Robert Frost:Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Men and Women of the Fifties Generation,

I dedicate this poem by Robert Frost to you, Malaysians of my generation. We all have miles to go before we sleep. It is a dim last 2007 evening in our homeland. Soon it will be 2008.

We have begun the next 50 years with our country lagging behind. Our education system is in a sorry state with our universities in shambles compared to those in our region, let alone those of the Western world, in terms of research and teaching; our economy is performing well below its potential; the income disparity between the urban and rural sectors is widening; corruption is rampant; the government no longer listens to people; it acts with impunity; the Judiciary is corrupt; our once proud civil service where there are still very able and qualified people is completely demoralised; our Police and its specialized agencies are being used to “spy on citizens” in order to protect politicians who have failed us miserably; no one wants to invest here; the media is not free; legitimate dissent is not tolerated; and fear has taken over our land and voices are being silenced.

After 50 years of independence, the state of Malaysia, says Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, quoting Shakespeare’s Prince of Denmark, is rotten. The time is now for us to come out of the woodworks and be counted. Mea culpa, we have allowed our country to deteriorate intellectually,morally and economically. Politically too, we may revert to being a third rate nation.

Please get out of your comfort zone. Join me and let us go change Malaysia for the future of our grandchildren, great grandchildren, and our future generations. Let us make democracy work so that people who we vote into office truly serve the country, not themsleves, their families and relatives, and their cronies. Make integrity matter and restore our dignity.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it’s queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there’s some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Din Merican
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

No Glitter To Merdeka’s Golden Anniversary Year

By Bakri Musa


By right Malaysians should still be relishing the afterglow of their 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations.  Alas, the much-anticipated euphoria was short lived; the grim realities of Malaysian life quickly intruded.

Even the mainstream media carry daily headlines of gory crimes.  If those were not scary enough, residents now live in fear that their basic freedom is being threatened, not by some external enemy rather by their very own government.  Malaysian leaders mistook their electoral mandate for a license to trample on citizens’ basic rights, as in the rights to free assembly and the freedom of conscience.

Those breaches of course did not grab the headlines in the mainstream media; you have to read the alternative media or international publications to get the real news.  The mainstream media instead highlighted Prime Minister Abdullah’s “small” wedding to his “downstairs lady.”

The images of Malaysia projected onto the world stage towards the end of the year were not of a modern nation poised for Vision 2020, rather the typical backward Third World state with a stubbornly bumbling warden as its leader.

The scenes on Al Jazeera and CNN were of the police wildly tear-gassing and firing water cannons upon thousands of peaceful citizens who dared exercise their basic rights to a free assembly.  If those images were not ugly enough, there was Minister of Information Zam in a fit of latah in front of the television cameras for the whole world to see.

Zam is a poor imitation of Saddam Hussein’s Information Minister “Comical Ali.”  At least Ali entertained us with his outlandish bravadoes; Zam nauseated us with his blabber.

Just as we thougt it could not get worse seeing that it was already November when Zam was blabbering in front of an international audience, there was Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharum declaring that only Muslims are entitled to use the word “Allah” (God).  He threatened banning the Malay version of the Catholic Church publication that dared use the word “Allah.”

The startling observation was that this moron of a minister could get way with such idiocies.  By his silence, Abdullah reveals that he is equally moronic.

How did a nation that was so full of bubbly confidence as encapsulated in its “Malaysia boleh!” spirit only a few years ago descended so fast and so far, and with so few of the elite class protesting?

To be sure, Malaysia is still far ahead of Pakistan or Zimbabwe.  Unfortunately, far too many, especially the leaders, take comfort in this.

Annus Horribilis

Malaysians had premonitions for this long Annus Horribilis.  It began ominously with the southern part of the peninsula being flooded, with hundreds of thousands displaced.  It was the worst flooding in decades.

Where was Prime Minister Abdullah in the hour of need?  Off to Australia for his scheduled sailing vacation and the opening his brother’s nasi kandar restaurant!

His “bright” young advisors did not see fit to advise their man to cancel his vacation in the face of a national emergency.  The old man was of course clueless.

The floods soon receded and the residents went back to their daily grind, helped by many generous fellow citizens and non-governmental bodies.  When you see your fellow Malaysians in need, you pitched in.  That comes way ahead of your holidays.  Unfortunately you cannot really teach these things, not even at Oxford.  You either have the sense of human decency or you do not.  Fortunately many Malaysians do have it; we just do not see it in the leaders.

Allah (if I am permitted to use that word here) must have known that our leaders are slow learners, for a few months later there was yet another massive flood, this time in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, paralyzing it.

As for that grease spot whose opening was graced by the Prime Minister, it closed soon after.

Horrible In Between

Between the terrible beginning and the horrible ending to the year, there were plenty of hideous fillers in between.

The tenures of the Director of the Anti Corruption Agency Zulkipli and the Chief Justice Ahmad Feiruz were not renewed.  Both left under a cloud.  That should be a feather in Abdullah’s cap, except that Abdullah was intent on keeping them both!  Unrelenting public pressures forced him to back off.  Abdullah may not have wanted the people to challenge him, but they did anyway.

Ahmad Feiruz was again the “off stage” star attraction later in the year in the infamous “Lingam tape.”  Again you would not find that in the headlines of the mainstream media.  Thanks to former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, we had a sniff of the filth that is the Malaysian judiciary.

Weakened by his endless displays of ineptitude, Abdullah was in no position to brave public opposition.  A few weeks after the Johore floods, Raja Petra Kamarudin’s Malaysia-Today carried a detailed expose of the Prime Minister acquiring a luxurious corporate jet, at public expense of course.  Raja Petra had the details nailed down; right to the jet’s tail number.

Malaysia-Today’s phenomenal success is the one rare bright spot.  No wonder World Business named Raja Petra, together with Bank Negara’s Governor Zeti Aziz and former Prime Minister Mahathir among Asia’s Top 20 Progressives.  Meanwhile Tokoh Wartawan Negara Zam remains a jagoh kampong (village champion).  He and those who honor him belong there.

Raja Petra made other headlines.  The police questioned him and his wife Marina separately over some activities purported to be harmful to the state.  Presumably one of those could be his release of the sordid details of the messy divorce settlement of one double Muhammad, a senior UMNO operative.  Raja Petra went further; he challenged this double Muhammad to a public debate to expose this discredited politician, but the latter chickened out.

The police interrogations went nowhere; the police were flummoxed.  Marina in particular refused to answer questions claiming that as a Muslim she is entitled to have her husband present beside her.  Isn’t it great to be a Muslim!

Lina Joy however, did not think so.  Her celebrated case, a simple and routine administrative matter of changing the religious designation on her identity card, attracted worldwide attention when Malaysia’s top court ruled that, the norms of civilized society notwithstanding, there is no freedom of conscience in the country.  Malaysians cannot change their religion on a whim, according to the wisdom of Chief Justice Ahmad Feiruz.

Pursuing this theme, the religious authorities in Perak charged a young Malay mother for “encouraging immoral activities” while singing in her sleeveless blouse in a nightclub.

And pursuing the moronic theme again, some well-meaning supporters (“arse lickers” would be the more appropriate though crude term) of Abdullah nominated his late wife Endon as Anak Gemilang Malaysia (Illustrious Malaysians).  Mercifully, they withdrew her name, but not before some very unkind jabs by bloggers.  I do not blame them; instead rap the knuckles of the idiots who set her up.

I am uncertain which was more idiotic, that or the hysterical reactions among the leaders to a student’s sophomoric rap rendition of Negara Ku.  Or that character Mat Zakaria Derus and his mansion amidst the slums of Klang.

The annual Auditor General’s Report too made headlines, again!  There was the RM 4.2 billion Port Klang Free Zone development project debacle, and the Sports Ministry’s spending sprees.  The list goes on.

I am certain that the theme will be repeated next year; only the players, projects, and price tags would vary.  Well at least we can be comforted by the fact that those boondoggles still make the headlines.  The day may come when they won’t.  With Abdullah in charge, that will not be too far off.

The Road Not Taken

Robert Lee Frost was one of America’s leading 20th-century poets and a four-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. An essentially pastoral poet often associated with rural New England, Frost wrote poems whose philosophical dimensions transcend any region. Although his verse forms are traditional, he was a pioneer in the interplay of rhythm and meter and in the poetic use of the vocabulary and inflections of everyday speech. His poetry is thus both traditional and experimental, regional and universal.

Frost read a poem at John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration (1961) and is one of my favorite American poets (and I have quite a few). Here is one of his more popular poems to remind ourselves that in our journey of life we have to make choices. Some of us take the familiar and others traverse the unfamiliar. Which one will it be for you?

It is good to think about the choices you will be making in 2008 and reflect on your future as 2007 recedes into the pages of human history. 2007 was a dismal year with floods at home, and calamities and tragedies abroad. Will 2008 be any better for Malaysia as we face the real prospect of further economic slowdown, and a fresh round of price increases? Are we not worried that we have to spend more ringgits to buy the same quantity of goods and services? But this evening as we usher in the New Year, be of good cheer.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Knowledge and Action: The Twin Pincers of Progress

By Din Merican

God, The Most Merciful and Most Compassionate, said “READ” (Surah Al ‘Alaq, 96:1).

The Qur’an is the only Holy Book with a command to read. God has conferred a great honour on knowledge and the learned that before ordaining prayers and fasting, before giving details of the Islamic creed and the law to be revealed. See Surah Ali Imran 3:18; Surah Ta Ha 20:114; Surah Al ‘Ankabut 29:20; Surah Al Zumar 39: 11; Surah Al Mujadilah 58:11,and Surah Al Qalam 68:1. The Arab word for knowledge (ilm) and its derivatives appear 850 times in the Qu’ran. Knowledge is not just theoretical as all knowledge must lead to action (Surah Al Tawbah 9:105). This is Islam (and not Islam Hadhari).

Ignorance and idleness engulfs the Muslim world today. This shows that we do not believe in the essential teachings of the Qur’an. In Malaysia, we are subject to “political islam” which is propagated by the state which seeks to monopolise and control discourse on all matters relating to Islam, and exercise power over the Malays and Muslims in our country. As a result, I think, there is less interest in learning, working, continuous creativity and intellectual activity among us Muslims in this country.

Even our universities are subject to rigid control and academics who dare to think and act independently are shanted aside in favour of those who toe the “official line”. There is also no intellectual/cendiakawan community to speak of. Public intellectuals are seen as “trouble makers’ who deserve no better than a sojourn in Kamunting under the Internal Security Act. A massive cloud of fear overhangs the national landscape and the mother of all evils, mediocrity and kiasu take over.

Courage and truthfulness, defense of the right, fight against injustice and exploitation, and championing the rights of the weak and meek are mere slogans by the UMNO-led government when, in fact, these are qualities and deeds of a true Muslim.

But before we can take action, we must have knowledge. Read first; we must be able differentiate right from wrong, know the laws of the real world in which we live, and then and only then we can take action. Action is not just talk. The Qur’an establishes a method. It enjoins Muslim to move, marshal observations, record data and then examine all available facts. It was, unfortunately, Francis Bacon who introduced the method of induction a 1,000 years after the revelation of the Qur’an. If only we had made an effort to understand our Holy Book and acted according to its commands, the Islamic world would have been well ahead of the West.

How many of us remember Jabir Ibn Hayyan (chemistry), Ibn Arabi (mysticism), Ibn Haytham (in mathematics and geometry), the great Andalusian philosophers, poets and musicians, and the Arab astronomers who contributed to human knowledge when Europe was in the Dark Ages. Our ancestors combined their knowledge with work (action) and this combination of knowledge and work contributed to the advance of civilization. They were inspired by the word, Read, the first word revealed, that the Holy Prophet Muhammad pbuh was directed to convey to his followers.

A true Muslim is both a man (and woman) of knowledge and of action. In fact, the Qur’an says it best:
Those who have faith
And do righteous deeds-
They are the best of creatures.”
(Surah Al Bayyinah 98:7).

The Holy Prophet pbuh, our role model, was not just a man who was the Messenger of God or a reciter of the Qur’an. He was a hard worker and a very successful business man. He was the first to lead in times of war; he led from the front and shared the life of his soldiers, their hunger and thirst, and their fears. He was a prophet who conveyed a message of hope and salvation, a soldier who fought his battles valiantly, a field commander who planned both strategy and tactics, and a politician who administered the affairs of state with justice for all and with prudence. He was also a devout Muslim, truthful and honest, never sullying his tongue or his hand. He never shirked a burden in the service of that cause for which he fought and for which he would have died. He was a kind father, a good husband and a loyal friend.

Our Prophet Muhammad pbuh is the epitome of transformational leadership and of incessant hard work. If you seek to reach the right destination, you cannot get there without knowledge and action. Talk is cheap; promises must not be taken lightly and commitments must be honoured. Our leaders must do good deeds and serve the people and not themselves, their families and cronies. Otherwise, they are not fit to govern.

That is why as Malaysians, we must hold our leaders to high standards of ethics and public accountability. We must not be scared to change our leaders when they fail to perform. We should do that by democratic and constitutional means, of course. We must put to an end to this prevailing culture of impunity. We must no longer allow corrupt and incompetent leaders to remain in power. Otherwise, Malaysia will degenerate into a third rate nation, no longer respected by the community of nations.

It takes hard work to be great again. Greatness is not a stroll in Taman Tasik Perdana, or an excursion to National Park in Pahang.

Goenawan Mohamed: HIJAU

Di dunia yang letih, orang sering mengutip sebaris sajak Federico Garcia Lorca: Verde que te quiero verde…

Hijau, kumau engkau hijau:
Bintang agung beku dingin
Tiba dengan bayang ikan
Yang merintis fajar

Puisi Lorca mempesona karena loncatan-loncatannya – warna hijau, bintang agung, bayang ikan, hari fajar — yang tak pernah bisa dipertalikan rapi dalam satu tafsir, tapi memperkaya kita dengan imaji-imaji yang mengejutkan, baru, segar, tak terulangi, seperti dalam mimpi.

Maka di dunia yang mulai lelah, puisi, atau imaji yang menari, segar, meloncat-loncat, dan tak disangka-sangka — ya, juga warna hijau – jadi alternatif (yang tak diakui) bagi sebuah kehidupan yang mengabaikan itu semua. Modal, mesin dan birokrasi telah membuat sistem yang meringkus tarian seperti itu, sistem yang hanya kenal persisnya lajur laporan keuangan dan bagan eksak di buku-buku teknik. Baik kapitalisme (digerakkan orang Eropa dan Amerika) maupun sosialisme (dimulai di Uni Soviet dan Cina) sama-sama membentuk dunia dalam garis lurus itu — garis “modernitas” dan “kemajuan”, garis nalar yang menghitung, mencapai, dan menghasilkan. Itulah garis penaklukan dunia. Puisi yang menari, sebaliknya, tak hendak menaklukkan. Ia tak hendak memaksa apa yang di luar dirinya, elemen hidup yang tak terduga. “Le poète ne force pas le réel,” kata René Char.

Sudah lama sebenarnya masalah ini dikemukakan. Tapi sebagaimana Lorca hanya mengutarakan hasratnya di antara lanskap yang memukau tapi tragis di Andalusia, puisi — dan pelbagai suara yang gundah menyaksikan “modernitas” dan “kemajuan” — hanya bisa bicara secara terbatas.

Memang suara yang menghendaki “hijau” itu terkadang membingungkan. Ia tak menawarkan cara bagaimana menghentikan keniscayaan pertumbuhan ekonomi dan perlunya kemajuan teknologi. Sesekali bahkan ia mengandung racun kecurigaan dan kebencian: di tahun 1930-an, di Jerman, pemujaan akan Blut und Boden (“darah dan tanah”) dikobarkan para penganjur Naziisme, yang ingin menjaga kemurnian Jerman dengan tradisi dan alamnya yang perawan, agar Volk, bangsa atau ras, tak tercemar oleh persentuhan dengan “yang-asing” dan “yang- borjuis” di kota besar.

Memang ada yang indah, tapi kuno, juga konyol, atau reaksioner dalam seruan “hijau” di masa lampau.

Tapi abad ke-21 mengubah semua itu. Sambutan kepada film dokumenter An Incovenient Truth adalah indikasinya: film dokumenter yang dibuat dengan ongkos satu juta dollar in begitu laris di mana-mana; ia dapat menghjimpun dana 49 juta dollar lebih. Al Gore, tokoh di pusat film yang memperingatkan perubahan iklim global itu, mendapatkan Hadiah Nobel Perdamaian tahun 2007. Berjuta-juta penonton akan selalu ingat suaranya:

“Anda pandang sungai yang lembut mengalir melintasi itu. Anda perhatikan daun berkerisik pada angin. Anda dengar suara burung; anda dengar katak pohon. Di kejauhan ada lenguh seekor lembu. Anda rasakan rerumputan itu….Hening; damai. Dan tiba-tiba, ada yang bergerak berubah dalam diri anda. Rasanya seperti menarik nafas dalam-dalam dan berbisik, “Ah, ya, aku telah lupa semua ini.”

Kata-kata itu tak istimewa, sebenarnya. Tapi mau tak mau, bersama itulah hasrat Lorca, “kumau engkau hijau,” menemukan makna dan wibawa lain. “Hijau” telah jadi hasrat untuk menggapai sesuatu yang terasa begitu menggerakkan hati tapi tak hadir: bumi yang tak rusak oleh polusi dan keserakahan.

“Hijau”, melalui proses percakapan dan pergulatan kepentingan, berangsur-angsur telah jadi kepentingan umum. Ia jadi pesan yang universal.

Dalam arti tertentu, di sini telah berlangsung “globalisasi” yang berbeda dengan globalisasi kapital, justru ketika bangunan global satu-satunya ini terancam musnah. Kini yang diserukan Barbara Ward dan René Dubos dalam buku mereka yang terkenal, Only One Earth (dalam bahasa Indonesia, Hanya Satu Bumi), yang ditulis buat Konferensi PBB di Stockholm di tahun 1972, mendapatkan pendengar. Pelbagai identitas yang berbeda-beda – yang ditandai nama negara, bangsa, kelompok etnis, kelas sosial, gender — berada dalam posisi setara, di bulatan bumi yang satu, di sebutir planet yang genting.

Di saat seperti ini, identitas makin tak bisa berlaku seperti benteng tertutup. Dalam diri tiap negara, atau bangsa, atau kelompok etnis, atau kelas, atau gender, ada anasir yang akan membuka diri ke luar, memahami nasib “hanya satu bumi” ini. Tapi ada juga yang justru akan melihat “hanya satu bumi” hanyalah ilusi; mereka akan kembali menutup pintu, bersiaga. Dengan kata lain, “globalisasi” kecemasan ini tak berarti akan menghasilkan sebuah dunia yang tanpa konflik – tak peduli betapa bersemangat, tulus, dan sopannya para kepala negara berbicara di Bali.

Tapi tak bisakah kita berharap? Saya kira bisa. Justru kini harapan lebih punya sandaran ketimbang di masa lampau.

Dulu pesan yang universal itu datang secara menakutkan dan mencurigakan, seperti ketika Eropa mengkristenkan orang Amerika Selatan atau ketika “Pencerahan”-nya mengubah muka bumi dengan kolonialisme dan “kemajuan” — yang sebenarnya satu ekspansi “peradaban” sekelompok manusia ke kelompok-kelompok manusia lain.

Kini, apa yang universal adalah sebuah utopia hijau melawan kematian – yakni kematian yang akan mengenai siapa saja. Juga melawan ketidak-adilan, karena mereka yang kaya adalah yang paling merusak bumi, sementara yang miskin akan jadi korban pertama kali. Walhasil, pesan yang universal kali ini datang bukan dari si kuasa, tapi praktis dari siapa saja yang hidup di bawah lapisan ozon yang berlubang, cemas kehilangan.

Kini aku bukan diriku
Rumahku bukan rumahku
Biarkan aku sebentar naik ke beranda tinggi
Biarkan aku pergi! Biarkan aku naik
Ke beranda hijau
Tempat air bergema pelan
Di balustrada bulan

~(Edisi revisi dari) Majalah Tempo Edisi. 41/XXXVI/03 – 9 Desember 2007~

“Politik Berjiwa Rakyat”: Anwar Ibrahim’s Visit to the Rural Heartland, Negri Sembilan

By Din Merican

I joined Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim on his visit to the rural heartland of Negri Sembilan on December 28, 2007. The journey took my colleagues (Sdr. Azmin Ali, Dato Kamarul Bahrin who is the KeADILan Chief for Negri Sembilan, Dr Xavier Jayakumar, Sdr. Saifuddin Nasution, and others) and I to Felda Pasoh 4 in Jelebu, Felda Palong 10 in Jempol, Pekan Rompin, Pekan Kuala Pilah and Pekan Linggi (near Port Dickson), Negri Sembilan. We criss-crossed the state,meeting interesting Malays, Indians and Chinese, who showed genuine concern about the economy, and the state of our national and local politics.

It was my first extensive trip to Negri Sembilan since 1967 when, as a central bank officer, I was exchanging old Currency Board notes for the new Ringgits issued by Bank Negara Malaysia. At that time, I was living in Seremban Rest House (from June-September, 1967). I was surprised that I could still recognise the places I visited and operated in some 40 years ago. This means that the much touted progress or development, corridors and what not, has not come to the people in the places we visited, and their lives and economic status have not changed very much. In stead, they have been burdened by rising cost of basic foods and services. That much for UMNO-BN propaganda!!

In his speeches during his various “politik berjiwa rakyat” sessions, the de facto KeADILan leader was candid and open. He brought a message of national unity, racial harmony and hope. His voice was one of moderation and temperance. He appealed to his audiences to vote for change and to make a difference. He then urged them to restore the honour and dignity to our country.

Let us move forward, he said, rather than dwell on the past. There is no time for bitterness (referring to years he spent under the ISA in 1974 in Kamunting and 6 years in Sungei Buloh) and revenge. He wanted to focus on the future and actions that should be taken to make Malaysia a truly great nation.

He explained, like he did in Penang and Kedah, to them that he was a target of a vicious UMNO campaign which sought to tell the Malays that he had become an Indian leader and a traitor to his own people. He was not worried about this, because as a Malay and a Muslim he sought justice for all. The rights of all Malaysians as guaranteed by the Constitution, he said, would be respected. He was for Malay rights (as embodied in Article 153 of the Constitution), Bahasa Malaysia, and Islam (not Islam Hadhari); he would support Indian rights for a better life, for respect of their place of worship, culture, and language, for better housing and schools ; and he would ensure that the Chinese community rights are equally respected. Under his leadership, the economy will be strong and vibrant. His government will be committed to maintaining high standards of good public governance with fiscal discipline.

Corruption, nepotism, and the blatant abuse of power must no longer be tolerated. These social ills have resulted in our loss of competitiveness with countries like Taiwan, South Korea and Taiwan, and our moral degeneration. The politics of ethnic division and animosity under UMNO-BN must cease as it would only lead to political instability and racial discord. It is now the time to vote for a government “yang berjiwa rakyat”, he told the enthusiastic and cheering Malays, Chinese and Indians who turned up in signficant numbers (in Linggi, he spoke to some 5,000 Malaysians) to listen to his speeches.

In Linggi, he praised the members of the Civil Service, the Police and the Military for their stellar service to our country over the last 50 years. He was sure that these services would again rise above petty politics.With ethical and competent leadership, they would be able to better serve the people. He looked forward to their support so that together and with the Blessings of Allah we can begin to rebuild the country.

The marathon sessions which began at Felda Pasoh 4 after immediately Friday prayers on December 28 and finished in Linggi at 12.15 am on December 29, 2007. It was a fitting end to this eventful year. The message from the people of Negri Sembilan is unequivocal. They want change now.

Credit must go to Dato Kamarul Bahrin and his team for an excellent and useful programme. Everything went according to schedule and the people of Negri Sembilan are ready to, and will vote for change in the coming elections.

Anwar Ibrahim’s Press Statement: On the Benazir Bhutto Assassination

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

December 28, 2007

Kami terkejut dengan pembunuhan Puan Benazir Bhutto dan mengecam perbuatan ini yang dilakukan oleh musuh kebebasan dan demokrasi. Kematian Puan Bhutto bukan sahaja satu kehilangan besar bagi Pakistan, tetapi bagi seluruh dunia Islam. Sememangnya, dunia kita telah kehilangan seorang pemimpin perdana yang telah mengorbankan dirinya untuk menegakkan kebebasan dan demokrasi. Kami ingin merakamkan ucapan takziah kepada keluarga Puan Bhutto dan seluruh rakyat Pakistan.

We are utterly shocked with the assassination of Ms. Benazir Bhutto and condemn this heinous crime committed by the enemies of freedom and democracy. Ms. Bhutto’s death is not just a loss to Pakistan but to the entire Muslim world. Indeed the world has lost a great leader who has had to sacrifice herself for the cause of freedom and democracy. We express our deepest condolence to her family and the people of Pakistan.

Anwar Ibrahim & Dr. Wan Azizah

Malaysia-Indonesia Relations: What’s Happening, Syed Hamid?

By Din Merican

It is common knowledge among friends and aficionados of Indonesia here in Malaysia that our relations with the largest Muslim democracy in the world has turned sour since Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took office in 2003. We appear to have taken our Indonesian friends for granted and are a constant source of irritation and angst.

It is true that during the premiership of Tun Dr. Mahathir, Malaysia-Indonesia relations have at times been rather strained because both former President Suharto and the Tun are strong personalities, both seeking to play a dominant role in ASEAN, OIC and NAM, but it was still manageable. Today, despite claims by Badawi that he and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono enjoy strong and close fraternal relations, tensions between the two ASEAN states have reached a point of crisis.

Outstanding issues remained unresolved and Malaysia is being perceived by Indonesians, in particular the free and independent media like magazine Tempo, as arrogant and “too big for its own shoes”. What is our hang-up(s)? Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is a popular political icon and frequent visitor to the reform-driven and proud Republic, informed me the other day that Malaysia must manage our relations with Indonesia with a high level of sophistication and deep understanding of Indonesia’s history, arts and culture, and the people. We cannot deal with Indonesia on the basis of arrogance and bloody-mindedness.

We must realise that Indonesia is a rich and emerging ASEAN regional power. Although ASEAN concept is based on the concept of equal partnership, we are not equal in all respects.

I think, Foreign Minister Syed Hamid and his team in Wisma Putra must explain to us why they have allowed our relations with Indonesia to deteriorate. At one stage, we nearly went to war with our serumpun over the Ambalat issue. There is no point of Badawi Government trying to cover-up when things are not progressing well in our relations with Indonesia. In stead, we show our determination to resolve our outstanding issues with them so that good relations with this regional giant can be restored and subsequently raised to a higher level.

We must launch a massive public relations campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Indonesian people. For starters, we should send one of our outstanding diplomats (only a few of them are left in Wisma Putra) to serve as our Ambassador in Jakarta, and beef up our mission in Jakarta. The time for change has come, and we must deal with Indonesia with a sense of realism. Together, Malaysia and Indonesia can do a lot together in ASEAN, trade and investment.


By Rustam A.Sani

This experiment in government we like to call democracy – which has lasted for half a century now – depends upon, among other things, a certain level of trust, not only of the government and its elected officials, but maybe more importantly among the people themselves.

After that many years trust has been under attack in our society, we can today confidently declare that it is definitely dead.

Sometimes it takes much more that a casual look at the state of our society in order to understand that there is something really wrong with it. A time like this – this season of blessings, compassion and goodwill – it is perhaps a good time to take a really profound and perceptive look at our society, to go beyond just its crass surface and glitters.

Trust was more common and easier to uphold when this nation was “founded”. With far fewer people then, it was possible to actually know those with whom you would have contact and in turn be aware of their biographies and idiosyncrasies. A liar or scoundrel was known for his work, but so is the person who lived by his word.

Remember the case of Education Minister in the 1960s, Abdul Rahman Talib, who failed to clear himself from an accusation of corruption – a small financial indiscretion that by today’s standards would be dismissed by the government as a non-issue – resigned from his job.

The case was raised in Parliament by the then member for Ipoh, the late D. R. Seenivisagam. The minister challenged the opposition MP to repeat his allegations outside the House so that he could institute a legal suit to clear his name and defend his honour.

DR (as the opposition member was affectionately known) repeated his allegations at the Chinese Assembly Hall. In the ensuing court case, the minister failed to clear his name and, as expected from an honourable person, resigned from his job – and bringing to a close a rather glorious political career.

The matter was big news then. But “trust” and “honour” were definitely still the operative words in people’s conduct. Ethnic, religious and political party affiliations were hardly invoked in order to discredit or maim a person. Social values and institutions – such as freedom of speech, the media, the judiciary – were trusted, and deservedly so because there was no attempt by the power that be to compromise or mutilate them.

Today our society has naturally become much more complex, that it is rare for many to even know who lives on their block or even in the same building. Our culture is segmented – all the more so because of our dismal intellectual failure to create a true “nation” out of the segmented communities of the colonial plural society.

With modernity and technological advancement things have indeed become worse for us sociologically. We have become even more isolated, so that we are but strangers passing by each other in the midst of individual self-awareness and self-preservation.

Today Malaysians have become even more mobile – and are less likely to live in extended families. In recent years the permanent, local and family-based jobs has all but disappeared and workers have increasingly been forced to move far from their roots to find and retain employment.

We are isolated as we drive to work, pushed to produce so hard while at work that co-workers become objects rather than compatriots, and spoken to and dealt with by the public sphere on the basis of what divides us, not what we share in common.

Merchants cannot be trusted to deliver what they promise, employers cannot be trusted to pay their obligatory EPF contributions, and even spouses cannot be trusted to keep their vows. We live in a “buyers beware” culture, where every person is on its own to make it through a jungle of real and perceived threats and attacks.

One cannot walk in one’s own street without fear of some idiots being tempted to snatch away ornaments dangling out of one’s body parts for show off, cannot book a flight on an airplane without fearing being bumped because the flight was oversold, cannot drive on the freeway without concern that the idiot racing to take your space will not pull a gun to prove his point, cannot give a toy to a child without fear of lead poisoning, and certainly cannot trust a politician on anything at all.

Trust is really dead.

To compensate, we have tried regulating the behaviour of commerce, finance and nearly every aspect of life. Some among the religious conservatives and fundamentalists want to force the faithfuls to keep to their faiths unthinkingly and some on the secular side of the divide want to write enough laws that trust would become unnecessary because it has been replaced by government control.

The truth is trust cannot be imposed, it cannot be brought into existence by faith alone – it is by its very nature a product of free and open communication and human interaction. Trust is not a lofty goal of perfection and honesty. Trust is the acceptance of a dominant shared value that has the common good as its ultimate goal – the goal that has necessitated the creation of human societies and nations themselves.

But it does require facing what is without blinders, being responsible to look and to ponder beyond the crass and superficial glitters of the day.

Trust requires that we stop calling each other names – whether they are based on racial prejudice, religious bigotry, or partisan political blinkers – as a substitute for mature discourse, debates and problem solving.

There is so much of our culture today that are pushing us away from those requirements of a “true” society built on trust toward a world of fast paced isolation and fantasy.

There is no institution or force on the horizon – including the leaders of the government (many are conspicuously intellectual imbeciles), their inadequately socialised and ill-schooled apparatchiks and the greatly debased social and government institutions – to pull us in the other direction. All have but become part of the vortex of self-serving insincerity and pretense, all under great pressure to conceal or defend their crippling intellectual and moral inadequacies.

Trust is definitely dead, but isn’t this the season that reminds us that miracles somehow are still possible? Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year to all.

Ceramah Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim:”Gelombang Gagasan Rakyat Negeri Sembilan”

Ketua Umum Parti Keadilan Rakyat (KeADILan), Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim dilaporkan akan menggempur Negeri Sembilan dengan ceramah perdananya pada 28HB. DISEMBER, 2007.

Ceramah itu akan diadakan di Kampung Linggi (Depan Sekolah Kebangsaan Linggi), bermula jam 9.00 malam sempena program turun padangnya di seluruh Malaysia.Tajuk ceramah tersebut ialah ‘Gelombang Gagasan Rakyat Negeri Sembilan’, kata jurucakap program, Norazizi A. Aziz.

Ceramah perdana ini akan turut diserikan dengan gandingan penceramah lain antaranya, Pesuruhjaya PAS Negeri Sembilan, Zulkifly Mohamed Omar; Adun Lobak (DAP), Anthony Loke Siew Fook; Pengerusi KeADILan Negeri Sembilan, Dato Kamarul Baharin Abbas; Bendahari KeADILan, William Leong; Aktivis dan Ahli Majlis Tertinggi KeADILan, Badrul Hisham Shaharin dan Timbalan Pengerusi KeADILan Negeri Sembilam Chai Tong Chai.

Anwar dijangka akan mengupas isu keanggotaan Suruhanjaya Siasatan DiRaja Klip Video VK Lingam, isu himpunan Bersih dan Hindraf dan isu skandal Pelabuhan Bebas Cukai Kelang (PKFZ).

Seluruh rakyat Negeri Sembilan and Melaka dialu-alukan untuk hadir ke majlis ceramah perpaduan rakyat ini.


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

LEBIH 165,000 rakyat Pahang mengalami kesukaran memperolehi bekalan air kesan banjir yang melanda selama lebih dua minggu di negeri tersebut. Dan terbaru seorang kakitangan dari Jabatan Bekalan Air Pahang telah dipukul oleh seorang penduduk berusia 60 tahun di Bukit Goh, Kuantan ekoran kegagalan pihak JBA membekalkan keperluan tersebut secara samarata.

Sementara itu di Kapit, Sarawak seorang wanita menjadi korban kejadian tanah runtuh juga kesan bencana banjir yang mula melanda negeri tersebut. Dalam waktu yang sama , Kotaraya Kuala Lumpur mula dilanda hujan berterusan selama dua hari dan pastinya bakal mengundang banjir jika ia berterusan sehari dua lagi.

Ternyata alam semakin lantang berbicara kerana bosan melihat tingkah laku manusia yang banga dengan dosa-dosa. Namun pemimpin masih belum dijengah keinsafan kembali mencari nur kemurnian jiwa dan bertapak kepada fitrah kehidupan berwibawa. Korupsi serta penyalah gunaan kuasa terus merencam untuk dijadikan budaya kehidupan kalangan penguasa. Kezaliman pemerintah menjeruk hati dan meneguk air mata rakyat bagai pesta tanpa noktah.

Minggu hadapan jika diizinkan ilahi kita bakal dijengah kehadiran tahun 2008 dan tabir 2007 pasti akan dilabuhkan meninggalkan pelbagai nostalgia pahit manis warna kehidupan. Bagi kalangan masyarakat Tionghua tahun 2008 adalah putaran pertama dari dua belas tahun kalendar bermula dengan simbol tikus diikuti oleh tahun lembu, babi, monyet,naga dan lain-lain binatang.

Mengikut kepercayaan masyarakat Tionghua kehadiran tahun tikus (2008) adalah permulaan yang baik serta bakal memperlihatkan beberapa perubahan besar menyentuh tentang pasang surut kepimpinan sesabuah negara. Dalam erti kata lain negara diramalkan bakal memperolehi pemimpin baru. (sekadar ramalan). Biar apa pun yang pasti pilihanraya umum sudah semakin hampir memungkinkan terjadi pelbagai perubahan politik .

Satu ketika dahulu mantan Perdana Menteri Tun Dr.Mahathir menyatakan bahawa “Melayu Mudah Lupa”. Kerana bersikap mudah lupa akhirnya mereka terjerumus menjadi “ haprak” dan hilang wibawa dalam mengamalkan budaya kehidupan sempang peranang. Untuk itu menjelang kehadiran tahun 2008 juga merupakan tahun permulaan kalendar masyarakat Tionghua seharusnya kita mempertingkatkan iltizam supaya tidak lagi menjadi mudah lupa.

Kerana tidak mahu jadi lupa seharusnya kita merenung kembali beberapa peristiwa yang tercetus sejak Abdullah Ahmad Badawi diangkat menjadi Perdana Menteri .Dan tidak seharusnya kita lupa kejadian cukup memalukan dua tahun lalu bagaimana Memanda wazir Azmi Khalid terpaksa berkejar ke Republik Rakyat China.

Sudah lupakah betapa malunya seluruh rakyat Malaysia diaibkan oleh arahan Abdullah Ahmad Badawi supaya sidang wazirnya Azmi Khalid meminta maaf dari pemimpin negara Republik Rakyat China berhubung peristiwa “ Ketuk Ketapi” di dalam lokap polis melibat seorang wanita.

Sungguh tidak masuk akal Perdana Menteri yang juga menjawat jawatan Menteri Keselamatan Dalam Negeri boleh percaya kepada cerita kononnya wanita yang dikenakan denda ketuk ketampi secara berbogel dalam lokap polis adalah warga negara Republik Rakyat China.

Setelah Azmi Khalid menyampaikan “mohon maaf” tiba-tiba seluruh negara digemparkan bahawa wanita tersebut bukan warga Republik Rakyat China tetapi dia adalah wanita Melayu yang ditahan kerana disyaki terlibat dengan kes pengedaran dadah.

Aib, cukup memalukan. Apa pandangan pemimpin Republik Rakyat China terhadap pasukan polis Malaysia? Seluruh dunia mentertawakan kedangkalan pemimpin kita dalam peristiwa tersebut. Masihkah kita ingat lagi peristiwa tersebut? Atau sudah terlupakah seluruh rakyat Malaysia bagaimana kita dimalukan oleh Abdullah Ahmad Badawi?

Bagaimana pula dengan peristiwa “terlekapnya” jari jemari Abdullah Ahmad Badawi sebagai imam besar mahzab Islam Hadhari diatas bahu “mongel” Michelle Yeoh dalam pesta Monsoon Cup? Sudah terlupakah seluruh rakyat Malaysia wajah berahi bintang filem James Bond membelai mesra “lekapan” jari jemari Abdullah dibahunya?

Budaya apakah mahu diterapkan oleh Abdullah Ahmad Badawi melalui ajaran Islam Hadharinya di mana bukan muhrim boleh “meraba” bahu mongel anak gadis orang? Begitu juga saat merayakan musim pernikahannya dengan janda beranak dua Jeanne Danker, tanpa segan dan silu Abdullah boleh berpimpin tangan menziarahi kubur Allahyarhamah Datin Seri Endon sebaik selesai upacara akad nikah.

Bolehkah seluruh wanita menerima pakai budaya sedemikian untuk berpesan kepada suaminya supaya membawa isteri baru menziarahi kubur mereka jika ditakdirkan terlebih dahulu menyahut panggilan ilahi? Cukup mengaibkan perlakuan sedemikian.

Sewaktu diwawancara oleh Anuar Zaini menerusi siaran TV 3 Abdullah Ahmad Badawi memberitahu seluruh rakyat bahawa anaknya tidak pernah memperolehi sebarang kontrak kerajaan. Dan hari ini umum mengetahui syarikat Scomi milik anaknya bernama Kamaluddin menjadi jutawan hebat mengumpul ratusan juta ringgit hasil imbuhan kontrak dari kerajaan Malaysia. Apakah kita sudah lupa wawancara tersebut?

Begitu juga perihal Jet Eksekutiff bernilai lebih dua ratus juta ringgit yang dinafikan Abdullah dibeli oleh kerajaan Malaysia. Hari ini jet tersebut sudahpun menjadi pesawat kegunaannya untuk keluar negeri. Tidak pasti pula DYMM Seripaduka Baginda Yang Dipertuan Agong menunaikan ibadat Haji ke tanah suci Mekah dua minggu lalu apakah menggunakan jet tersebut kerana sewaktu menjawab pertanyaan wartawan Abdullah ada menyebut bahawa jet tersebut juga adalah untuk kegunaan Yang Dipertuan Agong.

Cerita kapal layar mewah hadiah taukeh judi terkemuka yang diimport dari Turki sudah kian terpendam dan tidak menjadi bualan lagi.Apakah rakyat sudah lupa atau mungkin ianya terus tersorok di negara Australia. (Semuga Raja Petra Kamaruddin dapat menemui cerita sebenar disebalik kisah kapal layar mewah itu).

Dalam waktu yang sama, semasa meninggalkan rakyat Johor bergelandangan selama dua bulan ditengalami banjir, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi menyatakan dia terpaksa berada di Australia waktu itu untuk urusan resmi. Entah di mana silapnya, tiba-tiba Datuk Maichel Toyd mendedahkan di akhbar The Star waktu itu dia bersama Perdana Menteri menikmati musim percutian berlayar diatas kapal mewah. Apakah kita sudah lupa?

Seharusnya kita bertanya kepada Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, sudah terlupakah olehnya laporan setebal 300 muka surat dari saudara Ezam Mohd Noor Pengerusi Gerak berhubung penyalahgunaan kuasa dan korupsi tiga orang sidang wazirnya.

Sesungguhnya sebagai menyambut kehadiran tahun baru (2008) rakyat menuntut agar Abdullah jangan lupa mengarahkan Badan Pencegah Rasuah menyiasat ke akar umbi Kementerian Belia dan Sukan yang didakwa melakukan penyelewengan sebagaimana dilaporkan oleh Ketua Audit Negara menyebabkan rakyat tergamam “screw driver” boleh bernilai puluhan ribu.

Rakyat juga ingin tahu kesudahan cerita penyelwengan lebih lima puluh juta ringgit wang rakyat di Hong Kong melibatkan seorang Menteri, kes saham Rafidah Aziz, kes syarikat Abrar semasa Menteri kewangan kedua Noh Mohamad Yaacob menjadi salah seorang kakitangannya, kes pelabuhan Kelang melibatkan berbillion ringgit dibelanjakan secara tidak munasabah dan adanya elemen korupsi.

Begitu juga dengan kes ECM Libra di mana menantu kesayangan Abdullah diberitakan memperolehi laba berjuta, kes 200 lesen mesin judi “slot machine” melibatkan seorang menteri kanan, kes pprt dan beberapa kes yang lain. Abdullah tidak seharusnya berdalih kononnya dia terlupa atau masih belum menerima laporan. Sebagai orang nombor satu mentadbir negara seluruh situasi sempang peranang yang begitu merencam ditahun-tahun yang lalu adalah terpikul dibahunya dan rakyat berhak menuntut keadilan serta penjelasan darinya.


Dalam kesempatan ini saya ingin mengucapkan salam tahun baru agar Melayu dan bangsa Malaysia tidak jadi penikus, Saya juga sedang dalam rangka menerbitkan satu lagi karya saya berjudul “Air Mata Rakyat” dan insyaAllah saya bersama-sama saudara Din Merican teman karib lagi istimewa bagi saya akan “up date” anda dengan perkembangan semasa. Sekian selamat berjuang dan sama-sama kita selamatkan bumi tercinta dari manusia yang penuh dengan korupsi dan menyalahgunakan kuasa. Sekian terima kasih….. lawan tetap lawan -kamal Amir-

Anwar tells PM: Greater threat is negligence


Terence Netto | Dec 27, 07 1:25pm

Malaysia is in greater danger from the negligence of those in power than from the rage felt by its recalcitrants, said PKR’s de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.

“Our society is in greater danger from executive negligence than from the extremism of its recalcitrants,” he said in an immediate response to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s Christmas Day strictures on religious extremism.

On Dec 25, Abdullah had taken the opportunity of his attendance at the Christmas Day tea party, jointly organised by the Christian Federation of Malaysia and Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Murphy Packiam, to inveigh against religious extremisn.

The prime minister called on moderates in Malaysia to speak up to pre-empt fanatics from taking centre stage.

This drew an immediate riposte from Anwar, who with his wife Wan Azizah, also attended the tea party at the invitation of Archbishop Packiam.

“On the birth celebration of the Prince of Peace, it is right and fitting to remind every citizen of his or her value as a channel of peace, moderation and tolerance,” said Anwar, who also former deputy prime minister.

“But bear in mind that peace is not just the absence of conflict; it is the presence of justice. Where there is little or no justice, there will be a deficit in peace.”

Anwar’s advice to PM

Anwar observed that Christian social teaching held peace and justice to be obverse sides of the same coin.

Of Abdullah’s strictures on extremism, Anwar opined: “He is a purveyor of platitudes. He keeps his counsel when he ought to speak up.

“When he does speak up, he mouths pious platitudes which are about as useful as buying an umbrella after it has started to rain.”

Anwar offered this piece of advice to the prime minister: “Look to the causes of disorder and not its symptoms, just don’t treat the bark when the roots need remedy, reach for the panacea and not be satisfied with the placebo.”


Bakri Musa: Tinpot Tyrant in the Making


Morgan-Hill, California

December 24th, 2007

Someone ought to tell Prime Minister Abdullah that he is not up to the job. Malaysia deserves better. If he truly loves his party and country, as he frequently professes, he should acknowledge his limitations and gracefully pave the way for someone else. As one prominent Malaysian wrote me, it is a tragedy at this stage of our development to have foisted upon us a leader who is clueless, incompetent and arrogant. He has taken all of us for a ride, he continued.

His is the sombong si bodoh (arrogance of ignorance).

This is not the time to maintain our silence, elegant or otherwise. That would only embolden Abdullah, prodded by his advisors, to pursue his current disastrous path. We already have too many preacher boys who for peanuts would willingly spread his message that the world is flat. The next day and with a few more cheap candies thrown their way, they would preach with even greater gusto that the world is indeed round.

Abdullah’s crude handling of the recent Bersih and Hindraf rallies, the largest in a decade, was merely the latest demonstrations of his ineptness. The choice is not, as he naively put it, between public safety and freedom, rather in enhancing both.

There is no safety without freedom. Suppressed, humans will ultimately erupt like a volcano, and with equally unpredictable devastations. Freedom without safety is anarchy. Safety and freedom are two sides of the same coin; each complements the other and both are hallmarks of civilized societies. “Safety” without freedom is illusory.

Abdullah’s “public safety before public freedom” argument is specious; it only reveals the latent tyrannical streak or prison-warden mentality in him. A few more years of him and Malaysians would lose whatever little freedom we have, and the much-sought safety would still elude us.

Delivering the Message

While many Malaysians share my view of Abdullah, not many have taken upon themselves of conveying this critical message to him. Even if they were, there is no assurance that Abdullah would listen. He has the stubborn streak of a village idiot.

Former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir tried, but his typically blunt and in your face message did not register with Abdullah. He is the typical village penghulu who responds best to cakap selindung, berkias, berpantun, dan bergurindam (indirect, allegorical, poetic, and humorous language), as we say in my kampong.

Next to try was Tengku Razaleigh; he too was direct in frontally challenging Abdullah for the leadership. Like Mahathir, Ku Li too failed.

Recently the MP from Kota Baru, Zaid Ibrahim gently chided Abdullah to be more enlightened in dealing with public dissent: engagement instead of suppression. Zaid not so subtly reminded Abdullah that contrary to his assertion, rallies and demonstrations are very much a part of our culture. Indeed that was how we derailed the Malayan Union proposal and gained our independence.

Musa Hitam recently repeated the same theme. He related his experience in convincing the long-time President of Maldives to be more tolerant of public rallies and expressions of dissent. Musa challenged Abdullah to “Try lah!”

Musa Hitam surprised me. Since receiving his Tunship, courtesy of Abdullah, Musa has been the administration’s chief cheerleader. To Tun Musa, Abdullah could do no wrong. This time however it would be Musa’s turn to be surprised; he too would find that Abdullah is dense to suggestions. Worse, Abdullah would now consider Musa as one of those ungrateful “Melayu mudah lupa,” (Malays who forget easily). Unlike the Maldives President, Abdullah is innately incurious and intellectually lazy, with little capacity for learning.

Musa might also have had better luck had he conveyed his message in private instead of through a public interview.

Understanding Abdullah’s Psyche

Abdullah is your typical Malay leader that we see too often today and in much of our history: not too bright and only too susceptible to flattery. The British read this Malay psyche well, which is how they managed to “advise” the Malay rulers. A perfunctory visit to Buckingham Palace, an exalted Knighthood of some Medieval Order, a modest pension, and the delusion that their throne was on par with the British crown were all that was needed for our sultans to willingly cede Singapore and effectively give up their sovereignty.

President Bush too read Abdullah well; a token visit to the White House silenced Abdullah over American excesses in Iraq and tamed the OIC that he chairs. With Abdullah’s silent submission, the leadership of the Muslim world by default now falls onto such characters as Iran’s wily Ahmadnejad.

Closer to home, Singapore’s Senior Minister Lee who despite his close association with many would-be Malay leaders during his university years in Britain, utterly failed to comprehend the Malay psyche. Surprisingly, the younger Lee despite his lack of close association with Malays seemed to have read Abdullah better.

Lee, Jr., has also learned well from history, specifically from the British. That is, Malay leaders are suckers for flattery. Praise them effusively and they would willingly part with their prized heirlooms.

It is instructive that Singapore was the first foreign country to invite Abdullah for a state visit. Its leaders were uncharacteristically effusive in praising him. As a result, while earlier sultan would readily ceded Singapore, Abdullah now readily gives up a big chunk of the southern tip of the peninsula.

Singapore’s institutions, undoubtedly prompted from high above, have also been generous in honoring senior Malaysian personalities. Witness the recent awarding of an honorary doctorate to the Sultan of Johore by the National University of Singapore.

Many members of Abdullah’s inner circle were invited to address prominent think tanks and other institutions in the Republic. They were flattered by such invitations and could hardly hide their pride back home; an implicit acknowledgement of Singapore’s successful strategy! UMNO Youth leaders now regularly play golf with their PAP counterparts. No marks for predicting who would win those tournaments!

Senior UMNO statesmen would do well to copy Singapore’s techniques to reach Abdullah. Praise the man sky high and humor his ego. Once you have him in your pocket, the rest would be easy.

Massaging Abdullah’s Ego

Abdullah is a simple man and not too bright to boot; massaging his ego should not be a challenge, despite his recent fondness for the lifestyle of the rich and famous, at public expense of course. Apart from the prerequisite luxurious corporate jet, he is now partial to fancy sailing yachts. Never mind that he hasn’t a clue what a jib or sheet is. Yachting after all is synonymous with affluence and elegance; it is the style he is after. Again, typically Malay! He is too much of a klutz to indulge in such royal sports as polo and horse riding; besides those were already the hobbies of his predecessor. No glamour in imitating!

Humor Abdullah! Tell him he deserves all those perks after years of patient and loyal public service. Treat him like Sukarno. Make him take as many overseas trips as possible; he is useless at home anyway. The more he is away, the less likely for him to wreck damage on the country.

In short, treat him like a sultan; he already relishes that role. Indulge his fantasy. Notice that his wife is now being regularly referred to as the First Lady. And she and him are absolutely lapping it up.

There is only one slight problem. Who is going to mind the store? For Abdullah to play the sultan, he would need a capable deputy who would be the de facto chief executive. We had precedence for this. While Tunku Abdul Rahman was enjoying himself as the “world’s happiest Prime Minister,” he had the capable Tun Razak running the show.

It is said that under the old Soviet System, its ambassadors were merely titular heads of their respective embassies; the Chefs De Mission (DCM) were the real power. In that way the Ambassador could hobnob with the native elite while important consular work like spying would still be carried out by the DCM. Further, if the Ambassador were to be drunk or in any way caught in a compromising situation, state secrets would be safe, as he knew nothing!

The snag here is that Abdullah’s current deputy, Najib Razak, is equally inept. Making Abdullah dump Najib would be tough as they are both pathologically dependent on each other. Each harbors the other’s dark secrets. The only way would be to disguise the maneuver as an attempt to spite Mahathir. Abdullah is not fond of Najib anyway; Mahathir hoisted Najib upon Abdullah and he was too meek to object. I am certain that Abdullah is still chafing at that. Dumping Najib would even the score for Abdullah with respect to Mahathir.

While Abdullah may be susceptible to such a suggestion, his hangers-on and courtiers would not. Those who depend on his “protection” would stand to lose the most and would thus readily see through and object to the plan. However, if we flatter Abdullah enough, he would unhesitatingly give up his hangers-on. Earlier Malay leaders had given up even more when they were sufficiently flattered.

The alternative of doing nothing would be to doom our nation on an irreversible course towards perpetual mediocrity. As for Abdullah, there is only one thing worse than having a tyrant as a ruler, and that would be to have a not-too-smart one.

Anwar: I’m no political chameleon



Terence Netto | Dec 26, 07 4:07 pm


PKR’s de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim barely paused for respite after his gruelling seven-stop swing through Penang on Saturday before sweeping through Kedah on Sunday where he addressed even bigger crowds than he had encountered in his home state.

This prompted PKR’s campaigner to up the rhetorical ante against the Barisan Nasional government.

Addressing audiences ranging from several hundred to a few score thousand in six stops between Kulim and Alor Star, Anwar met head-on criticism that he was a political chameleon who took on the colours of the crowd he happened just now to be courting.

“When I tell you I’m for justice, do you think I’m saying it only for your votes and not for reason that being Malay and Muslim I’m ashamed when there is rampant injustice and income disparities after 50 years of Merdeka?” he asked a crowd of about 5,000 people, many of whom were Indians, in Lunas in the parliamentary constituency of Padang Serai.

Later, in Kuala Ketil in Baling, he told a crowd of about 800 people, the majority of whom – in a surprise turn for the organisers – were Indians instead of the expected Chinese:

“I tell you now, if you build a temple near a mosque, I’ll be in favour of pulling it down, but if you pull down a 100-year-old temple, I’ll say you must have taken leave off your senses,” said the PKR leader to a crowd that clapped and murmured its agreement.

Anwar was obviously referring to the controversial destruction of a 100-year-old Hindu temple in Shah Alam last month.

“I’m for Islam, not Islam Hadhari, simply Islam, period,” he emphasised.

He continued: “This Islam I’m for places a high value on justice, on doing right by the people, not on saying one thing and doing something else.”

Lack consistency but not a contrarian

Showing a capacity to shift from treble to bass, Anwar told a mixed-race crowd of 350 people, composed of corporate types, small businessmen and wage earners, in Kulim:

“The past nine years in our country have been years the locusts have eaten. They have eaten away the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, the professionalism of the police force, the attractiveness of Malaysia as a locus for foreign direct investment. Corruption is rampant, mediocrity is rife.

“We lag behind where we once led or were close to leading. But BN leaders tell the people they never had it so good.

“These leaders are either the greatly deluded or the greatly deluding. What else can you expect from them when the right hand does not know what the left is doing, when one step taken forward is followed by two in retreat from positions that cried out to be improved upon. This is a government of confusion confounded.”

After pausing for prayers at Masjid Bakar Arang, Anwar told a a fairly affluent crowd of about 2,500 people, mainly Indians, in Sungai Petani that “when you are part of the crew or rising within its ranks, you cannot enjoy the same latitude for action and manoeuvre that you can have when you are deputy skipper or, better still, head perfect.”

“This is something anyone knows who has been part of a team. You know it in your marrow. I may lack consistency but I’m not contrarian. I would be for justice nine times out of 10,” he said, again responding to criticisms to his past political actions when he was in Umno.

50,000 crowd in Alor Star

Bringing his litany of criticisms of the BN to a crescendo before a crowd that organisers estimated at 50,000 of mostly Malays at Batu Sembilan in Alor Star, Anwar held the audience in rapt attention with a 70-minute oration.

“What is the meaning of 50 years of Merdeka when almost the entire country is dotted with pockets of poverty where there is no electricity and piped water?

“Just one hour outside Kuala Lumpur and you have people in Ijok who have no piped water, no electricity.

“Can you say in good conscience that there will always be poor people and go ahead and approve massive and unneeded projects like the one in Penang island that will cost RM25 billion?

“What is the point of building grandiose projects and of having growth corridors when many people still live in grinding poverty?

“I say it is better to have millions of ordinarily comfortable people to a coterie of billionaries who live in unconscionable wealth while thousands languish in poverty?

“It is time for change in Malaysia. This is the time for it. The hour has come, the time is well nigh,” said Anwar to a crowd whose parked motorcycles and cars held up traffic along Batu Sembilan for several kilometres to the ceramah venue well past midnight.



Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: The Village Blacksmith

Let me share with you yet another favorite poem. This time it is by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I first read this when I was in Form 2, many moons ago. It is a tribute to the hardworking man dedicated to his craft.

As I have just returned from a trip to our rural heartland in the north, I would like to offer this poem in honour of my fellow Malaysians who continue to toil day and night to make a decent living, be they in the kampong or the city. The best ringgit is still a honest ringgit. It is about maruah (dignity).

May 2008 be a good year but we can make it better by working very hard at whatever we do best. Let us also pray for our country, and may we live in harmony and respect the dignity of difference. In truth, our diversity is our strength.

The Village Blacksmith

UNDER a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter’s voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like her mother’s voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.

Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Journey Into The Northern Rural Heartland

by Rahimi Osman and Din Merican


On December 22-23, 2007 we made a sentimental journey from our national capital to the rural heartland within the so-called Northern Corridor to join Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim in a series of ceramahs. It took us to Permatang Pauh, Simpang Empat, Seberang Jaya, Kampung Padang Bengali, Teluk Air Tawar, Taman Lobak in Lunas, Kulim, Pekan Lama Sungai Petani and on to Kota Sarang Semut-Alor Setar. It was exhilarating and most educational to us, even though we were once from the desa, to be in touch with reality.dinaic.jpg

In Permatang Pauh, we visited Wisma Yayasan Aman where Dato Seri Anwar spoke to an audience of 300 people and received 250 new KeADILan members. Yayasan Aman’s facilities included a computer lab where internet facilities are available to the young and old alike, a modest library and other amenities like a conference hall. It is here that Din Merican was inducted as a member of the Anwar Ibrahim Club, thereby becoming at 68 years of age arguably the oldest member.

At every event, we witnessed a very impressive turnout of Malaysians of all races to listen to Dato Seri Anwar’s message of national unity, tolerance, justice and responsible governance. He told the audience that while he is a Malay and a Muslim — and he would never ignore the problems of the Malays especially with regard to Article 153 of our constitution — he had to be equally concerned with the plight of the marginalized Indians and the poor Chinese. No leader worth his salt, he said, can lead this country if he does not stand up for justice and fair play.

He was definitely not pro-Hindraf agenda except that he had supported their constitutional right of peaceful assembly. He would, however, definitely defend the legitimate rights of Indians whose serious economic and social problems were ignored by the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional Government of Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

p1010074.jpgHis ceramah at Taman Lobak in Lunas was attended by some 7000 people, mainly Indians. They gave him a tremendous welcome and cheered and clapped when he addressed their concerns. Dato Seri Anwar gave them a number of examples of corruption and abuses of power, incompetence and indifference of the present Government. He said that the UMNO-BN leaders were arrogant and completely out of touch with the people. He also met a group of Muslim-Malay intellectuals for a face to face dialogue during which he discussed issues relating to the future of the Malays and his Malaysian Economic Agenda. He said that his agenda was a new way towards enhancing the competitiveness of the Malay community in the 21st century.

In Teluk Air Tawar, where the audience of 5000, dominantly Malay, the de facto KeADILan leader said that UMNO grassroots leadership had launched a vicious campaign to say that he was now the champion of the Indians, implying that he was against his own people. He assured them that he had never waivered in his struggle to defend the rights of his own community as provided under Article 153 of the Constitution. But as a Muslim, he was brought up to believe that he should champion the cause of justice for all Malaysians as this was the foundation of peace and stability in Malaysia. His hour long speech was well received. We talked to some people and they said that they now realise that UMNO is on desperate smear campaign against Dato Seri Anwar.p1010095.jpg

The ceramah perdana at Kota Sarang Semut on December 23, was, in our view, the highlight of his 2- day “Meet the People” trip to Penang and Kedah. Some 60,000 people, mainly Malays, filled the 15-acre Markas PAS and listened intensely to his ceramah. Dato Seri Anwar was at his peak performance as he kept the audience fully engaged until midnight.

He provided instances of corruption, abuses of power and incompetence of the Badawi Administration and appealed to them to vote wisely so that together they could usher in a new era where the Government genuinely serve them. He also told that UMNO was launching an anti-Anwar campaign in their desperate effort to win the sagging support of the Malays.

The journey we took is full of memories. It is not often that we, cityfolks, realise that people in rural communities are special, loyal, hard working and decent Malaysians who have been badly short changed by corrupt leaders. We also realised that these Malaysians are not as ignorant as we make them out to be. They can think for themselves because they have a strong sense of what is right and wrong. If they are given facts, they are capable of making the right decisions for themsleves, their families and their communities.

The mood is now for change and we must capitalise on it so that change becomes a reality after the 12th General Elections.


Chairil Anwar: Indonesia’s Poet of the Downtrodden and Rebel Against Injustice

You can perhaps understand why I like this poem by Chairil Anwar very much. It can be an inspiring message to those who seek change for Malaysia. If you care, you must not be afraid. Seek truth and justice. Come and join me and let’s go change Malaysia. Let’s make our country better for the future of all Malaysians.


Kalau sampai waktukuaku.jpg
Ku mau tak seorang kan merayu
Tak perlu sedu sedan itu

Aku ini binatang jalang
Dari kumpulannya terbuang
Biar peluru menembus kulitku
Aku tetap meradang menerjang

Luka dan bisa kubawa berlari
Hingga hilang pedih peri

Dan aku akan lebih tidak perduli
Aku mau hidup seribu tahun lagi

Maret 1943