Hard-nosed Leadership


October 4, 2018

Hard-nosed Leadership

 

Image result for Dr Mahathir on Channel 4 TV

by Dr. Sharifah Munirah Alatas

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Channel 4 News, the main news programme on British television, interviewed Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Oct 1. The opening credits already set the tone for the entire five minute, 47 second interview. With Mahathir crowned as the “comeback kid unlikely to be prime minister the second time around”, one could already sense the hard-talk that was going to be aired.

Let me assure readers that I am all for a free and critical media, unafraid to talk turkey, and impartial with the goal of disseminating the bare facts and allowing creative opinions based on those facts.

What concerns me here is not the sides that foreign nations choose to support in domestic politics. We are all aware that the self-interest of nations colour their perception of other countries in the game we call realpolitik.

Of more importance are the issues that were carefully chosen for discussion, how Mahathir answered them, his body language and the issues’ relevance for Malaysians. Let’s go through these one by one. About the topics of the interview, I recall “being in a hurry”, corruption, sodomy and terrorism as the main subjects.

The opening credits cheered Mahathir on for being the oldest Prime Minister in the world with a following remark made on whether he was even older than Queen Elizabeth. Shortly after that, though, the hard-talk began. It filled me with glee because these are the mental calisthenics that invigorate me!

First topic: “You seem to be a man in a hurry, but you don’t have much time to change Malaysia.”

As a Malaysian, I feel Mahathir HAS to hurry. Too much rot has accumulated, accelerated over the last nine years. Even though we have a new government, traces of that rot are still apparent. Most citizens who voted for change earlier this year would agree that cronyism (the daughter-in-law of corruption), nepotism and the “tidak apa” attitude in government are our main problems.

Yes, the issue of corruption, too, was discussed in the interview. The interviewer did not bat an eyelid when he said: “There was corruption too when you took over as prime minister in 1981.” To this, Mahathir responded that this time around, “the government machinery was corrupted”.

What does this mean? Does it mean that this time around, under the Barisan Nasional (BN) government, only the Prime Minister resorted to the blatant amassing of wealth by stealing from the rakyat? Or does it mean that every level of corrupt negotiations, beginning with government and stretching to businesses, the middle class, academia, and the service industry, led to an adverse effect on the entire society, on the common folk?

In the words of the late Syed Hussein Alatas, internationally respected scholar and critic of corruption in developing societies, “In a corrupt society, corruption enters into our lives… (and) becomes such a force that it conditions the socialisation process of younger generations towards a negative direction.”

Post-GE14, we still have to watch out for the “socialisation process” because corruption serves the interest of the ruling class and is the means of maintaining domination.

Rightfully, Mahathir said Malaysia is presently facing “a catastrophe of corruption”. My message here is that the public and the media have to realise that although the era of BN cronyism, corruption and nepotism may be over, after more than two decades of such culture and mindset, it will be difficult to eradicate.

The Pakatan Harapan era has not passed the litmus test yet. We need to soldier on.

The interview continued to (predictably) touch on sodomy and terrorism. This was couched in the question: “Will you really hand over power to Anwar Ibrahim?” The interviewer went on to quote Mahathir as saying, in the past, that he would not accept a sodomist as a head of country. He also recalled that Mahathir had threatened to deport gay diplomats.

Mahathir gave a classic but practical and genuine response: “Between sodomy and stealing a few billion from the country, I think the stealing of a few billion dollars is more serious.”

So, Malaysians, can we please prioritise in our clean-up agenda? Sodomy is not the issue that has set Malaysia back economically and socially. It is corruption. This is our message to foreign finger-pointers as well.

Moving on in the interview, Mahathir was taken to task for saying that the root cause of terrorism was Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. Then, the question of semitism bared its ugly face.

The interviewer showed no mercy in regurgitating Mahathir’s words of years ago, that Jews have hooked noses and run the world by proxy. He also labelled Mahathir as anti-semitic (which should be understood as a politically engendered concept based on the defeat of Nazi Germany).

Mahathir’s reply, I must admit, was shaky, evidenced as well by his shifting body language. But he did manage the clincher: That they (Israel) have “managed to influence big countries into doing what they benefit from”.

The politics of the Middle East and big powers is not my concern here. My concern is that his reply should resonate with Malaysians – just because one is in a position of power, one should not abuse it and manipulate the lower ranks into accepting agendas of self-interest.

Corruption and the manipulation of racist and bigoted ideology is what I grasped from Mahathir’s Channel 4 interview. Did you?

The interview ended with the interviewer saying “the old Mahathir is still here, spouting offensive and racist views”.

Well, that’s his opinion, based on the context. More seriously, I feel this interview has indirectly sent a crisp message to Malaysians and the government, that our current administration is under scrutiny by its own people and that Mahathir himself has given us the tools to monitor every step – or so I hope.

Sharifah Munirah Alatas is an FMT columnist.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

Not so much ‘New M’sia Government, but one consumed by a shiok sendiri syndrome


Not so much ‘New M’sia Government, but one consumed by a shiok sendiri syndrome and groping in the dark

September 27, 2018

by R. Nadeswaran@www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT

Image result for pakatan harapan government

William Lyons, a senior lecturer at the Glasgow University argues that fear of the dark is usually not a fear of darkness itself, but a fear of possible or imagined dangers concealed by darkness. When fear of the dark reaches a degree that is severe enough, it is considered pathological.

Image result for mat sabu as pilot

 

Pakatan Harapan Defense Minister who became a Fighter Pilot overnight– A Case of Shiok Sendiri

Image result for zahid hamidi as pilot

Imitating an UMNO Fighter Pilot

This is not a class on fear and darkness, but provides a fairly
accurate description of how some Pakatan Harapan leaders – including ministers – are performing. After almost five months in government, they are still groping in the dark and this becomes inexcusable.

To put it more succinctly and concisely, they are not stumbling in darkness but tipping over each other in broad daylight. Offering none, or sometimes nonsensical, solutions to the problems facing the citizens, some of their utterances and actions have bordered on incongruity.

This is no report card on the government. We elected our Members of Parliament (MPs) for five years but transversely, the events since May 9 have been emitting a sense of hopelessness among the common folk. Not that the public expects the sky and moon, but would just like to see changes that would offer a better quality of life.

Let’s not beat around the bush – any government or a set of lawmakers will do better than BN– with closed eyes even if one does not try.  BN’s track record over the past six decades was so abysmal, appalling and dreadful, that even minor changes would look astronomical.

The (new) government was elected on the premise (among others) that it would root out corruption, cut out cronyism, promote meritocracy, address weaknesses in the  administration and revamp the government machinery so that the people will be the eventual beneficiaries of such changes. The people were promised improvements and reforms and doing away with nonsensical pieces of legislation.

Little of this has been seen. Take the much-talked about child marriages as an example. Why is there so much  pussyfooting over an issue that can be solved, just by taking away the jurisdiction given to religious courts.

Excuses after excuse have been given including one that there would be legal and social implications if the minimum age of marriage is increased to 18 years.

What legal and social implications, one may ask? For the previous regime, the escape-all clause when everything else failed, was to throw in the religious or the race card. It is ludicrous that a child is allowed to be married based on culture, religion and customs, which are actually excuses to    not accepting international standards in human rights. Ditto for the current set of lawmakers.

Parliament not football pitch

Image result for langkah port dickson

How and why should an elected MP resign? What is the co-relation between “Langkah Port Dickson” and parliamentary reforms?

The last time we heard of the  phrase, the then speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia got a new toilet and an expensive set of furniture for his office!

Parliamentarians are lawmakers. Parliament is not a football pitch were substitution is allowed anytime without any rhyme or reason – according to the whims and fancies of the coach or manager.

When BN put up posters before nomination day in the last election, they were accused of breaking election laws. Drive around Port Dickson today and you’ll notice giant banners and buntings. What reform, when the law breaker is seeking office?

And why should the Education Minister play a dual role as the president of a university? However one look at it, he is conflicted, but he is finding all kinds of excuses to justify his acceptance.

Elsewhere, intra-party affairs and disputes seem to be distracting some of the leaders. Instead of seeking to implement changes and ideas, too much time is being spent on politicking.

The former premier has adopted a “make-a statement-a-day” routine and our ministers are keeping him relevant by responding and making him important. He ought to be told the literal meaning of the legal doctrine of “those seeking equity must come with clean hands”.

‘No more political appointees in government-linked companies’ was the battle pre-May 9. The head honchos who made up the pancaragam which composed and sang BN’s campaign song found themselves out of their jobs. So, did scores of others, but who were their replacements?

On the administration side, there is little visible change. It still takes ages for some government departments to respond to letters; the “pegawai pergi mesyuarat” (the officer’s in a meeting) slogan is frequently used to avoid contact with citizens and other old practices. Self-appointed regulators of public morals are still imposing their values, including dress codes on visitors. They seem more interested in the length of the skirts than the issues they have to address.

Why haven’t they been reined in? Yet again, the answer would be: “It is a sensitive issue.” Many are reluctant and refuse to adopt Transport Minister Anthony Loke’s diktats – those who find female flight attendants’ uniforms too sexy should turn their heads away and not look at them.

The only visible change is the move to do away with the sign-off, which means nothing. From “saya yang menurut perintah” (I’m just following orders), it has become “saya yang menjalankan amanah” (I’m just following the mandate). Everything else including mindsets remain status quo. How does it help improvise delivery?

The attitude and brashness of most civil servants has not changed. They seem stuck in the old culture, and continue to act as Little Napoleons ruling their own fiefdom.

Public opinion matters little to Harapan lawmakers, who now believe they can walk on water. The mainstream media which pilloried, denounced and humiliated them when they were on the wrong side of the divide, has suddenly changed tack. These days, the editors (and censors) are now lining up to “pay homage” to very same leaders they had once pounced on, like vultures devouring a carcass.

Instead of using its new-found freedom and being objective, it wants to continue its insalubrious role as the supporter of the ruling elite. There has hardly been a whimper on the weaknesses which are so visible. Every citizen including journalists has a right to demand explanations on expenditure and policies because this government promised
transparency and accountability.

Asking questions and requesting for justification does not make anyone a lesser Malaysian.

R NADESWARAN has no party affiliation and believes that the it is not an offence to hold government accountable. A good government must priorities good governance. Comments: citizen.nades22@gmail.com

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

“Fix It” man Tun Daim Zainuddin tells it all


September 8, 2018

“Fix It” man aka Sang Jedai Tun Daim Zainuddin tells it all

ttps://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/09/409812/daim-tells-it-all

 

DID you catch the Tun Daim Zainuddin interview on TV3 last Wednesday night? He spoke on a wide range of issues, sharing insights and juicy behind-the-headline anecdotes. Those who missed it can click on Youtube. You won’t regret it.

Tun Daim Zainuddin being interviewed by Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar and Mustapha Kamil on TV3 last Wednesday night.

He was interviewed by retired but still active journalists, Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar and Mustapha Kamil. They were colleagues in the Media Prima group of companies until a few years ago.

Johan maintains a weekly column in The Star newspaper while Mustapha is an active commentator on Facebook with a big following.

Friends who saw the interview gave their thumbs up. A television interview is different from a newspaper interview. Speaking on air, viewers can see the expressions and listen carefully to the words and the manner in which they were uttered.

An UMNO activist told me the following day that Daim has not lost any of his sharpness when answering questions. He said it was a typical Daim show — short and crisp; straight to the point; and he didn’t duck any question thrown at him.

But the UMNO man said Daim was more talkative than usual, in so far as media interviews are concerned. I thought so too. To me, this was expected because Daim, as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s closest confidante, was sharing insights on events before, during and after the May 9 General Election.

Daim is head of the Council of Eminent Persons, a body set up by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government three days after it kicked out Barisan Nasional (BN) and Datuk Seri Najib Razak from Putrajaya.

The council’s main objective was to dive deep into the administration with microscopes to find out the who, what, why, when, where and how the previous regime ran the country.

Daim is not new to such assignments. Dr Mahathir had, in the late 90s, tasked Daim with tracking the economy and to suggest solutions to the problems faced by the country following the Asian financial crisis in 1997/98.

Daim set about his task by tracking every aspect of the economy on a daily basis. It was a painstaking exercise but one that eventually helped Dr Mahathir to bring the country out of its huge problems.

One could say that Daim is Dr Mahathir’s “fix-it” man. If there’s anything difficult, and complicated, that needed to be corrected, just send Daim. But Daim would be the first person to reject such acclaim, countering that no single person could do such a job.

That task of tracking the economy was done by the National Economic Action Council which Dr Mahathir himself chaired. The NEAC was placed under the Minister of Special functions, a post held by Daim.

So it was really a no-brainer for Dr Mahathir to pick Daim to dig deep into the Najib administration to find out what went wrong.

Four months and one day after the general election, people are still talking about and analysing the history-making polls.

Many people on the ground had anticipated a change, but they had not dared predict such a huge upset.

Daim’s take on GE-14 was typical. He told the interviewers and the audience that UMNO and BN think-tanks had told him that their party was not going to make it. And this helped Daim and PH leaders to work out an appropriate strategy, giving them the additional confidence that they would win big.

I said typical because Daim has an information gathering mechanism that is reliable and accurate. In the 2008 general election, Daim told the country via an interview with a Chinese newspaper that the BN would lose five states.

The BN, then led by Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, did lose five states — Penang, Perak, Kedah, Selangor and Kelantan. Kelantan was already an opposition state then.

This time around, the strategy was straightforward: discredit the BN and its leaders and make Dr Mahathir the rallying point to save the country.

Remember the “You’re not alone” poster? This worked well as other personalities came out to show their support for Dr Mahathir, with Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz being one of the most visible and vocal.

Wednesday’s interview also had Daim giving his views on why BN was rejected by the people. UMNO leaders were simply arrogant, he said, adding that they were also ill-mannered and complacent. UMNO’s fixed-deposit constituencies came under attack from the PH forces, a great number of them comprising ordinary folks who had grown tired of the old coalition.

Abuse of power and a head who could not be criticised plus a civil service that saw some key senior officers taking part in political campaigns eventually led to BN’s downfall.

Duit tak turun (the money didn’t come down),” Daim said, referring to money meant for campaigning purposes was not properly distributed, thus hampering work on the ground.

Well, it’s all gone down as part of the country’s political history. Daim has a vast reservoir of first-hand knowledge in many aspects of the country’s development, with personal involvement in many of them too.

This interview would be seen again and again and widely analysed by those interested in the country’s welfare. If the programme was not capped to one hour, more juicy stuff would have been revealed.

The UMNO activist reviewed the interview many times and concluded that Daim is as relevant as ever. Not many people doubted that.

ahmadt51@gmail.com

The writer is chairman of Yayasan Salam Malaysia


Fear and Loathing in Putrajaya Redux


September 9, 2018

Fear and Loathing in Putrajaya Redux

Opinion
By  S Thayaparan
Image result for Putrajaya

Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.”

― Laurence J Peter, educator and author

COMMENT | While the White House is in a state of fear regarding the anonymous op-ed piece in the New York Times about the dysfunction in the Trump administration and the so-called “resistance” attempting to stymie the US President’s more egregious agendas, the opposite thing is happening in this country.

While I am not someone who makes excuses for the Harapan administration when it comes to their reform agenda, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is correct when he says that there are officials in Putrajaya who are purposely stalling the administrative policies of the new regime. There are a couple of points worth considering.

The first is the lack of experience of some of the ministers appointed. Much has been said about the “Call me bro” youth and sports minister, the education minister who wants more responsibility – or is that prestige? – but has no real reform agenda when it comes to one of the more important portfolios of this country, the defence minister who likes to cook, and of course, the finance minister who can’t seem to get enough of exposing the scandals of the past administration and nodding to whatever the Prime Minister says.

 

Fulfilling campaign promises is one thing but more damaging is a lack of vision of many of these ministers. Besides Gobind Singh Deo who seems to actually have a vision of what his Communications and Multimedia Ministry can accomplish and Transport Minister Anthony Loke, who you may disagree with some of the things he has done – at least, they are doing things when it comes to their ministries and not attempting to define their ministries by their polemics against the former regime.

While this is an important point, it should not detract from what I consider the bigger point – and what the prime minister rightly points out – the sub rosa moves by bureaucrats to hamper the progress of Harapan regime. I have been doing my own snooping around, calling contacts serving and retired, and there is a definitely a conspiracy of sorts to destabilise the Harapan government from within.

One example I put much stock in is when serving and retired state security personnel tell me that there is a movement within the Defence Ministry to “contain” the popular Mohamad Sabu (photo). This means different things to people but the general idea is that reform within the security services comes with the price of exposing the corruption, collusion and God knows what else, which ironically could prove to be a threat to national security.

Image result for mat sabu as pilot

He is no Robert Gates or Leon Penetta. I wouldn’t trust him with  the defense of my hen house. But if you want some light entertainment, you can attend his ceramah-Din Merican

Can you imagine what would happen if forces domestic and foreign, ever discover how compromised our state security apparatus is? So we get all these “investigations” which go nowhere and an inexperienced minister who is grappling not only with his administrative duties but also his political ones, believing that things are running smoothly.

In reality, the petty fiefdoms in the state security apparatus are making moves to conceal buried secrets that could not only bring them ruination but everyone in the food chain.

Infighting within

Furthermore, some minions actually resent that there is a new government. This resentment, depending on the cabal, is based on racism or religious bigotry. Years of the Biro Tatanegara (BTN) horse manure has created a culture that views any “interloping” by non-Malay political operatives other than from BN as trespassing on the provinces of the ‘ketuanan’ types.

No doubt, the propaganda of a New Malaysia rattles their precious sensibilities and these people are ever ready to demonstrate that the bureaucracy can strike back. One recently retired government official told me that these people not only resort to stalling but also hiding relevant documents, misdirecting new and inexperienced aides and attempting to portray everything done by the new Harapan regime as a “witch hunt”.

This, of course, does not take into account what I call the deep Islamic state and their operatives, who are considering working with the committed Islamists within Pakatan Harapan and carrying out their obligations for their handlers within UMNO. Whispering into the ears of easily-rattled Harapan political operatives of the precarious nature of the Harapan alliance when it comes to the Malay vote, they advance an Islamic agenda which is at odds with the supposed “secular” agenda of the new Harapan regime.

However, if you think that this is all UMNO’s fault, you are naive. The infighting within Harapan contributes immensely to the hampering of the reform agenda. My comrade, Malaysiakini columnist Hishamuddin Rais (photo) may have ruffled some feathers when it comes to his writings, but he is more often correct than wrong when it comes to the machinations of the political elites.

Image result for Hishamuddin Rais

 

There are elements within the bureaucracy who have decided to take sides and the infighting within Harapan plays out in how policy is carried out in Putrajaya. Various fiefdoms have erupted like boils within various ministries where busy factotums carry out the agendas of the Harapan political elite and this sometimes includes frustrating rival factions.

As one frustrated political operative lamented that she has to watch her back when it comes to the bureaucracy because not only has she to worry about the flotsam and jetsam of the former UMNO regime, which includes agents of MCA and MIC, but she has to be wary of not stepping on the toes of her political higher-ups who are wrestling for dominance in various ministries.

A still serving low-level bureaucrat in Putrajaya candidly told me that he is impressed that Harapan has been able to accomplish some of the reforms they promised because with all the crap thrown their way by their infighting and elements from the previous regime, it is remarkable that they are able to function.

Another source said, if only Mahathir was younger and had the support of a committed base, he would whip the government into shape. He has preoccupations which are political in nature which are hampering what he needs to do with the government, this near-retiring source claims.

This, of course, is all part of the political culture in Malaysia which is UMNO-based and something that people in Harapan, who are actually interested in reform, have to contend with. Coupled with their inexperience, they find it difficult to navigate the bureaucracy which is at war for itself and with itself.


S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

No Power Struggle between Anwar Ibrahim and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad: That is Political Talk, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin


 

September 8, 2018

No Power Struggle between Anwar Ibrahim and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad: That is Political Talk, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin

INTERVIEW | Pakatan Harapan must be in a stronger position when the transition of power between prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and PKR president-elect chief Anwar Ibrahim takes place, according to Muhyiddin Yassin.

The Bersatu President said the transfer should be done at the right time and in an orderly fashion. Anwar, he said, has respect for Mahathir and there was no issue of a power struggle between the two Harapan leaders.

“There is no debate among Harapan leaders that Anwar will become the eighth Prime Minister after Mahathir, as it has been decided. The only question that arises is ‘when’.

“But there had been signals. Anwar himself had stated that he would give time to Mahathir so that the main tasks of forming a government, tackling issues and introducing policies could be carried out,” he said in an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini yesterday.

 

Muhyiddin was commenting on the power transition issue which arose following allegations of a plot to prevent Anwar from assuming the premiership, though the transition had been previously been decided on by all Harapan parties.

Image result for Anwar and Mahathir the best of friends

There is mutual distrust between the two leaders and old scores to settle. This coalition is fragile now that the common enemy, Najib Razak and UMNO Baru, has been defeated. The premiership is not Anwar’s birthright. And furthermore, the Prime Minister has not give up his prerogative to appoint a successor. –Din Merican

‘When the time comes’

Muhyiddin said he had known Anwar for a long time, and knows that Anwar is qualified to become a Prime Minister.

“He is a person who has vast experience. I don’t have to mention that as everyone knows who Anwar Ibrahim is. He is not new (to Malaysia politics).

Image result for Azmin Ali and Dr Mahathir the best of friends

The Prime Minister and his Economics Minister, Azmin Ali, have forged a strong partnership in pursuance of the new Malay Agenda

“The people know him and I know that he is fit to be the prime minister.But that will happen when the time comes, when, I hope, the transition can be done in an orderly manner. It should be at the right time when we are in a stronger condition. And as long as Mahathir is healthy and capable of carrying out his duties, I don’t think Anwar would tell him to step down for him. I don’t think that is Anwar’s attitude or culture.”

On reports that Anwar said he would stand with the opposition if the Harapan government were to be embroiled in corruption, Muhyiddin said he believed that Anwar did not mean that he would join BN.

“In my opinion, he meant well. He wants to reprove (the coalition) so that the current administration can be improved. He is not telling off (the coalition) with the intention of destroying (Harapan).

“This is a new government, there is a lot that needs improving. We need to focus on fixing whatever weaknesses we have,” he said.

This interview was jointly conducted by Haris Mohd, Al-Abror Mohd Yusuf, Norman Goh, and Mauricia Grace.


THE MUHYIDDIN INTERVIEW:

Muhyiddin: Bersatu has come a long way in two years

Muhyiddin optimistic about recovery

‘Seniors’ are always willing to help new cabinet ministers, says Muhyiddin

 

Azmin Ali’s New Malay or A Remake of the 1965 Malay


September 8, 2018

Azmin Ali’s New Malay or A Remake of the 1965 Malay: It’s All Politics

Image result for The new Malay
The Confused Dysfunctional Malay
“In closing, I would like to urge all thinking Malays to come together in forums and hold discourses about the New Malay beyond the congress’ simplistic resolutions. Let us debate and concretise the real values that will make this race a special contribution to civilisation.”Tajuddin Rasdi

If someone were to ask me what I thought about the recent Congress on the Future of the Bumiputeras and Nation 2018, I would have shot back a question: who was it meant for?

If it was meant for Pakatan Harapan (PH) to assure the Malays and fend off UMNO and PAS who are rallying the Malays under their “Malays are being threatened” mantra, I think UMNOno and PAS will be losing more members pretty soon, particularly those who are contractors and “kaki bodek” (sycophants).

Image result for The new Malay

The New “Money Men”: Block Anwar Ibrahim-Rafizi Ramli Partnership

The message of the congress was loud and clear: PH will still support affirmative action in the economy to “help” the Malays achieve what was started in the New Economic Policy (NEP). This time, however, there will be no hanky-panky “Ali Baba Bujang Lapuk” stories about the implementation.

If the congress was a clarion call to position Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali as the new “money men” who would ward off an Anwar Ibrahim-Rafizi Ramli gamble for power, it was a powerful statement of whose hands to kiss.

But if the congress was to paint a picture of a “New Malay”, as Azmin said, the whole thing was pathetic at best and embarrassing at worst. Why do I not share the euphoria of heralding the “Melayu Baru”? Simple. The “Melayu Baru” is soon to be “Melayu Lama”. Same old, same old.

My first salvo against the congress is the question on every non-Malay’s mind and that of the few thinking Malays. Didn’t the NEP of the previous government under our present leader Mahathir have any checks and double checks against the Ali Baba scenario? Were there not enough checks to ascertain whether the computer labs or stadiums could stand structurally? Is Mahathir admitting to his own carelessness or indifference?

Is the congress now trying to convince taxpayers that Malays are, again, to be given the trust to carry out projects with new measures of checks and double checks?

I may not be an administrator or a contractor but I know enough to say that there are, even now, procedures upon procedures for purchasing materials and awarding contracts. What happened then was that greedy, opportunistic Malays – including civil servants, elected officials and even professionals – took cuts and everybody became happy, even though the roofs of stadiums and laboratories collapsed.

As a taxpayer, I am not buying the assurances of Azmin or Mahathir regarding affirmative action for the “Melayu Baru”. To me, the only difference between the Melayu now in government and the Melayu then in power is the colour of their party symbols. My crystal ball says that the Melayu PH will be no different from the Melayu BN. Dua kali lima saja (the same).

My second salvo is my extreme disappointment that the congress did not outline the new values of the “Melayu Baru”. The speeches of Mahathir and Azmin and the question and answer session with Mahathir were one big fat near-zero on the values that would make the Malays a more civilised, enlightened and caring citizenry – a citizenry that others can look up to as well as have deep respect for.

Only in Anwar’s speech was there some inkling of this, but I will deal with that in my last point. I was hoping the congress might talk about the “Melayu Baru” having values of “keterbukaan” or openness. The Malays should be more open to new ideas of work culture, new interpretations of religious texts other than those of ignorant ustazs and officials, and new values of other cultures that can be adopted.

The opposite of this value is “kejumudan” which means the closing of the mind to new ideas and thoughts.

I would also have liked it if the congress had touched on the values of “kesederhanaan” or humility in which the Malays must get away from their superiority mindset. The opposite of this value is “ketakburan” or “kebongkakan” which signifies arrogance where one feels superior in every way to others. If a race feels like that, it will never learn anything from others.

Mahathir himself urged the Malays to learn from the Japanese work culture and the industrious nature of the Chinese. One weak point about Mahathir is that he is quick to isolate the traits he wants of a culture but does not recognise the underlying values stemming from that religion and that culture’s belief system.

Related image

Malays, for instance, always look to their version of Islam as their guide and shun other thoughts and principles such as those in the Tao Te Ching or the Bhagavad Gita or Shintoism. But this is where the values of those cultures come from.

A good trait in a culture or community cannot be seen in isolation from its value system. This is also one reason why the NEP failed to distribute in a more meaningful manner the wealth cultivated by the few BN warlords.

I would also like to see the value of “keihsanan” or compassion towards all life becoming part of the everyday life of the “Melayu Baru”.

Do Azmin and company view projects and efficient management as the only key to the success of the economy of the New Malays? Any economic guru would point out that “keterbukaan”, “kesederhanaan” and “keihsanan” play a major role in how the economy is managed.

Mahathir himself alluded to the problem of education when he said our children were being taught to memorise information but possessed no real values to turn the information into meaningful products because religion was taught in a manner that had little value. The value of “keberusahawanan” as opposed to “ke-Ali-Babaan” has been touched on many times by Mahathir, who is genuinely disappointed with the Malays who cannot follow his own personal work-hard ethos.

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How will the Malays react to being part of a multiracial nation after the congress? Only Anwar alluded to it but he was given the least attention and time. Anwar is the author of the book “The Asian Renaissance”. I read it cover to cover 20 years ago when PKR was formed. I previously asked leaders of the party why they did not use the book as their “bible”. The answer is obvious after 20 years. The Malays are not ready for the new idea of a global civilisational construct based on the spiritual values of Eastern faiths.

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Make No Mistake: For Politics they are Malay First to remain in Power

Ninety nine percent of Malays want to be like Muhyiddin Yassin who once declared “I am Malay first, Malaysian second”. I think Anwar has the solution to the New Malays and it is in the book “The Asian Renaissance”. The first person who should read the book is Rafizi, followed by his lieutenants.

We Malays now have the wealth, intelligence and raw materials but we lack a wholesome value system which will make us a formidable global player. Alas, the Malays in PH, UMNO and PAS want to be “jaguh kampung” (village champions) and stay safe and snug under their own “tempurungs” (shells).

In closing, I would like to urge all thinking Malays to come together in forums and hold discourses about the New Malay beyond the congress’ simplistic resolutions. Let us debate and concretise the real values that will make this race a special contribution to civilisation.

Tajuddin Rasdi is a professor of Islamic architecture at UCSI University.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.