Institutional Failure continues in Malaysia (aka Malusia)

July 31, 2017

Institutional Failure continues in Malaysia (aka Malusia)

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

If Malaysian civil servants and politicians could not agree on solutions to basic problems, imagine the conflicts that would be triggered by disagreements over substantive matters.

Image result for Mahathir and Anwar

A strange partnership for a change

The conflict that was the consequence of the 1997 economic crisis pitted then Prime Minister Mahathir and his Deputy, Anwar Ibrahim. It ripped apart the nation, or to be more specific, Malays. That fissure is still deep and irreversible; Malays have yet to come to terms with it. Today we have the 1MDB mess. Only the players have changed; the underlying dynamics–unenlightened and unsophisticated Malay leaders–remain the same.

This lack of political wisdom and sophistication among Malay leaders (those in UMNO and PAS, to be specific–remember, UMNO is Malay, and Malay, UMNO–as well as the overwhelmingly Malay civil service) gets worse as we go down or laterally, as with our hereditary and religious leaders. The banality of the latter is exemplified by their current obsession with naming out-of-wedlock babies. You would think they would deliberate instead on how to prevent unwanted births and the care for those innocent babies with the dignity and love that they deserve.

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The Malay Rulers

As for Malay Sultans, consider the roles of Perak’s and Selangor’s during the political crises following the electoral tsunami of the 2008 general elections.

In Perak, the then Sultan proved unable to escape his feudal mentality. He treated the “People’s Representatives” in the state assembly as his handmaidens, to do his bidding. No surprise then that the political crisis there degenerated in short order. Instead of being part of the solution, the Sultan became enmeshed in the problem.

That Perak crisis demonstrated another key point. It is often assumed that if only we have qualified and experienced people in charge, then no matter how battered or inadequate our institutions are, those individuals would rise to the challenge. In Perak, we had a Sultan who by any measure was the most qualified and experienced, having served as the nation’s top judge and later, King. Yet his critical decision following the 2008 election, which demanded the most judicious of judgment, proved unwise and primitive. That is putting it in the mildest and most polite terms.

The protagonists there were Barisan Nasional’s Zamry Kadir, a Temple University PhD, and Pakatan’s Nizar Jamaluddin, an engineer fluent in multiple languages. With the defeat of the incumbent Barisan, Pakatan’s Nizar took over as Chief Minister. It was short lived. Through shady machinations, Barisan persuaded a few Pakatan representatives to switch, triggering a political tussle culminating in a constitutional crisis. All that could have been avoided by calling for a formal assembly vote of no confidence.

Instead, the Sultan decided which party had the Assembly’s confidence. From there it was but a short steep slide to seeing the Pakatan Speaker of the Assembly being manhandled and dragged out, with chairs thrown all round. The sultan’s representative was reduced to cooling his heels in an adjoining room, unable to address the Assembly because of the mayhem.

Image result for Hamsa Ali

Model  UMNO Malay Civil Servants–Of Integrity and Political Correctness–Your Obedient Servants (Kami Yang Menurut Perentah)

Equally pathetic and despicable were the behaviors of the permanent establishment; they too were ensnared in the mess through their partisan performances. Those civil servants should have acted as a conciliatory buffer.

The Judiciary too, failed. The ensuing lawsuit did not merit an expedited hearing and thus meandered through the judicial process. By contrast, the lawsuit triggered by the 2000 American presidential elections over the Florida ballots ended at the Supreme Court for a definitive decision in a matter of days, not months.

The credentials of the key players in the Perak mess were all impressive. In performance however, they were no different from street thugs. Their diplomas looked impressive only when hung on walls.

Image result for Zeti Aziz

“An Ivy League PhD. As can be seen, superior education does not always equal courage or integrity”.–Bakri Musa>

The latest failure of leadership, demonstrated to national and international shame, was that of Zeti Aziz, former Governor of Bank Negara. A few years earlier Global Finance named her as one of the top central bankers. Rather premature as it turned out. During the pivotal 1MDB crisis, she remained silent. She later used the excuse that she did not have the power beyond imposing fines! She bragged that she imposed the highest fine to date. That may well be. However, in view of the size of the loot, which was in the billions, a few millions in fine is but peanuts. She would have done a far greater public service had she spoken out and exposed the corruption.

Contrast her performance to her legendary predecessor Ismail Ali, the Bank’s first native Governor. A Queen’s scholar and Cambridge graduate, it would be unthinkable for any minister to even consider undertaking any financial shenanigans during his time.  Zeti’s qualification is no less impressive, an Ivy League PhD. As can be seen, superior education does not always equal courage or integrity.

A mark of a mature democracy, or any system, is the smooth and predictable transfer of power. Perak was a spectacular failure, an unnerving preview for Malaysia.

The transition in Selangor was no better, with the ugly spectacle of the destruction of official documents and the vandalizing of office equipment by the outgoing UMNO Chief Minister, one local-trained former government dentist, and his staff. That revolting display was made even more obscene when compared to the smooth transition in Penang, also the consequence of the 2008 elections.

The transfer of power there was from the Chinese-based Gerakan, a Barisan affiliate, to the also predominantly Chinese Democratic Action Party. It was a model of civility, with the two leaders shaking hands. What a contrast to Selangor with the shift from UMNO to the also predominantly Malay Keadilan! No class, again reflecting the sorry caliber of the Malay political leaders.

This has not always been the case. I remember the 1950s and 60s when opposition leaders, Malays and non-Malays, would attend social functions hosted by then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman. There were pictures of PAS leaders in their modern suits and ties at ronggeng (dance)parties at the Residency, and no one would raise a howl. Those PAS leaders did not feel that the revelry on the social occasion contaminated their piety.

Today I yearn to see such displays of decorum and civility among our leaders. I have seen DAP leader Lim Kit Siang at Mahathir’s Hari Raya “Open House,” but I have yet to see Nik Aziz give a sermon in a masjid full of UMNO members, or Abdullah Badawi, a self-proclaimed alim, in a mosque in Kelantan.

As for the civil service, in the 1950s and 60s it still had the aroma of prestige, a leftover from colonial rule. That however was more fantasy than reality. The inadequacies of the civil service then so well documented by Milton Esman are still evident today, only far worse. The civil service is now insular, inbred and most of all, highly corrupt and woefully incompetent. Far from being an essential instrument for the development of Malaysia, it is but an encrusted barnacle impeding the nation’s progress.

Revisiting the earlier Perak debacle, the then Crown Prince Raja Nazrin recently lamented on the quality of advice the Sultan (his father) received from senior officials. Dispensing with whether this was but a crude and shameless attempt at shifting blame, two things are worth noting. One, it took the prince this long to acknowledge those inadequacies, and two, his father (the sultan) obviously restricted his sources of counsel! And this Sultan was the nation’s former chief judge!

13 thoughts on “Institutional Failure continues in Malaysia (aka Malusia)

  1. Quote:- “As can be seen, superior education does not always equal courage or integrity”

    Perhaps this is the philosophical underpinning of Malaysia’s present day dismal educational standards?

  2. Mediocrity all the way down and side ways. It will be a challenge to restore the civil service and other institutions to their days of glory. This culture was allowed to fester through the years so that it is now embedded in the national DNA.–Din Merican

  3. If future is based on past then one may shudder at the possible fate of Gen Y.
    USA is said to be a developed country which
    many others dream and aspire but the current state of USA and its political leadeship vis a vis its citizens may give the perception that mentally the leadership may not be so developed. The failure to approve affordable medical services to US citizens may indicate the extent of self interest of the elected leaders who promise but fail to deliver.
    Many developing countries elected leaders civil service judiciary and other agencies may also promise but fail to deliver except for own and related and connected parties.
    Little to look forward to by ordinary citizens in posdibly many developed and developing countries.
    MAY ALMIGHYT SAVE but then almighty may also be indebted due to the millions spent in the name and to please the almighty including respective preachers worldwide.

  4. Quote:- “MAY ALMIGHYT SAVE….”

    Yes, perhaps the Almighty should send some fearsome Angels down to put things right, (or out), as He did before?

  5. Yup Din, there’s no way back. Mediocrity and incompetence combined with turf wars waged for one-upmanship are a quagmire of no return.

    All the yardsticks that were used to guide a vibrant, capable, honest and integral civil service are now being used as goal posts to keep the incumbent in power. They even bribe their own to make false accusations against ministers they want gone.

    As dingbat Zahood, the deputy Pee-m said a few days back, it’s like crabs trying to climb out of a cooking pot. For the D.G of NRD to show him a copy of Octo’s NRIC and for him to crow about it that a Mamak has “used the Malays” – shows us the sheer duplicity, stupendous hypocrisy and terminal cretinism that the service has devolved into. I believe in his earnestness, the Zahood has dug his own political grave – not that we shouldn’t be glad of it. We can’t afford to be embarrassed beyond what any sovereign nation can tolerate.

    As it is, PRC’s so-called investment in OBOR and allied mechanisms are being scrutinized ‘cuz the risks are becoming unmanageable.

    Zahood is a Javanese from Pornorogo with no class. Soon Najib will get rid of him. –Din Merican.

  6. You be the judge…

    “…Another prominent Tavistock operation is the Wharton School of Finance, at the University of Pennsylvania. A single common denominator identifies the common Tavistock strategy—the use of drugs.

    The infamous MK Ultra program of the CIA, in which unsuspecting CIA officials were given LSD, and their reaction studied like “guinea pigs”, resulted in several deaths….” –

  7. You be the judge…

    Bank Negara Malaysia – Central Bank of Malaysia – Who owns it…?

    It is common knowledge nowadays that ALL the central banks in the world (including Bank Negara Malaysia) is owned by the Rothschilds under the umbrella of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). It is therefore only apt to mention this ‘institution‘ first when discussing about any central bank of any given country as it is….absolutely relevant.

    The Bank for International Settlements, otherwise known as the BIS, should more aptly be named the Bank for International division and domination…!!!

  8. “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation.

    One is by the sword. The other is by debt.” – John Adams

    Central banks exist to protect banks, and the banking system as a whole, from danger.

    They pretend that they protect the larger economy, and the people on Main Street, but that’s just a convenient little story.

    Enhanced by the idea that what is good for banks is also good for you.

    Which is absolute baloney, but it works like a charm…!!!

    The New World Order (NWO) agenda of Global DEBT creation…!!!

    “Give me control over a nations currency, and I care not who makes its laws” – Baron M.A. Rothschild

    “He who controls the money supply of a nation, controls the nation” – James A. Garfield


    • Another way could be of conquering may be [‘proxy’] via religious ‘enslavement’ of those in power or where religion may be used to mentally ‘enslave’ the followers who may follow blindly or not allowed to question.

  9. This whole thing about babies out of wedlock actually is a study of Malay society dynamics and forces today. What is it really about? Fact is, its not even Islamic origin, began way before. But lets get right into it.

    There is nothing in the Quran, its in the Syariah. This makes it, in the eye of the religo-fervent, the heart of what it means to be Islamic. There have been talk its “protecting Muslim families” or “encouraging adultery” – etc. but at the heart of it – Rich Muslims men, past AND present, like to screw around in and out of their religion and its to prevent their wealth from falling into the hands of non-Muslim, bastards in particular. That really piece of sensationalism is what is at the heart of all the emotions.

    But is anything said of the heart of the matter? NO. EN ENTIRE SYSTEM AND ARMY is galvanized to talk of everything but the heart of the matter.

    But that is precisely what Malay society is faced today – from Najib and UMNO to Hadi’s PAS, they have to confront what is essentially hard truth and tough choices. The leadership and their dependents feels entitled and do not want to face hard change for themselves and the masses, unused to hard truth and change, willl not act what has always been their responsibility and power.

    But the hard truth and necessary changes are at the door step, postphoned by abuse of money and power.

  10. ABDULLAH Meaning. … It is one of many Arabic theophoric names, meaning servant of God or God’s slave. The feminine counterpart of this name is Amatullah. Humility before God is an essential value of Islam.

    Sisters in Islam (SIS) commended the ruling, saying the court upheld the child’s best interest by not allowing it to be stigmatized with the “Abdullah” surname.

    It is not understood how any male child can be stigmatized with the use of “Abdullah” as a surname as it was also the name of the Islamic holy Prophet Muhammad’s father who was named Abdullah. It is a common name among Muslims and thus will this not create confusion about othermale Muslims named ‘Abdullah’ though borne of wedded parents but who may be stigmatized?

    Will the usage of the name ABDULLAH as ‘father’ for a male child borne out of wedlock also stigmatize the name of the father of the Islamic holy Prophet who was named Abdullah?

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