The Poorest Among the Poor in Kuala Lumpur

October 22,2014

The Poorest Among the Poor in Kuala Lumpur

The Poorest Among the PoorWhat is their Future?

I got this from a friend who is living abroad. I can now understand why he chose to make a living overseas. I thank him for taking the trouble to send this SABM article (below) and for reminding me that we have plenty to do to eradicate poverty.

This thread is an eye open opener for all us regardless of colour, race and religion. We have the poorest among the poor in our midst right here in Kuala Lumpur. The pictures you see tell a sad story. Our country which hopes to be a developed nation in 2020 cannot deal with the plight of our poor citizens. See how they live. Sorry to spoil the Divali party.–Din Merican


Haris Onn Hussein: The Chosen One?

October 15, 2o14

Haris Onn Hussein: The Chosen One?

by Din Merican

Lembah Sari Sdn. Bhd with commercial links to Dato’ Haris Onn Hussein, the son of Haris Onn Husseinformer Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Hussein Onn, brother of Minister of Defence Hishammuddin Hussein and cousin to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was recently awarded a contract for the printing of security-labels for liquor and beer from the Royal Malaysian Customs Department. The contract is worth some RM77 million.

The Edge Malaysia on September 12 reported that the contract was to design, print, store, supply and distribute banderols (tax stamps) for liquor (including beer) between 2014 and 2019. The company would also supply the department with authentication devices and necessary training. The letter of acceptance from the Customs Department was received by Lembah Sari on July 21, 2014.

With this latest award, Dato Haris who owns Duke Highway now effectively monopolises the security labels for all locally produced and imported cigarettes, as well as beer and liquor, in the country. He is very rich for life.

My initial reaction to this news was one of disbelief but upon some reflection I realise  that  the political elite in our country has been doing this sort of deals for a long time hidden from public scrutiny. You do not need special skills or knowledge to get lucrative business deals. All you have to do is to take full advantage of your connections and you are super wealthy almost overnight.

In Cambridge educated Dato Haris’ case, the fact that his grandfather was Dato Onn Jaafar, his father, Tun Hussein was Prime Minister, and so was his uncle, Tun Razak coupled with the fact that his first cousin is Prime Minister and elder brother is  Minister of Defence puts him in  a very privileged position to receive business offers, directorships  and cushy contracts.

So we can say that without powerful connections, he would not have made it in the commercial world. He is not alone, of course. Tun Mahathir’s sons,  Mirzan, Mokhzani and Mukhriz are privileged ones so are the children of UMNO elites and Cabinet Ministers.

Today, we are a divided nation in terms of rank and status, race and religion and income. Woe betide those of us who are egalitarians. The powerful and privileged will lord over us ordinary Malaysians who are condemned to lead a life of constant struggle for equity and justice.

People like Haris Onn and his kind lead a life of luxury and comfort. They are the chosen ones to whom life comes easy.  Even President John F. Kennedy  said that “[T]here is always inequity in life.  Life is unfair.” That is no comfort. But isn’t the role of government to strife for equity and equality of opportunity.

Anwar Ibrahim’s Response to Najib’s 2015 Budget Proposals

October 13, 2014

Anwar Ibrahim’s Response to Najib’s 2015 Budget Proposals

Anwar Ibrahim Ops Leader

When I said I had great difficulty in understanding our Finance Minister’s 2015 Budget Speech which he delivered to our august Parliament last Friday, I could not have been more serious. PM Najib’s slogans and acronyms left me puzzled, in particular his National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS).

This concept was borrowed from Blue Ocean Strategy, a book published in 2005 and written by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, Professors at INSEAD and Co-Directors of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute. Based on a study of 150 strategic moves spanning more than a hundred years and thirty industries, Kim & Mauborgne argue that companies can succeed not by battling competitors, but rather by creating ″blue oceans″ of uncontested market space. They assert that these strategic moves create a leap in value for the company, its buyers, and its employees, while unlocking new demand and making the competition irrelevant. The book presents analytical frameworks and tools to foster organization’s ability to systematically create and capture blue oceans. (Source:

That was why I sought the help of my friends, associates and readers of this blog to explain Najib’s 2015 Budget proposals in simple layman’s terms. But judging from the number of responses I received by way of comment, the 2015 Budget was not taken seriously.

Here is a speech (below) in Parliament by Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Opposition Leader and former Minister of Finance. His response to Najib’s 2015 Budget  proposals makes a lot of sense to me. Despite my occasional disagreements with the politics and antics of the Opposition leader, I acknowledge that in debating the 2015 Budget, the Opposition leader presented an excellent critique in Parliament. Please judge it for yourself and then make your comments.–Din Merican

Dr Welsh on PAS’ 60th Muktamar and the Doublespeak of Abdul Hadi Awang

October 7, 2014

Dr Welsh on PAS’ 60th Muktamar and the Doublespeak of Abdul Hadi Awang

Hadi3The Political Comedian with Ambition to be Malaysia’s Next Prime Minister

COMMENT: With emotional outbursts, walkouts and contradictory statements, PAS’ 60th muktamar last week was more of a confrontation rather than a celebration.

With the PAS President referring to the Islamic party’s Pakatan Rakyat partners as “minor enemies” and its members who stood with ally PKR as “lackeys”, it has become evident that PAS under the leadership of Abdul Hadi Awang appears to be no longer a party that can be trusted to listen to the people and work with other parties to bring change to Malaysia.

There is a sense of betrayal among the public, whose hopes have been dashed by a reactionary faction of conservative ulama within PAS who think they are the ‘chosen ones’ – many of whom who have acted in a manner that is neither in keeping with their religious values nor reflects wisdom.

In the wake of this muktamar, where the reactionary forces have dominated the bitter discourse, the Pakatan coalition has suffered a serious blow from within. It appears that the opposition coalition is over. This conclusion is understandable but – for now – premature.

Pakatan is clearly deeply wounded, but the intensity of the battle inside PAS reveals an ongoing struggle that suggests that there are many more battles ahead and the fight to develop an alternative political narrative is not over. In fact, arguably, the PAS muktamar reveals the scope of struggles that are necessary to overcome in order to give the majority of Malaysians what they have voted for – a better Malaysia.

In this muktamar, the divide within PAS has come into the open. The skirmishes have been ongoing for many years, repeating historical tensions inside the party and paralleling struggles within Islamist parties globally.

PAS has moved from a pattern of working toward consensus – even this was fragile – to open conflict. Those that are the most insecure, the conservative religious ulama, have taken to the reactionary tactic of destruction, aiming to derail political reform within PAS itself and nationally.

Most of the focus of the discussion has centred on Abdul Hadi Awang. The underlying issues facing the party go well beyond its president. There are three interrelated crises facing the party – identity, leadership and democracy. Let me elaborate these further.

PAS identity – in UMNO’s image?

PAS’ political advantage has traditionally been that its leaders are portrayed as moral and non-corrupt. This ‘upright’ standing has allowed the party to be compared favourably to UMNO. It has underscored the profound respect for spiritual leader Niz Aziz Nik Mat, for example, whose missing moral authority was keenly felt at the Johor muktamar. But PAS’ righteous advantage is disappearing.

Rightly or wrongly, PAS’ response in the Selangor MB crisis has caused many to question the honesty and integrity of its leaders. Double-speak, contradictions and inconsistencies – in direct contrast to the theme of the muktamar – have left a mark on party’s image.

PAS has always had a trust deficit among the majority of the country; it only managed to win on average a third of support among Malaysians on its own. The actions over the last few months have deepened distrust and, for many non-Muslims and Muslims alike, shattered the perception of PAS as the ‘good’ party.

People are asking why PAS leaders have misled the public, visited certain places in the shadow of night and avoided answering questions directly. In the wake of the muktamar, PAS has come off as a party interested in its own power, not listening to the public nor apparently keeping its promises. Has PAS taken a page from UMNO, many wonder?

In fact, while scholars point to UMNO becoming like PAS in its advocacy of exclusionary Islamist policies, there has been another phenomenon, PAS – or at least some within the party – is becoming more like UMNO.

This perception is reinforced by a closer look at the backgrounds of PAS leaders. Gone are the days of humility and humbleness. Today many PAS leaders appear to be interested in securing international positions, wealth and material goods. The sins of greed and pride appear evident.

Observers are asking how religious schools led by some PAS leaders have amassed such wealth, while others secured lucrative business contracts. Questions are being raised about the ties of many PAS leaders with those from UMNO over assets and finances.

Corruption and nepotism within PAS are even being quietly discussed in the sense that some are using the party for position, their families and personal wealth rather than the ideals the party supposedly espouses. Worse yet, religion is being used to justify positions that appear to be more about self-interest rather than actual religious principles.

For decades, PAS has been wrestling with how to promote an Islamist agenda and what sort of Islam it should be advocating. As it engaged in a more inclusive manner through Pakatan, the myopic focus on implementing hudud and syariah laws has been challenged by more inclusive shared religious values of justice, good governance and stronger humanity.

A spirit of humanism and community has been fostered, where greater inclusiveness and appreciation for equality have disputed the narrow-minded thinking of many conservative ulama that see themselves a step above ordinary people.

Many conservative ulama within the party are uncomfortable moving outside of what they know, and in fact have increased their efforts to indoctrinate younger members with their interpreted religious views. They advocate an exclusionary approach that not only divides Malaysian society, but also follows the line of dictating to others.

They just don’t get that the overwhelming majority of Malaysians want to choose how they practice their own religion, and that the majority believe that the country is not ready for hudud.

Moreover, they do not realise that citizens are not willing to turn over moral authority to religious leaders that appear to be acting immorally. PAS’ conservative ulama appear to have forgotten that the means are as important as the ends, and by choosing to adopt practices that promote division and disrespect they are not acting righteously.

Sadly, of late, a path of destruction has been adopted by Hadi and his ulama camp against their professed goals. The message that stands out is not only one of further parallel to Umno in the prominence of arrogance and use of division, but it is also a signal that ironically strengthens Umno as the choice for government over the long term.

Crisis of leadership

Malaysians have been searching for leaders they can respect and put their faith in. More and more have been putting their belief in PAS. But this muktamar has not inspired any such confidence.

Rather than working together to move the country forward, PAS under Hadi appears to want to move the country and his party backward. When Hadi assumed the presidency in 2002, he had difficult shoes to fill following the death of Fadzil Noor. Not only was the former president willing to listen and work with others, he inspired support that brought new people into the party and won additional states to govern.

By any measure Hadi cannot be credited with the same gains, especially in recent months. Hadi’s decisions contributed to the loss of Kedah, Terengganu (twice), Perak and potentially Selangor, and his leadership has weakened rather than strengthened the party.

The future of Hadi’s leadership will continue to play out until the next muktamar when a party election is scheduled. The rally-around-the-leader dynamic of this muktamar was as much a reflection of weakness of Hadi’s leadership as it shows that many within his own party are alienated by his actions.

The leadership problem in PAS is broader than one person. One dimension is the role of the ulama in the party hierarchy. Many in PAS do not agree that the conservative ulama should lead the party. It is a long-standing battle in PAS, and this battle has intensified.

Until this muktamar, the conservative ulama have been losing ground. Conservative ulama have played limited roles in Pakatan, with many of them not even attending decision-making meetings. The ulama leadership in states like Kedah was rejected by the electorate.

The key PAS actors involved in successful Pakatan governance have been those with the direct skills and knowledge to address the country’s problems, the non-ulama. The party delegates and general public understand this. In last year’s muktamar, progressives were elected in the majority for positions, as the delegates opted for more non-ulama leadership.

The conservative ulama fear marginalisation and in this muktamar fought back. They defended the decisions and positions of their teammate Hadi who has increasingly taken on less reform-oriented positions.

The conservative ulama clearly are unwilling to accept a different and more advisory political role. The recent meeting shows that they are willing to do anything to stay in premier positions, even if it means dividing PAS and weakening the opposition as a whole.

Painting themselves as martyrs for the conservative cause, the current ulama are seen to be trying to assure the survival of younger conservatives, many of whom are from the same families of the current ulama leadership. At its root is a reactionary goal – to stop reforms in the party and nationally.

A second leadership problem is that PAS currently does not offer a viable prime minister candidate. This has to do in part with the competition among the more progressive leaders among themselves. It also stems for a lack of grooming and experience of many PAS leaders in government and on the national stage.

For a party that supposedly claims to seek national power, it has a deficit in giving voters an alternative that can not only lead the country but also inspire confidence. While there are many PAS leaders that have potential to fill this role, the current situation and traditional PAS party culture of accepting hierarchy has prevented them from coming to the fore.

If the progressives are to have any chance at all they will need to agree and present an alternative leader. This will require significant reform within PAS, and successful measures involving courage that thwart the reactionary turn.

Moving away from democracy towards theocracy

A third interrelated dimension of PAS’ current crises involves democracy. PAS is grappling with the conflict between different political bodies within the party, namely the syura council versus the central working committee.

It is wrestling also to respond to an increasingly demanding and diverse membership and electorate. In recent months, the PAS ulama leadership has moved in a more authoritarian direction, with decisions by fiat rather than through consultation.

In fact, minority views have prevailed, as the majority were ignored, dismissed and even ridiculed. Clearly, the mandate of the delegates and voters has been ignored. The conservative ulama appear not to understand that dictatorial practices lead to the downfall of Islamist parties, as happened in Egypt. They similarly do not understand that as an opposition party calling for more democracy, their own lack of democratic governance reveals hypocrisy.

PAS, like other parties, wrestles with engaging democratic practices. As Umno and PKR have introduced more democratic internal party elections, allowing members to select the party leadership, under Hadi PAS has resisted opening up. This has not allowed new blood to come into the leadership and different ideas to emerge. It has signaled a lack of respect for the wisdom of its members.

Another challenge has been including women in political positions within PAS. The party leadership’s recent attacks on a politician – although not everyone in PAS – because she is woman, has not conformed to democratic values of inclusion.

Equally important, members in PAS have been supporting decisions that are not in line with the public mandate on who was voted into office and why. Unlike a decade ago where PAS was leading the path toward democracy in the Malay community, the Islamist party has stagnated in expanding democracy. In this muktamar, the reactionary conservative ulama have further resisted democratic reforms.

An example is the supremacy of the syura council in party decisions. Syura members have the undemocratic power to choose their members and they are not accountable to anyone. Is this the type of body that Malaysians are willing to accept to wield ultimate decision-making power and those who assume positions not from an open election?

Who should have power and whether that power should be accountable to the delegates and ordinary voters has come to the fore.

This involves the difficult issue of legitimacy. Who should legitimately hold power? How should leaders be chosen by the people? What should be the source of legitimate power is right for PAS? Should it be the party constitution, elections from members or archaic practices of a syura council that is neither representative to the party itself or appears willing to respect and listen to the views and aspirations of ordinary voters?

Reforms to the party constitution will be necessary if the party is to move in a more democratic direction. The reactionary push-back in PAS has resisted these democratic pressures. More broadly, the party’s authoritarian turn had been damaging for democracy in Malaysia.

Difficult future for Pakatan


The Doublespeak of Hadi weakens Pakatan Rakyat

The reactionary elements in PAS have been there for decades. In this muktamar, they have come out into the open. The intensity of their responses reflects ongoing struggles over identity, leadership and democracy.

The fact that they have come out as they have, fighting in a no-holds-barred manner, reveals weakness not strength. They are afraid and insecure. They are willing to do everything to stay in control of PAS to maintain their reactionary position.

The use of reactionary politics is sadly increasingly common across the political spectrum in UMNO as well as PAS. Its roots however have to be seen to derive from the increasing democratic pressures and demands from the public on leaders who are neither willing nor able to accommodate them.

The fact that more of these reactionary measures are being used shows that Malaysia is changing and those in power are unwilling to change with it.

PAS is headed for further internal struggles. The more progressive forces in the party may appear to have lost ground at this muktamar, with reactionary forces dominating the discourse. They clearly were not prepared to fight openly against the reactionary forces. But they have survived to fight another day, and the party election in the next muktamar as well as the Selangor issue will be the next battlefields.

The muktamar showed that the internal battles will continue to rage, and that the fight within PAS is far from over. The important decision ahead for the progressives in PAS involve whether or not to stay within the party, the development of strategies that strengthen internal party reform and movement toward offering an alternative leader to Hadi.

What does this mean for Pakatan? Is it dead as many have claimed? No question, the working relationships of leaders and partnerships have soured, and will likely to continue. The opposition coalition may enter a period of decline. As long as the reactionaries control the party decisions in PAS, the Islamist party will not be seen as a trusted partner. This will feed distrust among the opposition parties.

Pakatan’s future will heavily depend on the outcome of the battles within PAS. It is important at this juncture not to completely dismiss PAS and the reality of the difficulty of its internal struggles. Indeed, the battle for democracy in the Malay community is taking place on many fronts.

It also needs to be acknowledged that PAS alone is not responsible for all the troubles in Pakatan and considerable responsibility lies with the folly of the ‘Kajang move’ and inflexibility of other Pakatan leaders in the handling the Selangor crisis. PAS’ Pakatan partners need to look inside themselves to appreciate why reactionary forces in PAS have become so predominant.

Pakatan now enters its most difficult phase and this will decide whether the coalition will survive and the struggle for political reform is a genuine one. It will involve courage, faith and wisdom. One decisive factor ahead will be the willingness of leaders across the opposition coalition to learn lessons from Selangor and set in place measures that offset the damaging cycle that has emerged.

Current conditions suggest this is not yet promising. People are increasingly losing confidence in Pakatan and words will not be enough. What will matter is whether the opposition remembers why it is in office in the first place – to serve the people.

Malaysians want results and solutions to problems rather than politicking that results in more problems. The time now is for reflection, not reaction or ‘reactionarism’, and a return to respecting the mandate that made the Pakatan coalition a reality in the first place.

BRIDGET WELSH is a Senior Research Associate at the Center for East Asia Democratic Studies of National Taiwan University and can be reached at

Fighting Corruption is a Necessity

October 4, 2014

Fighting Corruption is a Necessity

by HRH Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin

HRH The Sultan of Perak“The country cannot be in a state of denial over present realities. This is a big challenge for the nation. It is not a temporary sore throat that can be cured with Strepsils. It is a serious social disease, needing intensive treatment from society’s doctors and surgeons, and a formula for a cure from pharmacies with the ability to dispense comprehensive and holistic social policies.”--HRH Sultan of Perak

IT is clear that corruption exists in every system of government and in every country. Kautilya, when producing the Arthashastra, identified 40 methods of misusing money committed by public officials for personal gain.

Kautilya noted: “Just as it is impossible not to taste honey or the poison that finds itself at the tip of the tongue, so it is impossible for a government servant not to eat up, at least, a bit of the king’s revenue. Just as a fish underwater cannot possibly be found out either as drinking or not drinking the water, so government work cannot be found out (while) taking money (for themselves).”

Transparency International, in its mission statement, states: “(corruption) undermines good governance, fundamentally distorts public policy, leads to the misallocation of resources, and particularly, hurts the poor. Controlling it is only possible with the cooperation of a wide range of stakeholders in the integrity system, including, most importantly, the state, civil society and the private sector”.

Corruption is often the key issue in the downfall of a leader to be replaced by another. Every leader who has been given the trust to lead pledges to fight corruption. New laws are drafted, existing laws are amended, various agencies are formed, promises are made and hope is given. But if the law’s status is only as a written document and not enforced, it is unlikely to be an effective weapon for victory on the battlefield against corruption. The various agencies established will not form a war brigade, which could fly the flag of victory, if the fight against corruption is done selectively.

Among Asian countries, the Philippines has the most anti-corruption instruments, with seven laws and 19 enforcement agencies. President Ferdinand Marcos introduced five new Anti-Corruption Agencies (ACAs) during his 21-year reign (1965-1986), but they were only decorative cosmetics for protecting an ugly face.

The Filipino land and sky were overcast by a shroud of corruption. Corrupt practices peaked during Marcos’ era, breeding rampant cronyism, where relatives and close friends were appointed to head the various agencies, with each accumulating more personal wealth.

Speaking at the opening of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Enforcement Agencies Conference on Oct 4, 2012, the Prime Minister stressed the will and the effort of the government of Malaysia to eradicate corruption.

The fight against corruption was designated as one of the seven components of the National Key Result Areas (NKRA) under the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). Various follow-up measures have been initiated, including the establishment of 14 special corruption courts.

The 2013 Perception of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) Effectiveness study showed the level of confidence in the effectiveness of the agency had risen from 64 per cent to 65.8 per cent, while the level of community support to the MACC also rose from 86.4 per cent in 2012, to 87.3 per cent last year. Efforts to streamline the law and increase the capacity and capability of the enforcement agency have continued to be carried out.

Laws and enforcement agencies are instruments which need to be completed with comprehensive and holistic programmes. Understanding the background of those who commit acts of corruption will give an advantage to enforcers and enable them to give the correct prescription and diagnosis.

Simplistically speaking, corruption offenders are divided into two categories. The first category is a group which is desperate, who have turned to corruption due to life’s hardships, the inability to balance their wages with having to pay for their daily basic needs.

CorruptionA Message for the Corrupt in Malaysia

Data from the New Economic Model report showed that 80 per cent of households in this country earn incomes less than RM5,000 a month, 40 per cent earn less than RM2,000 a month, 78.6 per cent of Employees Provident Fund subscribers earn less than RM3,000 a month. The investment capability among the Bumiputera majority is manifested in data which shows that 75 per cent of Amanah Saham Bumiputera unit holders had an average savings of just RM611 per person. The request by the Cuepacs president for banks to supply more RM10 notes to automated teller machines (ATM) is a sign that at any given moment, a number of ATM cardholders did not even have a minimum of RM50 in their bank accounts.

The data on wealth distribution is extremely worrying in light of the country’s efforts to reach developed-nation status with a target of RM48,000 per capita income by 2020. Uneven wealth distribution and wide income gaps will create an environment which will nurture a culture of petty corruption. What are the options for public servants and private sector professionals if their salaries are not enough to cover their daily expenses?

The majority in this category actually do not want to commit corrupt acts. There are those who take on second jobs, trade at pasar malam, drive taxis part-time, hold tuition classes, sell kuih, sew, become involved in direct-selling, as well as carry out all kinds of side jobs in order to get by. As a result, they lack rest — they are fatigued, causing them to become weak workers and affecting their productivity.

This is the true present scenario in the country. The number of those within this category will rise if an effective formula is not introduced, focusing on aspects such as housing, food, transport, health services and medical treatment, where costs are rising daily.

The country cannot be in a state of denial over present realities. This is a big challenge for the nation. It is not a temporary sore throat that can be cured with Strepsils. It is a serious social disease, needing intensive treatment from society’s doctors and surgeons, and a formula for a cure from pharmacies with the ability to dispense comprehensive and holistic social policies.

The second category of corruption offenders are driven by greed. In general, they occupy high-ranking positions, hold important posts, have great desires and live lavish lifestyles. Offenders in this category are slick and sophisticated, adept at washing their hands of any wrongdoing, difficult to convict and some of them are intimately connected to the powerful.

The fight to combat corruption has to focus on two aspects. The first aspect is punitive actions that are STERN AND INDISCRIMINATE, and carried out without fear or favour. The second aspect is PREVENTIVE MEASURES TO STRENGTHEN INTEGRITY.

STERN and INDISCRIMINATE are two key words that should be considered as principles. The country has many examples that can be a source of direction and reference, sources of inspiration and strength for bold action. The first magistrate appointed in Penang over 200 years ago in the colonial administration era was fired for bribery.

GreedTo The Corrupt, try me!

During the era of the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, the Education Minister cum Health Minister in 1964, Abdul Rahman Talib, lost a civil case against S.P. Seenivasagam, who implied that Rahman was involved in corrupt acts. Rahman later resigned from the cabinet.

Support towards the ruling party, Perikatan, declined during the 1969 general election. The late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein was very good at reading the rakyat’s sentiment. He kept track of the key issues, which became ammunition for attacks against Perikatan and the government during the election campaign, and immediately acted to correct the flaws. The government’s response to corruption was handled without delay.

Razak did not protect any administration member or party members suspected of being involved in graft. On the advice of Datuk Harun Hashim of the National Operations Council (Mageran), through the Emergency Ordinance No. 22, he gave the power to the Director-General of the ACA to freeze the assets of those suspected of receiving bribes.

The Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said was revealed to have nearly RM1.2 million in his accounts. RM330,000 was confiscated as it was found to have been attained through bribery. Ahmad resigned in February 1970. In July that year, Terengganu menteri besar Ibrahim Fikri was ordered to take two months’ leave and was then replaced by Mahmood Sulaiman. At the federal level, Khaw Kai Boh was asked to withdraw from the cabinet in September.

During the great Roman era, the law permitted a dictatorship to be elected for six months in the situation where the country faced a crisis. After that, the power needed to be returned to the people. Cincinnatus, a retired general, had been chosen to rule as a dictator but remains as an example of a Roman leader who did not seek either power or fame.

Cincinnatus was elected to rule Rome during a crisis. After peacetime returned, even though the Romans asked him to continue leading, Cincinnatus rejected the request and returned the power to the people. Machiavelli referred to his act as a noble gesture, the sign of a leader who had both the strength and the fortitude to reject corruption, without the greed to retain power.

This admirable trait of Cincinnatus reprised itself in Razak, whose mind could not be influenced by the desire for power. As the Director of Mageran, after the tragedy of May 13, 1969, Razak commanded absolute power. After the country’s situation returned to stability, even though he was asked not to disband Mageran, Razak chose to return the power to public institutions, reviving the system of parliamentary democracy.

During the late Tun Hussein Onn’s era, the late Datuk Harun Idris in 1976 was convicted of corruption. He was tried by my father, at the time Justice Raja Azlan Shah.

My father faced a difficult task. The accused not only had strong political support, but he was also someone His Highness was familiar with.While delivering the verdict, Justice Raja Azlan Shah, among others, said: “It is painful for me to have to sentence a man I know. I wish it were the duty of some other judge to perform that task.

“To me, this hearing seems to reaffirm the vitality of the rule of law. But to many of us, this hearing also suggests a frightening decay in the integrity of some of our leaders.

“It has given horrible illustrations of Lord Acton’s aphorism ‘power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’, and has focused concern on the need of some avowed limitations upon political authority.

“…the law is no respecter of persons. Nevertheless it will be impossible to ignore the fact that you are in a different category from any person that I have ever tried. It would be impossible to ignore the fact that, in the eyes of millions of our countrymen and women, you are a patriot and a leader. Even those who differ from you in politics look upon you as a man of high ideals. You had every chance to reach the greatest height of human achievement. But half-way along the road, you allowed avarice to corrupt you. It is incomprehensible how a man in your position could not in your own conscience, recognise corruption for what it is. In so doing, you have not only betrayed your party cause, for which you have spoken so eloquently, but also the oath of office which you have taken and subscribed before your sovereign ruler, and above all, the law of which you are its servant”.

The verdict contained not only the conviction and sentence, but also components of advice, reminders and warnings so that it may serve as a lesson. It was hard for Justice Raja Azlan Shah to utter those words so harshly and sternly towards the accused who he knew, but he was more concerned about upholding the law and the public interest than of the body of an acquaintance.

STERN AND INDISCRIMINATE ACTION is not an option but a necessity.Allah has given us guidance. Adam is a creation of God, revered and given such high status that the angels were asked to bow before him. But when Adam violated the rules, God’s sentence was swift and stern, and Adam was ordered to leave heaven.

Verse 135 of Surah An-Nisaa states: “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort (your testimony) or refuse (to give it), then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.”

Thus, is the sternness by which the principle of justice in Islam is upheld. No exceptions or special treatment is given to anyone who carries out wrongful deeds, whether it be themselves, close friends, family members or even their parents.

The decree carried in this verse is strengthened further in the Prophet Muhammad’s hadith: “O people, those who came before you were doomed because if a nobleman among them stole, they let him off, but if a lowly person stole, they carried out the punishment on him. By Allah, if Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad, were to steal, I would cut off her hand.”

The preventive aspect requires the effort of strengthening integrity so that humans can be built with the inner fortitude to reject their whims and desires. Greed is the factor which frequently drives humans to sin. Islam calls on humanity to practice moderation, and to refrain from hubris and excess.

God’s reminder is stated in the story of the Prophet Hud, in verse 128 of Surah Asy-Syu’araa: “Do you construct on every elevation a sign, amusing yourselves, and take for yourselves palaces and fortresses that you might abide eternally?”

When Allah punished Adam for succumbing to the devil’s temptation, Adam was in the comfort of heaven, with all the goodness guaranteed by God, as described in verses 118 and 119 of Surah Thaahaa: “Indeed, it is (promised) for you not to be hungry therein or be unclothed. And indeed, you will not be thirsty therein or be hot from the sun.”

Adam was deceived by the devil. And so, Allah has given a reminder in verse 117 of that Surah: “Iblis (the devil) is the enemy”.

Adam was defeated by the enemy with false promises to give power, false promises to retain power as said in verse 120 of the same Surah: “Then Satan whispered to him, saying: ‘O Adam, shall I direct you to the tree of eternity and possession that will not deteriorate?’”

How the walls of faith crumbled by the attraction towards power. The desire for absolute power can defeat the rational mind. Strengthening one’s faith is the defence that needs to be built in order to raise the person’s resistance towards material possessions and wealth, and the desire for rank and power. Humanity must always be reminded of Allah’s decree in verse 35 of Surah Al-Anbiyaa: “Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as trial; and to Us you will be returned.”

David Owen, in his book The Hubris Syndrome: Bush, Blair and the Intoxication of Power, analysed corruption through the lens of a medical doctor. Owen described the act of corruption driven by the lust for power as a mental condition.

Mahatma Gandhi observed that power made humans deaf and blind. Thus, decisions made were based on desire. Personal satisfaction overpowered public interest. Any dissenting opinion, even if it came from close acquaintances, would be regarded as the voice of an enemy — threatening their position, and all actions would be taken to destroy any resistance.

Life on earth is a test. Positions and posts are a test. Trust and responsibility are a test. Standing up for good and fighting evil is a responsibility. Every promise uttered, every action taken or not taken will be examined in the afterlife, where there will be no lawyers to defend our sins or the trust we failed to complete.

Fighting corruption is a jihad, which needs to be absorbed in the hearts of man. Prophet Muhammad said: “There is in the body a clump of flesh — if it becomes good the whole body becomes good, and if it becomes bad the whole body becomes bad.”

That “FLESH” is the HEART. Fill the HEARTS of man with the strength of ILAHIYAH, the fortitude that is in line with the teachings of the Quran and the prophet’s Sunnah so that Allah would improve our minds and faith to make them strong and not easily swayed by the devil’s temptation.

Put your trust in Allah Almighty in fulfilling this noble task. Hold on to the spirit of mutually reminding and criticising each other, consistent with the call contained in Surah Al-Ashr: “By time, indeed mankind is in loss, except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.”

May Allah Almighty give guidance and strength to each member of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, who must work hard to fulfil the heavy task of fighting corruption. May every honest intention and the work conducted honestly and rightly receive the reward of God.

The above is a translation of the Royal Address by Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah in conjunction with the 47th anniversary of the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Agency, now known as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission

Mariam Mokhtar’s Take on Mahathir and The Malays

September 17, 2014

Mariam Mokhtar’s Take on Mahathir and The Malays

by Mariam

The Malays will be around, with or without UMNO Baru, but the converse does not hold true. Malays do not need UMNO Baru, but if UMNO Baru were to lose the support of ordinary Malays, the party would cease to exist. Without UMNO Baru, the Malays would thrive. UMNO Baru is like a poison to the Malays. Day in, day out they are inundated with the emotional baggage of race, religion and royalty.

Dr.MahathirDid the Malays let him down?

The outburst last week by former PM Mahathir Mohamad should be considered a betrayal. Mahathir rewards the people on whose backs he rose to absolute power by insulting them. He pushed affirmative action policies, which slowly eroded Malaysia. Behind the backs of ordinary Malays, Mahathir handsomely rewarded select Malays and non-Malays, whom he deemed worthy of his favours. He killed off the aspirations of many generations of Malaysians. Disillusioned by the lack of leadership many left, never to return.

As a doctor, he should have realised the dangers of making the wrong diagnosis. Remember the story about the man who consulted many doctors about his terrible headaches. Eventually, one surgeon said that he could cure the problem; but the remedy was an orchidectomy.

Unable to bear the pain, this man underwent the surgery. He was delighted that his pain was gone. To celebrate the freedom from pain, he decided to buy a new suit. The tailor asked him on which side he “dressed”. The man said he had never given it any thought and asked if it was important. The tailor said it was of paramount importance; if the trousers were not cut correctly, it could cause terrible headaches.

The analogy with Malaysia is similar. Malaysian problems have been misdiagnosed and the wrong treatment has been prescribed. After decades of manipulating Malaysians, dividing the various ethnic groups and rewarding only those from his inner circle, Mahathir turned on Malaysians, in particular the Malays, and called them lazy, dishonest, cheats, liars and Mat Rempits. Mahathir forgot the provisos. Most of the Malays he refers to are UMNO Baru Malays, and the opportunists who are found in every racial grouping.

Mat Rempits2The Mat Rempits

There are millions of Malays who are hard-working, honest, loyal and law-abiding. Like many of their non-Malay peers, ordinary Malays may not have access to the resources needed to succeed. Malaysians are hampered and crippled by the UMNO Baru Malays, many of whom occupy positions of authority, and dictate what can, or cannot be done.

They say that timing is everything in politics. Why did Mahathir insult the Malays in the week before we celebrate Malaysia Day? Was he trying to undermine the reputation of his hand-picked successor, Najib Abdul Razak? He need not bother. Najib has little credibility left.

If anecdotal evidence is to be believed, Mahathir is “upset” that his cronies are losing out on their share of the rich pickings, which are currently being enjoyed by Najib’s cronies.

Is Mahathir angry that his legacy will be forgotten? Is he concerned that many ordinary Malays are beginning to realise that they do not need the crutches of the New Economic Policy (NEP)? Is he angry that time is running out for Mukhriz to win the most coveted prize in Malaysian politics – the Prime Ministership? Is he disturbed that Malays are ignoring racist and religious rhetoric, and joining the exodus to work and live abroad?

What about the large-scale plunder of Malaysia? Mahathir said that some Malays were stealing from his company, ‘The Loaf’. What about the large-scale plunder of Malaysia by UMNO Baru, BN and their cronies, including those from MCA and MIC? The true purpose of UMNO Baru is to prolong the political life of its leaders. With political power comes the ability to squander the wealth of the nation.

The employees of ‘The Loaf’ should be rewarded. They are following the example of UMNO Baru. Most industrialists know that when employees steal, there is something seriously wrong with the management of the company. How were the people who allegedly stole from ‘The Loaf’ punished? Were they arrested, charged and punished by the courts? Malaysians are angry that many multi-billion ringgit government projects, built with taxpayers’ money have failed. Incredibly, no one has been punished.

In Malaysia, many murderers are not made to account for their crimes. The murderers of political aide Teoh Beng Hock, car salesman A Kugan, and teenager Aminulrasyid Amzah, to name but a few.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah

When Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah challenged Mahathir in 1987 for alleged vote rigging in the UMNO internal elections, the High Court declared UMNO an illegal party. Mahathir was humiliated and exacted his revenge on the Judiciary. He could have been brought down, but the Opposition were in disarray and probably caught by surprise.

Over the past 20 years, several ordinary Malaysians have accused Mahathir and UMNO Baru of destroying the nation; but these people were branded ungrateful, traitors and even apostates. Some received hate mail, death threats and were accused of being in the pay of the opposition, or the communists.

After Mahathir’s outburst against the Malays, the diehard defenders of Mahathir and UMNO Baru supporters, are silent. Did his remarks find their mark? Or did they feel numbed by his betrayal? Mahathir’s latest attack against the Malays is a paradox. He calls Malays lazy, then says that the NEP should continue and that Malays should take advantage of this affirmative action policy.

Mahathir introduced a culture of fear in Malaysians. Look at how Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is emulating Mahathir, and silencing any who disagrees with the government. The Sedition Act is being used to try to cripple the opposition and teach the rakyat a lesson.

Mahathir is wrong about the Malays. One man, Najib, has chosen to ignore Mahathir. That does not mean that all Malays are lazy, or liars, or cheats. The Internet, which Mahathir would love to ban, has opened up Malay minds and brought all Malaysians together. Malaysians have one common enemy. A repressive government! Perhaps that is why Mahathir is scared and feels betrayed by modern Malaysians. In a sense, we have all failed him. We have failed to become his mindless slaves. Yes, we are the recalcitrant children of Mahathir!