To Muhyiddin Yassin: You can’t lead, if you cannot fight back

October 30, 2015

To Muhyiddin Yassin: You can’t lead, if you cannot fight back

The UMNO Ampu Man is in danger of being suspended or sacked by PM Najib. Fight or Not to Fight, that is not the Question.

ANALYSIS by Geraldine Tong | UMNO Deputy President Muhyiddin Yassin has to fight back if he is suspended from the party, or else he will be branded a coward, a political analyst says.

“It will be humiliation for Muhyiddin, and serve as a lesson for other party members. I Dr Wong Chin Huatpredict he will put up a fight if he is suspended. Not doing so will mean he’s a coward. If he doesn’t fight back, he will be seen as a loser. If he just accepts his fate, then he will be doomed. Supporters will say he does not dare to fight back,” political analyst Dr. Wong Chin Huat, a Research Fellow with Penang Institute, told Malaysiakini in an interview.

Wong’s view comes following speculation that Muhyiddin may soon be suspended as the party’s Deputy President, especially after he berated UMNO members as cowards for abandoning him after his dismissal as Deputy Prime Minister.

Wong said if the former Deputy Prime Minister is suspended from UMNO, he would not be the only victim. Several other UMNO leaders would probably be suspended as well, like the party’s Vice-President Mohd Shafie Apdal as well as UMNO veterans Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Dr Mahathir Mohamad, he predicts.

Up the ante and quit?

If they choose to fight back, they would most likely quit the party in a show of defiance, said Wong. However, before quitting, they might do a roadshow to gauge support for them among UMNO members as well as among members of the public. “If the support is high, then they could up the ante to fight back (by quitting),” Wong said. Muhyiddin’s suspension would not immediately affect Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, he added.

“Suspending a few people will not change a thing. What would change the course of the game is an open split. The discontent against Najib in UMNO and (among) the Malays could well build up (with Muhyiddin’s suspension),” he said.

Edmund Terence GomezFellow analyst, Dr. Terence Gomez said the current situation in UMNO is an indication of desperate times for Najib, as there appears to be a lot of unrest among the grassroots. This was made worse for Najib when Muhyiddin joined forces with several other BN veterans, such as Shafie, Tengku Razaleigh and Mahathir, at a press conference criticising 1MDB and the abuse of law under Najib’s administration, Gomez said.

“You have such senior leaders, former and present ones, coming together to take on the prime minister. This is certainly not good for him (Najib). Najib is acting to nip this all in the bud,” Gomez said. However, he warned that this situation is a double-edged sword for Najib.

Possible groundswell of dissent

If Najib does not deal with the situation, the protests on the ground may grow and dealing with it may put the Prime Minister in a more difficult position among the grassroots as well. On whether the grassroots would react badly to Muhyiddin’s suspension, Gomez noted that UMNO is a party based on patronage.

“Like Mahathir said, Najib thinks everyone can be bought. Money politics is a key feature of the party. The problem for Najib is that this is a party of three million members and there’s only so much money that he will have available for distribution to the grassroots to contain the mutiny that’s emerging from the ground,” Gomez said.

He also argued that the implications of unrest within UMNO were very serious and if not dealt with, could very likely cost the party and its BN allies, the next general election. UMNO members might think they could get away by staying silent in the short term, but they would lose out in the long term, he said.

Voters also discontented

“The discontent is not just within the party, but among the electorate as well. So they (UMNO members) have to think very carefully on how they would have to deal with this issue,” he said.

TWan Saiful Wan Janhink-tank Ideas chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said suspending Muhyiddin would consolidate Najib’s position in the party – for now at least – and he agreed with the other analysts that the long-term effects could be disastrous for Najib.

“He (Najib) is setting a very bad precedent. In the future, despite him being elected as Party President, others in UMNO can also gang up against him.If the next Deputy President becomes very strong, he could also gang up with other leaders to remove the president,” Wan Saiful said.

Suspending Muhyiddin would break the party structure and respect for the party hierarchy, he said.It would also show how insecure the current leadership in the party is, which will worsen its impact on the party.

“It will perpetuate the rule of one person. It’s no longer about the supreme council or the members, it’s all about saving one person.More people will see Najib for what he is – a person who is trying desperately to consolidate his power,” Wan Saiful said.

However, he admitted that Muhyiddin lacked enough grassroots support to battle back from within the party.”I think the voices complaining against Najib will become louder (after Muhyiddin’s suspension), but I don’t think these voices will become bigger in size,” he added.

Additional reporting by Norman Goh

Congratulations, Malaysiakini

October 30, 2015

To my friends Premesh, Steven, Guna, and the men and women behind MalaysiakiniDin Merican@Rosler and Kinibiz, congratulations on this significant award from me in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. May it be Gold the next time.

Because of the Internet, I,  as a loyal subscriber and keen reader, am able to access your portals and as a result, I am up to speed on political, economic and social developments in our country. I thank you very much for this service, and urge to keep up your good work. Please try to challenge yourselves and explore ways and means to communicate better. Being in the news business, you know, as well as I do, that we cannot please everyone. But we must never fail to try to be balanced and fair.

Your portals and I have been identified as being pro-Opposition. Nothing is further from the truth than that. We may be critical but we are not pro any coalition or party and certainly not anti-government which is elected by Malaysians, irrespective of the flaws in our electoral system. Unfortunately, I have had a hard time to convince UMNO and BN supporters that I am not the “enemy”. I have not stop trying.

Since coming to Phnom Penh and being an academic at Cambodia’s top private university, I am conscious that my friends and associates here look at me as a Malaysian and judge me on how I conduct myself as a Malaysian and on the quality of my pedagogy and research work, although when they read my blog, they know that I have been critical of my country’s leadership and their policies. Stereo-typing is convenient, but never helpful.

We are going through difficult times, to put it mildly. But as an optimist, I am embracing myself for better times ahead, anchored in my belief that tough times do not last, but tough Malaysians do.  Lest we forget,  Malaysia is not just Najib and his henchmen in UMNO-BN. Malaysia is all of us. We must work together for a great future.–Din Merican

Congratulations, Malaysiakini

Independent news portal Malaysiakini has been hailed as one of the top brands in Malaysia at the 6th Putra Brand Awards (tonight). While Malaysiakini has won awards on two previous occasions, it is the first time the portal bagged the silver in the Media Network category.

It picked up the bronze award last year and at the inaugural Putra Brand Awards in 2010. Wayne Lim (photo, left), CEO of Malaysia SME, handed over the award to Malaysiakini CEO Premesh Chandran at a gala dinner in Majestic Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

The other media outlets that won awards in the Media Network category were Astro, TV3, and Era (Gold); Hitz FM (Silver); and The Star, ntv7, and The Malaysian Insider (Bronze). Meanwhile, Maybank, Malaysia’s leading bank with the widest network, won the Putra Brand of The Year award.

According to the brand awareness award host, the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia (4As), the Putra Brand Awards is unique as Malaysian consumers themselves are the judges.

A consumer research polling system involving 6,000 people helped select Malaysia’s most preferred brands across a spectrum of 24 categories, with the top three brands in each category being honoured with a gold, silver, and bronze ranking.

This is the largest consumer research sampling of its kind nationwide, covering both East and West Malaysia.

We thank our subscribers, readers, advertisers, and most of all the Malaysiakini team, who work tirelessly to give the country the news and views that matter. “The awards reflect that the internet today is the mainstream, with two internet brands winning awards,” said Premesh (photo).

Malaysiakini, launched in 1999, is the country’s top news website.According to comScore, the portal has the highest number of visitors in the first half of this year, ahead of both Star Online and The Malaysian Insider. American-based comScore is a global leader in digital media analytics.

Fighting Corruption is Everybody’s Business, but…

October 29, 2015

Fighting Corruption is Everybody’s Business, but …

by Walter Sandosam

The Raciat Najib and Terrible Bomoh infested Rosmah MansorFighting Corruption starts with Them

There is a general consensus on the effects of corruption. It threatens the rule of law, democracy and human rights, undermines good governance, distorts competition and hinders economic development. It endangers democratic institutions and the moral foundations of society.

During this time of economic challenges and strong headwinds that Malaysia is facing, these elements begin to take on a new dimension. Fight corruption effectively or face the myriad of disastrous consequences that it brings.

The question that invariably emerges is – whose responsibility is it to tackle corruption? Is it only the government and enforcement agencies who are responsible or are there others who are guilty of aiding and abetting corruption merely by their ineffective discharge of the duties that they have been entrusted with?

The recent arrest of local council officers in Selangor, the charging of naval officers, police and customs officers and like, indicate that somebody has not been doing their jobs of supervision effectively. They have failed miserably at executing good governance yet continue to draw emoluments for the services which they have failed to provide. Surely this is not ’halal’.

Does it need the enforcement agencies like the MACC to do undercover work and detailed investigations to haul up the errant individuals? Get it right the first time. Supervise effectively and play your part as one of the stakeholders in the fight against corruption. Otherwise it can be perceived that you yourself are corrupt –thus negativity towards officers serving the public. Whilst all in society must play their part, inevitably the major stakeholder continues and always will be the government.

To be fair, much has been done but there are some loose ends which are in dire need of having to be tied up. These must proceed with haste. The government should not be seen as ‘pussy footing’, ‘walking softly-softly’ or dragging its feet on matters which fall directly under its purview. This will cause perception issues and cynicism on the government’s openly stated commitment to fight corruption and improve on its ranking in corruption perception indexes.

TS Abu KassimWhilst it is lauded that immediate action was taken when officers of the MACC were transferred out by rescinding such transfer orders, there must be structural changes made to reflect this commitment of non-interference in anti-corruption efforts.

Immediate action is needed on some much delayed fronts. These are the formation of a separate service commission for the anti-graft agency and the appointment of the chief commissioner who should be independent with security of tenure.

On the corporate front, the much delayed corporate liability provision which allows for corporations to be charged for accepting and receiving bribes has been on the backburner for much too long. Swifter action is also needed on enacting laws on political funding. This is globally recognised as the ’mother’ of corruption. Malaysia is no exception as it has been seen!

There are many stakeholders in the fight against corruption. The government should not slacken its efforts in tackling the terrain. A Minister at Federal level (Mr. Paul Low) has been appointed to fight this menace showing the degree of commitment. This has to be buttressed by ensuring that all who are committed and engaged to fight corruption can do so without fear or favour.

It is merely putting to legislation what has been committed by the government as it stands against corruption. Surely, that is not a Herculean task.

ASEAN Economic Integration Possible and Essential

October 29, 2015

ASEAN Economic Integration Possible and Essential

by Dr. Ooi Kee Beng

Ishak Yusof Institute (ISEAS)

Ooi Kee Beng

Just 20 months short of turning half a century old, the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) will officially become an integrated community. On December 31 this year, rotating ASEAN chair Malaysia will declare this to be the case.

The integration has essentially been and will continue to be in the field of economics. ASEAN has been ambitious and proactive in creating a common market and production base. Other areas of integration, however, by comparison and by design, take a backseat, and events there have been more ad hoc and opportunistic.

Given the way things work in this part of the world, understanding this reality requires a historical take that highlights the region’s uniqueness. Southeast Asia as a region had until recent times been largely peripheral to the greater sweep of history. This historical circumstance has many implications, and two of the most important are discussed here. First, let’s look at the region from within.

Political integration inconceivable

Although the region exhibits many cultural layers — and the overlaps vary greatly from country to country — there is no civilizational imperative for the region to integrate politically or otherwise.

A quick comparison with Europe will make this condition quite obvious. In Europe, attempts to unite the continent by force had been occurring since the end of Roman times. In contrast, South-east Asia’s diversity is rendered all the deeper by political and religious differences. This leads to conceptual miscellany in the understanding of basic concepts such as power, leadership, people or the role of patronage in politics.

Political integration in South-east Asia is therefore inconceivable in many ways. Collaboration in this area is more about border security matters, and non-traditional security threats such as epidemics, natural disasters and ecological catastrophes.

Asean Economic Community 2016Economic Integration Benefits are Real and Substantial

The region is also made up of relatively new polities and governments that are still very much focused on nation-building rather than integrating with their neighbours. In truth, it is only recently with budget airlines that South-east Asians have travelled more within the region. Most do not know their neighbours as well as they might imagine.

Second, let us look at the region within the larger geopolitical context. The region functioned both as a destination and thoroughfare throughout history for travellers, armies and missionaries from outside. Movement of people, goods and culture in and out of the region had been very free.

This porous characteristic made the region very vulnerable to colonisation, invasion and other turf wars. In the 19th and 20th century, the region was colonised by the Europeans, invaded by the Japanese, fought over by nationalist movements against the returning Europeans, and was a battle zone in the Cold War.

In the process, labour migration during this period changed the region’s demographics forever, and continues to do so today in new ways.

Gaining independence for many of these countries was not a return to an old polity; it was instead the start of new ways of political organisation that their newly installed governments did not always understand or master.

There is consequently a lot of defensiveness at the national, ethnic or cultural levels. Arguments over which country was the origin for which popular cultural item have been common, including whether the Malaysian national anthem has Indonesian roots or not, for example. And amazingly, after decades of seasonal haze clouding the region due to forest fires in Indonesia, it was only earlier this month that Jakarta accepted help from its gasping neighbours to help fight the fires.

Largely because of these historical geo-strategic and geopolitical conditions, South-east Asia is today almost by default a power vacuum. The nations each by itself cannot keep major powers out. The collective strength that Asean provides for each of its members is therefore highly valued.

Bound by nationalist economics

Suspicions remain so strong that outside powers, whenever they can, will reduce countries in the region to pawns in a bigger game. What is obvious to all is that economics decides the pace and nature of ASEAN integration. However, the economics that binds the region is essentially nationalist economics.

ASEAN’s modus operandi of consensus and unanimous decision-making is thus not a choice but a necessity. None of its members can accept being dictated to by its neighbours through a majority decision.

There are of course those who think that it is time for this tradition to be broken, but no major player really believes that this will happen any time soon. Nevertheless, ASEAN economic integration has progressed steadily, and this provides potential for the region’s new nations to influence international trends towards their own benefits. This is why ASEAN centrality is so important to these countries.

Much has been done to bring to fruition the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Many of the measures taken are gradual, slowed by long and laborious discussions and countless compromises. But then, what it is aiming to achieve is impressive as it is.

The AEC blueprint combines 625 million people into one integrated market and production base where the flow of goods, services, investments and skilled labour is free. Between 2008 and 2013, intra-regional trade jumped by 33 per cent from US$458.1 billion (RM1.9 trillion) to US$608.6 billion.

What ASEAN will be saying in December is that most of the necessary measures for South-east Asia to evolve into an economically-integrated region have been taken. Since early this year, it has been claimed that as much as 97.3 per cent of traded products within the region are duty-free.

Measures still awaiting completion most importantly involve removing non-tariff barriers. The significant ones are simplifying custom procedures, harmonising standards, minimising multiple testing of products and labelling requirements. As Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed recently revealed, ASEAN has identified 69 such non-tariff barriers and resolved 45 of them.

Things are moving, and at a speed that its members are able to manage. But going forward, the question is whether ASEAN can keep pace with global developments. ASEAN has a tendency to be too dismissive of the relevance of the high speed at which the rest of the world is moving.

Furthermore, one worry often repeated today is that Indonesia, ASEAN’s biggest member, seems distracted by domestic issues, and its President, Mr Joko Widodo, is more interested in national solutions rather than regional ones. Time may not be on ASEAN’s side, and moving up a gear may be the region’s biggest challenge.

* Dr Ooi Kee Beng is the Deputy Director of ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore.

Turning the Malay Disadvantage to Advantage

October 29, 2015

DR.Lim Teck GheeThere is no racial enemy standing in the way of Malay socio-economic mobility or success; no quick fix or silver bullet that money can buy. Culture, family structure, social psychology, value systems – all these interact to produce individuals and communities that are successful or need propping up. 

Turning Malay Disadvantage to Advantage– ook at Culture, Family, Social Psychology and Values

by Lim Teck Ghee

An article on “The Asian Advantage” [ ] by Nicholas Kristof, a New York Time columnist which recently analyzed why Asian Americans are so successful in America, earning more than other groups including whites as well as having higher levels of educational attainment, should set us thinking along the same lines as to what is happening in terms of the racial socio-economic divide in Malaysia.

The article drew on a recent book “The Asian American Achievement Paradox,” by Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou, which noted that Asian-American immigrants have started with one advantage: they are highly educated, more so even than the average American, and are disproportionately doctors, research scientists and other highly educated professionals.

And the success is not confined to just the highly educated. The kids of working-class Asian-Americans often also thrive, showing remarkable upward mobility. Lee and Min Zhou posit that positive stereotyping may be part of an explanation for the success of Asian-Americans in school. According to one of the book’s quotes ‘Oh, you’re Chinese and you’re good in math.’

This stereotyping is hard on Asian-American kids whose comparative advantage is not in science or math; and there is concern that there is too much focus on memorization, not enough on creativity. However, scholastic success may be the interaction of social stereotypes and self-confidence leading Lee and Zhou to argue that Asian-Americans sometimes ride on the opposite of “stereotype threat,” a “stereotype promise” that they will be smart and hard-working.

The Achievement ParadoxIn contrast, scholars have found that blacks sometimes suffer from “stereotype threat” – i.e. anxiety from negative stereotypes which impairs performance.

Explaining the Malay Disadvantage

It is difficult or contentious to compare findings of racial differences across countries in view of unique or distinctive national features. But some of the key points in that article are of relevance to us as we grapple with the subject of racial attainment and what has been made out to be the non-Malay advantage or Malay disadvantage. They are summarised with my own observations in italics.

  • Any difference in racial achievement or attainment is not driven by differences in intelligence. This is self evident. However it needs to be put into the forefront of any discussion on racial differences because of the belief that racial differences are somehow explained by hereditary or genetically determined factors such as intelligence. Thus we have had the flawed argument of Dr. Mahathir on the key role of genetic factors in explaining Malay backwardness and racial differences in his highly influential book, “The Malay Dilemma”.

  • There is a focus on education. Immigrant East Asians often try particularly hard to get into good school districts, or make other sacrifices for their children’s education, such as giving prime space in the home to kids to study. This explains why Chinese parents have fought tooth and nail to preserve their constitutional right to mother tongue education i.e. access to a schooling system seen as superior to the sekolah jenis kebangsaan. Many Malay parents also know the importance of good schooling: hence the fight for places in the MARA junior colleges which are available to a small proportion of students; and to avoid the SK secondary schools, most of which are seen as of lower standard.
  • Strong two-parent families are a factor, too. Divorce rates are much lower for many Asian-American communities than for Americans as a whole, and there is evidence that two-parent households are less likely to sink into poverty and also have better outcomes for boys in particular. This subject of marriage, divorce, single mothers – and more importantly, small families missed out in the article – as well as other cultural factors, cries out for discussion and analysis in trying to understand the dynamics of educational attainment, socio-economic mobility, poverty and other related subjects in Malaysia. That it continues to be neglected or ignored means that wrong or muddled policies and ineffective outcomes will be the norm; and solutions to bridging the racial socio-economic gap will evade us.

The article ends with an important observation.”Disadvantage and marginalization are complex, often deeply rooted in social structures and unconscious biases, sometimes compounded by hopelessness and self-destructive behaviors….”

One would have expected that 45 years of what is arguably the most wide-ranging, expensive and long lasting racial affirmative program the modern world has seen in the way of the NEP and follow up pro-Malay social and economic actions should have led to more positive and sustainable outcomes for the larger Malay community.

Admittedly the NEP has had tremendous success as seen in the wealth and educational achievements of the Malay elite and middle class. But why so many Malays remain disadvantaged appears to have mystified countless Malay economic congresses and high level meetings. Clearly they have been looking for the solutions in the wrong places.

There is no racial enemy standing in the way of Malay socio-economic mobility or success just as there is no quick fix or silver bullet that money can buy. An ideology of Malay entitlement, preference and handouts is politically and morally unsustainable or justifiable especially since access to the benefits will continue to be usurped or monopolized by those who are already advantaged or privileged.

Culture, family structure, social psychology, value systems – all these interact to produce individuals and communities that are successful or need propping up. Until the government, its think tanks and the Malay intelligentsia place these as the centerpiece of public policy, they will continue to run around in circles ineffectually and fruitlessly looking for the answer to ending Malay disadvantage.

Recalling Watergate–a Nixonian Nightmare

October 29, 2015

COMMENT: I do not know what Azrul’s motivation is for writing about the Watergate Affair and the roles of award winning journalists, Bob Woodward and  Carl Bernstein in the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Azrul forgot to give due credit to the steadfast  and respected owner of The Washington Post Katherine Graham,  Managing Editor Howard Simons, and Editor-in-Chief Benjamin C. Bradlee (picture below) without whom there would probably be no Watergate. 

The Washington Post Watergate Team w Managing Editor Howard SimonsIf Azrul thinks that Malaysian journalists can do a Woodward-Bernstein to bring about the resignation of Najib as our Prime Minister, he is either very naive or overrating the role of investigative journalism in keeping our politicians in check. Even Sarawak Report with a smoking gun evidence on the Rm 2.6 billion donation in the Prime Minister’s bank account failed to force Najib to leave office. How do we deal with someone who has no conscience or sense of common decency?

The Malaysian Prime Minister wants to hang on to power and will not relent, unless UMNO decides to throw him out and that, as we know, is highly unlikely. All Division chiefs and UMNO grassroots are in his payroll, having been given millions and BR1M money. Even my good friend, Shahrir Samad, of all people, is beneficiary of Najib’s generosity.

We also know that we cannot expect our mainstream media which includes the Malay Mail, and the Sun Daily, The New Straits Times, The Star and others to get within a whisker of any attempt to mobilise public pressure against Najib and his cohort. Furthermore, our media are not blessed with the likes of Graham, Simons, and Bradlee who could withstand the relentless pressure they got from a powerful President Richard Nixon and his White staff.

Malaysia is not the United States. That is obvious. In the US, the media is free and independent. The Senate acts a powerful countervailing power to the US President. And the American public were taught at an early age to respect the US constitution and the Rule of Law and will not condone acts of abuse of power and corruption.Public institutions serve the American people and will not hesitate to act against those who break the law, irrespective of their status and stature. Their Constitution is the supreme law .

Our Parliament, on the other hand, is  a lame duck legislature which should be abolished to save taxpayers money. Our public officials like the Attorney-General, the Inspector-General of Police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Chief Commissioner, and the Governor of Malaysia’s central bank are not able to enforce the law since they report to the Prime Minister, and serve at his pleasure. The Judiciary which is supposed to be our  last bastion of  justice is subservient to the powerful Executive Branch (and for that we must be eternally grateful to our most outstanding Prime Minister No. 4). We are saddled with institutions that are decrepit and dysfunctional.Our democracy is an abject failure and our confidence and trust in our government is at its lowest point in our 58 year history.–Din Merican

Recalling Watergate–a Nixonian Nightmare

by Azrul Mohd Khalib

This is the title of a 1976 movie starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. Focusing on the intrepid Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who wrote the best-selling book of the same title that the film adaptation is based on, the movie is a political thriller centred on the real life events of the Watergate conspiracy.

A scandal which began with a burglary and ultimately resulted in the resignation of US President Richard Nixon just two years after his incredibly successful re-election.

If you haven’t read the book or watched the movie, maybe it’s time that you did. Might sound awfully familiar.

In the wee morning hours of June 17, 1972, five burglars were arrested for breaking into the offices of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) located in the Washington DC Watergate office complex. Their intent: to wiretap phones and copy confidential documents belonging to the DNC.

19710810-nixon-kissinger-smEven a Powerful Man will fall from Grace

First pursued by The Washington Post as a mere story of curiosity, it was later revealed that some of the suspects had been involved with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), had the number of a White House staffer who was also a member of President Nixon’s re-election campaign, and carried thousands in cash on their persons. These were obviously not your average burglars.

During the course of the investigation, Bernstein and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) eventually traced the money back to the re-election funds making a direct link between the burglary and the campaign. The records of transactions and the normal business practices involving the deposit checks and withdrawal of funds via cashier’s checks and money orders, made it possible to follow the money trail.

As increasingly revealing and damning new information and linkages were made public through Woodrow and Bernstein’s investigative reporting, it became clear to a growing number of people that a conspiracy was afoot which had possible ties all the way up to the presidency.

Whether Nixon was actually involved in the actual espionage efforts of the campaign is uncertain. He initially categorically denied any White House or his administration’s involvement in the burglary. But what is known is that he and his senior aides undertook measures and initiated efforts to cover up what had happened. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in “hush money” were raised for the five burglars. Evidence was destroyed.

There was even a plan to get the CIA to tell the FBI to back off from the investigation. Something so serious as to be an obstruction of justice and an abuse of presidential power.

Subsequent investigative reporting by The Post revealed the existence of a secret fund controlled by a former Attorney General (AG) which supported an information gathering campaign on the Democrats. A massive effort of political spying and sabotage was also being conducted by Nixon’s senior aides on behalf of the re-election campaign. It was clear that a conspiracy existed which reached high into the Justice Department, CIA and the White House.

However, it is interesting to note that despite all of that being exposed to the public, most of the media generally ignored the story and American voters re-elected Nixon in one of the largest landslides in American political history.

The White House denounced The Post’s coverage of the scandal as misleading and biased while maintaining a climate of intimidation, threats and harassment against the media outlet.

The months following Nixon’s re-election saw the trial of the Watergate burglars, the setting-up of a Senate select committee to investigate the incident and the appearance of a new conspiracy — a cover-up of the original cover-up.

Several of Nixon’s most senior White House aides, including the chief of staff and chief domestic policy adviser, were eventually implicated and faced prosecution for perjury and obstruction of justice. They resigned in an attempt to fall on their swords and protect the presidency, and were later indicted, convicted and sentenced to prison. The White House counsel was fired and the AG resigned.

The summer of 1973 saw the whole affair being investigated by two entities, a special independent prosecutor appointed by the new AG and the Senate Watergate Committee. During the course of their investigations, it was revealed that Nixon had installed a secret recording system which taped all phone calls and conversations in the Oval Office.

Persistent efforts to obtain the tape recordings resulted in the President demanding that the special prosecutor be fired, the new A-G and his deputy resigning in protest, and the the position of the special prosecutor eliminated.

By the time Nixon uttered the infamous phrase, “I am not a crook” in a televised press conference, his credibility with the American public was such that very few believed him. At that point almost two dozen individuals had criminal proceedings against them, been indicted or had pleaded guilty to offences related to Watergate. Despite that and an increasing volume of calls for impeachment, Nixon rejected accusations of wrongdoing and vowed to stay in office.

By mid-1974, with many of his senior aides and White House staffers facing criminal charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury, Nixon’s leading role in the entire conspiracy could no longer be disputed. Despite a Supreme Court decision to give up all the Oval Office recordings, he continued to delay.

By the end of July, the US House of Representatives had decided to vote on articles of impeachment against Nixon for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, criminal cover-up and violations of the US Constitution. The release of the remaining tapes not long after containing a conversation of what has been termed as the “Smoking Gun” provided undeniable evidence of the President’s complicity in the Watergate crimes.

Nixon’s fate was sealed. He faced certain impeachment by the US Senate. On August 8, 1974, after his role in the conspiracy finally came to light, Nixon announced his resignation as President of the United States. His successor, Gerald Ford was sworn in the very next day. A month later he pardoned Nixon for all the crimes he “committed or may have committed” while in office and ended the investigations.

The Watergate conspiracy resulted in 69 government officials being charged and 48 being found guilty.

It is important to note that till the last days of his life, Nixon never admitted to any criminal wrongdoing, only using poor judgement. It took two years before he was forced to resign. He was also never prosecuted. Years later during a TV interview with David Frost, he states that “if the President does it, it’s not illegal.”

This blatant abuse of presidential power had a significant impact on American politics. It contributed towards an atmosphere of cynicism, distrust and scepticism. It caused Americans to be more critical about their country’s political leadership, particularly the Presidency.

As a result of Watergate, the US Congress also passed legislation on campaign finance reform and probed abuses of power by national security agencies such as the CIA.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s investigative journalism won them a Pulitzer Prize and a place in history.