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Sakmongkol ak 47

Sunday 24 January 2010

Burn, baby, burn- and I am not talking about the Black Panther hot sauce

There is a world of perception and a world of reality. There is also another realm, a domain of willed fiction that is impervious to reality and treats facts like enemies. Example: UMNO is very strong or has regained its lustre, or has attracted the support of second and 3rd generations, are some of the manufactured fictions. It's the imaginarium of Dr Rais or whoever with PhDs out there.

UMNO is strong to certain UMNO people. It's strong to people who have benefited directly from an UMNO doing business as usual. These are people who continue to spend money like nobody's business while the government hasn't got sufficient funds to feed students in boarding schools on weekends. UMNO is strong to those proposing to build two tallest buildings in Kuala Lumpur.

When PM Najib took over, my sense is that what motivated very many Najib enthusiasts was loathing of Abdullah Badawi and the desire to oust him and place someone cool in his place. Najib is cool but he is surrounded by political buffoons.

We accomplished this. We pressured Abdullah Badawi to leave before he does more damage to UMNO and the nation. But we never gave much thought to the public policies PM Najib and the UMNO leaders backed. We got our Obama in to replace that George Bush but now we are realising that Obama is just like Bush in many ways.

Theirs was a politics of style, not substance. They got the style and maybe most of us like that, but we don't much like the substance. And we don't like "the stench of crony capitalism, bailout favouritism and earmark corruption" which is increasingly creeping into PM Najib's record. Think I am imagining? - wait till RMK10 comes out; the mega projects are already reserved.

It is the Delusion Zone and, judging by the results of a recent Merdeka Survey Centre earlier this year, large majorities of Malaysians especially Malays have been trapped there since PM Najib took up residence in the Sri Perdana.

The judgments of a sampling of 400 UMNO members can't be wrong, can they? Yes, they can. Najibmania appears to destroy brain cells and disable both short- and long-term memory.

Hmm, let's see.

UMNO thinks it's on the mend. You transport busloads of ululating party faithfuls to Hulu Selangor. That's already an accomplishment, you console yourself. Nowadays, people just refuse to listen to UMNO operatives. They humour and indulge them. Show the PM tens of thousands are in attendance. You conclude that UMNO support is great.

You delude yourselves. The UMNO of today has a different kind of politics. It's the politics of style rather than substance.

Ah yes, the substance. What's binding them up? What bounded the early generations of UMNOans? It was the spirit of voluntarism and sacrifice. Aunties and uncles pawned their precious belongings to put into party funds. Leaders mortgaged their houses to keep party finances alive. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah spending millions of his own money to keep the spirit alive. That's the essential element missing- sacrifice and a sense of realism.

The best took up the mantle. People refused positions fully aware of the onerous responsibilities. It was a question of fitting into the clothes. Most knew their place. People wanted substance.

It is different nowadays. The party is filled with ne'er do wells, the riff-raffs, the pompous windbags. People who are always on the lookout to leverage party positions for personal gains. People with style overwhelm the Party. But they didn't bring substance along.

Have we looked at the elements that are worth developing, defending and reinforcing to ensure the things that bind party UMNO solidarity remain there? Attendance is not a reassuring element to infer UMNO's solidity.

Start with quality leadership first. At the branch levels. Since they are going to elect the leadership at national levels. Get rid of the riff-raffs, the village bullies, the ne'er do wells.

How do you do that? Dismantle the power structure. There has been much hoo hah about the election reforms that UMNO is undertaking. A closer look will reveal that these changes are but wine in new bottles. The various preconditions put in place ensure those currently in power have advantage over those seeking out to make changes. The previous quota system was designed to do the same. The present rule of 3 is doing exactly the same.

The top leadership must show it's serious in wanting to transform the entire UMNO body politic. Why the rule of 3 then?

One needs to be member of a branch for 3 years to offer one's leadership to the branch? One needs to be a division committee member for 3 years to offer one's candidacy for higher position at divisional levels? And one has to be an MKT member for3 years to offer oneself for higher posts? Fresh blood with new ideas and new work ethics have to wait for 3 years to offer leadership choices?

The usual retort is you can serve the party in any capacity. Try doing that without position and prestige and therefore authority. Nobody will listen to the PM talk about Malaysia if he were to talk without the position, prestige and authority of the premiership. You lead with capacity of application. You apply when you have position, prestige and authority. So, don't patronise people by saying you serve in any capacity. You serve better in leadership capacity.

The problem is this. If you have been that long in the old hierarchy, it means you are set in the ways of the old school. Would it be reasonable to imagine that a person steeped in the old ways wants to transform the party? The idea of transforming is revolutionary itself and is assuredly at variance with a person type casted in the old mould.

Nazri Aziz says something off tangent with what the DPM says over this Allah issue. In effect, there are squabbling in public over the issue. Nazri is pre-empting the appeal court decision on the Allah issue. Muhyiddin is straining to do damage control.

Don't insult our intelligence by saying; the differences aired out in public are symptomatic of the democracy UMNO practices. That's a lot of bull. It's emblematic of the fissures in UMNO leadership.

We want you UMNO leaders to know, that this is exactly the type of frustrating political behavior that sickens people. It's childish, and it alienates votes by making the party look disunited and spineless.

We know the reasons why. Perhaps you have been up there too long. You people are too set in your ways to be creative and bold enough. People can pre-read your next moves and people adjust by being indifferent. Once indifference takes hold in the public mind, what can UMNO do?

Who is the most crucial UMNO operative? He is the ketua cawangan or the branch head. Though he is the most important, his importance elevated more when UMNO implements its 'direct elections' of UMNO leadership, the branch head on average is often ignored. If you have over 100 branches and you have a minister as a division head, most likely, the division head will not be able to know everyone.

How do you explain the listlessness and fossilization of UMNO at the grassroots level? I think becoming fossilized in the most appropriate term. Certainly, there is a great loss in the spirit of voluntarism or even the spirit of sacrifice among UMNO members. This trend needs to be arrested first before UMNO begins to talk about transforming.

Any transformation must begin at the branch head level. What is happening to UMNO branch leaders is similar to what is occurring among grassroots leaders in almost all political parties; you can have countless numbers of retreats, courses, etc, - efforts which are designed to transform the mentality of UMNO leadership, the reality is, the minds of the branch leaders have hardly moved an inch.

Take what happened last year. There were no jostling for positions; hence there was an enforced truce momentarily. No jockeying for positions means no roundabouts, no chinwags, and no clandestine rendezvous. Which in turn mean, less room for money transactions?

While the top leadership entrust the responsibility of connecting with the masses to the branch chairmen, the UMNO divisional chairmen are doing the opposite. They are on the prowl for titles, patronage, contracts, other business opportunities, directorship in GLCs and the like.

Change the leadership at branch levels and then change the leadership at the national levels. Don't institutionalise any leadership level as sacred. Its burn, baby, burn.


KS Cheah 24 January 2010 at 09:02  

Dear Dato', you have put things succinctly in your usual immutable style. Syabas!

The Tiger

Anonymous,  24 January 2010 at 09:15  

Biarkan UMNO terbakar since the President is so weak.
Semua orang tahu Dato' mereka akan jadi Luncai and when the President the Luncai and his labu jumps, the Timbalan President who is not attractive at all will shout biarkan biarkan!!!
Dato'tak tension ke tengok perangai mereka tu!!!!!!!

Unknown 24 January 2010 at 10:17  


You said,

"We want you UMNO leaders to know, that this is exactly the type of frustrating political behavior that sickens people. It's childish, and it alienates votes by making the party look disunited and spineless."

You speak as if UMNO has no Leader... No President... No Control?

Richard Cranium 24 January 2010 at 10:25  

"...the government hasn't got sufficient funds to feed students in boarding schools on weekends"

Surely you wrote this in jest?

vinnan,  24 January 2010 at 10:30  

'These are people who continue to spend money like nobody's business while the government hasn't got sufficient funds to feed students in boarding schools on weekends'.

I do not know where you get your news from but I do not think the government would allow the above to happen. Boarding schools hold the cream of Malay students from all cross-sections of Malay society. Many Malay parents send their kids to boarding schools because of the free meal programs provided by the government. Even relatively well off Malays such teachers and officer rank policemen sent their kids to these boarding schools because of the food programs. Forcing the students to look for their own food on weekends is tantamount to political suicide for UMNO. Are you sure you got your facts on this boarding school matter correct? No offense intended. Just asking for facts.

Azman 24 January 2010 at 12:08  

Salam Dato'

When little change is already difficult, they dare to talk about transformation?

Inilah dia pandai tak boleh diikut, bodoh tak boleh diajar.

Wenger J Khairy 24 January 2010 at 12:14  

Dear Dato',
Thanks for introducing the word "ululating" to my lexicon.

Its like learn a new word a day, but alas I am too old to compete in the spelling bee.

As to the politics crystal ball...

The economy will be the detonator if the system were to collapse. Right now, the apparatchiks have hired a bunch of white guys to try and offer a solution to the petroleum woes. I am gleefully looking at their solution which is impractical, and unable to be executed (tulah ketuanan orang puteh).

At the same time, what if we continue to have 0 or negative growth this year? By all means, the semiconductor industry is projecting a tough year with 0 new capacity. As to the electronic components, my guess is the same - flat at best. These are 2 drivers to our economy - when it collapsed like what it collapsed last year, we suffer.

So end result. UMNO will not fall per se. But a new unity govt perhaps led by TR will emerge when the following has occured
(i) Ringgit crosses the 4.00 to the USD barrier (caused by massive fund outflow)
(ii) Govt's public deficit touches RM 500 billion
(iii) Subsidy expenditure is cut by half.

Wonder why the PM did not ask you to solve the petroleum issue. After all your politico, oil man, economist and grassroots..

tu lah taksub dengan mat salleh ia..

Brown Noser Anonymous (BNA),  24 January 2010 at 12:18  

Oooh you got read this
Movie star boost for Najib’s image.

Down boy!

Anonymous,  24 January 2010 at 13:07  


I enjoy your writing since 1973 (wonder why?). You have the flair that I wish everybody could have.

Keep on writing with "style and substance".

I have lived for almost 53 years and hoping that people with wisdom and integrity rule the country.I hope more people would read and open their heart and mind rather be blinded by cheap campaign by leaders who are more interested in building castles instead of developing the rakyat.


Orang Biasa

nick 24 January 2010 at 19:16  

Richard and Vinnan,

It's true and what Dato' wrote is really happening. Malaysia is running out of cash and that makes me wonder how are they funding new military equipment purchases such as the MIG replacement plan?

Or are you two, the one jesting? Feigning ignorance?

PaulineL,  24 January 2010 at 19:17  

vinnan - check with the students in Universiti Malaya Sabah campus in Labuan. They have been without water for ages. Students have to buy water from outside, adding to their expenses. It's ridiculous to have a campus without adequate necessities.

Anonymous,  24 January 2010 at 19:30  


You are suggesting that change should go from bottom to top. Isn't it true that change will be sustainable only if it goes from top to bottom? Seeing the president carry huge baggages, wouldn't the branch guy say "what's the big deal if I carry just hand luggage"? How is the spirit of sacrifice going to set in? Or are you implying that it is impossible to get the top to change first?

walla 24 January 2010 at 20:58  

A: 'The blogger spoke about the missing links in Umno - voluntarism and sacrifice. What do you think of that, Tun?'

B: 'Umno as an organization is no different from what happens in a family.

When the family starts in a new country where much has yet to be done, the patriarch of the family works his shirt off to grow roots and establish reputation.

By the time the trees have grown and are bearing fruits, the second generation plucks them to sell for profit which is then reploughed into the land.

But by the time the third generation comes onboard, it could not see the earlier sacrifices and voluntarism made because the first two generations have already receded into the background.

There is therefore no continuity of the same spirit of voluntarism and sacrifice that had gone into the formation of the original family.

Because expecting to be given the good life, the third generation is not taught how it has to be really earned anywhere in the world. By honest hard work and focused conscience.

Everything then becomes just a business to be chased and all methods are excused by simply saying since others are taking short-cuts, why shouldn't i?

Now if the third generation gets to be leaders in the community, then the underlings in the same community will also want to do the same as the leaders because they say if it's good enough for the boss, it's good enough for us.

The notion of fast bucks then spreads. And because the leaders also mantle the administration, to shortcut add closed-eye. No antidote will then be created. Because closed-eye means conspiratorial arrangement which means back-scratching which means order of the elite which means democracy becomes kleptocracy.

However, all this can only continue if there is a continuous stream of business opportunities in the local market.

But while this is happening, the world has become more integrated. Everyone everywhere looks for maximum profit from minimum cost and that is because what were a few producers has become many producers ambitiously vying for the same markets. Business opportunities then become a globalized activity and not a local activity.

So the local income creator goes overseas and the overseas income creator goes elsewhere when both find that the local market is too costly because of shortcuts taken which create rentier policies that have no discernible business value.

Shortcuts ultimately create scissorshand haircuts.

Let me call all this the third world establishment syndrome.

It's the plateau of the sigmoid curve where growth decelerates because a critical mass has been reached which complicates the original vision, and as that happens, the cost of maintaining what has been created kicks in beyond available resources.

walla 24 January 2010 at 20:58  


It's like Rommel's Afrika Korp running out of tank fuel just before El-Alamein.

In most cases, the third world leaders are clueless, or appear to be clueless, of what to do next. Some will say because they are also from the third generations.

It's like you build tall buildings just to count the kickbacks in which case you completely forget all about the pipes leaking under the ground. And when you lay the pipes, it's also not about solving a problem but again about kickbacks. Everything costs more so the national coffers deplete faster without tangible benefits to the people who pay the taxes while still working as hard as their first generations.'

A: 'Do you think there's a way to recreate the old voluntarism and sacrifice then, Tun?'

B: 'The situation has changed, Sofea.

When the family started, the spirit of voluntarism and sacrifice was for the community. Maybe also for something called nationhood.

Over time, a chasm appeared. Because money spins money, those who first made it became richer and richer. Those who didn't get those business opportunities remained poor.

As their population increased for more labour hands to support their families, they found that their labour skills and earning power had remained almost inconsequentially static while the markets were evolving and things were becoming pricier by the day. The poor then became poorer.

For a while the affirmative policies intervened to create a middle-class which seemed to thrive.

But it thrived because the market was spiking. And the market was spiking less from internal strengths and more from external speculations. Bubbles were built overnight.

Once the tides receded, you get to see wavy lines on the sand.

To help them come up again, they must be made relevant to the global economy, not the local economy. But to make the connection to the global economy, the local economy must assume the identity and characteristics of the global economy.

Which comes to the non-economic aspects of tri-generational progression.

We talk about culture and perspective. But if we are hell-bent on only maintaining what is in our minds without questioning whether the ideals need to be changed, then if the ideals are found to be like square pegs in round holes of what is global, obviously we will have twice the amount of challenges to surmount - first to defend what we believe, and second to apply what we believe to the world.'

A: 'But how do all these relate to our subject matter of reengineering Umno, Tun?'

B: 'Oh, Sofea, i am sure i can do a jack sparrow on that, hehe.'

A: '(hmmm) i finally see a glint in your very sad eyes, Tun. How, please?'

B: 'It's like animating your powerpoint slide. You know, when you do a blocked arrow flow, you start with one arrow on the left and it animates to the next and then the next to the last one on the right of the slide. Ok, so far?

That seems to me to describe what Umno has been trying to do so far. It knows what needs to be done. But it is hampered by legacy, profligacy and kleptocracy. Also sheer cowardice.

walla 24 January 2010 at 20:58  


For instance, some people have said the cabin- knows that english must be the medium of instruction in schools but they're too chicken to admit it publicly for fear of backfire and backlash.

So i ask if left-to-right no working because brains are still in the hacienda, why not right-to-left instead?

Why not start with the end and work backwards to the beginning?

Start by envisioning what is the malay of Malaysia to be in the 21st century?

One step back. He (or she)must be resilient in approach, knowledgeable about the world, principled to his faith, honorable to others, and enterprising to be independent.

Two steps back. He must learn the ropes of positive thinking, constantly research and interact to build his knowledge capital, learn how to tease out the positive sides of the faith and only those aspects, realize his role as land-embedded characterizer and balancer of the country, and get into an energizer program which works step by step so that he won't get demotivated halfway.'

A: 'Wait, Tun. What do you mean by characterizer and balancer? That's very interesting!'

B: 'Oh? frankly, i have no idea. Remember, i am jack sparrow at your service, my fair damsel. Heh heh.'

A: '(rolls her lovely big eyes) What shall i do with you, Tun?'

B: 'Lady, that can be a tempting question. Now where was i until you derailed my exquisite thoughts? Oh, step two back.

Now step three back breaks into cells. There's a cell for farmer. Another for fisherman. Another for subcontractor. Another for civil servant. Another for professional. Even one for Umno branch chief, minister and so on lah.

You get my drift?'

A: 'Yes! i now understand. If we start from left, we are stuck straightaway because when we look around, we only see either hyperactive short-cutters or listless cynics. But if we start from right, we see the big target and then use the Umno kickapoo joy juice to roll back the full mccoy.'

B: 'Hehe. You remind me of..oh never mind. Those were the days.'

A: 'You know the strength of Umno. The ultimate uber-spinner. It can even wake up the dead.'

B: 'Talking of which the other day i accidentally again hit the wrong remote button and entered the tv forum where shorty was trying to delve in Naquib's thesis on unity which was about solid unity and liquid unity.'

A: 'Oh yes, i saw that too, Tun.'

B: '(chortles with a merry twinkle in the eyes). I was with my third at that time. With her characteristic wit, she tanya what about gaseous unity?. Haha she still can pull my old heartstrings.'

A: 'Yes, Tun. Unity is the key. Without which, the malays will not be able to roll back that powerpoint. Actually i was wanting to ask you about unity. What if this country had only us, the malay race, from day one?'

B: 'Then the problems will be magnified because the mindset is already fixed to politicisation of economics and if there are no comparisons, then there will be no standards and benchmarks to compare to measure own progress or lack thereof. The others being around are like the world standards that have to be matched in order to co-progress. Not that i think the others are having much of a standard to talk about at the moment, Sofea, looking at the rest of the world, or even Korea and Singapore, if you will.

Meanwhile, captain jack sparrow here can also entice you on how to recover our national confidence and spark a new sense of nation building.'

A: 'Will you, Tun?!'

B: 'Another day perhaps, Sofea. My heart is now as low as walla who seems to be missing someone these days.'

A: 'Shall we go see her now?'

B: 'I sense she is beyond comfort.'

vinnan,  24 January 2010 at 21:49  

To Nick and PaulineL

Firstly, I am referring to the boarding schools. Moreover, I do not think I am qualified to comment on what is happening with UM's Sabah campus. What I do know though is that the boarding schools are the major venue for Malay parents of meager or modest means to give their kids a fighting chance in the real world. UMNO would have to be suicidal to in any way disadvantage these kids. Regarding the lack of money to feed the boarding school students on weekends there is I am told the matter of a partially or a fully funded food programs for these students. Is this purported lack of funds real or is it in actual fact a matter of whether the students are partially or fully funded. To be fair to the AK, I was told of this difference in the food programs by an UMNO member. Who do I believe?

telur dua 24 January 2010 at 22:35  

We have to keep reminding people that this UMNO (Baru) is a very different animal from the one founded by Datuk Onn Jaafar.

UMNO (Baru) turned rogue.

Anonymous,  25 January 2010 at 00:08  


Only Ku Li can save this Nation. He has the leadership quality, substance and right heart and mind to be the PM.

Malaysia's economy is already in a bad shape. Yet, the BN govt wants to make huge purchases for its defence ministry. Just an excuse to pocket commision!

I agree with you that Najib is surrounded by political buffoons. A smart leader with substance wouldn't have selected these buffoons. So, what does that say about the PM's capability? In most Rakyat's opinion, Najib is mentally-challenged. The real PM is his wife. Am sure you already know.

You should leave UMNO...on its way to self-destruction. And, I hope sooner rather than later!


Anonymous,  25 January 2010 at 00:28  


You should read an article on this blog:

The title of the article is
MACAM HARTA MAK AYAH DIA with a picture of the ex-Foreign Minister.

An extract of it is shows UMNO is desperate.

JADI AHLI UMNO BARU DAPAT KERJA - Surat Sofi Wahab - harakah daily

Surat tawaran untuk bekerja di sebuah anak syarikat kerajaan negeri Melaka sudah diperolehi. Tetapi ada satu lagi syarat yang mesti dipenuhi ialah mereka mesti menjadi AHLI UMNO jika tidak surat tawaran itu akan ditarik balik.

Begitulah hebatnya negeri maju Melaka mentadbir syarikat milik kerajaan negeri. Syarikat milik kerajaan dijadikan seolah-olah milik Umno.

Hendak bekerja di syarikat terbabit mesti ahli Umno, bercakap nada Umno, tindakan macam orang Umno, bernafas dengan bau Umno, tarik dan hembus nafas mesti ingat Umno. Malah darah pun kalau boleh warna merah kuning bendera Umno dan darah mesti cap dacing atau berlambang Umno.

Itulah nasib 40 orang pekerja baru sebuah syarikat milik kerajaan negeri yang dijadualkan memulakan tugas pada 1 Febuari ini. Tetapi sebelum mendaftar pada 1 Febuari ini mereka mesti menunjukkan bukti bahawa mereka ahli Umno jika tidak surat tawaran tersebut ditarik balik.


Anonymous,  25 January 2010 at 01:13  

Dear Dato,
The biggest mistake was to rid english as the medium of instruction in schools and then your 'emperor' Dr.M laughed at Singapore for doing the opposite. Without English how many website can the Malays access? Probably none. I think only 20% of Malaysian population is connected to internet compared to 85% in Singapore. So how can you catch up?
I am not sure even if PR comes to power they could solve the economic problems. The most they would be able to uplift the economy by 10%. Just look at your ringgit exchange rate;it is now about RM$3.2 to US$1. It could easily go to RM$16 for US$1 in a 2 years time. I based my projection from what happened to Russia in 1990s; the Russian roubles went from 8 to 40 for US$1 in one year period. When this happens,then one could say the 'shit' hits Malaysia and this will also affect the UMNOputra. Even 'Allah' cannot help the UMNOputra never mind the poor Malays. Hospitals,universities and subsidies have to close or remove due to insufficient fund never mind about Malay students not being fed at weekends. This is when foreign investors will move in to buy up the whole of Malaysia that was once owned by UMNOputra. With such exchange rate this is possible. Can this happen?
This is up to the Malays to start think hard to save your Tanah Melayu. Time s running out. Your oil reserve is running low and in 2years time most driver in USA and Europe will be using electric cars and hence the demand for oil is less putting pressure on the crude oil price So what will happen to Proton? Maybe your Dr.M should come up with a rescue plan for Proton since he pumped in billions.

Well Dato you are an UMNO man so do something fast.


PRAY,IT WORKS. joe's blog 25 January 2010 at 06:36  

That is why the chinese are emigrating. Read here... . In time if the governance of malaysia DOES NOT inprove I believe other races too especially middle malaysia WILL follow.

dzieta 25 January 2010 at 12:19  

nak ubah?letih dah dengar ayat,berubah,perubahan,mengubah dan segala yang berkisar tentang ubah-ubah ni..
UMNO ni suka buat meeting,meeting dan meeting..apa yang akhirnya ahli akar umbi benefit daripada meeting itu?nak buat program?semua kena meeting,takdak ketua tak boleh meeting untuk anjurkan program sebab nanti kena tuduh memandai2..jadi,semua yang tinggal tu hanya pak turut/yes man saja..
saya setuju yang ahli UMNO yang mengatakan UMNO kuat itu adalah orang yang benefit secara terus dalam pembahagian kontrak/jawatan..bak kata sesetengah rakyat biasa,"yang depa tau merompak,merompak"!
sekarang ni susah nak tengok program UMNO yang betul-betul dapat buat rakyat biasa kembali pada UMNO kecuali program syok sendiri!
I'm so sad that the leaders of UMNO at branch and division leader still comfortable dengan orang-orang nya yang "yes man" saja!

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