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Sakmongkol ak 47

Monday 31 January 2011

UMNO and its rational leader

A friend who campaigned rigorously in Tenang for the BN told me he has to play host most of the times. I hope UMNO will not let this victory go to its head. They need to compare the votes they got in 2008 with what they got now. Its majority increased by a little more than 300 votes. That doesn't matter though because a victory is a victory by any other name.
But to read more into this marginal increase, is a big mistake. UMNO's support, despite the millions poured in, remained more or less the same. PAS of course, suffered more in the sense the deficit they got now has widened.
The flood was actually a godsend for UMNO. SPR needs to answer whether use of their facilities to transport flood victims was applied in a fair manner. But I think this aspect must be argued by the other side. As for me, I am more concerned not to let this minor victory be an excuse for UMNO to stop doing reforms.
Let's discuss another matter. Lee Kuan Yew's recent book, Hard Truths. In there, he said many bad things about Dr Mahathir, about Islam and about Malays in general. But these were not paid attention to by the MSM. They were more interested to extract any broad-brush by Lee Kuan Yew imputing some positiveness about Najib. Malaysians love to hate LKY but if you get some compliments from him, LKY is your hero.
Hence the hungry Press which holds no good feelings about Lee Kuan Yew, blared the headlines that LKY thinks Najib is a rational leader. I don't understand the MSM's love hate relationship with LKY. Undeniably they can't dismiss LKY because that man is acknowledged by the world. Malaysia will stand out as a prick, if it doesn't join in the general salutations of LKY.
The Press would love to needle LKY on any issues. But this time, its LKY's approval of Najib as a rational leader that is being headlined. That would have been met with universal nod, if not for the fact, the MSM failed to qualify in what context is Najib a rational leader?
I mean the MSM people are myopic to ignore the fact, that Najib's rationality as a leader is a qualified statement. That term used, needed to be expanded.
In what sense, can Najib be regarded as a rational leader? Unluckily for the MSM people, there are many of us who also read the book. By the way- I would love to see how the MSM would respond when LKY said- on page 86:-
.their press has lost credibility. The position of the media on television and print was so divorced from reality that people look for alternative channels. So bloggers, Malaysiakini, Harakah, opposition newspapers fill up the space.
These form 5 journalists think we the public don't read books or what?
Please wait for my next article on Najib, the rational leader.


Thursday 27 January 2011

Benih keruntuhan


Semasa zaman Tun Razak dahulu, bila mencari bakat pimpinan, dia menggunakan satu prinsip utama. Dia tanya melalui rangkaian maklumat, bolehkah si fulan berkerja? Dia tak tanya bolehkah si fulan di percayai.

Bila dia bawak balik Dr Mahathir kedalam pangkuan UMNO dia tak tanya boleh tak kita percaya Mahathir? Ketika itu siapa nak percaya Mahathir? Tengku Abdul Rahman pun dia tibai. Tapi Tun Razak lebih berminat kepada kebolehan berkerja DR Mahathir. Demikian juga Musa Hitam. Masa itu dia berada dalam kem Dr Mahathir. Belum tentu boleh di percayai, tapi boleh berkerja. Dan berotak.

Tapi, bila prinsip ini di abandoned, UMNO mula menghadapi masaalah. Parti kita penuh dengan kaki pengampu dan pembodek. Inilah apa yang dikatakan oleh orang Melayu, penyokong pembawa rebah. Ini masaalah terbesar UMNO hari ini. Boleh tak di percayai di beri premium yang tertinggi mengenepikan ciri kepimpinan yang lebih penting- boleh tak kita berkerja?

Saya nak berdebat dengan orang yang tidak faham, saya letih. Saya telah menyatakan dalam artikel saya yang di tulis dalam Bahasa Inggeris, bahawa saya menggunakan ungkapan percaya dalam konteks yang spesifik. Dalam konteks politik kelompok, bila di gunakan ungkapan percaya bererti membisu atau merelakan apa yang pemimpin atasan buat.

Kalau pemimpin kita buat salah- kita bisu. Kalau pemimpin kita korap, kita diam. Kalau pemimpin kita lemah- kita juga membisu. Kalau pemimpin kita di dayuskan, kita terus juga membisu. Sindrom bisu lah yang menjahanamkan UMNO. Dan keengganan 'berkurang ajar' sedikit. Kurang ajar bermakna enggan menerima sesuatu secara lahiriah atau face value.

Benih keruntuhan UMNO bermula sekitar tahun 1980an. Prinsip ini di gunakan sebagai asas mengenal pasti bakat pemimpin semenjak tahun 1981. Ketika itu, kualiti yang paling utama sekali yang di gunakan oleh pimpinan UMNO ialah mencari siapa yang boleh di percayai dan mengikut kata.

Apa yang salah dan silap dengan pendekatan sebegini? Kesilapan asas ialah pendekatan sebegini hanya berminat untuk self perpetuate pimpinan yang ada. Erti self perpetuate ialah melangsungkan jenis kepimpinan yang serupa. Dan kerugian terbesar dengan cara ini ialah, self perpetuity bermakna, kita bergantung kepada seorang pemimpin agung. Jika pemimpin seperti ini berundur, jika pengganti nya tidak seacuan, pemimpin berikut nya akan di kacau. Sebab, kita hanya berminat kepada self perpetuation- memastikan benih dan cara kita berterusan.

Walhal yang terbaik ialah kita wajib meletakkan landasan supaya negara ini di letak di bawah system yang self continuous. Yang bererti kalau kita takde pun( dan terror manalah sangat kita ini) negara ini tetap akan berkembang maju.

Cara self perpetituty ialah cara memilih pemimpin yang di amalkan oleh mereka yang mirip kepada membina dinasti. Ianya sama seperti ssitem feudal dimanana kedudukan kita dalam hairaki social di tentukan oleh kemalangan kelahiran( accident of birth).


Tenang: we want KFC too.

It has been raining the past few days. All over Johor it seems. Labis and Segamat are also affected. Lembah Bakti area is particularly affected. These areas would have earned cursory mentions during normal times. Flooded areas are flooded areas. Houses get flooded, physical communications get cut off, food supplies are difficult to reach for.
But these are not normal times. These areas happen to be in Segamat where a by election is going on. Two contestants and their parties are locked in combat. The floods, during normal times would be regarded just a natural calamity now become a battle ground to show who is more caring. Or who can pretend more and who catches the attention of the media more.
As a person who has been in the thick of floods and who actually went on small fiber glass boats into deep waters so to speak, who had to physically carry the boat on our shoulders- let me tell you a bit about the psychology of flood victims and their expectations.
What do you need during floods? You need most of all relief help- food, medicine, money, whatever kind of help. If houses get flooded, victims are evacuated and transported to flood relief centers.
During these times, flood victims become a totally dependent lot. At relief centers, they wait for the food to be cooked, they wait for the food to be served and all their needs attended to by relief workers. They become an easily irritable pampered lot.
When they become these, they assumed a different personality. They become easily irritable, short-tempered, and quick to attach blame to no one and anyone. If relief help comes late- authorities are to be blamed. If they don't see the faces of the YBs, these are the people they blamed. They also expect, as victims of the flood, to be compensated for their losses. Fully and more I may add.
Although everyone knows, flooding is a natural disaster, victims expect nothing less, but complete restitution for their losses. Properties damaged, animals lost, crops damaged and so on so forth.
The two potential YBs will become very conscious of these facts. They will now understand the meaning of the words responsibility and the feeling of haplessness, dependence and everything in the world sucks. They will understand, a lot more than just sitting pretty manning relief centers administering the distribution of food items.
I know of one person who later became a YB who bragged about sleeping at the central command, administering the distribution of food items. In between times he would play serious poker and gamble. The actual YB was on his daily and sometimes nightly rounds, physically visiting flood victims, distributing food supplies which he bought with his own resources.
The point I am making is, the floods present an opportunity for the potential YBs to show the world who care more for the people. It's also an opportunity to do some serious playacting. Its more important to show you are doing something than actually doing it.
Wading through flood waters become a publicized public spectacle. Actually you have done nothing other than getting wet and pretending getting so, to show your dedication and caring for the victims.
The flood victims will dismiss such antics as nothing more than play acting and conferring future bragging rights. Victims are more interested to see whether their daily needs are attended to, they are pampered at relief centers; they are more interested to eat not just the daily rations of sardines cop ayam. The victims at Tenang want to eat KFC too. They expect to be completely compensated for their losses too later.
In short, both the potential YBs can make a public spectacle of braving the floods, wading waters, getting wet and so forth. Flood victims ignore these, they just want help. Who does better or pretend they care more will earn their gratitude and perhaps votes.
In the meantime, please pass the KFC.Dont matter none if the KFC boxes have the dacing symbol or the moon symbol.


Wednesday 26 January 2011

Tenang. Buck up please.

A few days ago, I was optimistic of BN chances. It can win Tenang I opined. As days go by, my optimism is reduced. Chua Soi lek is not making many inroads into Chinese voters. He remains a discredited figure and his party, the MCA labeled an Uncle Tom to UMNO. Where does he get the basis to make the audacious claim that BN will win big the next time around?

As a diversion let me say this. The natives in Sabah are not going to take things lying down any longer. Revolt seems to be in the air in Sarawak too, prompting Taib Mahmud to use the charm of his sister to push Najib through Rosmah, to carry out concurrent general elections. Sarawak has 31 parliamentary seats. Taib Mahmud is telling Najib unless the opposition's focus is divided by having national elections, Sarawak may lose a large number of those 31 seats. If that happens, the overall majority of BN will be greatly reduced and may even result in the exit of BN as government. Najib is mindful of this and he doesn't want to lose Putrajaya.

So, how come Chua Soi Lek dare make an audacious claim? Probably, his claim is more of a nervous outburst. MCA is about to become a political appendix.

There is so much negativity surrounding BN that such a claim can only arise out of a moment of hallucination. The UMNO machinery is not primed. UMNO local foot soldiers are not giving their all out. The soft approach isn't working in Tenang. The Tenang UMNO boys are out of sync.

Tenang is not Galas. There the soft strategy worked precisely, because it was the culture cultivated by Tengku Razaleigh. In Tenang, you can't change the force of habit overnight.

What's the habit? UMNO Labis is more accustomed to the boisterous and noisy way of campaigning. Intimidation, shouting matches here and there, jeering here and there. You know UMNO Johor and Johoreans in general- humility and understated style are not their way. Johore- the first modern state, its King uses sword while the other Malay rulers use kerises. He gets to stab first. They play with sailboats, other Malay brethren play gasing. So how can you contain the Johore over exuberance? You can't. By forcing them to take the soft approach, you nullify and dull their senses.

The soft approach seems to be out of sync. The ANAK gathering at one FELDA scheme was heckled by the Pemuda UMNO under its ketua Pemuda Labis. They thought they scored points there, but their black-shirt style of harassment serves to reinforce UMNO's detachment from reality.

You will need to reorganize UMNO for new purposes. For now, hope for the best that the recipient's mindset hasn't changed that far. The UMNO machinery seems at ease with the soft approach. If they are unaccustomed, better to stick to the old methods.

And have you seen Ghani Osman?

Now, Ghani Osman was my lecturer in Welfare Economics at University Malaya. If he is still the person he was then, then Ghani will project the image of a diffident person, portraying the bewildered look. Perhaps he doesn't know how to handle a by election such as in Tenang. This is a very hard indictment on an UMNO leader, but I have to tell it as it is. Ghani may be a good person. But he is wanting as a field general.


A potential rude awakening

Tenang can potentially be a rude awakening.
Who wins Tenang will depend on who can muster the support of the Malays in Tenang. There's about 7000 of them and 3000 are Felda settlers. The BN can more or less forget about getting Chinese votes. Most of the votes will go to the DAP. If DAP can secure 80% of the Chinese votes the PAS candidate stands a real fighting chance.
It's commendable that UMNO will try to shore up MCA, its traditional partner in the BN, by giving concessions to the beleaguered party. That will improve somewhat the tarred image of the MCA. But frankly speaking, MCA needs to get used to growing public perception , that it's just a token ornament in the BN. its influence is waning.
Chua Soi Lek must be delusory. Perhaps he is blind to the massive buildup of attendees to DAP's ceramahs in Tenang. And most of them are Chinese. Chinese voters are not exactly enamored by the charm offensive of the Chua father and son team.
Except that it can take comfort that UMNO's influence is also waning. I have pointed this out in several of my articles. UMNO is losing touch on younger voters and building disillusionment in more mature voters. This sad state of affairs does not come about because the founding principles of UMNO were inherently defective. It comes about because UMNO sowed its own seeds of destruction when it generally adopts a culture hostile to the emergence of people who can work selflessly in UMNO. As I said in an earlier article, UMNO now adopts the principle, can I trust this person rather than can this person work?
If UMNO loses this by election, it's due to its own stupidity (for want of a better word). I have long thought that allegiance and loyalty to its causes must be worked at, need to be cultivated continuously and assiduously. What do you see? UMNO people are behaving as though they are God's gift to Malaysia. They behave as though there's nothing worrisome and as though things are back to normal.
For UMNO things are NEVER getting back to normal, unless the UMNO leadership rids itself of this mentality that it can get things gratuitously without working for it. That negative NEP mentality that you think you get things as of right has sadly infected the UMNO body politic. The UMNO leadership thinks it can get Malay support as of right without having to prove credibility and without having to further prove you are worth others' support.
UMNO's vital internal organs are crumbling. The first thing that strikes me, is UMNO undergoing a draught or famine? With bountiful membership, we couldn't find a winnable candidate from those UMNO people who have slogged and slaved for umpteen years? Surely, this will raise disillusionment within the UMNO ranks. This will make being an UMNO member not a passport to becoming holders of public office.
As a person versed in UMNOthink, what do you think UMNO foot soldiers will do? They will likely go out of their way to disprove the top leadership. Lets thump their noses for belittling us. Already that is taking place. Support from within UMNO is slowing. Indeed just to prove their point, the UMNO locals may even be wishing for UMNO to lose if only to remind the UMNO leadership, it needs to play ball with UMNO locals.
That is a clear sign that bad culture has already permeated UMNO's structure to dangerous levels. The party is full of sycophants and ululating cheerleaders who are making UMNO into a party for blind flowers. It has none of that positive vibrancy that promotes internal competition so that the best come forward. Instead it practises the bully and stifling culture that only self-interested individuals work around the system, deter the more able and the less unscrupulous.
Let me state this bluntly. UMNO is feudal by nature. It doesn't have a system that nurtures talent. I am very sorry to say this- what DS Najib proclaims about nurturing talent isn't exactly practiced in UMNO. In UMNO you arrive at the pecking order as a result of accident of birth.
So what do you find? Suddenly you find, there's not enough talent of leadership up there. The feudal fixed deposit has dwindled. The lower reaches of UMNO are filled with less desirables. You can't get talented leadership from down there. So what do you do? You have to cast your net outside.
This is exactly what UMNO does in Tenang. It has selected a former PTD officer over the heads of the party faithfuls. That can yield disastrous results.
In the old days, PTD was known as the MCS. It represented the epitome of career achievement. The desire of many Malays then was to be a civil servant and eventually a District Officer (DO). Our MCS was styled essentially after the Indian Civil Service. Many of the people in these services went on to become political leaders.
The rationale for the choice among others, it's said that the candidate is an experienced government officer. He knows how to deal with government agencies and all that stuff. The PTD badge is the giveaway passport into the green lane of political office. Plus he has some traces of politics being a son of a former ADUN, served as ketua cawangan and treasurer. Nothing to shout about, but enough to have some semblance of political pedigree on his CV. Enough also for wizened and panicky party elders to choose him over party stalwarts.
Unfortunately, that would also suggest that among the UMNO hoi poloi, there isn't sufficient leadership material or potential winnable candidates. This will be looked as a slap in the face for UMNO Labis Division.
The fact that UMNO has to cast its net beyond its own turf suggests there is a dearth of talent within UMNO. Uncharacteristically UMNO is facing the problem faced by the opposition parties in the 2008 elections. There weren't sufficient number of credible people to take up the mantle. Hence the opposition parties took the step of grab and offer for contest.
I hope UMNO hasn't reached this draught in leadership material.
Knowing the UMNO mindset, this choice of candidate will certainly be met with silent protest. That would make the by election in Tenang not so tenang after all. Surely, the UMNO grassroots and foot soldiers will be asking- haven't we fought hard in previous battles? Haven't we earned at least some modicum of appreciation and acknowledgement? We were the ones who fought hard to ensure our candidates won. Most important, all previous candidates were one of us. This candidate isn't one of us. We have gone through the mill and have chosen to remain steadfast to our struggles. These points would certainly surface in the minds of the UMNO foot soldiers.
If UMNO from now on, casts its net outside the UMNO heartland to scour for candidates, to my mind, this raises a bigger issue. How can this strategy promote the big idea of the PM in wanting to usher in political transformation?
What do you need first of all? You need the talent to be change agents. My question is, can a candidate plucked out from our civil service be looked upon as change agents in Najib's quest for the holy grail of political transformation?
I may be convinced of the correctness of such a rationale, if the civil service is the cradle of super talented individuals and the standard of excellence of our civil service is the measure of competence. Unfortunately, the various measure of excellence imputed into such 'qualifications' are debatable. But it isn't about the quality of our civil service that we are now going to discuss.
I am apprehensive of the trends regarding UMNO. And here are my reasons for being nervous.
How does the public feel about UMNO and BN? To be more specific how does the Malay public feel about UMNO?
Some days ago, UMNO Setiawangsa convened a meeting. It is preparing a list of election speakers to campaign for the next parliamentary candidate. They are speculating that Zulhasnan will be replaced by the anak mami from Penang but now residing mostly in KL. Shahrizat's name is being mentioned as a possible replacement for Zulhasnan, because she stands no chance at all in Lembah Pantai.
How was the response to that meeting? It was lackluster said my source. I think I know the reasons said i. was there any mention of money? Allocations? None said my source. There you are. UMNO people I general respond in a Maslow like behavior. They respond favorably when there are financial incentives. Of course, that kind of response isn't a crime or inherently wrong. But is shows one thing. UMNO can lose because it depends mainly on mercenary-like behavior. Rome fell because it entrusted its defences to paid mercenaries. Mercenaries fight with dedication as long as they get paid.


Tuesday 25 January 2011

More than just a pretty face


I like this argument because of its endless variations; cikgu Mala will not sacrifice religious principles in order to please voters. Suppose now, after the results are out, she doesn't win. Will those who didn't vote her be labeled as heathens?

Islam to the Malays is a sensitive issue. No one Malay likes to be labeled irreligious. Muslim People drink, they fornicate, but they don't eat pork. A Muslim Malay can do all sorts of wrongs, but there a limit.

On an overall basis, the limit is reached when it comes to differentiating Malays in terms of religion. Differentiating Malays according to their religious quotient is a double edged sword. Cikgu Mala now has presented herself as a very observant Muslim. I say this without cynicism, this is good. But my argument earlier stays- her goodness benefits herself as an individual. But is it relevant to society?

Society demands more than just having a demure personality and a heart fluttering trait. You will need a feisty, robust, balanced individual. There are many more elements to a good leader than just a face on the shoulders.

UMNO before 1981 practised a principle that stood the test of time for a while. When Tun Razak did a talent scout, the first element he looked for was, can this person work. DS Najib, please take note ok.

After 1981, the principle was and has been since- can this person be trusted. Many of the ills which UMNO currently faces is the result of adopting the principle of can this person be trusted.

Here I use the term trust in a specific sense- the leader chooses his subordinates on the basis of being able to trust the chosen one. That the chosen one stays loyal even as the leader strays from the founding principles of the cause. The corrupt leader chooses his subordinates confident that they will keep quiet, wont rock the boat, join in the looting.

We encourage PAS to extol and overrate this trait found on Cikgu Mala. Because it's the principle of choosing whether we can trust rather than can work which right thinking people in UMNO are fighting to reject.

You don't choose leadership material based on submissiveness, compliance and honor among thieves. What PAS wants the people of Tenang do, is to choose on the basis, this is a face we can trust. No sir, we want the people of Tenang to choose on the basis, this is the face who can work and deliver.


Tenang: UMNO, don’t spoil the advantage!

My preceding article has created a mild storm. I have offered a frank assessment of the chances of the PAS candidate. The assessment may not be true but I have given reasons for my thinking so. If you counter argue by casting aspersions as to the abilities of your adversary- that could only mean, you don't have substance in your arguments. We can disagree politely I hope.
The thrust of the essay was my assessment on who is going to win. It's not a debate on halal or haram of shaking hands between persons who are not muhrim. Most of the commentators like I who touched the subject are layman in so far as expertise on the subject is concern. The proper debate should be conducted by the experts in the field. I am not easily taken in by the argument by one commentator that he/she has done some research on the subject; to what level if I may ask? The authenticity of your sources? Your own level of understanding on the subject? Research by a form 3 student is not the same as research by an undergraduate.
As to the PAS candidate, she has all the admirable qualities as a winnable candidate. The first time I encountered a similar behavior was sometime in 1975 I think. I visited a relative in what was then Pantai Dalam who had just taken a young bride from his home state of Kelantan. When we were introduced, she used her selendang to buffer hand hands doing handshakes. This was very civilized and spiritual I thought. So, if cikgu Mala chooses this method it's admirable.
Then, we only need to ask, will this element be her advantage? To me, it's good she displays the pious qualities. The merits go to her as a person. Will that be beneficial to society as a whole, is another question. Ok, I can understand the angst some people have at a somewhat liberal view of such pious act. It's like comparing a person who is pious and a person less pious but street-smart. A person's piety brings goodness to himself but the other person's street smartness brings good to the greater number. So which one will you choose?
That's when an admirable quality can in fact turn into a liability. The people making a judgment on her are not made up of her brothers and sisters, or those who, if they come in physical contact with her, does not require her to renew ablution ( ambil wudhu') or 80 year old non lecherous men. Though I know of some octogenarians who are still at it (including even kings).
It is admirable that she goes around wearing gloves and shakes hands. This is demanded by the Shafie School of Islamic jurisprudence as practiced here in Malaysia. It is also noteworthy to be aware that the other schools of Islamic jurisprudence do not share this strictness. Above all, this isn't the main issue I wrote of in that article. The article was about who is going to win. Winning will depend on the ability to establish one's relevance in Tenang. Given her constitution, will she be more relevant than the BN candidate? We should be debating that.
No one raises arguments against the FELDA support, the non FELDA Malays and the Chinese in Tenang who vote on practical considerations. Instead everyone seems to zero in on the issue her choice not to shake hands with menfolk barehanded.
We shall leave the acrimonious exchanges. I like to be fair to the opposition too. Now, I offer my thoughts on the BN candidate.
UMNO people never learn. They were nearly defeated in the 2008 elections but behaved as though things will get better for them. Its leaders gallivant around making out themselves as being God's gift to the country. The UMNO president and PM can talk as much as he wants and wipe the saliva at the corner of his mouth; UMNO seems impervious to change. Members of UMNO Johor appear to be the cockiest of the lot.
Before this former ADO got chosen, at least 15 names among UMNO stalwarts were submitted. None was chosen and an outsider, who didn't hold any post in the division, was selected. This created pandemonium within UMNO Bahagian Labis. UMNOniks responded the only way a spoilt child would have behaved. They sulked for days refusing to campaign for the outsider.
Muhyiddin had to come a few times to put things in order. The UMNO president has to come to Tenang a few times. Ahmad Maslan, the clownish Information Chief and Deputy Minister who has the habit of handing out his business cards to people, literally encamps himself in Tenang. Support and efforts from UMNO Bahagian Labis were not forthcoming. Things are really moving at a snail's pace there in Tenang.
The cockiness of this UMNO bahagian even extended to its refusal to let other UMNO divisions in Johor come into Tenang to help out. One local UMNO warlord is now busy collecting names and signatures of UMNO members who will protest by disowning their UMNO membership and pledged allegiance to PAS and its candidate.
UMNO is facing the PAS candidate as a house divided by internal revolt. The advantage it has on paper looks likely to be cancelled out by its stupidity.


Sunday 23 January 2011

BN can win in Tenang.


What will people make of the refusal of the PAS candidate refusing to shake hands with menfolk in Tenang? She may have the vision, analytical skills, imagination and all that. But does she have a sense of reality? Is she displaying a sense of pompous piety? Really, will shaking hands with menfolk in public in front of many, compromised her religious beliefs and will drive menfolk into sexual frenzy?

Will the absence of the sense of reality diminish her capacity to serve as ADUN? Her refusal to shake hands will be read as lack of pragmatism and sense of reality. Not good qualities to be without in an ADUN.

The fact sheet about Tenang is as follows. Tenang has 14,753 registered voters comprising 7,014 Malays (47.5%), 5,766 Chinese (39%), 1,780 Indians (12%) and other races (1.5%). There are 18 postal voters.

Most of the Malays in Tenang are involved in agriculture. 3000 of them lived in Felda settlements. By and large, Felda settlers should be unmoved by side issues. Like others they are conscious and aware of the evils of corruption. They do read in between the lines. The question is will this concern be big enough to translate into votes against BN? Probably the people in Tenang have a live and let live attitude. It's not commendable, but that's how it is.

Like many of us, Felda settlers are resigned to the fact that corruption isn't easy to abolish and proven in court. Energy and resources would be wasted. Settlers are more concerned about bread and butter issues. Will they be getting their land titles? Will the good palm oil price persevere? Will the community get social amenities and facilities? Can their children have access to educational facilities? If the PM comes and says there's cash to be given around, they will gladly accept the money. Who doesn't with school going children and a host of expenses to be met at the beginning of the year?

As to the corruption, they will support those public spirited souls who continue to expose the shenanigans of those in power. Like I said, corruption is an important issue but the difficulty is to establish the relevance of such an issue in Tenang in a by election. How far has the alleged pervasive corruption affected their lives? If the PR can establish a direct link between this issue and the interests of the Tenang people, they can win support and votes.

Hence the issues such as corruption will be interesting to hear, clapped and jeered at. But I fear it will not be enough to sway voters.

Will the opposition inspired ANAK be a force in Tenang? The issues raised by Anak concerning deceitful pricing of FFB (that's fresh fruit bunches) and others are contestable in court. That can be easily demonstrated as the presence of avenues for settlers to settle grievances. As settlers have won several cases, these facts can be adduced as evidence that, what the Felda Corporation people connived were not done with government's complicity. So I would say, ANAK's ability to influence the majority of felda settlers will not be as great as to sway voters away.

What about the 4000 or so Malay non settlers? They work as traders, educationists and general workers. What are the issues that interest them?

What do UMNO and PR represent? That's what interests them. Which way they go will depend on the ability of any one party that is better able manage the demand between Malay issues and how far these issues can be and are compromised. That would depend on the ability to assuage the feelings and assurance given that Malay concerns will not be compromised. Religion, language, kings and so forth.

Who gets the votes will likely depend on which party is perceived to have given up more than necessary.

I suspect, people will be asking to evaluate as between Najib Tun Razak and Anwar Ibrahim, who have compromised Malay issues more? Then, as between them, who is better able to assure Malays that their interests will be protected. Urban Chinese will also evaluate who between the two is better able to mollify Chinese apprehensions.

I called a Chinese businessman friend whose home is in Segamat. I asked him who he thinks will win. He answers without missing a beat- BN gerenti menang!. Menang in Tenang.

Almost 40% of the voters are Chinese mostly engaged in trading and mercantile activities. As long as they make money or the environment within which they can make money is all right, Chinese are ok. They are indifferent as to who governs. Will the climate be good to allow making money? They will be looking at who between BN and PR are able to inspire confidence.

The Indians who are relative poorer community requires nothing but immediate relief. Bring relief, and the Indians will be won over. There's nothing demeaning in this attitude, but they like others, will be looking out for their immediate interests first.

This by election is not about finding who between the candidates are pristine and pure in their religious beliefs. If that is the case, then the PAS candidate displaying a very public sense of piety by refusing to shake hands with menfolk can easily win. By the way, is this an indication that people in Tenang are a bunch of horny hordes that the slightest touch of the human flesh with the opposite sex will trigger sexual urges that are uncontrollable? What are they eating?

People will be looking at pragmatism here. To me, it is ironic that a dose of pragmatic balance between demands of religious edicts with practical aspects of human interaction during the course of work becomes the deciding factor in the election in Tenang. Will the people in Tenang be willing to live with an ADUN who wears gloves all the time to allow her to shake hands with all and sundry?


Saturday 22 January 2011

Tunisia and political opportunism in Malaysia

When revolution (it was that actually), took place in Tunisia recently, it sent shivers to all the despotic rulers around the Arab region. It also sent shivers to those western powers notably Europe and America on the real possibilities that those countries which they supported, could call also succumb to revolution.
Because in these countries, there are many things similar to Tunisia, oppressive government, despotic rulers, extensive poverty, schisms in society, rampant corruption, abuse of power and so forth. The USA chiefly, finds it a necessary evil to support and help maintain rulers of these countries, because they are friendly to USA and her interest. America it seems is obsessed at propping up benevolent dictatorships as bulwark states to Iran for instance.
The chief enemy to America, for which the price to contain the enemy is of no consequence, is the rise of political Islam. This is the chief enemy- because Islam does not only pose a formidable challenge to America's messianic mission to spread western democracies, but Islamism can also be a possible means to shift entire societies to retrogressive eras. America, guardian of universal values, democracy, reason and modernity will have none of the ear chopping, hands cutting, eyes skewering and honor killing stuff. These are stuffs of a barbaric era.
This is the fear which America is interested to cultivate. Stop political Islam because Political Islam will push back modernity and modernity is what the world needs. It serves American interests to see that the world is engulfed in a schizophrenic instant fear of anything Islam, Islamism or Islamic. (Religion, its political variants and its features).
The way America sets about doing this, i.e. spreading universal values, reason and rationality is not entirely virtuous. The truth perhaps is, the majority of people would prefer and are eager to live under liberal democracies where people live a normal life. The reason why America is allowed a wide berth to carry out its democratizing ideals, apart from it being a super military power and has the means to enforce submission, is because, the universal values it talked about are in resonance with what normal people ACTUALLY want. And normal people do indeed want normalcy.
How do you stop the rise of Political Islam?
America can't simply march into other countries and impose its sense of moral tyranny. Of course it has done just that in modern times; in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is trying to achieve this imposition of universal values through American democracy by way of bombing and napalming entire villages and cities. The cost of all these- civilian deaths, wanton destruction are just collateral damage to the higher agenda of setting up democracies upholding universal values, rationality and modernity. To continue doing this, America risks universal condemnation. There is nothing we can do, if entire people of any one nation, choose to lead a life and lifestyle that affronts American values.
So it does the indirect means. Prop up tyrannical and satellite governments in the form of dictatorships, one party state, military rule as long as American interests first and universal values second, are also carried out.
So what do you offer the world? A sort of political Phillips curve. Now, economists will remember, that the Phillips curve described a phenomenon whereby a trade-off occurs between unemployment and inflation. Lower unemployment is possible at the cost of higher inflation. It was a novel observation at one point in time.
The same principle applies when America and it satellite subscribers see Islam. There is a Phillips Curve version between the rate of modernity and the rate of Islamism. Islamism is the rise of Islamic political consciousness. Higher and more modernity is only possible when the rise of Islamism is cut down.
Closer to home- that sense of paranoiac fear that America wants to create, is easily lapped up by self-serving writers and dark propagandists. Any political party bearing the torch of political Islam is readily equated with the evil of Islamic politics which America wants to stop.
And in Malaysia, the only want party that seeks to establish political Islam is PAS. Hence PAS becomes the logical and clear target of venomous attacks, the political bombing and napalming. Writers of sorts, seizing on the fact, that indeed, many of the worst regimes and most backward states are ruled by Islamic tyrants and proponents of a return to the dark ages are Muslim, are pushing for a general acceptance that anything PAS brings, must be rejected off hand.
How do you do this? By insisting that any rule, other than Islamic rule is better and society is better off without political Islam. Never mind some of the abuses of power, the daily grind of corruption exposed, the rape on the judiciary and perversion of justice, the clear pillage of the treasury and the country's wealth. Just like the price America pays to ensure the spread of liberal democracy, reason and modernity, these are mere collateral damages to our country.
Do we accept this kind of perverted reasoning?


Wednesday 19 January 2011

My party right or wrong, my country right or wrong

I think the State Department should learn a lot from Tunisia and rethink Wikileaks, cellular networks, social networks, and the power of the raw truth when dictators lose control of the popular message.
Tunisia is an object lesson for many. I certainly hope so. Wikileaks symbolizes one organization dedicated to exposing the truth. Cellular networks, social networks symbolize means to democratize views, opinions and reasoned arguments. They get energized and received strength from the power of raw truth.
Apply these to the misplaced idealism captured by the popular slogan, my party – right or wrong or in the case of a country, my country right or wrong.
There is a school of thought, wanting UMNO to be placed on the same platform- my party, right or wrong. This notion seems to be validated by the equally erroneous idea of my country, right or wrong.
This line of thinking in modern times, I think can no longer be defended. In UMNO for example, there are sufficient number who want UMNO to uphold its integrity. One of the ways to do this is to censor what is wrong and remit the wrong for punishment. Wrongs cannot be upheld by UMNO because, the weight of public opinion, the power of raw truth will want UMNO to fall in line.
Similarly, the proposition of my country, right or wrong is also no longer tenable. Why? Because the weight of opinion from right thinking citizens fueled by the power of raw truth, amplified to the Nth power by the means to democratize, will result in even nascent ideas ensuring even a country to fall in line.
Tunisia should serve as alarm bells for those who subscribe to the notion, my party-right or wrong or my country right or wrong. Indeed Tunisia must.


Monday 17 January 2011

The Future of Malaysian Politics

People don't seem to realize that I often write on UMNO with a view of reminding our leadership on what I think should be done. If the intention is misconstrued or misunderstood, perhaps the fault is mine.
When I criticize some business deals which I think are suspicious, UMNO people shouldn't get upset. If they do, people might construe their opposition as support for shady deals, abuse of power, bad governance and corruption. UMNO is against all these. If they defend UMNO on these counts, they are entrenching the idea that UMNO is inherently bad.
The problem I think stems from claiming ownership of whatever UMNO people do. UMNO shouldn't have this culture- UMNO my party right or wrong. It should be UMNO my party does what is right.
This is clearly a wrong position to take. We should not claim ownership of bad things UMNO people do. We should join in condemning them because we want UMNO to remain a party of integrity.
We have a strange situation now. I think, in general, despite whatever UMNO supporters say, there hasn't been any perceptible move towards re embracing UMNO. People in general mistrust UMNO. UMNO hasn't shed off its arrogance and bully tactics. Its showing it is incapable of dealing with dissenting views and does not have the credentials to deal with the future. How has UMNO approached dissenting views and opposition? By making endless police reports. The police should not be used as an oppressive tool by UMNO.
What is the main hindrance stopping UMNO from controlling the future? Chiefly because it doesn't understand the meaning of the future. The future is not something that's to be announced or declared. It is something that is to be achieved. Meaning- it exists on a set of actions. Doing something about it rather than talking.
Hence, it is something when we declare the NEM, the ETP, GTP and that EPPs, etc. we have only begun declaring them. We haven't set out achieving them yet. That's a different matter.
Hence, UMNO people think they have control over the future just BECAUSE they are the first to announce it?
In an earlier article, I have cited 2 main reasons as to why UMNO can lose the next elections. First, they haven't replicated the factors that made them successful in villages and rural areas in the urban areas. This is because; it is the urban areas that are becoming the forward bases of Malay politics. Second, the generational disconnect between UMNO and the younger generation. UMNO hasn't developed the tools to handle these things.
Thus, you have a situation where UMNO is defeatable.
Those people condemning Anwar Ibrahim of his whatever inside PKR do not automatically jump over to UMNO or their opposition necessarily translates into support for UMNO. We must learn this once and for all- allegiance to UMNO is not given, it must be earned. And 'be earned' means must come about as a result of some positive action on the part of UMNO. It doesn't get allegiance as a result of default from the other side.
When I point out to the weaknesses of UMNO's strategy of tacking the future, people get upset. But they can't express their upset beyond saying I am useless or two-faced or turncoat or something. How do you win over people if you use this approach?
I am merely pointing out the possible fault lines. I see a general trend in mistrusting UMNO by the younger generation. I see deep disillusionment by the older generation with UMNO.
And the worst thing that UMNO can do is to stick to the archaic belief that UMNO is Malay and Malay is UMNO. Malays don't believe that anymore. Our Malay-ness is not dependent on being UMNO. As long as we are Malay, we are capable of articulating our interests. We have gone past assigning the role of articulating our interests to UMNO because it has failed to live up to expectations.
Here is an even stranger thing. The main problem with the opposition parties is they haven't gone beyond the act of doing more than just winning a large number of seats. It would be a mistake if they thought, the fact they won initially 82 seats, those wins came about as a result of an intrinsic hatred for BN and UMNO. The people made a rational decision based on the years of bullying and arrogance by the BN ruling parties. I am not willing to concede the rejection as being driven about by deep-seated animosities but rather, they are driven by informed and conscious evaluation of the choices opened to them. The point is, the people can also form the same judgment on the opposition parties.
So beyond just relishing and basking in the aftermath of what could actually be an election fluke, the opposition parties have not been able to get together and act as a cohesive unit. PAS and DAP mistrust each other and PKR is being burdened by Anwar's own personal controversies.
We have a sort of stalemate really. How then can we break from this impasse?
What's lacking is perhaps a central rallying figure with the stature that is believable by the majority of people and parliamentarians. We may need perhaps a figure, a unifying symbol as it were acceptable to PAS, DAP, PKR and progressive minded people within UMNO who are united by the idea of the greater good for this country as whole.
What's also lacking perhaps is a cohesive manifesto or plan or agenda that say what is to be done for Malaysia.


Sunday 16 January 2011

The rise of citizen journalism and public anger

Just a few weeks ago, the president of NUJ offered some very damning thoughts on the reasons for the overall decline in newspaper circulation. Example: the principal cause for the decline in Utusan Malaysia's circulation is its racist tilt. In other words, Utusan Malaysia is racist.
Coming from a Malay against a Malay vernacular paper is almost blasphemous! I am not going into that area. What I want to know is whether Saudara Hatta's views are capable of general application. Will I be able to say then; the reduced circulation of NST for example, is caused also by its overt racist inclinations?
NST people will be the first to go up in arms. It will say and state, in its usual dour and bossy tone- it practices no racism and discrimination.
Even though I may not like its way of stating things, I will have to agree with NST. I would have thought, NST's reduced circulation is not caused by any overt racist inclinations. For that, we have to look elsewhere.
Therefore, Hatta's views are not capable of general application.
The decline in Utusan's circulation cannot be due to the fact that it's written in Baahsa Melayu. If that is so, how do you explain the circulation of the other tabloid papers, those mosquito papers written in Malay which are big on sensational stories about artistes' lives and ghost stories and with the appealing mix of sex, violence and romance are doing well?
Hence language is not the reason for reduced circulation.
In any case, any newspaper, in whatever language it's written, if they have the UK Sun's page-3 element, will certainly increase circulation, especially among male readers. Way back when I was studying in UK, the Sun was a popular daily tabloid. People used to joke that the hottest part of the Sun is page 3. Page 3 of course displayed pictures of nubile fairer sex in tantalizing poses au naturel. Likewise, on Sundays, the most popular segment of MIngguan Malaysia is Pancaindera.
If the decline in NST's circulation isn't caused by racism, then what's the cause?
This does not apply only to NST. It applies to all prints.
I would say, there are two principal causes. One, the rise of the internet. Two, the rise and expanding relevance of citizen journalism.
The main cause for the decline is the internet. More people read online newspapers than printed material. Traditional papers employ tens and hundreds of journalists. Online newspapers a fraction of those.
How do you explain the 'defeat' of the many against the few? We have to look first at the composition, structure and quality of the many. The decline in NST's circulation and therefore relevance may actually be caused by these things in the many.
The many in the NST are from the school of journalism from one educational institution. And you know they operate like a secret society, guarding entry into the brotherhood, jealous of anyone not schooled in the same values. Above all, they have this overinflated notion of self-importance that THEY and THEY ALONE have the right to have an opinion on anything. This is the main cause of NST's degeneration.
I can guarantee, if they continue with this misplaced sense of self-importance, the paper will die together with the demise of their egos.
Well, the readers have given their verdict the opinions of the enthroned journalists are not worth the paper on which they are printed.
The answer also lies in the quality of journalism offered. I will simply say, the decline in NST's circulation is caused by the questionable quality of its journalism. The quality of its journalists and the quality of issues reasoned out.
As to the power of citizen journalism, the internet and the peoples' verdict, I hope ALL mainstream papers need only look at what happened in Tunisia recently.
It is interesting though that it took a combination of angry Tunisians, Wikileaks, U.S. diplomacy, a dissident soldier and social media to ignite the rebellion. Most likely if it had been Hillary Clinton alone telling the Tunisian people how corrupt Ben Ali was, it would have backfired.
I think the State Department should learn a lot from Tunisia and rethink Wikileaks, cellular networks, social networks, and the power of the raw truth when dictators lose control of the popular message.
Perhaps the papers like NST are missing on these things. Having the 'many' fortified by walls of self-interests and intoxicated by its own inflated notion of self-importance and indispensable relevance, does not help matters. It has probably prevented NST into becoming the crusader of journalism's holy grail- truth and objectivity.
What happened in Tunisia demonstrated the general distrust of the public of mainstream explanations. It took some activists diplomats and Wikileaks to reveal what many Tunisians suspected and that is the extent of the government's corruption and abuse to ignite the overthrow.
The state apparatuses supported by papers with an inflated notion of self-importance should also reflect on what happened in Tunisia.
The paradox here is obvious. The U.S. spends hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of human lives are lost in a bloody military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq with very little success in establishing grassroots change. And instead, U.S. diplomats telling a detailed story about corruption in Tunisia and a group of determined journalists at Wikileaks and Bradley Manning accomplished what a decade of military intervention in the Middle East could not: a popular uprising against corruption and dictatorship.


Saturday 15 January 2011

Atrophy and Renaissance.

And now it is scrapping the bottom of the barrel, using Umi Haffida's help.This woman's sounds so stupid, so unMalay and out of her mind. Now more people will distance themselves from UMNO


The above was a comment on my earlier article. The message of that article should be abundantly clear. Unless UMNO develops the tools beyond mere hype, it can lose. Not that it MUST and NECESSARILY lose, but CAN lose.

Unfortunately, I think this isolated event which the commentator laps up, does not contribute to the alienation of UMNO. I believed for a transformation to occur, it does not arise as a result of a single event, however important the author/s of that event want it to be.

It has to be a change in the enabling environment. A general trending as it were, of which a single event may or may not be a factor. So UMi Hafilda or who or Anwar Ibrahim are not the factors that will lead to our political transformation.

I have come to realize, this craving for change is not because those who want change are motivated by Anwar Ibrahim. It's because, by and large, the people in general are tired of the same old business. The business as usual approach- entrusting the elite to make sure things are all right.

In exchange for what? In exchange for these so called intelligent people do things as they pleased? So that a person in power can do whatever to the maid and subject us to his bullying tactics on a daily basis? So that the CEO of khazanah can reach Putrajaya in a helicopter? So that the CEO of Khazanah and his smart assed boys can play out their missed childhood fantasies in a Disney- like setting at Lego land?

So you put the paper tigers in Khazanah for example and they run and operate any businesses they want and crowd out the real entrepreneurs. And then you ask them to assess each other. The mister CIMB will of course say only good things about Khazanah because the latter holds almost 30% in Khazanah.

What is it are the people looking out for? They are looking for a more reliable and democratic form of authority. This is the general trending I am speaking about.

We haven't actually place Najib's big ideas on a rigorous examination. Because we are busy looking at the man, who he is rather than the substance of his ideas. It's an indicator of how 'primitive' we are actually when we evaluate someone based on who he is rather than what he can do.

It is already showing the same business as usual strategy- entrusting the future of this nation to an elite group of businessmen, technocrats, civil servants. These are supported by the very same institutions that supported the old business ways.

Go into the inner recesses of Sungai Penchala, and you will see mansions built by retired civil servants. How did they get the money? I am sure most of them didnt get them through managing real businesses. These are former DGs, KSUs, TKSUs, SUBs etc. They probably got them through ill-gotten means. Probably a large portion came from the RM28 billion that is lost each year through leakages- corruption, artificial pricing of magee mee packs, gold plated screw drivers, titanium bolts, submarines that can't dive, budget planes that will cost more when fitted with engines, radars, computers etc.

It makes us wonder; when Proudhon declared that 'property is theft' he was actually onto something.

What is Najib doing actually? As many people say in an unserious manner, he is outsourcing everything. But he is outsourcing the running of the country to a special group of people- the elites in their field. Hence his 4th Floor is manned by over 1000 people and we lament the increasing administrative costs. Yusof Noor the symbol of can't do anything much any longer is retained as adviser. The same drill is replicated in many other areas. GLCs are peopled by persons who should retire and step aside for real operators.

So, what's wrong with that approach? The 'wrong' is that these people operate under the same institutions that supported the old ways. So, transformation can't really occur if these people, however bright and industrious they are, are using the same tools as before.

Just look at the old power structures- GLCs, Government departments, our dewan negeris and Dewan Rakyat or even the mainstream media- have proven to be incompetent and corrupt. What the main cause? - The main cause are the people who run these institutions who occupy the commanding heights of our meritocratic order or what we assumed it to be. What have we turned these people into?

They think, the organizations they lead are theirs and they can do as they pleased. Nazir Razak thinks CIMB is his. Tan Sri Ali down south thinks Johor Corporation is his and he refuses to let go as though it's his own personal property. You need to convene an EGM to remove him?

So again, what are people looking for that's driving this country into a changed era? People are looking for a more democratic and reliable form of authority.


Thursday 13 January 2011

UMNO’s inability at managing change or why it CAN lose

Many seemingly unrelated events point to a unified theme. Our nation is finally gripped in a loosening of controls and inhibitions. That is not good for UMNO which chooses to remain archaic and clings to the old ways. UMNO it seems thrive very well in a culture of subservience, inhibitions and controlled environment. In an undefined setting, its lost. Imagine if the new approach towards uplifting social consciousness and thought formation like crowdsourcing makes its way into Malaysia, where social actions arise from undefined social and organizational sources, UMNO will be finished.
The seizure of power in Perak for example is generally viewed as being made possible by the involvement of the Perak King. Despite the court's ruling, the people's court regards Zambry Kadir as a political usurper. He is an illegitimate and illegal MB.
It follows then, that whatever polices that Zambry Kadir formulated from the time he assumed power were illegal. The moneys appropriated and set aside from the consolidated fund and applied for a variety of purposes were also illegal.
Just recently, the appointment of the Selangor SS was also seen as being made possible by the intervention and involvement of the king of Selangor.
The two events resulted in a loosening of people's inhibitions. People are becoming emboldened to question the proper role of the constitutional monarchy. Let us be clear to what is happening here. People are pointing out to the fact that ours is a constitutional monarchy. It's not a call for the overthrow of the institution or a call for rebellion. It is suggestive of a larger desire by an increasing number of the population, to see that the proper rule of law and the sovereignty of the rule of law need to and should be observed. Pointing that out is not intended to derhaka to the monarchy.
The majority of Malays who did not vote for UMNO are now centered mostly in cities and towns. There is a magic ingredient in urban life. Maybe it's the Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Subway sandwiches culture. They are more mobile in their thinking and are less inhibitory in speech and actions. The younger generation of Malays in towns and cities hardly read newspapers. Those who continue to read are people like in my generation- the old school generation who needed something to engage our minds when sitting on the 'throne' every morning.
The younger generation surfs the internet. Those who are about to enter voting age are openly criticizing the much ballyhooed Islamic Fashion Show in Monaco. Monaco is famous for only one thing- it's the gambling capital of the world and the citadel of decadence and opulence. The younger generation of voting age can openly criticize the organizers and the patrons of that event.
These are the people who will never vote for UMNO and BN.
Again the common factor is the removal of inhibitions.
Those Malays who migrated into towns and cities adopt a very different culture from those Malays in villages and Kampong. They are less inhibited in their culture, ideas and actions. The recent Juara Lagu contest showed clearly the rise of a new Malay generation with a less inhibited culture. The young lass, Yuna for example while singing adorning a conservative dressing, displayed a readiness and willingness to also adopt new technology and a new styling in the choice of her song. The young lad, by the name of Tomok did a song and dance routine that was hardly conservative and Malay in its purity. Again, they symbolize the uninhibited.
The Malays dwelling in cities and towns and making up the increasingly bigger number of Malay voters are not accompanied by the inhibitive and controlling structures in the villages. In the village you have all sorts of institutional structures- the JKKK, the surau committee, the prevailing conservative and possibly religiously restraining social and cultural milieu.
You have little of these in cities. These structures are not replicated in towns and cities. You don't have the heavily politicized JKKK, the various personality centered grassroots organizations and that sort of thing. There is in general, a loosening cultural milieu in the cities and towns.
Yet these were the structures that made UMNO more successful than others in the villages and kampongs. Since these are not replicated in towns and cities, they also account for the loosening of UMNO's grip on the Malays.
Writing on the Industrial Revolution of the 1860s, Arnold Toynbee in his Lectures on the Industrial Revolution observed:-
The success of Britain in pioneering industrial change and ushering in a new world history was not the result of mere mechanical inventiveness. The essential ingredient was a political culture which was receptive to change and improvement. Old working practices had to be abandoned, old rights had to be torn up, and the whole social and economic fabric of a country had to be loosened up if innovations were to take effect. (From The Industrial Revolutionaries- The Making Of The Modern World, 1776-1914. Gavin Weightman.
UMNO doesn't seem to have what it takes to manage the loosening of the social and cultural milieu. Nor does it seem to have the presence of mind, the verve so to speak, to manage the change.
When UMNO sponsored or indirectly supported those wild eyed young men and women to shout violent outbursts and threatening verbal abuses against the so called traitors of certain Malay institutions, it only points out to one fact- that UMNO has lost its grip on the loosening and uninhibited future culture.
Since it doesn't understand and lacked the tools to manage the new social milieu, it can lose in the next GE.


From Indonesia with love

I am sure many of us listened to the interview with Sumiwati. She is a roommate to the unfortunate Robengah, the Indonesian maid to Minister Rais Yatim and wife Masnah Rais.
Sumiwati denied the presence of any opportunity for the act in question to be committed. She said Rais would come back to the house and go upstairs immediately. There was little interaction and in fact, Sumiwati said, Rais hardly knew the maids. There were 3 of them, sharing one room downstairs. It's impossible for anything to happen if there were always 3 of them.
However, Robengah painted a different and perhaps contradictory picture. She said Rais was nice to her and often gave her gifts and other things and she usually opens the gates. So they had every opportunity to eyeball one another.
It looks like this episode surrounding Rais will be feedstuff for the political canons in days to come. The only way for these innuendos to end is for Rais to take legal action against those he thinks have aspersed and libeled him. He must seek legal redress.
It is to Rais's discredit to come out with a denial so many weeks after the news about the incident first leaked. This has resulted in endless rounds of speculation that, the intervening period was sufficient for Rais or his supporter to dispatch someone to Indonesia, seek out poor Robingah and 'persuaded' here to retract and change her story. But her story was sent to the US and other embassies and even sent to the Malaysian government. Meaning, the then PM and the then DPM knew of the stories.
The PM's answer of 'why now' was unfortunate, I think. A better answer would be, if there is any crime or wrong committed in Malaysia, it must be reported here. Since it wasn't reported here, there was no need to investigate. Since it was only reported in Indonesia, the investigating authority is Indonesia's. And if Indonesia has said nothing of that sort happened, it's no business of Malaysia to question the integrity of such an investigation. End of story.

What shall not end are the implications on Malaysian politics. Whatever one wishes to think of the incident, the political future of Rais is sealed. The PM can't go face an election with disabilities a plenty. Nor can Rais face the public with a straight face.
It looks like Rais's politics will come to an ignominious closure.


Wednesday 12 January 2011

The way we play our politics

The BN MPs and especially the UMNO ones are nervous. They are not confident of retaining their seats anymore. That, despite the almost daily onslaught of black propaganda from the mainstream media.
That despite in 2011, the government will issue bonds totaling RM 87 billion. That despite the government announcing a slew of economic initiatives spending 400 over billion so that we get an economy of over 1 trillion.
With money seemingly flooding, our MPs are nervous? It shows no money can buy confidence and trust. Confidence and trust in the benevolence of the present national government.
It prompted the MPs to suggest the PM meet up with the MPs. Read carefully- it's not a meeting for the PM to analyze or the MPs being asked what projects do they want. The MPs are actually sizing up the PM- what he plans to do in order for the BN and UMNO MPs to stay in power. But the pesky fake royalty appeared and sounded more spoon that spade. ( lebih camca pulak dari sudu).
The MPs are also weighing their options too. If they thought the PM is wishy washy, they will desert him. Nothing personal, just business.
Because the MPs can almost see the writing on the wall. They stand to lose power. The people, the masses do not just on one fine morning, make an impromptu decision to not vote BN or just out of spite they voted for Anwar, Nik Aziz, Lim Kit Siang and others. The decision was deliberate. It happened then, it could happen again.
The only line of defiance and defence now seems to be race card. Malays will be finished if UMNO is finished. The Malay Sultans are finished if UMNO is finished. UMNO doesn't seem to get it- UMNO is no longer automatically associated with the protection of Malay interests.
It has lost the mandate to even represent the majority of Malays. I repeat this again. In the 2008 elections there 5.7 million Malay voters and UMNO candidates who must be Malay for sure, only secured 2.38 million votes. Those votes did not come solely from Malay voters which meant maybe UMNO got only around 2 million votes. What did that show? It showed more Malays didn't choose UMNO. So which group of Malays is UMNO representing? It represents the minority.
All those screaming banshees claiming to be pro UMNO just don't get it. What they wanted to get is the money the Ministry of Goebbelsian Propaganda promises to give which somehow it reneged. What they wanted was to get paid hiding behind the false claim that somehow they are performing a vital service to the nation. Why don't they just shut up and not write and see whether the world stops?
Who does UMNO represent really?
It represents the reactionary Malays who opposed the rule of law, those who opposed ethical politics and those who don't respect the legitimacy of a legally elected government.
Consider the case of the appointment of the Selangor state secretary. We can hide all we want behind the niceties of government servants are more or less permanent and that politicians despite being the political masters, are transitory. But still, that doesn't excuse us from doing what is ethical and proper.
the ethical thing is to respect the legitimacy of a properly elected government. In Selangor, it happens to be a PKR government. Let's face it, the BN and UMNO lost the tasted precisely because people are just fed-up at the incompetence, callousness and arrogance of the previous government. We can't defend incompetence and arrogance.
Now, we are trying to subvert the legitimacy of an elected government by throwing a spanner in the wheel. It is a common practice and the civil thing to do, to suggest names of the highest government officials that are compatible with the political leadership. The sole purpose being, so that administrative work and the job of managing the government of the day is smooth.
There is only one way to change a government which is through election and the ballot box. A sitting government can also lose power if it invites a successful vote of no confidence. The sole authority to eject a government must come through a sitting state assembly or parliament. It never rests with a unilateral decision by a monarch.
Please be reminded that we are a parliamentary democracy and our monarchy is a constitutional monarchy.


Tuesday 11 January 2011

PM’s meeting with the BN MPs

Much was made out from the PM's meeting with MPs last week. Not all MPs attended. Maybe 105 or so.

There was one comment on my article in the Malaysian Insider where this article also appeared. The commentator says he has been around because the nature of his work dictates him so. He must a policeman or something of that nature that necessitates him moving around. He says, the mood is slowly going back to the BN government and some are already goyang and even liked the PM.

A long time ago, if this gentleman has read my articles, I have stated that PM Najib is a personable fellow and a very decent bloke. If I am allowed one upmanship, to this commentator I will have to say I have been around the man Najib for some time too. I was his ADUN, his Division Committee member and for 4 years served as Information Chief. That was after 1999 and I met him on regular weekly basis for almost 4 years. I think I can safely say to be able to say something about the man.

The idea to meet all the MPs wasn't his in the first place. Somebody senior in UMNO remarked to people who are close to Najib that it would be a good idea for Najib to meet the MPs to pacify their nervousness. Yessiree- BN MPs are nervous about political developments in their own areas. So contrary to the commentator who says his work takes him around for him to be able to state his observation haughtily, those directly in charge of their wards are nervous!.

So some people brought the idea to Pm Najib, hence the PM meets the MPs. He asks them what projects can he give them in their areas that can nullify or reduce their nervousness.

It wasn't a session for the PM assessing the performance of the MPs. He has all the information he wants from various sources- the SB, Military Intelligence, Kemas, government departments and that shadowy band of eager to please 3rd party volunteers. He does not need the MPs to confirm their deceit and lies.

He wanted to play Santa Claus to deliver goodies so that he can help them retain their seats. In that process he retains Purtajaya.

Was the meeting actually successful? Most of those MPs who went there felt the meeting wasn't useful and effective. They were given about 3 or 4 minutes to speak their mind and with the incessant butting in by the UMNO secgen- Teuku Adnan Mansor buddy to that great businessman Vincent Tan, nothing much can be said to the PM.

Indeed, the most common after the meeting talk and complaint is, WTF should Teuku Adnan be there in the first place?


Sunday 9 January 2011

PM meets the MPs


The PM has met all the BN MPs yesterday. He asked whether they can win and retain their parliamentary seats. I am sure most will say they can. No problem sir. As long as we pump in more money. Semua OK. The rakyat are with us. They all liked you sir.

This is unprecedented. We have never heard of any PM before Najib who has taken this extraordinary step. Inviting all BN MPs to give him a frank assessment of their chances. The only thing similar to this was way back when Dr Mahathir saw every delegate to ask them their stand on his contest with Tengku Razaleigh.

It also shows that Najib is at least methodical. He is actually ferreting the pretenders out.

My only reservations are the way he is doing it. I personally think this is quite not right. It's not in our culture (Malays, Chinese or Indian) to sing our own praises. I would assume the MPs would be bashful.

But then, politicians are a breed apart. They have rhino skin hides. They will say what must be said and will even sell their mothers to get another term as MP.

First they will say politics is not about personalities. It's not about issues. It's about principles. If everything fails, they will cheat. As we now know, issues and personalities are already thrown out- the last arsenal they have left is cheat.

So what do you think when you meet the PM and the Secgen in threes? They will cheat and will be lying through their teeth just to stay on. It is only logical to expect, when there are 3 of you meeting the PM and the Secgen, you are not going to tell the actual story in front of the other 2 MPs who you know will tell tall tales. You will want to out-story them.

Then Najib will know the person lying is the person he wants to get rid of. Has anyone seen how a typical ADUN lists down his activities? He will say something like these:

1.    Attend kenduri

2.    Visit pak bakar karok

3.    Accompany ketua bahagian

4.    Attend workshop

5.    Participate in fishing contest

6.    Hand out Kemas hampers

7.    Attend welcoming back HRH

8.    Follow Dato Najib's entourage.

9.    Send Dato Najib back to the airport.



Where is the beef? Asks the lady in the Wendy's Commercial. PM Najib must throw out all those beefless windbags.

Most likely you can never get the truth out of these people. They will not discredit themselves.

Now I know why Telekom Malaysia does what it does recently. Appoint a subcommittee who submits report to a supervising committee. You ask your own 'brethren' to make a report on themselves. I am sure the people who make up the investigating team are conscious if they come out with an incriminating report, it will be the end of the world, the TM people are accustomed with.

That is the world full of office politicking and infighting. It's a TM world where the executives are busy writing poison pen letters to minsters to inform on each other, to discredit one another. It's a TM world, where every business decision offers an opportunity for many to wet their beaks. I mean can you imagine those eager beavers who gave Alcatel the TM business had also wanted to give Alcatel the business of supplying and installing towers and cabins? Oh, I forget- this is a Fortune 500 company which has many indigenous inventions to its credit. I must not forget to prepare an apology for besmirching Alcatel insinuating it cannot supply and install towers and supply cabins. TM is merely following the established way on how to solve problems.

They learn it from the politicians.

The BN MPs who met PM Najib are masters as this game. How many will say, we will lose this parliament and please replace me? They will instead say- semua OK Dato Sri Sir. Only if we can have these roads, these projects for all the UMNO class F contractors, only we kick out those pesky trouble makers and of course if only I remain the MP. Of course the Indian MP will say, we can win if Palanivel is made full minister. The other Indian will say, we can win if Kaveas is appointed.

PM Najib will of course study carefully these expected answers. He is not a fool to be fooled with these kinds of answers. He knows, the answers will be skewed towards asserting, they can retain their seats provided they are retained as candidates.

In these circumstances, the first rule of thumb PM Najib must observe is to jettison those who gave such simpleton answers. He must apply the contrarian rule. Retain those who are discredited by political rivals within. Because the more likely case is, those discredited by their own members are doing a good job. Seek evaluation from 3rd party sources that are closer to the ground.

Perhaps a better way to make a better judgment is to meet all the ADUNs in the parliamentary areas. Ask them to give an assessment of their parliamentary colleagues. You are more likely to get a truer answer from the ADUNs from a parliamentary seat on the performance of the MPs.


Friday 7 January 2011

The next General Elections: be careful with what you wish

Everyone is talking about the next general elections nowadays. PM Najib is also eager to hold an election. Incoming PMs are always eager to have a new mandate. So that he can form a new team. Members associated with the old team are worried. Those who have overstayed are also jittery. Those tainted with all sort of allegations are feverishly anxious. Those thinking it's their time to step up are busy impressing the boss.
With PM Najib it's not difficult to impress him. The doctors, who planned to take over IJN the last time, presented their case in medical jargon and he was impressed. Now the rich doctors are running IJN and on most airline flights, flight attendants will go around collecting donations for IJN.
For UMNO people, it's time to be more Malay than other Malays. The more vociferous the better. Despite his declared preference for people with merits, DS Najib is human and will succumb to 'careless whispers' from those encircling him. If Nazir Razak were to put in some sanitized remarks about Azman Mokhtar, he shall be made a minister. After all as Nazir said, Azman is cheese to Anuar Aji's chalk.
What is the size of DS Najib's 4th floor? Only God knows. By the way, I thought people were aghast at the size and influence of Pak Lah's 4th floor boys. Well boys, under DS Najib, the single level 4th Floor has become a duplex 4th floor.
Will the 13th general elections be held soon? That is the question haunting many people. The telltale signs are there. The postponement of UMNO party elections. This has always been a prominent indicator as UMNO can't afford to go do battle as a divided force. Then there are the numerous bonuses here and there.

There are also danger lurking. UMNO can't go out in the battle field believing it's ready. What UMNO  believes and it believes in its own hype is one thing. What people believe of UMNO is more important.
Winning isn't dependent on UMNO feeling whatever nowadays- the more important determinant is how do the people feel. People are not bothered for example with what Rais Yatim believes in. he is forever changing modes. People will not want to believe Nor Mohamad Yaakob anymore. Two of his aides were caught out with millions of Ringgit and a string of properties, that it's difficult to believe NMY isn't aware of these things.
Acceptance and belief in UMNO by the people is many times more important that what UMNO people and leaders psyched up themselves with. Downing all kind of strength-enhancing herbal drinks does not seem to help anymore.
Look at what's happening in Selangor. If UMNO has to now depend on organizations like GAP to win back power, its future is doomed. First, you have got it wrong. You don't change a government by asking the MB of the ruling government to resign. You get power through winning an election. That is the honorable and proper way. That is the right way.
And shouting and demanding Khalid Ibrahim step down isn't an election. He is the MB. Try asking your own ketua kampong to step down? Working on the grassroots perceptions cannot be substituted with organized mob demonstrations. Sorry boys. Work on winning allegiance of the people.
As a former ADUN, I can almost picture the welling of emotions, hardly containable. Incumbents wish the election date is delayed so that they can remain as ADUNs or MPs for as long as possible. Most of the time, those agitating for early elections are those thinking it's now their time. When one is terminated as ADUN and MP, it's not necessarily because of under-performance. It has more to do with internal politicking, intrigues and insidious character assassinations.
Those itching to become ADUNs and MPs will not stop at anything to become one. They will push for early elections in the hope they get off red to stand as candidates.
I want to tell UMNO future candidates and incumbents not to be overzealous and overeager. You are entering this 13th general election under a brand name that has been discredited and which hasn't recovered fully. Those ketua bahagians ousted in the 12the GE and were not selected as candidates then will take every opportunity to even the score by sabotaging UMNO. These are UMNO careerists- who think being at a position long enough, confers special privileges. These are the people most opposed to Najib's grand plans of ETP, NEM, 1Malaysia etc.
Those most attached to their positions and have cultivated the idea of acquiring rights and privileges as of right are the very people steeped in the tradition of special Malay privileges for special Malays. They are t every ones captivated with the idea of getting things without the corresponding efforts. They are in a word the political rent seekers.
They are the very ones Najib must dispense with if he is true to what he stands for- NME, ETP, GTP, or whatever else he has thought and will think of in the alphabet soup.
They will feel no guilt and remorse, because in their minds, UMNO has become another SPV ensuring those with vested interests to stay as long as possible.
So really, PM Najib is at sixes and sevens in facing this coming election. He knows he has to jettison many ketua bahagians and UMNO past shelf lives. The biggest question is does he have the nerves to do that?
Unless those encircling him provide him with the nerves of steel, he will not. The one thing most noticeably absent about his approach to managing Malaysia under his stewardship is the lack of will in doing the most important thing- political transformation. Translate into practice, this means, cutting of power from many UMNO incumbents. Transforming the profile of those in power means, simply, replacing many deadwoods if Najib is serious about wanting to do those things he has announced.
But there are already indications that he hasn't got the courage to do that. He seems reluctant to make the sea change necessary to make his ideas work.
Consider the case of Felda. He has named a new chairman. The controversial Isa Samad who once said, those who have taken his money, will answer on the field of judgment. His naming of Isa as chairman has unruffled a lot of feathers especially in Pahang. Why? Because Pahang is the state with the largest acreage of Felda plantations and some of these people feel, Pahang man should deserve the slot. It may not be right, but that's how the power game is played.
Did he remove Yusof Noor the former chairman? He didn't and in fact retained Yusof Noor as advisor to the minister in charge of Felda affairs which is Najib himself.
What do these thing show? They show, Najib lacks the killer instinct to carry out political transformation. What we will probably see, in naming the UMNO the BN candidates later, are just rearranging of musical chairs. Only the unlucky enough, will have no chair to sit on.
That shows how we chose our leaders. It's the luck of the draw. Willy nilly they come.




Thursday 6 January 2011

Revisiting the Alcatel bribery scandal.

Some clarifications are in order. I wrote a number of articles about Telekom Malaysia and the Alcatel issue.
One writer demanded an apology from me for questioning the technical accreditation of Alcatel. He says it's one of the Fortune 500 companies and has a number of inventions to its credit.
That's not relevant for my article. When I said, it didn't secure the technical accreditation, I meant in the context of this deal with Telekom Malaysia and Celcom then and in the context of providing 3G services. No apologies needed there.
The fact was, it didn't get through the technical evaluation phase but some people in Telekom Malaysia and Khazanah and even MOF wanted Alcatel to be in. Further, as one anonymous commented and his comments seemed to match my own internal notes
The former financial and technical guy in XL happened to be my acquaintance who told me that they were cornered by two of the company's Commissioner, both Malaysian. Let's refer them as YA and FA. Two of them cornered those guys separately and force them to change their recommendation to Alcatel. Of course both of them refused, insisting on written instructions (which were not given). YA then send a Malaysian technical expert, let's call him M, to re-evaluate and find fault in XL's recommendation. But again he found nothing wrong and all evaluation process was in adherence to the objective and procedures.
For his opinion, M, was then shipped out to somewhere in Africa (either Malawi or Guinea). Meanwhile, the financial and technical guys were eventually forced out of the company as the consequences. Both of them are happy somewhere else, one in Bakri Group and the other is in Singapore Technologies.
Yet YA and FA are still around in XL doing their things.
Yes, what are the things they do?
I think the quickest and direct route to identify the identity of the 2 Malaysian constants is to remit the whole case to the police and MACC. I am surprised this route is not taken. Instead it has spawned a mini McCarthyite hunt for the identity of Malaysian Consultants A and B. some even linked the identity of one of them to KJ the Ketua Pemuda UMNO and impute his declaration not to contest the Rembau seat, as a means to escape prosecution.
A number of pro UMNO bloggers or UMNO friendly bloggers have written on this topic. One of them is Brick in the Wall. By the way, I shall write about this myth and hype being classified as pro UMNO or government friendly bloggers. Suffice for me to say, some of the raving sirens are not even UMNO members and have no inkling about the happening at the grassroots level.
In his article BIW writes:-
Sakmongkol had disclosed that the consultant paid for USD200,000, referred as Consultant A was Dato Dr Norraesah, Chairman of Alcatel Malaysia, French trained economist and appointed member of UMNO Supreme Counsel.
Sorry, this is not quite right. I didn't say it was Noraesah who got paid. I wrote on her role and position in this Alcatelgate. She was Alcatel Malaysia's boss at the material time.
Sakmongkol revealed one of the Celcom insiders was Celcom CEO, Dato Shazally Ramly, someone socially closed with Khairy during Pak Lah's time but now have distanced himself away.
Also, not quite right. Didn't say Shazaly was such other than suggesting that if we need to know, we camp outside KL Hilton and wait up on Shazaly and asked him some 'penetrating' questions.
The two consultants were actual and real live employees of either Telekom or Alcatel.
Just a few days ago, it was the reaction by Telekom Malaysia and Axiata( nee Celcom) that shocked me.I hope, it has the same effect on many other people.

Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) and Axiata Group Bhd have jointly appointed KPMG Corporate Services Sdn Bhd and Shearn Delamore & Co as forensic accountant and legal adviser respectively to assist in an internal probe over alleged payments received by TM employees from Alcatel-Lucent SA. In a statement to Bursa Malaysia, TM said its board had also approved the setting up of a sub-committee of the Board Audit Committee (BAC) to conduct an independent and comprehensive internal investigation into the alleged improper payments to TM employees. The BAC sub-committee would submit its report and findings to the BAC for further guidance and the next course of action, it said. The sub-committee is chaired by Tunku Datuk Mahmood Fawzy Tunku Muhiyiddin, a member of TM board. Fawzy is also a member of TM's board audit committee and chairman of TM board risk committee.
What is the meaning of this? Over there in America, Alcatel has been fined or legally punished for bribing. It clearly said bribed Malaysian guys to get the USD85 million contract. Here you are forming a subcommittee to report to a supervising committee. You are reporting on yourself. Will you incriminate yourself?
Here we are putting up an elaborate show inviting people to do some forensic investigation. That is certainly a cause for misgiving- since in most cases; such so called forensic exercise will exonerate the perpetrators of the wrong.
Set up a committee to see what must be done with the system put up by Alcatel and explain why it's failing. My question again and again, of the proposal put forth by Alcatel then was clearly technically wanting, why was it accepted despite that? Once accepted, why should we now turn around and disclaim our choice of Alcatel?
Clearly in the case, heads must roll. Why is it so difficult to identify Malaysian consultants A and B? Get Noraesah under the spotlight. Place a helmet over her head, and knock the helmet repeatedly for one hour. I am sure at the end, whatever we want to know about Alcatelgate will come out via a more cost effective way rather than having to employ a hotshot accounting firm and a big named legal firm.


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