August 31, 2016
Kee, Sad Merdeka Day for me because our country is in the deep dumps after 50 Plus Years under UMNO Rule. You know my answer to your Question. We must incessantly apply pressure on Malaysian Official 1. We can no longer allow him and his UMNO cohorts to act with impunity.
I have never been under a more dishonest, corrupt, greedy, hedonistic, and lying Prime Minister in my life. I am now 77 years old. When we got independence in 1957, thanks to YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, I was 18 year’s old. It is pains me to see what our country has become.
Today, living and teaching in Cambodia, I am embarrassed to call myself Malaysian. Why? Because Malaysia is not what I had in mind when I was growing up in Kedah and Penang in 1950s. You know what? Because of my critical views, I have not been invited to our national day reception by our Embassy in Phnom Penh. This is because the Malaysian Ambassador is a Najib crony. Isn’t he the Ambassador of Malaysia to Cambodia, not Najib’s personal envoy. And I am a Malaysian citizen.–Din Merican
How would you react if our PM fainted in public?
by Kee Thuan Chye
I’m going to be cheeky and wonder what the reaction would be among the Malaysian public if Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak should take ill in the middle of a public function.
As you know, this happened to Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, last week (on August 21) when he spoke at the island nation’s 51st National Day rally. He stopped in mid-speech and looked blank-faced for 10 seconds; the symptom seemed to indicate a stroke attack. He was assisted offstage for medical attention.
PM Lee Hsien Loong: Respected, admired and loved as a Role Model Leader for his Integrity and Brilliance
But after he was examined, he was pronounced to be all right. An official report said what he had suffered was merely the result of prolonged standing, heat and dehydration.
Lee returned to the hall more than an hour later to continue his speech, and appeared in good humour. He got loud cheers and a warm standing ovation and, as reported in the media, thousands of well-wishers expressed relief on social media.
The first thing he said – “I gave everybody a scare” – straight away lightened the atmosphere and brought relief to the audience who had waited patiently for more than an hour for his return. They applauded when he said, “I’m going to have a full check-up after this.”
No doubt many in the audience were ruling party supporters, loyal civil servants, fans of the PM, but you got the feeling that there was great concern for Lee when the incident occurred. Outside of the hall, Singapore social media was abuzz with messages expressing shock, wondering if Lee’s condition was serious, worrying that it might be and extending prayers for his well-being.
I got ample evidence of that from Singaporean friends I communicated with. An ex-Malaysian who took on Singaporean citizenship just two years ago said, “My wife cried when she was informed about this. We all love our PM.”
Another Singaporean friend said, “Putting country first b4 his wellbeing, hope he’s really ok… very scary.” Another lamented, “Pushing himself too hard. Sigh…”
Would this note of sympathy and admiration pour out for Najib if he suddenly took ill at a public function? It probably would from Malaysians who are unable to figure out what 1MDB implies and who MO1 is. They might be genuinely concerned, even shed a tear. But by and large, the feedback I got from posing the question among Malaysians is encapsulated in this comment, “I might be inclined to throw a party.”
Hahaha! Not very civil, is it? But hey, given the mess the country is in today because of MO1 and 1MDB, if that’s how you feel, that’s how you feel. After all, Najib himself is aware of his ‘popularity’. He admitted to an interviewee recently that he felt hurt reading comments on Facebook. “When it hurts too much, I don’t want to read them any more,” he said. And he actually laughed about it.
There is clearly a marked difference in the degree of respect for leaders among Malaysians and Singaporeans. You may say that Singaporeans have been conditioned into showing respect and admiration for their leaders through state-instituted propaganda, but I would say that Malaysians have also been similarly conditioned. In fact, in our case, there is the double whammy of feudalism which connotes that the leader is always right – and that is so ingrained in our psyche, it is harder to shake off.
I believe Singaporeans respect and admire their leaders for a real and better reason – their leaders manage their country well and there are not many signs of blatant corruption. So, even while someone like the late former PM Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) is perceived to have ruled with an iron fist and shown disregard for human rights – by, for example, killing the careers of those who stood in his way – when he died last year, more than a million people paid their last respects as his body lay in state.
I was in Singapore then and I saw the crazily long queues heading towards Parliament House to say goodbye to LKY. Some people reportedly queued for as long as eight hours!
I texted a Singaporean friend my thoughts about this phenomenon: “And what did they get to see in the end? Nothing. Not even LKY’s face. It was momentary – get there, bow and move on. And queuing up hours just for that? What’s the point?”
Her immediate reply: “I am quite offended by you.”Later, she said, “Come on! It is evident that he is well-loved, well-respected. He did his best, and more. Give credit where credit is due.”
I think that summarises the general Singaporean sentiment about LKY. My Singaporean brother-in-law wept when he bowed to the coffin of the man who helmed the island’s development from Third World backwater with no natural resources to prosperous First World state. By comparison, Malaysia, which has abundant natural resources, is struggling to become a high-income nation in 2020, and even so, despite Najib’s assurances, many of us doubt we will make it by then.
Najib and Rani Kulup: You are known by the company you keep
I have a sneaking suspicion that our own former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is hoping for that same level of reverence that LKY got when he himself passes on. That explains why he is so desperately trying to win Malaysian hearts and minds in the last year or so by saying things that the public wants to hear but which contradict his own practices while he was PM. He has evenuncharacteristically apologised for curbing way back in 1994 the king’s powers in ratifying laws passed by Parliament.
I don’t know about you but I don’t buy into Mahathir’s recent ploys and stratagems – except for his attempts to make Najib accountable for the 1MDB shenanigans and the RM2.6 billion scandal. Mahathir may be concerned about his legacy but I think it is already done for. He has been singularly responsible for much of the damage he wreaked on the country’s institutions, and more. He certainly cannot say, like LKY did, “At the end of the day, what have I got? A successful Singapore. What have I given up? My life.”
While Singapore has built up a world-class education system, Malaysia is lowering passing marks for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) subjects. Malaysia’s policies and practices have been tainted by considerations other than national development. These have spawned a crony culture that leaks public money and resources into undeserving hands. They have also created a rent-seeking culture that strains the system and dampens competitiveness. And now, with 1MDB exposed, we are also a confirmed kleptocracy.
Last Sunday, we saw a rally staged by students calling on the people to ‘Tangkap MO1’. In no uncertain terms, the protesters referred to MO1 by name as Najib Razak, the Malaysian official who was revealed by the United States Department of Justice as the alleged recipient of billions of ringgit siphoned illegally from 1MDB. That’s how much ‘respect’ we have for our PM.
So, I guess I’m not being cheeky after all. But don’t get me wrong. I’m not wishing that Najib will take ill in public – not at all – but if it does happen, I wouldn’t be surprised if the partying mood ran high.
KEE THUAN CHYE is the author of the bestsellers ‘Unbelievably Stupid!’ and ‘Unbelievably Stupid Too!’