From My Friend Ghani:Transit Malay nationalists wait and see
A Ghani Ismail (May 29, 2008 )
Time in UMNO, having entered a state of transit since former party president and premier, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, bailed out on Wesak Day (May 19), is taking the party on a drift that feels like it is dragging endlessly.


Mahathir walked out on a spur after the cabinet decided to have him and party secretary-general Tengku Adnan investigated for crimes they may be charged with following the Lingam tape the Royal Commission found believable and hence, incriminating.

mahathir quits umno pc 190508 01In making his final appeal to deputy party president, Najib Tun Razak, to contest for number one, Mahathir is applying for the only certain course to defeat Pak Lah, but tearing to pieces Tengku Razaleigh’s hope to get the qualifying number of nominations (58 ) to enable him to contest for president. Ku Li is now regarded only as a reserve, a consequence of the former strongman’s move that must have appeared in his mind as unavoidable.

The Kelantan prince’s gutsy doggedness, however, is critically keeping the effort for leadership change alive in UMNO, Najib being as slow as a snail to warm up to the popular assumption in UMNO that he will surely win if he [finally] decides to contest against Pak Lah.

Najib’s uneventful calculative nature is forcing everyone to have to wait until nominations begin in July when the party holds the divisional meetings and begins the process of nomination. Each nomination carries with it 10 “bonus votes”.

Problems aplenty for Pak Lah

While theoretically it is possible for Najib to knock out Pak Lah by the count of the “bonus votes” alone the way Anwar had wrested the number two position from Ghafar Baba in 1993, Najib’s slowness in this winner-take-all is observably causing the worst state of nervousness in the party’s living memory.

Mahathir’s decision to depend solely on Najib taking the plunge has become to many somewhat illusionary and thus stretching time in UMNO simply because of the wait to see to believe that Najib will accept the nominations to contest.

Pak Lah, driven deeper and deeper into a horrid mess he caused himself is still unable to resolve Sabah’s poor representation in his new cabinet, that’s making Anwar Ibrahim’s claim to early regime change more and more credible.

The premier is now saddled with yet another eye-popper. Billions in oil royalty that ought to have been paid to Trengganu as “Wang Ehsan” are missing, apparently vanished from the books either by an act of great magic or by high-tech thievery.

A police report has been made, an amount of RM3 billion mentioned when the missing money could be as much as RM6 billion.

Prices, meanwhile, having climbed more than four percent in April, are still going up like the controls are not anywhere beyond the talking.

With subsidies now surpassing RM50 billion and have exceeded the development expenditure, Pak Lah must either find the means to effectively address the need for inflation moderation and manage the currency and food crises or Malaysia, it is generally felt, will soon be drifting on the current of investors’, consumers’ and workers’ nervousness that will soon qualify the nation as a failed state.

The premier is seen as trying to make much of the investments entering Malaysia Iskandar (Development Region) in Johor. But how relevant are these to the challenges the crises are posing?

Floor staffers of joints like MacDonald, Pizza Hut, Mr Tappanyika, Sushi and Kenny Rogers are merely paid an average of RM800 per month, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, and if lucky, they get an extra RM100 every three months as “incentive”.

Are we to seriously believe these workers can survive on that sum in Kuala Lumpur now? How will they be faring 12 months hence, while these outlets have to be striving against lower volumes because of the price hikes?

The problems we currently face are complex and they will stay for years to come.

The price of oil having reached US$135 per barrel and should surpass US$200 even without Iran being invaded is only one thing.

Singing the same mantra

It is the rising commodity prices and the manipulation of the food supply and distribution that are making the economic woes run into trends worse than those of the Great Depression of the thirties.

It is really useless to be repeating Malaysia is not affected by the sub-prime and the unsecured loans messes that are turning the world’s finances and economy into a wicked and painful game of profiteering. We know the big players are trying to recoup great losses by the manipulation of the commodity, food and currency trades.

But the point is about what we can do and what we will immediately do to avoid and to moderate the impacts of the deliberate disorderliness, and not over and over again repeat the useless mantra that our banks are not hit by the sub-prime scuttle and thus expect people to somehow feel good.

It is alright if the government is not going to be a party to the rising demands to find a peaceful world solution, like going for a new Bretton-Woods. But it is not alright to be singing the same mantra repeatedly since that is like saying clearly you have hit a mental block and should, indeed, quit as a government.

umno 2007 opening day 081107 najib and pak lahWe need to know how you plan to drive for self-sufficiency in the sectors that will be badly bashed, and underlining food which we are importing more than RM15 billion per year currently.

That sum can triple within the space of two years in the given circumstances, meaning Malaysia can become a bankrupt individual if the trends continue unabated.

The purchasing power of the ringgit is being squeezed in many more ways than the inflation. Consumption is already straining and will shortly worsen the negative effects on production, the upshot of which will translate into recession with inflation and yet continue showing positive growth, a poser nobody has yet dared to name beyond the 1985-87 coinage we know as “stagflation”, which is old hat.

It’s almost a surreal world event, except that the forced-sales of shares and bonds plus the properties the banks are auctioning are indeed real.

In other words, unless we quickly do something intelligent we are surely headed for a crunch.

We would be better off attending to national self-sufficiency and regional and inter-bloc economic co-operations by barter than to be securing marks in showing how good we are in complying with the WTO and the cosmo-global companies so we can get serially patted on the back from the big shots, before international TV.

Seeing we have no answers forthcoming from Pak Lah and his cabinet that can provide us with a reason to hope we’d be getting any better, rather than for Mahathir and Razaleigh to be wasting their accumulated experiences in this critical transit of time, surely we can gain much if they were to leave the distasteful aside and help guide the nation to secure the society from the decided drift that’s taking us towards breakdown.

People have come to assume as given that Pak Lah has bogged himself down and is in no shape either to rehabilitate Umno or to plan and manage the country’s needed economic adjustments. Everywhere people are saying the political puzzlement in UMNO and BN is simply arising from the fact he does not want to let go and would rather see the ship sink with him.

UMNO, as a mass organisation that has become power and money absorbed, cannot be expected to regain the spiritual quest of the early years that would be needed to move the members to act as Mahathir is asking them to do, which is to bail out and shout from the outside to demand Pak Lah quit before they will return to the party.

ku li tengku razaleigh interview 241106  smileHe may have done the right thing for himself, and with him his wife and a son, Mokhzani.

As for party members, some say they would be losing the means they have to aggress against Pak Lah should Najib choose to contest and/or if it has to be Ku Li they must back the chance for change.

Najib has said he fears the party will be divided should he contest for number one. Party members now say that will not happen unless Pak Lah lets the power go to the opposition and the horror of a president of that sort crashes the meaning and worth of UMNO like a mirror being smashed on the floor.

Sense of futility

Najib has successfully gained for himself the biggest single disappointment many can trace in the history for UMNO. He is seen not at all as a fighter, they say, and not as someone who places the nation and party above self.

He has lost for nothing a lot of goodwill and respect while the party is heavily inclined towards him no matter the Altantuya murder trial casting a wild shadow over him and his wife, Rosmah.

The popular belief is, unless a regime change actually happens, UMNO will not fragment beyond what has already occurred.

Any significant bleeding can only be expected to happen if Pak Lah were to stay as president beyond December, which would seem to be reflecting the sense of futility among the immortally impotent majority in UMNO’s 3.5 million members.

The nationalist Malays have apparently successfully castrated themselves.

Meanwhile, until the nominations for president and deputy president are made beginning July, time in UMNO will still be skirting reality and shunting in transit, bearing little hope to reduce the gigantic frustration and sense of self-defeat that has become almost second nature to the Malays in UMNO.

The zeitgeist has long been saddled on the fear of the “orang asing” (the aliens) and acknowledged little about internal rot and incompetence as causes of terminal political and economic failures.

The present crop of Malay nationalists in UMNO, caught in a bind such as now and fearing for Malay survival, can become very vocal in the evenings at coffee-shops but leaves to Mahathir the ravings and rantings in the attempt “to remove the gangrene”.

In 2004, most of the UMNO delegates that chose the current list of UMN supreme council members, had accepted bribes we were told. It was the first UMNO supreme council election held under Pak Lah’s leadership. The delegates were corrupt!

Now we learn anywhere between RM3 billion and RM6 billion of Trengganu’s oil royalty had not been paid to the state government. Where on earth did the money go?

No wonder time in Umno is in transit and waiting for something to happen, and which will, of course, probably from July. Hidup Melayu! Long Live the Malays!

7 thoughts on “From My Friend Ghani:Transit Malay nationalists wait and see

  1. uncle,

    what must the government keep mentioning about subsidy. “we can’t keep the subsidize the people much longer, the price is keep increasing”, isn’t it their job to help us. I’m not being critical but why other countries can maintain their subsidy….
    edisham, in principle I am against all forms of subsidies. They distort the price mechanism and are expensive. For example, if you cannot to pay for your petrol at the going rate (without subsidy), then you have to economise or use the public transport system or you just do not own a car, not even a kancil.

    But true, the poor need help, so we must find ways to empower them to help themselves. Funding programmes for the poor is better than subsidies (which the wealthy will also benefits). —Din Merican

  2. Look like all UMNO members only interested with their survival. What about the rest of non-UMNO Malays and Malaysian as a whole? If Malaysia is going down, everyone will suffer but look like Malaysian as a whole would suffer more than UMNO members.
    Ask Badawi and Najib, Alan. They are the wise men of Malaysia.—Din Merican

  3. I think it is made obvious by the flow of posts on this blog, other blogs and all the comments that all of us know that UMNO is too focused on how to stay afloat, rather than how they can help the country.

    That the article should mention AAB wanting to direct most investors to the Iskandar Development area is something laughable. Where exactly does AAB propose the investors come from, if Malaysian economy does not give them a sense of stability and assurance?

    The govt of the day is very very important in directing the way a country is going. With the leading party so much in chaos, it only paints “insecurity” all over Malaysia, in plain view of foreign investors. Who in their right mind would want to invest in a country that seems to be on the verge of a political breakdown? Much less invest in the iskandar Development that is even less secure.

    I disagree with edisham about the subsidies. The govt is there to help us people, not by continuously giving out subsidies, but by ensuring a continuous economic growth in Malaysia. By improving the living standards in Malaysia. By paving ways to make Malaysia self-sufficient. It is, I think, equivalent to giving a fish to someone, or teaching that someone to fish for himself. We want to be given the ability to fish for ourselves, instead of being given the fish. We want something that can last. Subsidies to me are only temporary measures to keep consumers at bay.

    About Malay survival, as Dr M seems to be talking about quite often these days. You’re all welcome to shoot me if you disagree with me, but I think whatever lack of Malay “survival” in Malaysia has been brought upon by the Malays themselves. We have BM as the national language, but DBP doesn’t even promote Malay literature anymore. The NEP is exactly like giving the fish to the man, but not teaching him how to fish. Short term gain over long-term profit. It is they who are depriving themselves of their own language, and their own development.

    I believe in Bangsa Malaysia. So I don’t want to dwell in race. But as anak bangsa Malaysia, we must first know what Malaysia really is. The Malays, in my view, have nothing to lose but all to gain by having a Malaysia for all. Because in a truly Malaysian Malaysia, everyone’s rights will be protected.
    Malaysia is no longer the preferred investment center. We are now seen as a corrupt, incompetent, usafe and generally screwed up country and a kind of a den of the Malay name dropping elites. We depend on Petronas funds for development and when the money runs out, what’s next? Politicians in power can think only about the short term, leaving the long term ones to others from the future generation.—Din Merican

  4. Bro. Ghani, with due respect. I am very disturbed with your last sentence ‘Hidup Melayu’. Retorik seperti ini sudah agak ‘memualkan’. Need to ask you Melayu yang mana satu. Kalau pemimpin2 Melayu yang dalam UMNO sekarang, itu Melayu yang minda telah rosak atau twisted dan tak habis2 hendak menipu orang Melayu dengan hipokrit mereka. Bagitu juga tak habis2 hendak merampok negara untuk kepentingan diri. Yang paling mengaibakan these goons alway thought that orang2 Melayu secara am nya ‘owe them a living’ dan semuanya mengaku pandai dan berhak jadi pemimpin. Terbukti sekarang akan fiasco2 yang melanda pemimpin2 Melayu dalam UMNO. Salam

  5. su,
    if you are talking about economic growth, how many people do benefit from it? today if your income is RM1500 in klang valley, it’s not enough. a lot of my collegues are suffering from it.

  6. edisham,

    I don’t claim to know a whole lot about economics, but we’re all here for healthy discussion, no?

    Well, the way I see it, economic growth can and will increase job opportunities. When there is a lack of jobs available, pay-masters tend to limbo on the “how low can you go” mindset, and we end up being paid much less than what we are worth. I think that with a stronger economy, and increase in job windows, the margin of minimum wage would also increase.

    And then of course there’s the issue about economic stability. If there is no economic growth, there can be no stability. Prices increase everyday, and if we’re economically stagnant, no amount of subsidy is going to be enough. If companies don’t make money, the employees can only dream of having pay-rises. If the economy goes up, chances are that wage increase can match, and can overtake price increase.

    I believe economic growth starts a chain reaction. But as Din said in his reply to your earlier post, controlled funding would be necessary to aid the people who are below the poverty line.

    Cheers edisham, and thanks Din for giving us the space to have these open discussions. I don’t know much about economics, so please correct me if I am wrong about the points I have made.

  7. su,

    there are so many things i don’t know and i am not going to pretend about it. That’s why i’m eager to have discussion in this blog. Thanks to su and uncle for sharing 🙂

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