan

Lady Yoda, Momo and Eva

Mamasita has published her Raya greetings. When it comes to writing with feelings of TLC, I am a novice compared to her. So I am thinking of wishing Hari Raya with something different. Last Hari Raya, I did it with a posting of P Ramlee's everlasting Takbir Raya.

Recently, we welcome a new addition to our team of cats. She is a female cat belonging to the Himalayan Persian breed. At first, as is normal behavior, she had to stay confined in a cage so that the two other seniors can get to know her. It was also to allow her to de-stress being in a new environment and all that.

We manage to get all the 3 cats getting on well with each other. So I am taking this opportunity on behalf of Mamasita and members of our family, Jannah, Hakim, Fateen, Seth, Hannan, Harris and Banun to wish everyone, readers of this blog irrespective of political leanings and beliefs, a Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir dan Batin. Have a good Eid ul Fitr and take care.

Here's wishing SELAMAT HARI RAYA through our feline members of the family to friends we have since got to know closer:- Kak Teh and Awang Goneng, Rashid Yusuf, One Breast bouncing and hubby, kayleeda, TM and handsome hubby, Elviza, Mat Chendana, Pak Zawi, Aspan Alias, Voice, putrikama and Pak Abu, Anak Si Hamid and Ian, NanaDj, Dato Jaflam, Rocky, Nuraina Samad, Wenger J Khairi, Nightcaller. Mat Yaakob, and other classmates. To our non Muslim friends Zorro, Walla, De Minimis- have an enjoyable Hari Raya too. The list defies memory and so I apologize in advance for failing to mention names of equally dear and valued friends.

Read Mamasita's greetings here.


Thursday 17 September 2009

The Future for UMNO-1

The UMNO leadership must first establish what kind of future they want? Is the kind of future clearly articulated down the line? The field marshal may devise fantastic plans, but if the field commanders don't understand the vision, the whole vision crumbles. Field commanders don't understand what you want and even worse, they don't have the resources and capabilities to accomplish their mission.

The long term objective is to evolve UMNO into an enduring organisation serving as the backbone of an enduring government of the day. In simple terms, what must it do to stay in power? What it must do is to execute a series of tactics that support the long term objective. Empowering ketua cawangans, ketua bahagans, forming them into effective teams is surely tactical. So is re-engineering: or doing it right first time which is ultimately a function of quality people, or creating partnerships with people looking in from outside, or altering the voter offer on discovering that the customers or voters want changes in the goods( quality of people serving them) services( capabilities) they have been receiving. Accordingly, the series of tactical moves carried out must be consistent with the principal of 'what' of objectives going hand-in-hand with the 'how' of execution. That to me, simply means, the ends justify the dedication, meanness and intensity. You have objectives (which are vital) that depend on masterly execution. To execute you must have capable field commanders and resources. Kalau tidak you mati.

Actually it's worrying. Take the concept of 1 Malaysia. Generally speaking, many people don't know what it is. Past leaders such as Tun Mahathir and even Tun Daim have doubts about its true meaning. Tun Daim for example is particularly pointed asking UMNO leaders- what is it that you want?

The people around the PM like to go around saying, they are toiling day in and day out, trying to establish methods to capture loyalty to the concept. They spend hours cracking heads and brainstorming. They are baffled as to why the reception to the idea is lukewarm and distant. Certainly they have amassed a lot of knowledge and gained insights. They must, unless they are retards. But it is also shocking to hear some of the people around the PM saying, because 'we' have been cracking our heads and are not able to find the answers, what can others not in our circle accomplish?

The same mental block identified with the 4th Floor boys of the previous administration is still alive and kicking. Perhaps it comes along with the illusion of grandeur. As long as the people around the PM have this attitude of 'what's best is ONLY thought out on here'- concept loyalty can never be achieved. For one simple reason-you have exposed your basic distrust in common intelligence. Also, because you fail to understand, that the 'what of objectives' must be supported by the how of execution. You can't achieve that by intellectual inbreeding on the 4th or 5th Floors of the PM's office.

The more crucial question is in order to achieve whatever objectives you have set under the 1 Malaysia idea, UMNO must first survive and endure. The immediate step then is to ensure UMNO remains an enduring organisation. The PM should be reading-Built to Last instead of Blue Ocean Strategy. Or at the very least, people around him must do so.

Adaptation is the key word here. Failure to adapt, you suffer the fate of dinosaurs. Whether UMNO likes it not, it too is subject to the principle of natural selection. That the creature which survives is the one which adapts quickly to the changing external environment by having traits which allow it to do so. UMNO must imbibe itself with traits heritable within an enduring organisation that allow the organisation (UMNO) to survive.

UMNO is full of valiant people. Some of them highly spirited. During the UMNO Assembles some may wave krises in the air. Some gave stirring incendiary speeches- all aimed at inflaming others. The language of Old UMNO is usually couched in militaristic tones in keeping with its valiant spirit. Under the new environment, the militaristic conditioning of the UMNO mind might no longer be relevant.

Consider this. What are the parameters of the changed environment? You have UMNO members who themselves are sceptics, you have the customers who are getting critical and choosy about the products and service quality they get from UMNO, you have demolished walls allowing free flow of ideas and information. Now, if UMNO cocoons itself stubbornly to old ways of carrying out its business, it will go under.

The old UMNO way at looking at others as 'the enemy' and therefore what UMNO needs is to devise ways to annihilate the 'enemy' may no longer suitable in this age. With this development and trend, those UMNO warlords who failed to adapt and insist on clinging to the past will perish and with them, UMNO too. Hence, clear articulation of the kind of future the UMNO leadership wants must go down the line. That's needed to allow those best able to acquire the traits to adapt emerge and ensure UMNO's longevity.

In terms of military language for example, there's no point in generals plotting to outmanoeuvre the enemy unless they're sure that they have the necessary resources and that field commanders have the capacity to deploy those forces to the required purposes. The military analogy is apposite in this instance - but as we have averred, is it really appropriate to think of the competition as the 'enemy'? The results can be highly counter-productive. The new way is, you have to compete and cooperate at the same time.


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