Double-Speak–The UMNO Political Culture


December 6, 2016

Double-Speak–The UMNO Political Culture

by KJ John@www.malayiakini.com

Image result for Double Speak Najib Razak

Double-Speak is a political way of life for Malaysia’s Prime Minister–Why can’t we say that he is a liar?

Is double-speak natural to human beings and the only way to become a true-blue politician worth his/her weight? An UMNO Deputy Minister and an equally idiotic Deputy Speaker of Parliament could not see anything wrong with that MP’s wrong speech and impure motives about another MP.

The victim of this abuse was a lady Member of Parliament; whose dignity was obviously denied but our Deputy Speaker appeared to play down the incident. It was clearly recorded vide a video-clip of our parliamentary session distributed to me from Singapore.

Sadly, too, if Parliament is our symbolic leadership head of our nation-state’s parliamentary democracy system; it is sad that the rotting of our fish-head has begun in that August House. My only retort to the deputy minister is: “padan muka” with this note: our grandchildren are watching and learning from your uncouth conduct.

Hadi’s public misinformation

Was Ustaz Abdul Hadi Awang, the President of PAS, also participating in doubles-peak with his Act 355 amendments agenda? While he is a Member of Parliament for Marang, is he not elected to do at least two things; one, is to represent all the people in Marang and two, to speak up on bills and handle concerns in Parliament for both his party and his constituency.

But, my question to him: is he only a Member of Parliament for Muslims with complete disregard for non-Muslims who live in Terengganu?

My take is that Hadi’s Act 355 amendments is simply mischievous and therefore malicious in intention. It is absolutely an attempt to open back doors for hudud implementation in the whole of Malaysia; without labelling it as such. My previous column argued eight reasons against it but allow me now to appeal to all my Muslim friends in Malaysia to explain why we (as Christians) have little choice but to oppose this bill.

Image result for Deputy Minister Tajuddin

The Village Idiot and UMNO Clown with his Corrupt Boss

First, think of Malaysia as existing practically at three levels of reality. These are federal, state and local levels. That means that when one is a federal citizen, that role ascribes and observes certain rights and obligations to all of Malaysia and to all her citizens; there cannot be inequity of citizenship. That is a universal expectation of citizenry anywhere in the world; even when some are treated more equal than others.

Therefore, while his bill was promoted and projected as a bill for Kelantan (one state) to dispense new Syariah by-laws with new limits; the simple fact is that federal law is being mobilised to enable state level criminal prosecution, and therefore its application is always national and federal.

Allow Kelantanese to breathe green air?

Can we assume, for arguments sake, that Kelantan gets this bill for Syariah system compliance and was not designed with hudud intent in mind. Let us grant this right to one of the nine states with rulers; as their second level of operational reality; state-level existence.

Whether we like it or not, such an enablement includes Sabah and Sarawak, too. But, please help me think through the real consequential issues and concerns of all other state jurisdictions at local levels premised on this Kelantan hypothetical experiment.

Therefore my simple but honest question to every Malaysian living in urban and suburban areas is as follows:

If criminal law is now a jurisdiction of any state and consequently their local government Administrations; cannot these authorities also later be mandated that, for example, only Muslims can live in a particular geography of Kelantan; whatever their logic or reasons?

Can non-Muslims therefore be disallowed to buy homes in some other specified area? Or, can it be stipulated that their beaches, like Pantai Cahaya Bulan (PCB), are now only for Muslim-specific attired swimmers? Non-Muslim can therefore be excluded, right?

Of course, supermarkets with male and female lanes become a mandatory given; if not halal and non-halal carts.Is all the above mere fiction from my head, or is there some element of reality to all of it?

The reason I ask these questions is that only our criminal laws can distinguish between the purity of intentions versus obvious and real evidence of wrongdoing. This is our practical but real level of human existence. Any differences or gaps between one’s espoused theory and the one-in-use is always a matter of spiritual consideration and never the domain of public policy of any state.

Related image

Once Friend, now a Political Foe

Therefore, regardless of what Hadi or anyone says; the new bill gives unlimited jurisdiction for the Kelantan state government to colour their air green and it can insist that everyone can only breathe and live such green air; in Kelantan. How else could the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (JAIS) have raided Damansara Utama Methodist Church or DUMC (a church complex) without a police search permit merely on suspicion of some wrongdoing?

This gap between intentions and real action causes a lot of doubt and makes citizens question true political motives. For example, in a BBC interview with Maria Chin Abdullah, they could not understand why she was released before the court’s habeas corpus hearing.

My answer is simply that the Home Affairs Minister could not defend their abuse of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma); as former Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail so clearly already explained from the Hansard records what were the real intentions for the enactment.

God or Allah is our creator

Before the 2013 GE, Ustaz Hadi attended a meeting chaired by Anwar Ibrahim and attended by a whole group of NGOs and promised all of us that the word ‘Allah’ can be equally used by Muslims as with non-Muslims. I was there and heard his promise. But today they do exactly the opposite. Can we trust such politicians, even when they speak with green tongues?

Therefore, my only question to Ustaz Hadi is as follows:

Do we really believe in different Gods?

Is not intention in faith always a personal human faith matter and not a matter anyone else’s religious enforcement? Is not such responsibility for faith always a personal matter and not for the state?

How then can anyone justify all ‘forced limits to human intentions?’ Are we then not taking over God’s role and responsibility, and thereby playing God?

 

Zakir Naik and UMNO Desperadoes


May 11, 2016

Zakir Naik and UMNO Desperadoes

by Zainah Anwar

http://www.thestar.com.my

“The question to be asked of the authorities and the Menteri Besar of Terengganu who sponsored Zakir Naik’s Malaysian visit is whether this is truly the “moderate” Islam that authorities believe in? I shudder at what deeper damage Zakir Naik’s ilk will cause with the opening up of his ideological factory in Tasek Kenyir.”–Zainah Anwar

HOW is it that Zakir Naik, a televangelist considered divisive and banned by a number of countries and frequently censured for preaching hate, instigating communal tensions and radicalising the Muslim community, can be embraced by national leaders here?

razif,zakir

UMNO Menteri Besar Ahmad Rafiz Abdul Rahman gifted three islands in Tasik Kenyir to  Zakir Naik

And be sponsored on his tour by the Terengganu state government and rewarded with islands in Tasek Kenyir for him to train “mini Zakir Naiks” to preach his divisive and supremacist version of Islam in a multi-religious country?

And he has even grander plans for Malaysia: to spread his “Peace TV” satellite channel to Malaysia, broadcasting in Bahasa Malaysia in a joint venture with a local TV station and a training programme already underway to produce six Malaysian protégés to be part of his evangelical network.

Why have these leaders embraced the kind of Islam that Zakir Naik is propagating? Even in his home country of India, the dominant and conservative Deobandi Darul Uloom has issued several fatwas against him over the years, accusing him of “spreading mischievous things and misguiding simple Muslims to the wrong path”, that he is “religiously deviated”, and a “ghair muqallidin”, someone who does not follow the teachings of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah (the followers of the four accepted schools of Sunni Islam), a position upheld by Malaysia’s Islamic religious authorities.

 Just as there is a multi-million dollar industry promoting the English-speaking and suit-wearing Zakir Naik as a global Muslim evangelist of peace and an expert on comparative religion, there is a dedicated online industry out to prove him as a charlatan. These challengers scrutinise his speeches and pronouncements and counter them with referenced facts and evidence to question his breathtaking and blithe misrepresentation of science, history, names, dates and data.

 

A Google search on “Zakir Naik, controversies” spew out a laundry list of his views that have caused him to be banned in some countries and generated concerted attempts to get his audience to think more critically about what he claims is truth and evidence.

There is a widely viewed YouTube video where one of his dogged challengers identified 25 false statements within five minutes Zakir Naik made in a strident discussion on evolution, misrepresenting scientific and historic facts, and quoting one unknown person after another who have no record of existence, to make his points.

There’s another video where he justified his support for polygamy by stating that if every woman got married to only one man, there would be over 30 million women in the United States, four million in Britain, five million in Germany and nine million in Russia who would not find a husband!

Any rational person will instantly conclude that these countries must be practising male infanticide to have such a disproportionate ratio of females to males. It was not difficult for his challengers to use the population data to show how wrong this man is. In fact in all the countries, there are slightly more men than women. And if indeed one man marries more than one woman, he is in fact depriving other men the ability to find wives!

And yet Zakir Naik speaks to thousands who applaud and cheer him on. How could someone who unashamedly disgorges such fictional data to make his points attract a following numbering millions on social media and attract tens of thousands to his public talks? I leave it to the psychologists to analyse the state of mind of preacher and followers.

But for me, more disturbing are his inflammatory statements on a whole range of issues that should be of real concern to the Malaysian authorities if they are serious about battling extremism here. The evidence is widespread and readily available, and yet one Deputy Minister proclaimed that Zakir Naik was a “voice of moderation” who could counter extremist voices and was capable of convincing non-Muslims that Islam was a “religion of moderation”! I wonder what his sources of information were. Certainly not from his allies within Barisan Nasional. Both MIC and MCA had protested Zakir Naik’s presence here to preach his divisive message.

A quick check of his speeches in Malaysia showed a YouTube video of a speech in Terengganu where he repeatedly forbade Malaysian Muslims from wishing Merry Christmas to Christians. Because to do so, he said, is to endorse the belief that Jesus is the son of God. Does anyone know of any Muslim who believes Jesus is the son of God and whose faith is undermined whenever he or she wishes Merry Christmas to Christian friends? To say this to Malaysia that celebrates all major holidays together? Heck, the Government even sells this message of “Malaysia, Truly Asia” to the rest of the world and earn billions from tourist dollars.

The question to be asked of the authorities and the Menteri Besar of Terengganu who sponsored Zakir Naik’s Malaysian visit is whether this is truly the “moderate” Islam that authorities believe in? I shudder at what deeper damage Zakir Naik’s ilk will cause with the opening up of his ideological factory in Tasek Kenyir.

Zakir Naik’s most infamous statement that probably led to his ban from entering Britain and Canada was his much-quoted position on Osama bin Laden and terrorism in a widely viewed YouTube video of 2007: “If he (Osama bin Laden) is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him … If he is terrorising America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist.”

Given the far-reaching consequences of that statement, he later, of course, claimed he was misquoted: “I have said Muslims should become terrorists in the sense that they should strike terror in the hearts of criminals and anti-socials.”

He believes 9/11 was “an inside job”, and that “every fool will know” it was orchestrated by George W. Bush. He supports the ban on the construction of houses of worship for those of other religions in Muslim countries. He lauds the Taliban destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas. He urges Muslims in India to support the hudud punishments for all Indians. Needless to say, he believes in the death penalty for homosexuals and for apostasy.

There is a reported list of suicide bombers and those arrested and charged with extremist violence who quoted him as their source of inspiration. One of them was found with several cassette tapes of Zakir Naik’s speeches.

Thousands flocked to his speeches in Terengganu, Malacca and Kuala Lumpur. Zakir Naik’s Salafi-Wahabi brand of Islam has seeped deep into the Malaysian Malay psyche after decades of propagation by Islamist groups, and sanctioned by the religious authorities.

But of concern to Malaysians who care about the future of this multi-religious and multi-ethnic country is the fact that such a deeply controversial and divisive figure is embraced and endorsed by the leadership. He was awarded the Tokoh Maal Hijrah award in 2013 (and the King Faisal International Prize for service to Islam in 2015) and met with the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, PAS President and a list of other VIPs on this visit.

The Ponorogo Man and His Guru

He even ventured into Malaysian politics, making headlines in Utusan Malaysia by calling on UMNO and PAS to work together to prevent the “enemies of Islam” (a favourite phrase of his) from gaining influence. “If Muslims don’t unite and gain support, we will lose in politics,” he said.

The next day were more headlines in the Utusan with rejoinders by other religious leaders, not least the Mufti of Perak, supporting Zakir Naik’s call.Was this the reward that UMNO had hoped to gain – endorsement by a charismatic evangelist to push a reluctant PAS worried about its grassroots sentiment into the arms of its once die-hard enemy?

Really? Desperate times call for desperate tactics.

 

UMNO in Crisis


February 28, 2016

UMNO after Muhyiddin’s suspension–Leadership Crisis

I-love-PM2

Muhyiddin Blew his Chances by being Cautious–Not Prime Minister Material

COMMENT: The suspension of former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin brings reminiscences of Musa Hitam’s removal back in 1986.

Despite being an UMNO stronghold, both Johoreans suffered the same fate and lost their positions to fellow UMNO members from another state.

In an immediate response, Gerakan Ketua Cawangan Malaysia (GKCM) President Kamarulazman Habibur Rahman has warned that Prime Minister and UMNO President Najib Abdul Razak will have sleepless nights following Muhyiddin’s suspension.

The rebel UMNO group has warned that it will continue to expand its influence throughout the country.

At the same time, Pagoh UMNO Deputy Chief Ismail Mohamed has lambasted former UMNO Johor leader Hishammuddin Hussein for his role in chairing the committee to expel Muhyiddin as UMNO Deputy President.

Kamarulazman is right in that the suspension of Muhyiddin will see further infighting within the party, as currently, there are rumours that Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is aiming for Najib’s position.

Unless Hishammuddin’s faction fights back, the more gentlemanly MP of Sembrong, who is also grandson of the founder of UMNO, Onn Jaafar, and son of former prime minister Hussein Onn, will be the next sacrificial lamb from the state of Johor.

Unlikely to remain quiet

After a brief stint of silence, Muhyiddin has turned on the heat on Najib lately. After his suspension, it is unlikely that he will remain silent.

While still holding the post as UMNO Deputy President, Muhyiddin would be careful not to cause any damage to UMNO; now that he has been suspended from UMNO, and his entire career has been ruined, Muhyiddin will be likely to fight back.

His struggle is not alone, as there are veterans such as former international trade and industry Rafidah Aziz who will continue to speak up.Other veterans may also join in the foray after seeing Muhyiddin being suspended, without even Muhyiddin being called to defend himself.

Under normal circumstances, such a suspension should have been carried out by the disciplinary board, but in this instance, its chairperson Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen Tengku Ismail has remained silent.

A fellow disciplinary board member, Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas has previously weighed in on Saifuddin Abdullah’s attendance at a Pakatan Harapan event in September last year.

It is unclear whether Megat Najmuddin or Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen is the current chairperson of the board, as various news reports quoted Megat Najmuddin as the chairperson, although UMNO legal adviser Hafarizam Harun later clarified that Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen is still the chairperson.

Mahathir’s faction beefing up

Getting stronger by the day

It appears that after the expose, the 1MDB scandal has contributed to the animosity within UMNO more than before.

When former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad also started asking critical questions, and Najib remained silent, all hell broke loose for Najib. Few may agree with Dr Mahathir, but when the octogenarian started throwing mud at Najib, the 90-year-old former UMNO President suddenly became a hero once again.

Even I am inclined to think that he is trying to dismantle the fortress that he had built over the years, which keeps Najib’s position secure despite being a weak leader himself.

Dr Mahathir’s camp, especially former New Straits Times group editor-in-chief Kadir Jasin, will surely not cease from harping on Najib.

One of Dr Mahathir’s henchmen, Matthias Chang, has predicted that there will be a change of guard soon, when he asked, “The next Deputy Prime Minister – will he be Nazri, Hishammuddin or the outsider Tengku Adnan?”

Chang has put together several scenarios, one of which is for Zahid to “execute a coup d’etat against Najib before he is disposed because Najib realises that with each passing day, Zahid Hamidi can only get stronger and stronger and gather his palace guards for the coup d’etat.”

There is more to come, but the situation can only get worse. Meanwhile, the country’s economic slowdown will take the bite as investors’ confidence has dropped.

Umno Team B’s other alternative

Unlike the 1987 split in UMNO, where team B led by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah later formed Semangat 46, now UMNO’s team B has in place a much stronger opposition.

The question of loyalty to UMNO will once again be raised, especially since the infighting within UMNO can only mean either Tourism Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz, Hishammuddin or Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor becoming Deputy Prime Minister.

UMNO will not change very much in its culture, until it has been brought to its heel. As pointed out by former Bersih 2.0 co-chair, Ambiga Sreeneevasan, corruption at the highest level carries on regardless of the exposes.

UMNO has become indifferent to the people’s suffering as highlighted by Bukit Lanjan state assemblyperson Elizabeth Wong during her recent Chinese New Year speech.

UMNO, as it is, even with a new line of leadership under Zahid, will not be able to win a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

If going by Kamarulazman’s statement that the group will cooperate with anyone to achieve its mission, perhaps it is time for re-alignment of forces to start a new Malaysia, where people of all races and religions will work side by side as fellow Malaysians, and the poor will not face discriminated due to race, religion or creed.

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.

Mariam Mokhtar’s Dream Cabinet for Najib


February 24, 2016

Mariam Mokhtar’s Dream Cabinet for Najib

http://www.malaysiakini.com

With the slide in moral rectitude of his inner circle, Najib Abdul Razak should reshuffle his cabinet and give the following people more prominent roles. He managed a ‘budget re-calibration exercise’ with the slide in oil prices, so why not the cabinet?

Number One. The PM retains his post as PM and Finance minister. Times are hard and he has heeded the advice of his former Deputy Minister, Ahmad Maslan, and taken not just one, but two additional jobs.

First side job, is to be the national clown. The role is self-explanatory.

The second is of a magician. RM15 million miraculously appeared in Alor Setar for the new Menteri Besar, Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah to start work. There is an old Bugis expression for this, “Magic happens, only if the face fits”.

Number Two. Good buddy, Abdul Hadi Awang of PAS, which is secretly known as the ‘UMNO Baru east coast division’, should be made the new Culture Minister. Hadi will enforce a ‘no excessive laughter’ rule, and will liaise with the Immigration Department to reject permits for foreign pop groups, unless they are nasyid groups from Aceh.

Courses will be held for Wisma Putra (Foreign Ministry) staff deployed overseas to recognise the various types of women’s smiles. They must not mistake smiles as invitations to have sex. Together with the Health Department, intensive courses in potty training will be arranged for the diplomatic staff.

Apandi ampu

Number Three. The Attorney-General, Apandi Ali, will be the new Information Minister, or what the kedai-kopi patrons call ‘the minister of spin’.

Malaysians are confused. They only have three pertinent questions. “When does a donation become a deal, and vice-versa?”, “Is it un-Islamic to be critical of one’s leaders?”, and “Is it okay to accuse the dead of dirty deals?”

Number Four. The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) should become the health minister. His first major project will be to enforce a strict fitness regime for thousands of obese policemen. One critic said, “Instant results will be made if the 126,000 Twitter police force were to be disbanded. Get them off their bums, and make them walk the beat. After one month, they will be fit for duty.”

Number Five. Home Minister Zahid Hamidi will become the new Education Minister. Malaysian education reached new heights under the previous two ministers, and we now have “the best education in the world”.

Under Zahid, students will be shown that education is not everything, because people with a lack of academic qualifications, like Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah, the new MB of Kedah, need only “…whisper personally into the PM’s ear, to help develop Kedah”.

One school dropout said, “The government has justified the withdrawal of scholarships, because we need only learn how to be trained ‘PM whisperers’. Yeay… no need for school.”


Number Six: Astronaut Dr.Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Al Masrie Sheikh Mustapha should be the new religious affairs minister. He may not be a politician, but UMNO Baru has devised a way of introducing unelected people via the back door. They are made senators one day, and ministers the next.

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor’s venture into Aladdin, the halal equivalent of Ali Baba and Amazon, took many people by surprise. One cynic said, “The halal industry is more lucrative than promoting science.”

Another cynic said, “The syariah-compliant airline Rayani Air was started by two Hindus, despite the billions of ringgits poured into Malay businesses, Malay traders, and free-this-and-that for the Malays, like in ‘Low Yat Two’.”

Number Seven. The formation of a new Colour Ministry.

Malaysian life is colour-coded, for the benefit of those who cannot read. Pink is the colour of party-unity, orange signifies change, yellow induces panic in UMNO Baru leaders and the IGP, red is a sign of intolerance and in Kuantan, of greed, whilst the blue of BN is a dangerous colour, like the poisonous Blue Lake of Bau, in Sarawak.

To prevent discrimination and bias, a colour-blind person will be its first minister.

Number Eight. To save taxpayers’ money, the Police Force and the Judiciary will merge into one. It will be led by one man, the blogger Papagomo. His methods are effective because he will be “the law-enforcer, the judge, the jury and the executioner”.

Number Mine. There will be no changes to the Defence Ministry. We have not heard from the minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, for a while. He is probably busy defending Lahad Datu in the east, or the James Shoal islands, off the Bintulu coast. Either that or he has been kidnapped.

Number Ten. A new Ethics Ministry should be formed. Its first minister should be the former women’s minister, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil. A few days ago, she criticised former international trade and industry minister Rafidah Aziz for her views about the internal power struggle in Kedah.

Shahrizat was said to “shake her head” (presumably in disbelief), when reading Rafidah’s Facebook post about the greed in UMNO Baru in Kedah. She called Rafidah, “disloyal” (to Najib) and “lacking in principle”. The new ethics minister can crow till the cows come home. The rakyat are not blind.

Malaysians are entering a new phase of clowning around in politics. As Malaysians have seen, only foreign institutions like the Wall Street Journal, and former PM Mahathir Mohamad, are free from prosecution for criticising 1MDB. Has Shahrizat heard the song, ‘Send in the clowns?’

Zaid Ibrahim to UMNO: Stop sucking up to Najib Razak


November 27, 2015

Zaid Ibrahim to Top UMNO Leaders: Stop sucking up to Najib Razak

by FMT Reporters

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Najib-Zaid-Ibrahim-300x202

As UMNO readies itself for its General Assembly in December, former law minister Zaid Ibrahim has taken it upon himself to offer some sage advice to the party’s top leadership: stop sucking-up to Prime Minister Najib Razak.

He said it was time for the party to “move on” and that the only sensible thing left for its top leadership to do was exert immense pressure on Najib to resign because if the party president hung on to his post, it would spell the end of UMNO.

“We need to move on. In light of the deep crisis the country is facing, it’s irresponsible for UMNO’s top leaders to do nothing but suck up to Najib,” he wrote in his latest blog entry, saying that only fear prevented them from doing the right thing.

Describing Najib as the party’s “biggest liability” in its entire history, Zaid said, “If Najib survives, UMNO will surely fall.”

Zahid Hamidi--Malay Rights

The Next Prime Minister of Malaysia?

He said the strategy to unseat Najib was simple enough and all Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had to do was win over Najib’s former Deputy Muhyiddin Yassin.

“Muhyiddin is not young anymore and all he wants, I think, is to be treated fairly and honourably by the party he loves and has dedicated his life to. He has probably given up the idea of becoming PM.”

He also said other top UMNO leaders like Khairy Jamaluddin and Hishamuddin Hussein should support Zahid’s plan to be the next Prime Minister.

barack-obama-dan-khairy-jamaluddin

The Suave Deputy Prime Minister (?)–A Refreshing Prospect

“Khairy is definitely in the running for the top spot in the next 10 to fifteen years,” Zaid said, adding that Hishamuddin should “embrace” Zahid as Prime Minister and accept the position of Deputy Prime Minister without kicking up a fuss.

He said grappling with the issue of Najib and his refusal to resign should be the crux of the General Assembly instead of the usual fare where delegates launch their “tirades” against the Chinese, Jews and Malay liberals.

However Zaid feared that this General Assembly would be like most others. “Will the delegates dare talk about putting Deputy Prime Minister Dato Seri Zahid Hamidi in the top seat before everyone is drowned? Unlikely?”

Hishamuddin Hussein

The Joker Minister of Defence cannot be Deputy Prime Minister

He said the watching world was stunned at the “paralysis” of the country’s biggest party and said, “I thought UMNO’s keris-wielding leaders were made of sterner stuff.”

Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamid–Jocelyn Tan’s Positive Spin for Najib Razak


August 2, 2015

Malaysia:  Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Zahid Hamid- The Positive Spin for  Najib Razak

by Jocelyn Tan@www.thestar.com.my

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IT was late afternoon by the time the Prime Minister showed up at Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil’s Hari Raya open house in Damansara Heights. It was still crowded because many of the guests had lingered on when they heard that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was coming.

Najib often wears red for Wanita UMNO dos and he stood out in his crimson batik shirt. His face seemed rather flushed although the day had cooled down and someone joked that it must be the political temperature out there.

It had been a super stressful day – he had just sacked Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and also brought the axe down on long-time loyalist Dato’ Seri Shafie Apdal, who had turned against him.

The last time something like this happened in UMNO was when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad sacked Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from the Cabinet and party.It was big time politics and the first thought that crossed the minds of many was that Najib had “done a Mahathir” or as a former UMNO Youth leader put it, Najib had taken a leaf from Mahathir’s playbook.

The ripples from the Cabinet reshuffle have yet to subside. After all, Muhyiddin is UMNO Deputy President and Shafie is one of three Vice-Presidents.

About half an hour after Najib and his wife arrived at Shahrizat’s house, the new Deputy Prime Minister and his wife arrived. It was one of those moments – everyone wanted a piece of Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

The presence of the top two was not purely social. The pair were sending an important signal that Shahrizat, the leader of the backbone of the party, is with them. The timing could not have been better.The new No.2 had also had a stressful day, but it was a happy type of stress and some said he was smiling non-stop.

Actually, Dr Ahmad Zahid is one of those natural smilers whose face crinkles up whenever he smiles. The Prime Minister had indicated to him a day earlier but still, he felt rather overwhelmed when it finally happened.

He is the new flavour of the month and everywhere he goes, there are cameras clicking away.

Dr Ahmad Zahid has had a tough guy reputation ever since he took on the Home Ministry job. He has managed to clamp down on organised crime and is popular among the police force. But behind that likeable smile is a rather jantan (masculine) personality and you really do not want to get on his wrong side.

But his image within UMNO is quite different. The UMNO crowd sees him as a people’s politician, someone who is completely without airs and whom the common folk relate to.

His handshakes are firm, he looks people in the eye and he does not hesitate to give friends and long-time associates man hugs. Once, when he met PAS President Datuk Seri Hadi Awang in Mecca, political rivalry was pushed aside and Muslim brotherhood kicked in. He wrapped his arms around the elder man and they held hands and chatted like old friends.

His parents were religious teachers in Bagan Datoh, where he grew up, and that part of his upbringing comes through in the way he carries himself. He was the first Umno leader to have a surau in his house, long before it became the fashion among the Muslim elite.

He is one of the few UMNO leaders who appears at certain public functions in jubah and kopiah, and many had noted that his acceptance speech for the top post was flavoured with Quranic verses.

Dr Ahmad Zahid’s appointment is seen as one of those timely moves in assisting Najib to consolidate the party. The new No.2 is charismatic and can be entrusted to champion the Malay cause and quench Muslim sentiment.

But back to Najib. His party is seeing a new side to him now that the velvet gloves have come off. Very few in his party thought he had the nerve to drop his deputy but he not only chopped his deputy, he also showed his former loyalist the door.

Muhyiddin had gone against the instruction to all Cabinet members that only Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanazlah was authorised to speak on the 1MDB issue while investigations were ongoing. He crossed the line not once but twice.

Shortly after a video of Muhyiddin slamming the 1MDB issue at an UMNO event in Janda Baik went viral, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kader had told aides that was not the way to do things.

“If anyone wants to go against the President, he should resign first. As long as I am in the party, I will defend the president and PM,” he had told his aides.

Najib had said it was a difficult decision to make. Muhyiddin is his senior by a few years and Shafie goes back a long way with him.Moreover, said UMNO supreme council member Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Najib had lent his clout to help the two men win in the last UMNO election and he had not expected them to turn against him.

“Loyalty and teamwork are very important to him. The PM does not scold people. He doesn’t raise his voice or lose his temper even when (he is) angry. He has been too nice and accommodating. I think some people crossed the line,” said Ahmad Shabery.

The reshuffle, regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with it, is the Prime Minister’s prerogative. Even Muhyiddin acknowledges that.It is quite apparent that Najib’s desire to stay on was greater than Muhyiddin’s desire to become Prime Minister. Moreover, the reshuffle came on the same day as his appointment of a new Attorney-General. Beneath Najib’s polished Malay gentleman demeanour lies some very shrewd survival instincts. Those who continue to cross him will probably regret it because having tasted blood, it will be easier the next time around. In fact, he may even come to enjoy the taste of it.To put it in Manglish, his Cabinet members would not dare to “play-play” with him anymore and, as they say, it is better to be feared than to be loved in politics.

His tough line with opponents in his party and Cabinet has, quite surprisingly, drawn him grudging regard from some quarters. For too long, he was known as Mr Nice. But he has shown that he is willing to use the sword.

“I have a feeling that some people like this kind of toughness. It is, in some strange way, equated with leadership and taking charge, especially where the Chinese are concerned. Chinese history and literature are full of such stories of strategic survival,” said Fui Soong, CEO of the CENSE think tank.

All of this should not be taken to mean that the 1MDB issue will go away any time soon. Najib’s team will need to manage the issue and provide answers, closure and more importantly, rebut some of the absurd things popping up every other day.

The latest was another claim by UK-based Sarawak Report claiming that Najib would be charged in court soon. It turned out to be another fake document and was immediately shot down by the Attorney-General’s Department. Najib will continue to come under smear campaigns by groups like Sarawak Report.

But he is now quite unassailable within UMNO because there is no one big enough to challenge him.

His Deputy President is out in the cold and of the three UMNO Vice-Presidents, one has been promoted, another has been chopped and the third is his first cousin.

It is all kao-tim (settled), as the Chinese would say. Politically speaking, it looks like a pretty smooth Machiavellian stroke. He and his new Deputy will now have to go down to assuage the ground over what has happened.But the media interest is about to move on to something new, namely a possible conclusion to what has been described as the greatest mystery in aviation history.

A piece of wreckage or flaperon believed to be part of MH370 has been found washed up on the French Reunion Island off the coast of Madagascar.It was one of those goosebump-inducing type of news – after all these months, the sea currents have carried a part of the aircraft to an island with the uncanny name of Reunion. It is as if the lost souls are reaching out to be reunited with their loved ones.

Airline disasters and political issues have seemed intertwined in dominating the news in the last year or so. And it is about to happen again.