Post Najib Reforms needed for a better Malaysia

September 2, 2015

Post Najib Reforms needed for a better Malaysia

by Dr.M. Bakri Musa, Morgan-Hill, California

Najib and RosieGoodbye Najib and  FLOM Rosie

Despite the bravado, Najib Razak’s days as Prime Minister are numbered. Last weekend’s massive Bersih 4 demonstrations are only the latest and most public expressions of citizens’ disgust and contempt for him and his ilk.

I hope Najib is spared the ignominious fate of many corrupt Third World leaders. The visceral hatred for him not just as a leader but also a person is palpable. The sentiment is worse for his obscenely ostentatious wife. Judging by the extraordinarily tight security around him these days, Najib too is aware of this.

If Najib were to suffer a Marcos, or worse, a Ngo Dinh Diem, that would plunge Malaysia into an abyss; likewise if Najib were to execute an Assad. Assad is still in power but I shudder to imagine the images of his last days, as surely that would come. I saw enough gory details of Gaddafi’s.

Regardless of Najib’s fate, prudence calls for Malaysia to be ready for a post-Najib administration. Those arguing for patience have it wrong. Nothing in the constitution precludes the removal of a sitting prime minister between elections. It has been done.

If Najib’s successor were to be chosen in the manner of recent past, meaning, by UMNO power brokers, that would only ensure another mediocre pick. Najib is worse than Abdullah (who would have thought that possible!); rest assured that Najib’s successor chosen thus would be even worse. This Ahmad Zahid character, Najib’s current deputy, is fast living up (or down) to that low expectation.

Mahathir has apologized for his role in picking Najib, and Abdullah before that. It is not productive to continue blaming Mahathir; he retired over a decade ago. Malaysia should be able to recover from his blunders by now. At least the man recognizes his error and is trying to rectify it. He succeeded in ridding us of Abdullah; let’s hope he would be too with Najib.

Najib's 2015 CabinetNajib’s 2015 Cabinet

It is not enough to dump just Najib. His entire cabinet too has to go, plus half a dozen top heads in the permanent establishment. To redress Najib’s legacy of endemic corruption, I propose granting temporary amnesty to corruptors who confess. To discourage future such acts, I propose a permanent body to scrutinize all gifts and public contracts awarded to the top 100 officials. They would also have to declare their assets annually to this body. Anything less would condemn Malaysia to “business as usual.” It cannot afford that.

Transition Prime Minister and Unity Cabinet

Najib’s successor should be chosen through consensus by the parties now in Parliament. That would be the only way to get a unity leader. That individual would of course have to be ratified by Parliament. As UMNO has the largest number of representatives, it is only right that the Prime Minister should be a current UMNO MP. His cabinet however, should comprise nominees of all parties.

The new Prime Minister and his ministers should commit to three stipulations. One, they should not be candidates in the next general elections; two, give up their party positions (if they have any) in the interim; and three, agree to stay out of government for at least a year immediately following their tenure.

Reduce the cabinet to about a dozen ministers, as with Tunku’s original team back in 1955. The current bloated one is inefficient, designed less to pick the best candidates more to bribe compliant and none too bright supporters. Former Parliamentary Accounts Committee Chairman Nur Juzlan tasked with investigating 1MDB, now a junior minister, is Exhibit A.

The first stipulation would ensure that ministers focus on their cabinet responsibilities and not be sidelined with jockeying to be candidates in the next election. Without this stricture those new ministers would begin their next political campaign right away, mocking the unity theme of the cabinet.

The second — decoupling cabinet appointments from party positions – could prove to be a worthy precedent for future administrations. The duties of a minister are onerous enough without the added burden of party obligations. This stipulation would also widen the talent pool beyond career politicians.

Najib’s current ministers have to go with him. They have either explicitly or implicitly by their silence endorsed Najib’s corrupt ways. They do not deserve to lead the nation. Firing them would impress upon new ministers that while they may serve at the pleasure of the Prime Minister, their ultimate paymaster and thus clients are the citizens.

Tengku Razaleigh HamzahThe Prime Minister In Waiting–Good for Malaysia

One standout candidate for Prime Minister is Tengku Razaleigh. He commands instant respect at home and abroad. Untainted by the many sordid UMNO scandals, he is also highly regarded by the opposition as well as ordinary citizens. At age 78 we can believe him when he says that he would not stand in the next election, as he informed Najib last week. He is robust physically and mentally. No other candidate comes close to Razaleigh.

If reluctant leaders make the best ones, then the Tengku is the embodiment of that principle. With his accomplishments he does not need yet another accolade, especially now that the Prime Minister’s post has been soiled.

Fire Key Leaders in the Permanent Establishment

One least-noted but very revealing aspect to the present 1MDB scandal is the less-than-admirable to downright despicable performances of many heads in the permanent establishment.


Bank Negara Governor, hitherto distinguished by her sterling professional reputation, was reduced to saying that her duties were done with the handing in of her report on 1MDB to the Attorney General. She was not in the least interested on whether her findings would be acted upon, using the Jamaican excuse, “It’s not my job, mon!” She felt no compulsion to protect the integrity of her institution. She also failed in her obligation to the public, her ultimate paymaster.

It gets worse. Chief Secretary Ali Hamsa, the top civil servant, announced the retroactive retirement of Attorney-General Gani Patail while he (Gani) was in the final stages of investigating Najib’s scandal. Not to be outdone, Hamsa’s new appointee as A-G, Apandi Ali, announced even before being sworn in that Najib was cleared of any wrongdoing!

Apandi ampuThe Man behind the Sapuman

If you want to bodek (suck up) at least do so in a credible way so as to spare yourself and your master needless embarrassment. In case the point is missed, Apandi, a retired judge, was a former state UMNO treasurer. A political hack, essentially.

Meanwhile the number one and two at the Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) chose to be on elective medical leave in the midst of the crisis. To top that, Inspector-General of the Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar made himself the subject of international ridicule when his request to Interpol for the arrest of the Sarawak Report editor was rebuffed. In an unusual departure, Interpol asserted that its Red Alert is meant to nab terrorists and dangerous criminals. The smack to the IGP’s face was heard around the world.

The IGP tried to keep that rebuff secret. The first blunder was bad enough, but a second one so soon! Sheer incompetence and lack of professionalism personified.

Low and AbuLow and Abu–Corruption Busters

At a minimum Chief Secretary Ali Hamsa, IGP Khalid Abu Bakar, MACC Chief Abu Kassim, and new Attorney-General Apandi Ali should be fired. They should be prosecuted for obstruction of justice with respect to the 1MDB investigation.

There are many capable Malaysians who could replace those four, and others. However, with citizens now so deeply polarized, it is unlikely that any local replacement could command the confidence and respect of the populace. Thus the new administration should initiate a global search to get the best talent without regard to nationality.

An important task for these new appointees would be to groom their local successors, to impress upon them the importance of protecting and enhancing the integrity of their institutions. They should not be handmaidens to their political superiors. This is especially critical now as our public institutions, even religious ones, are hopelessly corrupt and politicized.

Consider that Najib was embarrassed enough to withdraw his previously arranged address to an international conference on anti-corruption. The urbane and sophisticated audience would laugh him off. Not so at local mosques. There he was in his long white jubbah a la the Grand Ayatollah, Najib leading a congregational prayer with the compliant local media in full force with cameras on hand. Next the man would go for umrah and announced that he had a vision that the RM2 billion “donation” was rezeki, and the donor a descendant of the Prophet!

Samuel Johnson had it off; religion, not patriotism, is the last refuge of scoundrels, at least Malay-Muslim ones.

Amnesty for Corruptors and Asset Declaration

Corruption is now endemic in Malaysia; it is the norm at all levels. The only reason Najib’s RM 2 billion “donation” raised a raucous was the sheer colossal amount (even in today’s devalued ringgit) and the utter brazenness of the man.

It is hard to gauge the extent of or aggregate loss from corruption. Its corrosive consequences are of course beyond quantification, from collapsed buildings endangering their occupants to watered-down academic standards depriving the young their rightful opportunities.

One suggestion would be to grant amnesty to encourage corruptors to come forward. That would give some insight as to the extent of the blight as well as its infinite variations. There is no limit to human ingenuity in disguising corruption, from friendly “wagers” at golf games to the funding of Hajj pilgrimages. Nothing is sacred to the corrupt.

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Amnesty would also create a prisoner’s dilemma between the corrupting parties that could potentially be exploited. If one side confesses and the other does not, you now have the evidence to prosecute the other party.

To reduce future opportunities for corruption, there should be a permanent body to scrutinize all gifts and contracts given to the top 100 public officials and their immediate families. This 100 would include the sultans and governors, cabinet and chief ministers, top civil servants and heads of major statutory bodies, as well as Federal Court judges. They would also have to declare their assets annually to this body.There are many excellent models of such bodies out there; there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Von Mises

Meanwhile Bersih 4 and other protests against Najib must continue until the man is finally booted out. However, dumping only Najib without the other needed changes would only condemn Malaysia to business as usual. The nation can ill afford that.

20 thoughts on “Post Najib Reforms needed for a better Malaysia

  1. To Bakri Musa’s list of senior public officials who should be replaced I would add the IGP. He has become an authority to himself, of course with the encouragement of the PM. Even to the extend of challenging court orders. But mostly because he just does not use his God given intellect to process and judge situations. All these people have not understood that they serve the people and not UMNO. But Bakri’s assessment and solutions will never pass the UMNO test so we will be stuck with this mob until GE 14. But perhaps parliament can pressure the BN /UMNO government to call for early elections. That would satisfy everybody.



  3. Ku Li is on record as saying that he has no problem with Najib. Why some folks carry on thinking that this Establishment guy is part of the solution is beyond me.
    Ku Li is a politician. What he will do when he comes to power is another matter. Power corrupts unless it is held in check.–Din Merican

  4. If BN were to still be in power, I’d think very strongly that the first two ‘levels’ of each of the component parties have to be ‘cleansed’ off, more gently put would be, to retire off these members who have proven themselves self-serving, dishonest,without integrity, cowardly and without much intelligence. Anyone with any of those traits or all of them in the same person should be removed from position first. The list is so long, it’d clogged up this commentary column. People like Zahid who behave like gangster, Hishamuddin, Syed of Cheras, Liow Tiong Lai, Chew Mei Fun, Azalina, Sharir, Reezal etc etc. I left out the MIC as they are so busy killing each other they are no longer in public service. Any peep from them despite the many wrongdoings on the rakyat by the PM? Nope, they supported him instead. People like Anina should be put in instead. We have so many good people who could have done a much better job but who are not in BN, like Wong Chen, Nazmi, Rafizi, Hannah, Surendran or not even in politics, like Rosli Dahlan, yet we are saddled with those of inferior quality.

  5. No need for such a complicated plan. Exercise of power at all levels must be supervised. We have the framework for that. Just ensure that there is consistent application of the laws that are already there. No one is above the law.
    In this internet age we should also have a keen eye on unintended consequences. Measure four times before you cut once.

  6. Dr Bakri/ pak Din
    This talk after talk of najib resigning anytime have been going on for months already.
    No sirees. No go. You can dream on. He has become stronger. No reason for him to quit. Wait for the GE. The only time you can say bye to him. But between now and 2018, so many things will happen. We will forget. Life goes on with Najib still as our PM. Sorry to kill your enthusiasm.

  7. And Ku Li has decided not to run for election……A reminiscent on the Late Soh Chai doctor… know who la……..St michael boy…..hahahahaha

    Keng Yaik may be ktemoc’s secret admirer…….hahahahaha

  8. “Sorry to kill your enthusiasm.” Pompuan

    Korek, Korek, Korek!

    Jibros has surrounded themselves completely with sycophants, apple polishers and rambutan lickers. Heck, they’ve even built a 0.6 billion wall around with brain-dead loyalists to the Almighty $$, aka zombies. Dunno where the remaining ‘donation’ is, though – probably within easy reach. Fight it won’t be, but flight may have to wait.

    OMG! The toe-sucking KSN’s kontrek has recently been extended by 3 years, and other ‘useful’ functionaries and idiots of certain rank above, by a minimum of 1-2 years.

    The vote of no-confidence during the next Parliamentary session won’t pass for sure. Do any of you have hopes of a lack of quorum during Badjet presentation?

    We ARE Screwed.

  9. >Despite the bravado, Najib Razak’s days as Prime Minister are numbered. <

    That's just the writer's opinion, unless he knows some – perhaps – foreign forces in league with local elements who're out to get Najib (allusions about "the ignominious fate of many corrupt Third World leaders" such as Marcos, Ngo Dinh Diem, Assad, and Gaddafi cannot but suggest foreign involvement). Incidentally, it would be great if he could elaborate how Ngo Dien Diem, Assad, and Gaddafi were corrupted, and if possible compare them with the corruption of other still existing national leaders.

    Ngo Dien Diem is perhaps the best example why we should NOT try to topple with extra-legal means: the number of coups that followed the Vietnamese overthrow should warn Malaysians about the chaos that might follow. For all of Najib's fault, mail in Malaysia, to give but one example, is more reliable than even the US, where it's not uncommon for the post office to take over two weeks to deliver out-of-state mail, and more than a week to send your parcel to a friend living across the street. Seriously, whatever the leaders we have, our country is 1) NOT among the worst in the world, and 2) NOT much better than Libya or even Iraq in terms of people's livelihood before those countries sunk into oblivion.

    If we want to change the government, fine, but do it legally, like getting parliament to give a vote of no confidence. Or, as in the case of Abdullah Badawi, persuade Najib to give up his post. However, as Bernard points out, UMNO isn't likely to cater to our wishes. And, not surprisingly, while the article gives us a prescription for change, it does not tell us which individual or parties could and would do the things it suggested – in short, who would bell the cat.

    So again, Bernard's suggestion is most practical: wait for the next general election and don't try to be a smart alec and do something that Malaysians might not thank you for the possible consequences. Such as floods of refugees trying to get into Thailand, Indonesia, and even China.

  10. My posting above, ending with ” floods of refugees trying to get into Thailand, Indonesia, and even China” will be the last under the name “LC.”

    I’d used my initials “LC” long ago at a DAP website called “Bungaraya.” Since then, I’d written some articles for Malaysiakini with the name LChuah and later Renoir at blogs such as “MalaysiaToday” and Azly Rahman’s “A Republic of Virtue.” I will choose a different name for any further posts on this website. Thank you Din, and I apologize to you and all commentators here.

    LC, from Maryland, USA

  11. Guys and Gals,
    I have watched the series “For the sake of republic” and felt that it would be extremely relevant to Malaysian politics. Though it’s in mandarin, there are english subtitles. Of course, certain aspect may not be accurate but the gist of it is there……..enjoy

  12. Modern politics is like soccer game: you set artificial rules for a civilized competition, which will determine a winner.

    When a soccer player violates a rule, he might be given a yellow card by the referee. The game continues because both teams are still committing to the overall artificial rules, despite violations along the way.

    Now, if a soccer player kicked his rival player between the legs, and the angry referee pulled out a gun and shot the violator dead. Do you think the game could continue with the remaining players? Of course not. Worse still, when the artificial rules lost their credibility, there would be no rule. Players would get into fist fight and gun fight, with the ones having the biggest guns won the fight. Of course no one would be awarded a trophy, which is the original purpose of the soccer game.

    Dr. Bakri Musa alluded the life of a sitting PM is tied to his popularity. But modern politics is premised on protecting the life of the executive head regardless how unpopular or disgusted he/she is. The best of our security apparatus should be deployed to protect Najib’s life if the game is to continue; this is not dissimilar to protecting the soccer player’s life for the game to continue even if the player violates the rule.

    Any slight hint that there is causal relation between popularity and the life of executive head is antithetical to modern politics. Such a hint should be roundly rejected. In modern politics, it is understood that executive head is not likely to be very popular, oppositions are natural, and successful protecting the life of executive head is a function of security apparatus, not a function of his popularity or good behavior or competency. I do not realize Dr. Bakri Musa’s California is so infested with leftism that the rejection of political violence is only feebly uphold.

  13. The writeup is very true and succinct. Unfortunately, the system as it is today, does not draw correlation between mass crowds and the position of the Prime Minister.

    The Prime Minister derives authority by virtue of him being the President of UMNO and the fact that UMNO is the largest party within the Barisan Nasional.

    Hitherto, the President of UMNO is directly voted in by 160 UMNO Division Leaders.

    Therefore, the Prime Minister sees his mandate as coming from UMNO and his division leaders. Street protests do not mean much. Total reform must come from within UMNO and the mindsets of the major population (i.e. the Malays and members of UMNO).
    That is no mean feat, taking into account how much money and livelihood is involved for these party members.

  14. “In modern politics, it is understood that executive head is not likely to be very popular, oppositions are natural, and successful protecting the life of executive head is a function of security apparatus, not a function of his popularity or good behavior or competency.”

    Seriously where are you getting this from ?

    In democracies pouplarity goes hand in hand with electability. Populist programmes are pushed instead of rational ones because popularity in most functional democracies guarantees re-election. The State’s security apparatus are there to protect the Executive from physical violence while the Executive’s political party is there to protect their asset from political violence.

    Indeed the State Security apparatus should have no part to play from protecting the Executive from his political rivals from within his party or his rivals outside of it.

    Your bizarre claims of leftism is even more confounding where your rhetoric does not even match right wing/ conservative thought. All you seem to do, is label anyone you disagree with as “leftist” while your own words does not match anything resembling conservative dogma.

  15. “Your bizarre claims of leftism is even more confounding where your rhetoric does not even match right wing/ conservative thought. All you seem to do, is label anyone you disagree with as “leftist” while your own words does not match anything resembling conservative dogma, ” Conrad.

    Among symptoms of leftism is wobbling words emanated from feeble mind; foundation bedrock is ignored in pursue of derivative benefit. Dr. Bakri Musa has obviously ignored that veiled warning of physical harm to PM is a form of political violence, which is completely unacceptable to the modern politics. A foundation of modern politics is the absence of physical threat, regardless how subtle the threat is. I guess Islamic State has already won when they send our daily news doses associated to political valence; Being bombarded by those news, feeble-minded leftists just cannot resist the effectiveness of political violence that they adopt political violence unintentionally and in veiled form.

    Tell me what part is inaccurate with my assessment. Ignore my intended labeling.

  16. “Tell me what part is inaccurate with my assessment. Ignore my intended labeling.”

    How does one judge your assessments when they are based on the labels you choose to assign to people ?

    What Dr. Bakri pointed out, was that the inevitable fall of tyrants most often involves blood shed. Do you dispute this claim ? Or do you think that merely asserting such amounts to a threat ? Do you think that utterance of such claims is on the same level as that made by the Islamic State ? If yes, what does it say when US presidents make the same claims ?

    “A foundation of modern politics is the absence of physical threat, regardless how subtle the threat is…”

    Really ? So when right wing candidates warn of the threat of “foreigners” or when left wing candidates warn of radical religious groups, these are merely aberrations in modern politics ?

    Tell me again about wobbling words emanating from a feeble mind.

  17. Chillax folks! As despicable as Najib is, we should avoid letting the repulsion to blind side our view of the big picture.
    Remember R.A.H.M.A.N.
    It is already a foregone conclusion that Najib is going down at GE14, followed with the collapse of UMNO B’s house of cards.
    This is the nightmare and worst fear of Mahathir.

    Najib is not unlike an enormous irritating boil that will go away eventually – if we let nature takes its own course, it will burst by itself when the time is ripe. No need to lance. The entailing fever and discomfort are essential for character and nation building.
    Just make sure to cleanse off the pus completely with antibacterial soap to contain the spread of infection! 🙂


  18. Ocho Onda: As any physician – even a first year intern – will tell you, not all boils burst by themselves when the time is ripe. As a surgeon my job is to drain boils so we can have a controlled evacuation of the pus without messing and damaging other tissues. If you do not do it in time or do it incompetently, you risk spreading the infection and killing your patient through sepsis. That is still a major killer even in America.

    History is replete with examples of egomaniacal leaders who think they are invincible but found out only way too late otherwise. I could not care less of the fate of those leaders but I do care of the people who would suffer because of the ensuing mess.

  19. Dr. Bakri.

    Salam from across the big pond. I may not be a medical doctor but I am sure that it does not take a med intern, either, to know that most boils rupture
    , drain and
    heal itself. Most often home treatment will suffice. Professional medical treatment/intervention is only necessary when a fluctuant boil leads to secondary infection such as cellulitis which involves infection of the deeper layer of the skin or where secondary complications like diabetes or impaired immune system, etc, are present that may lead to further complications and sepsis.

    I agree that sepsis is a major killer in America and possibly in Europe but I doubt that it relates even remotely to boils. Do you by any chance, have the percentage of annual deaths in America that is caused by sepsis due to boils?

    Anyway, I was using the boil phenomena as a “oxymoronic” analogy to illustrate the sobering stupor that has seem to permeate the Malaysian political dilemma.
    As much as I appreciate your care of the people who would suffer because of the ensuing mess….I will hazard to say that it’s a bit premature and I will even go further to say that on the contrary, the Malaysian thick and dwindling middle class needs to suffer and dwindle further to jolt them out of their slumbered comfort zone, to get them agitated………

    It is like making good cha, even with the right type of tea – the right time, water temperature and patience are still required to achieve the desired optimum result. 🙂

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