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Sakmongkol ak 47

Saturday 11 December 2010

Willy-nilly leadership.

Many of you are familiar with this tale.
There are two crab vendors selling the crustaceans from a basket. You will quickly notice the baskets. The Malay seller has an open basket. The Chinese covers his basket with a lid.
The Malay crab seller has no worries about his crabs escaping. So he sells his crabs from an open basket. The Chinese seller on the other hand, worries if he doesn't cover his basket with a lid, his crabs will escape.
Why the difference, you ask? Well, the crabs in the Malay basket will never be able to escape. Because at any time any crab wants to climb up, the crabs below will pull it down. The Chinese on the other hand continues to worry. Because if anyone crab wants to climb over, the crabs below it will help push it up.
I find this comparison most apt to describe the leadership pattern in UMNO. My friend Aspan Alias wrote another interesting piece. He describes the ascension of leadership in UMNO as being the luck of the coconut husk or the luck of the stone. The husk floats, the stone submerges.
Picture this. Rumors that Khairy Jamaludin is to be appointed as deputy finance minister have created some sort of panic among UMNO circles. Here is an UMNO fellow- leader of an organization within UMNO whose any development affecting him is met with hostilities. And they come from the crabby UMNO people. We are talking about 1 Malaysia where we can't even achieved 1 UMNO. Those were just rumors, we can't imagine if it actually takes place.
UMNO is still caught up with its own internal politicking. And I doubt seriously, if this places UMNO in a state of readiness to do battle in GE13.
UMNO has never been great at nurturing leadership. We don't have a system. Our leaders rise up because of fortuitous events. The most common being, you are the sons and daughters of previous leaders. Accidental you may say.
UMNO is caught in the conventional wisdom of expecting good men coming forward willy-nilly, shashaying down the catwalk. Maybe this is why we do have some aw aw leaders. In other words, we expect good leaders to emerge naturally.
We don't replicate the old ecosystem anymore. Nationalism, the quest of independence, social awareness of the old days nurtures natural leaders. We can't replicate them.
We have seen the outcome too. Most of these leaders fell on the way side letting the trappings of power overwhelmed them. Thus we have leaders who encases his leadership with material decadence, cars, mansions, phalanx of bodyguards, trophy wives etc.
So it's a sad day, when a true blue UMNO like Aspan asks the question. If we were to replace people like Mat Hassan in Negeri Sembilan, Adnan Yaakob in Pahang, any other UMNO leader at state and national levels, he asked- who can we find to replace them?
Is there a famine in UMNO?
Is UMNO thinking, in the next 10 years, how do we allow a new generation of leaders to take over? There are those who belonged to the school of leaders being born kind of thinking. That is just a rehashed version of leaving it to chance. Or choosing leaders by bloodline on the basis of who they are NOT on the basis of what they can do.
What will UMNO have then? It will have a system that is self-perpetuating. A political cloning exercise. Hence DR Mahathir can't tolerate leaders after him who don't share his thinking and feelings. We don't need this kind of system. We need a self-continuing not a self-perpetuating so that, in the event of the exit of a previous leader, the system is intact to allow the country to continue. UMNO is choosing its leaders on the basis of I like this fellow, so I will groom him.
We wait for leaders to be born and accept unquestioningly that scions of previous leaders are so obvious candidates as future leader, that their shortcomings are often overlooked. Hishamudin Husein Onn's qualifications appear to be that he is the son of a former PM. His performance this far has been lackluster but no one will contemplate removing him, because he is assumed to carry the genes of leadership. We have so many in the UMNO line up.
Right now, UMNO attracts the second careerists- those better and able don't want to join UMNO. They can't rise to the top because of the Malay crab mentality. So unless, this leadership assumed an enlightened role, it will have to promote the deserving people through a system. We can't leave it to chance and hoping willy-nilly somebody, born from well to do families will emerge as leaders.
A careerist does not make a good leader. What he has, is the professionalism of a politician. Now, a politician's main vocation is how to get over his next rival. That often involves intrigues and plots here and there. He lacks the vision of how to propel the country forward.
We have an acute problem here. Most of the leaders now have no past to fall back on- I mean, the first generation leaders had idealism of nationalism urging them on. Leaders emerge through a process of natural selection. Those with profound feelings of nationalism, naturally rise up.
We don't have that ecosystem anymore. The challenge is to create the ecosystem. The components of that system will be (a) identify those potential leaders and (b) attract them into government.
Is the UMNO leadership thinking along these lines?


Anonymous,  11 December 2010 at 07:19  

Dato Sakm,
Sudah dijangka, AMENO ketandusan pemimpin masa hadapan. Saya cadangkan ambil saja dari Talent coperation yang baru dilancarkan oleh PEAM. Tu pun kalau-kalau ada yang ingin. Bayar la gaji contohnya macam CEO Syabas..Rakyat..He3..

Anonymous,  11 December 2010 at 07:58  

KJ as Dep Finance Minister?I think he is more suited for Belia or Foreign Affairs..or even Education >> don't u think so?

Anonymous,  11 December 2010 at 10:59  

umno harvest what it has sowed...since 1990's umno has not been selecting its leaders openly , under the guise of stability, leaders were not democratically elected and this is the outcome , a dearth of leadership capabilities.....well its not too late to turnaround by having a direct or open election to select capable leaders...luckily umno still got a good pool of capable leaders within it midst.... pas sak included

Warga Malaysia,  11 December 2010 at 11:04  

"Well, the crabs in the Malay basket will never be able to escape. Because at any time any crab wants to climb up, the crabs below will pull it down."

Would you also accept that this also apply nation wise with Malay leadership?

The Malay leadership seeks ways to stunt non-Malay growth in various ways including denying opportunities even though successes in those areas can bring benefits to the nation as a whole.

IbnAbdHalim 11 December 2010 at 11:10  

Malay crab mentality is real not a fiction. We'll have many more aw aw types as long as UMNO doesn't change. Right now UMNO isn't going to change.

Anonymous,  11 December 2010 at 13:54  


What a metaphor to describe a bunch of crabs in UMNO.

Indeed a crop of crabs is needed, not from within the basket but from without. Not tainted and free from the present eco-system of mediocre crop.

Anonymous,  11 December 2010 at 14:20  

Mimpi ngeri kalau dianalisa kepimpinan masa depan UMNO.Tapi nak buat apa tidur tak lena sebab Jibby pun buat tak tahu je or rest of UMNO warlords are busy protecting their own interest.
Ketam dalam sangkar jagaan orang Melayu akhir nya mampus bunuh sama sendiri. Akhir nya akan ada lah "politik ketam Melayu" yang di jual di pasar borong.
Hidup Sakmongkol!

George Choo 11 December 2010 at 15:35  

Dear Sak, your analogy of the Malay selling his crabs from an open basket is the actual situation in UMNO.

Why are the Bumiputra are the largest component of people leaving Malaysia to immigrate and work overseas? This is due to the Orang Tua in UMNO who felt that this group of young,smart malay professional are a THREAT to their political ambition. So, they will do alot of scheming to block this young professionals until the young are frustrated and fed up and TAK TAHAN LAGI which make them leave Malaysia.

It is also the same situation in the govt dept and universities where the Little Napolean will do anything in their power to stop the progression of the young and talented so that the napolean can stay and corrupt the system to their own benefit.

Inilah kerja UMNO dan BN dengan kerjasama kakitangan tinggi kerajaan yang menyebabkan banyak Malaysian terutamanya bumiputra yang berpelajaran tinggi TERPAKSA meninggalkan Tanahair untuk mencari rezeki di luar negara.

That is why currently we have to spend billions through TALENT CORP to woo this malaysian to come home.

Donplaypuks® 11 December 2010 at 15:55  

If Sil can get over the hurdle of satisfactorily explaining how he became 'the richest multi-millionaire unemployable' youngest politician in M'sian history, then perhaps he is the next great UMNO hope.

But coming as he does with the ECM Libra debacle and purported over hundred million dollar commission over sale of Telekom shares to Temasik and more, don't you think its' too much baggage and iability for an aspiring young Turk? Or does he fit UMNO's desirable CV profile to perfection?

What I think UMNO needs to save itself, like the MOF with zero-based budgetting approach, is to re-write its recruitment ad and then look for candidates who fit the bill. Otw, it will be old wine in new bottle, again!

we are all of 1 race, the Human Race

Anonymous,  11 December 2010 at 16:17  

Lebih dari separuh orang UMNO takpaham pun apa Dato' tulis di sini.Deme tak reti cakap orang putih.Hok reti buat-buat buta dan pekak sebab hanging on to power is the purpose of existence for UMNO leaders.Rakyat pasti tolak selagi apa Dato cadangkan di sini takda sapa nak ambik tindakan.

Anonymous,  11 December 2010 at 17:15  


the crab imagery is really this:

The Malays are cohesive, close-knit and loving people. They do not want their loved ones to be separated. The open basket denotes transparency and faith in the sky's holy omnipresence.

The chinese are highly competitive people. They will push away those who want to leave so that they have more space for themselves. Why care if the discontented crab survive or not in unfamiliar surroundings.

The closed basket denotes secrcy, suppression, overcrowding and an intention to cheat?? Customers never know what they might pay for.


P.S. The Malay leadership suffers succession problems because the "clans" within UMNO are easily swayed by a NEW value system - where money talks.

I'm sure Tun Dr M can tell you volumes of this topic. And sakkie, you are dead WRONG, he does not resent people who thinks differently from him.

He cares that Malaysia is led by someone who shares his love for his Bangsa Agama dan Negara.

Were you a victim of the bloodline syndrome, hence this apparent jealousy and resentment?

OneMalaysian,  11 December 2010 at 19:16  

Dear Sakmongkol

This problem of political leadership is not only UMNO’s problem, but also the common problem for all political parties in Malaysia. Lim Keng Yaik stayed far too long, and stifled the emergence of good leaders, and then handed over to a very incompetent KSK. Ling Leng Sik did the same, and during his long tenure several camps formed and they fought when he left. See what happened to the MCA. Ditto MIC, which Samy Vellu regarded as his personal property. And look at Sarawak, where Taib Mahmud reigns like the white rajah.

These people could do this because their parties have lost their founding idealism, which is replaced in all cases by money politics. Because all these parties are part of the ruling BN, which tolerates high levels of corruption, the entire political process in these parties has been reduced to power struggles to get elected so that winners can get a seat in the cabinet or in the state exco.

The only way that this country can escape its current fate of bad corrupt leaders is to ensure that we encourage and develop a viable 2–party system. When we have this in place, each party or coalition will have to produce a better set of policies, and this will encourage better leaders to emerge. When alternative policies compete for our favour, and we exercise our choice wisely, we will have better governance and a better economy, and every Malaysian will be happier. We need to break the current strangle hold on power by one party/coalition. So long as they can fool us into believing that only they can rule, we are in trouble. We need a new way of thinking about politics.

Anonymous,  11 December 2010 at 20:06  

Ah, you made reference to Khairy.

Now wait for the 'curry concotion' to spit venom in its blue blog.

This is despite the concotion is of the same DNA like Khairy but now claims to be of aristocrat breed.

Kenapa Dato cari pasal?


Quiet Despair,  11 December 2010 at 23:07  

This syndrome of looking askance or not accepting people capable or smarter than you is not confined to UMNO alone.
Its common in all political parties and also in the workplace, be it public and private sectors.
Thus you see KJ receiving lots of flaks if he were to be given a Cabinet post.
He has all the credentials and far surpassed in intellect than Mukhriz.
But he's got the stigma of being SIL. Also a newbie who cannot hide his brilliance and judged as arrogant.
People would rather see a YB with only a Form Five education. They feel more comfortable as he does not posed a threat to them.
Also no one loves a smarter person who can outshine or beat you in jockeying for top positions.
I feel for KJ being a diplomat's son myself. (Of course he's luckier than I am). When I first came home I joined an UMNO branch.
There were people who proposed me to fill in the outgoing Ketua Cawangan seat.
Of course, the oldies were not in favor of me. They regard me not being much of a Malay and not knowing Malay values since I was born, schooled and worked abroad.
But the thing is they want me to sit in all the committees to use my experience, expertise and knowledge.
I accepted this culture and continue to be the task person but never the boss. Did the work of the Ketua Cawangan and he got credit for it.
It is also a Malay habit to not want another Malay to go up especially if he is clever to outshine the rest
You sure have seen that happening in any workplace where the Malays do not mind a non-Malay rather than a Malay to be their superior.
There are instances where a Malay and non-Malay are competing for a particular post but the Malay boss chose the non.
The PHD (perasaan hasad dengki) syndrome at work again.
It is a different situation among the Chinese. They will look after their own kind. They must make sure that their race will be in the top place with them.
The crab basket analogy is spot on, Sak. We are generous because we know others in our spot will see that we don't surface.
The closed basket described well the ketam batu (stingy, selfish Chinese) who will prop up their kind to the top.
That is the reality of the situation in our beloved country.

Wake UP! 11 December 2010 at 23:41  

Live in a zoo Namewee.

KJ is more suited to be in the Zoo with Namewee.

Anonymous,  12 December 2010 at 00:22  

UMNO needs to beware of people like Sak.

cram 12 December 2010 at 02:11  

cerita nya bukan " orang cina jual ketam, orang melayu jual ketam "
Tajuk cerita yg sepatut nya ia lah,
" orang cina jual ketam, KETAM jual ketam "

Anonymous,  12 December 2010 at 09:29  

Dear SAK,

I am no political big-wig but I know quite "a lot" bout Hishamuddin via colleagues who do(genuine) biz w KDN and KPM. W due respect, tin kosong la SAK. Personally, kalau personality mcm ini jd PM, hancus Melayu ...

OneMalaysian,  12 December 2010 at 11:07  

Dear Sakmongkol

“The closed basket described well the ketam batu (stingy, selfish Chinese) who will prop up their kind to the top”. Quiet Despair

In this one very short statement Quiet Despair has managed to spread several falsehoods, that comes either from complete ignorance or a narrow-mindedness that will shock people if they knew his upbringing – son of a diplomat, western educated, and having worked overseas, all suggesting that he would have been exposed to an environment where people would judge things based on facts, and are not easily susceptible to bigotry.

The first thing to ask is, has he himself worked in a predominantly Chinese environment or is he an expert in Chinese culture that he could make a statement like that? Was he a victim in Chinese organization that denied him a promotion that he clearly deserved because he was Malay? If the answers to both these questions are no, then Quiet Despair must be disabused of such dangerous falsehoods.

The Chinese have a very strong culture in learning and scholarship. They have a Mandarin system in imperial China to select the very able to fill the civil service. This culture of scholarship and promoting the very best exist in all Confucian cultures – China, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong and Japan. It is no surprise that the students in these countries score well in international exams, and their economic performance in past decades have outshone those in western nations.

This culture suffuses Chinese organizations and corporations with one exception. This is with regards to family-owned businesses where promotion or position is often based on kinship and mot merit. This should not surprise us because the owners regard the business as their own, and they are self-employed, so they can do what they want with it. However, we should not tolerate nepotism where the public interest in at stake or where the family has no personal interest. The borderline cases are IOI Corporation and Genting Malaysia in which the founders’ children are placed to succeed the founders who only have a controlling interest but not outright ownership. But in general, let me say from personal experience that the Chinese corporations value talent and promote based on ability, except in the case of family-owned companies.


OneMalaysian,  12 December 2010 at 11:09  


One might ask, why then are there no Malays running Chinese companies (Hong Leong Bank is one exception where a Malay is the number 2) as CEO? This is not easy to answer, but we might venture some guesses. First, Malays have an unfounded bias about working in a predominantly Chinese environment because of a perceived (false) feeling that they will not be promoted because of their race. I have debunked this by referring to Chinese culture that appreciates and rewards excellence. One reason why the Chinese succeed in business is because they use the best talents around, and do not (al least in modern times) rely solely on kinship or race. So the Malay, even tough he might have talent, does not stay long enough to be promoted; he soon leaves for a GLC or join government service where he feels greater job security.

Let me refer to Singapore, often regarded as nothing more than a large Chinese corporation, and mention that some of their largest corporation e.g. OCBC and DBS Bank have an American and an Indian respectively as CEO. If Quiet Despair were right about the Chinese, they would have been Chinese too.

And is it true the Chinese are selfish and stingy? Let me just quote 2 examples to refute this unwarranted claim. There are scores of Chinese independent schools that are kept alive by Chinese donations (because they get no or little help from govt, and the Chinese love education and think Chinese education should be supported) and the Chinese regularly donate all kinds of charitable causes especially to hospitals (Tong Shin in KL is a good example), to old folks homes, and to orphanages. I do not want to mention Chinese temples because of its religious exclusivity. But in all the other charities, they are open to all races and people of every religious persuasion. By comparison, what does Malay charity support?

It is unhelpful when people who should know better mislead by making false claims especially when these have a bearing on how the major races view or perceive each other. Let us share our experiences in a way that contribute to nation building, not engage in spreading falsehoods. I apologise for this rather long-winded reply to Quiet Despair because of the very serious lies that he is spreading.

kee 12 December 2010 at 12:09  

The crab story is what I term a half-truth. It may be true, but it left out the other also true half, which is that although I am no Malay crab, those darn Malay crabs are also trying to pull me down.

Anonymous @ 11 December 2010 10:59 wrote: "luckily umno still got a good pool of capable leaders within it midst.... pa sak included".

May I ask, what UMNO leadership post is 'pa sak' holding?

Quiet Despair @ 11 December 2010 23:07 wrote:

"You sure have seen that happening in any workplace where the Malays do not mind a non-Malay rather than a Malay to be their superior."

My considerable personal experience (I'm well into my 60s, & have worked in both public and private sectors both as employee and employer) tells me otherwise. I find that many Malays, ironically well educated ones, resent non-Malays, both as bosses and also as colleagues but especially as bosses. They even prefer Mat Salleh boss to non-Malay, especially Chinese boss even though the Mat Salleh is not even 'pendatang' (immigrant), but a foreigner.

Such typical Malay behaviour is not even a new phenomenon. Some 30 years ago, while still a civil servant, I attended a career talk given by a Malay CEO of a public listed company to civil servants. The gentleman, besides being the CEO was also a substantial shareholder, meaning that his stake in the company he was heading was a lot more than that of a mere 'makan gaji' CEO.

One young Malay participant asked the CEO what criteria he looked for when interviewing candidates for management staff in his company. The CEO stated in a matter-of-fact manner & in no way appearing embarrassed or sorry, that one of the criteria was that if the candidate was a Malay, he always ask whether the candidate had any personal problem working under and taking orders from non-Malay superiors. Of course the CEO explained that he found that many Malays had personal problems working under and taking orders from non-Malay superiors.

That was some 30 years ago. Since then I find such attitude still unchanged, if not getting worse.

Quiet Despair also wrote (clearly in a resentful manner if read together with the rest of his opinions):

"There are instances where a Malay and non-Malay are competing for a particular post but the Malay boss chose the non."

It is really tragic that there are still so many Malays like 'Quiet Despair' who resents "instances where a Malay and non-Malay are competing for a particular post but the Malay boss chose the non."

It appears to me that many Malays nowadays feel, if not insist, that a Malay boss must always choose Malay over non-Malays. In fact, when a non-Malay boss choose a non-Malay over a Malay, the unsuccessful Malay very often straight away assume discrimination.

Is it possible that 'Quiet Despair', and perhaps others like him, are over-rating their abilities?

Anonymous,  12 December 2010 at 13:09  

Pemandu will drive our nation to the bottom of your ketam basket...and it will be textbook fodder for years to come of the dangers of big government n the failure of managed economies.

Its never about NEP..the rot is crony-ism.NEP is the saving grace used to justify too many excesses.

We have common enemies but they are dressed in different garbs.And they have our policymakers in a ketamlike pincer holds.

Anonymous,  12 December 2010 at 13:26  

Whyn the fuss abt Wikileaks disclosure that we hv incompetent leaders?>> everyone knows that we are in a decline due to poor leadership.Ur columns have reminded us over and over again.

Is it the typical Msian syndrome of believing only "foreigners" and "consultants"?

We need to stop Pemandu pregnancy of MRT.That will be the straw that breaks the peninsula..Allah help us all.

Anonymous,  12 December 2010 at 15:55  

Najib - "opportunist".
The country lead by "incompetent politicians".

This sums sum up your article here.

Anonymous,  12 December 2010 at 20:08  

Why the weak leadership?

Cos its all populated by ARTS students..and ARTS students are the weaker n less intelligent group in the school.

So,lets be very precise and clear >>its not about poor Malay leaders.its just that the system creates leaders from a pool of "less then smart" Malay Arts students.

In S'pore & the more intelligent countries..the scientists,engineers etc are in the driving seat as Ministers,CEOs etc..

In Malaysia the "less then very smart" Arts Students are given the reins.So...we get wat we deserve.

PM,DPM,DSIJ...all Arts Students...mana ada substance?

Tinta Hitam 12 December 2010 at 21:18  


Rugi sgt bangsa melayu ni bertuankan UMNO.Dunia tak dapat,akhirat lingkup...

Anonymous,  12 December 2010 at 23:12  

When asked about Russia’s growth over the next decade, Lee said Russia’s challenge was to develop its pool of entrepreneurs, just like Singapore.

“We’re trying to do that. But we are hampered by culture. We’re largely Chinese and Indians. And both Chinese and Indians, the best go into government, (they) don’t go into enterprise,” he added.

that is proof that a chinese leader who took a Malay island will forget the Malays once he is wealthy and powerful

Anonymous,  12 December 2010 at 23:26  

Peter Drucker>>
He argued in a 1984 essay that CEO compensation should be no more than 20 times what the rank and file make — especially at companies where thousands of employees are being laid off. “This is morally and socially unforgivable,” Drucker wrote, “and we will pay a heavy price for it.”[3]

Anonymous,  13 December 2010 at 04:05  

cainis are hardworking meanwhile malays like to procrastinate

in my own opinion the education system is at fault - thanks to chedet who can walk on water.

alas it is chedet himself admits he failed to change the malays.

very depressing knowing the likes i.e. proton, TM, MAS, all struggle and yet to impressed the rakyat.

All we can be so-called proud with dato siti norhaliza, nicole david and dato muzaffar the tourist astranout.

Oh. If i may add the famous jawa muka tempe a.k.a K Toyo as a benchmark

Tell me, whats so great about malaysia when their own people are brandishing one another and climbing, stomping each other so much worse to even compared to the Crab willy nilly piece.

Everyfukcing day its jammed and stress up yes we've got good highways yet the maintenance is relatively poor.

Its all about education. back in my day while my late father is around those 80s-90s time was classic and progress with good vibe momentum.

Pak Lah Failed.
Najib Failed yet with RM = the PM can get back his 2/3 majority.

Let the battle of changes begin.

Bring it on 2011

- Ikan Tongkol -

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