A collective Malay shame and tragedy


November 5, 2018

A collective Malay shame and tragedy

by Dr.M Bakri Musa  |www.malaysiakini.com

 

COMMENT | Reading the US Department Of Justice’s (DOJ) criminal indictment of November 1, 2018, relating to 1MDB, as well as its earlier (July 2016) civil forfeiture lawsuit on assets allegedly linked to it, I am struck by three singular observations.

First is the appalling avarice of the alleged culprits; second, the utter impunity with which they conducted themselves; and third, the sheer stupidity of the man without whose authority those shenanigans would not have been possible – Malaysian Official 1, as referred to in both charges. The world now knows him as Najib Abdul Razak. While he is not facing any DOJ charges as yet, in Malaysia he faces several criminal ones that could put him in jail for the rest of his life.

This 1MDB heist is by far the most complex and largest in terms of monetary value. The sheer hubris of the perpetrators to think that they could get away with it. As for Najib, he is not terribly bright, just wily enough to know that his fellow ministers and UMNO leaders could be bought cheaply with the loot from 1MDB.

As for his rise in UMNO, that too is more the consequence of Malay culture. Malays are suckers for terhutang budi, an excessive sense of gratitude. With Najib, it was for his father Abdul Razak Hussein – Malaysia’s second Prime Minister who died unexpectedly while in office in 1976.

 

Had Najib not been a Bin Razak, he would be but a middling civil servant, at best. Think of it; had his Bin Razak status been ignored, or the powerful had not been terhutang budi, Malaysia would have been spared much grief today, and a whole lot less debt.

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Najib Razak and his Master Yoda

The trail of financial liabilities of 1MDB, though massive and painful, is at least quantifiable. Not so the associated lost opportunities. Had the billions not been squandered on luxuries in London, Beverley Hills, and New York or funding soft porno movies, but on improving national schools and Felda settlements, we would be that much closer to the goals of Ketuanan Melayu and Vision 2020.

This being Malaysia, the dangerous race factor is never far from the surface. That is the most pernicious and consequential legacy of 1MDB. Already there are ugly rumours, and not just within UMNO but also other segments of the Malay community, blaming those smart, greedy Chinese once again taking advantage, if not outright cheating, of sweet, innocent Malay leaders.

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Even Najib is now distancing himself from Jho Low  This potential explosive component is the most dangerous and incendiary, and one that cannot be unquantified.

 

Even uglier and more painful to express publicly is this: Malays are downright ashamed by the outrageous behaviour of their corrupt leaders. Not stated but obvious is that all those charged in Malaysia are Malays, not ordinary ones but top leaders.

Malaysians must thank Mahathir for appointing Tommy Thomas as the attorney-general. It is amazing what you can achieve when you put a premium on honesty, integrity, and competence. Yes, there were many Malays who complained of Thomas not being a Malay or Muslim, as well as on his less-than-polished Malay.

Regardless, he put to shame his predecessor, Mohamed Apandi Ali. He, together with Najib, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim and others, is but an unmitigated disaster and gross embarrassment to Malays and Muslims, bar none.Image result for UMNO Leaders charged

UMNO new Leadership devoid of Honour and Integrity

By normal reckoning, Apandi should have been impeached. Again in a perversion of values, Najib made him a Tan Sri, and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong agreed. Like it or not, to many non-Malays as well as Malays, the likes of Najib and Apandi represent the best that our community could offer. That hurts!

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UMNO’s Bro Azeez Mamak Rahim

As for those other champions of Ketuanan Melayu, their goals would be achieved that much faster and more efficaciously if they would first get rid of these characters in their midst.

It is good to be reminded that with DOJ’s filings, a pivotal defendant in its criminal case has already pleaded guilty; with its civil (case), at least two have agreed to settle.

Much can be deduced from the local reactions, and even more so from the lack of same among some notable quarters. It is not surprising that simple kampung folks still believe Najib despite those charges as well as the boxes of gold and cash hauled from his residences. They still believe that the money was for them!

What stretches one’s credulity is that UMNO leaders too bought Najib’s snake oil, and they included many lawyers and accountants, as well as an Oxford graduate and even an Ivy League PhD! That is the greatest Malay shame and tragedy.


M BAKRI MUSA, a surgeon in California, is a frequent commentator on Malaysian affairs.

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

Can UMNO-BN defectors ever reform?


November 3, 2018

Can UMNO-BN defectors ever reform?

By Dean Johns

http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT | As Bersih, Amanah and many concerned individuals have said recently, any move on the part of Pakatan Harapan or any of its component parties to even think about accepting UMNO-BN no-hopers into their ranks, let alone seriously consider doing so, is an absolute outrage.

 

There has been no sign that these 40 thieves have turned over a new leaf; that these pathological liars have seen the light, or perceived the error of their ways.

All of them – without exception – have been either accomplices in or accessories to the massive crimes allegedly committed by their former UMNO-BN leaders, and none have shown the slightest sign of regret, remorse, repentance or intention to reform.

And until they have publicly done so, and surrendered their ill-gotten assets to the national treasury, they should remain criminal suspects, and at the very least be subjected to forensic audits of their financial affairs.

So for Pakatan Harapan to consider admitting UMNO-BN defectors without their confessing, and serving sentences or even periods of probation for their crimes and corruption, or repaying the rakyat, is like placing rotten apples into a fresh new barrel, or incorporating cancer cells into a young, healthy body.

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Or to put this another way, unless and until they sincerely reform, it should be assumed that their motive for aspiring to join Harapan is to insert themselves into a force, hell-bent on undermining and eventually destroying the new government from within.

And thus, far from entertaining their hopes of hopping sides, Harapan should tell off these “frogs and toads”, which happens to be rhyming slang for “road”, which they should be hitting.

Considering that they’ve betrayed the Malaysian people – especially the Malay-Muslim people whose interests as UMNO–BN members they falsely claimed to ‘protect’ – and have now shown their willingness to betray those who voted for them as well as UMNO-BN itself, they can hardly be seen as trustworthy converts to the Harapan cause.

And then there’s the thought that Harapan, and especially its Bersatu component, is already stuffed full enough with unregenerate UMNO-BN renegades and rejects.

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Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is the most prominent example. While admittedly it seems unarguable that Harapan could not have won without him, many of us strongly suspect that he’s still the same old autocrat and even the same old mad hatter at heart.

And that it was his personal hatred for ex-premier Najib Abdul Razak in particular rather than for UMNO-BN in principle that impelled him to make a comeback as the head of Pakatan Harapan.

Little sign of regret

Certainly, despite his appearing to be a reformed character, he’s shown little sign of regret for the countless crimes, corruption and perversions of justice that characterised his 22 years as President of UMNO Baru and UMNO-BN Prime Minister.

Nor has there been any sign that any of his sons are about to be retrospectively investigated any time soon for past scandals and dubious business successes.

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Then there’s Najib’s onetime Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, whose highly likely involvement in or at least strong support of UMNO-BN malefactions back then, is somehow never mentioned, and whose ‘conversion’ to Harapan principles and values has gone largely, if not, totally unexamined.

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There are some, I know, who suspect that Mahathir and Muhyiddin, now that they have used Pakatan Harapan as a vehicle to wreak vengeance on Najib, will eventually reveal that, far from being agents of reform, are actually on a secret mission to re-form a revised or alternative version of UMNO-BN.

And some of the same conspiracy theorists are similarly suspicious of the intentions of Anwar Ibrahim, if and when he replaces Mahathir as Prime Minister. Despite his apparently impeccable credentials as the former leader of the Reformasi movement and such a bitter enemy of Mahathir and Najib that each of them jailed him for years, many still see him as being cursed with UMNO-BN DNA.

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But whatever the true motivations and intentions of these and other former leading members of UMNO-BN, the last thing the Pakatan Harapan coalition or the citizens of Malaysia need right now, is to risk accepting allegedly reformed deserters from this defeated and disgraced regime, lest they re-form and threaten the new government.

Exactly eight years ago, I suggested in a column entitled ‘From Putrajaya to Putrajail’, they should be hauled into court and, following a fair trial, of course, be sentenced to years in the UMNO-BN.

*DEAN JOHNS, after many years in Asia, currently lives with his Malaysian-born wife and daughter in Sydney, where he coaches and mentors writers and authors and practises as a writing therapist. Published compilations of his Malaysiakini columns include “Mad about Malaysia”, “Even Madder about Malaysia”, “Missing Malaysia”, “1Malaysia.con” and “Malaysia Mania”.

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


aysiakini.

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Language, Civilisation, Politics, and Malay Chauvinists


November 1, 2018

Language, Civilisation, Politics, and Malay Chauvinists 

by Dr. Sharifah Munirah Alatas

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Since 9/11, global scrutiny turned to contentious concepts such as terrorism, mono-polar, bipolar, superpower, economic and cultural imperialism, as well as linguistic colonialism.

It is the latter which is the subject of this commentary because it has stirred harsh, aggressive and sometimes, amusing reactions in the media (local, regional and global), as well as in Malaysia’s recent parliamentary sitting.

A few days ago, Parliament was entertained by the rantings of a particular opposition MP who claimed that English is not an intellectual language. Among the many incoherent sentences that were uttered, he cited examples of ancient civilisations and conquerors, attempting to rationalise that, “English is not an intellectual language that develops the mind and brain”. He also confidently pontificated that “modern economies like Japan, Taiwan and non-English speaking Europeans do not use English in their journey to become developed nations”.

I hope this issue commands the attention of most Malaysians because for a multi-cultural, multi-religious, economically-developing and relatively-peaceful nation, we need to separate the “wheat from the shaft”.

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Linguistic colonialism or imperialism as a concept is a derivative of Edward Said’s conceptualisation of cultural imperialism (in his two famous books Culture and Imperialism, and Orientalism). I doubt, though, that the recent local uproar about the use of English as a medium of instruction of a few subjects in school is based on any knowledge of Edward Said’s work.

Nevertheless, anti-English language crusaders keep creeping out of the woodwork because it seems fashionable. It is glaring that all of these narratives to date have been devoid of historical context. And this makes for extremely wimpy analyses.

Image result for Hasan Arifin, BN’s MP for Rompin

UMNO Intellectuals

Hasan Arifin, BN’s MP for Rompin, is not alone. There are many in Malaysia, among the public, government and elite who feel that English is being “deified”. They also believe that English speakers never created great civilisations. Leaving aside that this notion is erroneous, it also begs the question, “what is a great civilisation?”

In my  understanding, a great civilisation is based on a network of cities (territories) comprising cultures that are defined by the economic, political, military, diplomatic, social and cultural interactions among them.

So, the Roman, Spanish, Arab, French, British and Chinese (with their various dynasties) were great civilisations. How did language then become the signature dish, so to speak, of that civilisation?

Through these empires, languages spread and shifted in dominance. In the past, empires spread their influence through their armies, and after the conquests, so began the social and linguistic assimilation. Between the 3 BC and 3 AD, the Roman Empire was bilingual — Latin and Greek. This was because the Romans knew that Greek was a language of prestige, philosophy and higher education — an “intellectual” language.

Spain succeeded in making over 20 sovereign states today, that speak Spanish, excluding millions of Spanish speakers in immigrant communities in other non-Spanish speaking nations such as the United States, Canada and the Philippines.

Castillian Spanish became the most important language of government and trade. It was the lingua franca of the Spanish empire, a derivative of Latin. Latin was still the “intellectual” language of the Spanish and of the Church.

The Chola Dynasty was one of the longest, most civilised empires in the history of southern India. Tamil and Sanskrit were the official languages.Tamil and Sanskrit are two distinct languages, the former being Dravidian and the latter being an Indo-Aryan language. As we can see, all three great civilisations were bi-lingual.

In 21st century Malaysia, however, we are faced with a backlash of a-historical pundits who reject the ebb and flow of civilisational change, yet advocate for national progress and development.

Let me educate them on the current position of English in the world today. First, it is an intellectual language. The British Empire, between the reigns of Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II (1588-1952), had about 250 million English language speakers. English achieved unique conditions of development. The large continents of North America, Africa and Asia were colonised with industrialisation and trade in mind.

Global conditions at the time facilitated the transition towards the flourishing of English in previously French and Spanish colonial territories of North America and Africa. Due to abundant natural resources and human capital in these regions, the wheels of commerce and trade helped to “deify” (not my word) the English language. English was “at the right place, at the right time”.

Today, all civilisations are enriched by the ideas, thoughts and knowledge disseminated world wide in English. Of course there are other languages that perform this function, but English is predominant.

Second, people like Hasan Arifin and his supporters cannot distinguish between modernisation, Westernisation and imperialism.

Modernisation is the development and application of current and innovative science in the development process of all sectors of society. Westernisation is a process subsumed under modernisation when specifically-Western notions of what it means to be modern are accepted as universal values of modernisation.

Many aspects of Westernisation should not be accepted as modernisation. Imperialism, on the other hsnsd, is the process of domination of policies and ideas with a specific agenda in mind. In history, imperial powers have imposed power and influence through diplomacy or military force.

I think the current discourses in France and India of a “linguistic imperialism” are far-fetched.  Like Westernisation, there is good and bad imperialism. It is also era-specific.

In the 21st century, military and economic powers like the US, China, Great Britain, Japan, Germany and Russia do not mirror the same imperialistic goals of the World War Two era.

Anintellectual, would realise that the need to master the English language is hardly the imposition of an imperialistic agenda.

The inadequacy of the historical-context approach is dangerous for nation building. A system oiled by pseudo-intellectuals who run the policy-making machinery will be suicidal for our “new” Malaysia.

My advice is to be firmly grounded in historical processes, be up-to-date with current economic and socio-political trends and subdue ethnocentric tendencies which are embarrassing and underdeveloped.

Critics of the English language quote China and Japan as being ignorant of the English language, yet they challenge the US and other great powers economically and militarily. It takes more, however, to become a global hegemon.

Anti-English crusaders in Malaysia believe religiously that China and Japan, despite their incapacity to speak and write in English, have reached a level of global economic hierarchy that threatens US and other major power positions. However, even this notion is skewed.

China, for example is known as “the factory of the world” and “the bridge-builder of the world”. But China’s global hegemonic status is in doubt because it lacks the capacity for economic reform, to minimise economic inefficiencies and it has proven inadequate at reforming the financial sector in order to provide investors with consistently profitable returns (the failure of Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port construction is a case in point). Therefore, the issue of language does not figure in the equation.

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

 

People voted for a newer Malaysia, not racialised Politics 2.0


November 1, 2018

People voted for a newer Malaysia,  Ketuanan Melayu 2.0

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20th Century Mindset in A 21st  Century 4th Industrial Revolution Pluralist Era–The Kris Vs Technology and Innovation

“The voters in GE-14 voted for a new Malaysia. Equal opportunity in education, lessening of race-based politics, abolishing of tolls and whatever that was promised by the then opposition, the “Coalition of Hope” of the Mahathir-led campaign against kleptocracy and the materially, morally and ideologically corrupt regime of Najib.

At least that was the promise which then turned into a primarily false one, leaving the voters feeling lied to and short-changed”–Dr. Azly Rahman

Opinion  |
by Dr. Azly Rahman*

COMMENT | As we read about the “Operasi Lalang 2.0” or “Weed-Out-the-Corrupt Campaign of the New Regime” at play and in full throttle as in the McCarthyism of our cultural sensibility, as we see more leaders hauled up to be tried for grand theft, money-laundering and for bankrupting and corroding society, we ask: what next in this metamorphosis and game of political karma we are to see?

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All these against the backdrop of talks of the third car project, crooked bridge, political-party border-crossings, renewed demands to strengthen Malay rights, postponed promises, and to rebrand fundamentalist Islamic identity in preparation for the challenges posed by the super liberals and the LGBT. What will the new coalition transform into in a country whose political parties are addicted to a race-based ideology?

Then, there is the crucial issue of a newer UMNO and newer BN emerging, with talk of 40 UMNO MPs crossing over to Bersatu. There was also the latest statement by a minister that Ketuanan Melayu will end soon, replaced by the idea of making every Malaysian prosperous. Then the idea was immediately repudiated by another minister, a former Deputy prime Minister in the regime of the Najib Abdul Razak.

I have a sense that the latest developments in the continuing chaos produced in PKR, the seemingly silent DAP in addressing the issues the party once opposed, the talk of a new Indian party, and, of course, the strengthening and enlarging of Bersatu – all this points not only to the emergence of a BN reloaded, a 2.0 version of Malaysia’s race-based politics.

I might be wrong. We shall observe the developments. We may even see more “Kajang Moves”, cross-overs, and more intense struggle for power within and amongst the coalition parties.

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The voters in GE14 voted for a new Malaysia. Equal opportunity in education, lessening of race-based politics, abolishing of tolls and whatever that was promised by the then opposition, the “Coalition of Hope” of the Mahathir-led campaign against kleptocracy and the materially, morally and ideologically corrupt regime of Najib.

At least that was the promise which then turned into a primarily false one, leaving the voters feeling lied to and short-changed.

The hope for the non-Malays, non-bumiputera to stop being treated as second-class citizens in the land called Malaysia they and their parents and grandparents, too, toiled for will not be realised after all. The rhetoric of today’s new Malaysia is the same old rhetoric of keeping the status quo alive.

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DAP is the New MCA?–The Silent Partner in Pakatan Harapan

This means that there will be no push for the idea of “Malaysian Malaysia” and equal opportunities in education, especially for all non-Malays. Hope buried. When the new coalition has transformed into a newer version of the old politics, the non-Malays can expect another five decades of racialised politics affecting the future of their children.

This is not a grim view of what I see developing. I am sure some of my esteemed readers, too, share a similar perspective of a hope for the triumph of multiculturalism dashing. Unless the Harapan government can, in unison, with consistency and as a policy, state its commitment to make Malaysia a place in which no Malaysian will be left behind.

Where are we heading?

Back to Umno and its sudden death. The talk about more UMNO MPs leaving for Bersatu is of concern for those who voted for hope and for real change.

But what will replace UMNO in this time of a “new Malaysia” in which race and religion continues to be the strongest force for the current regime as well, to continue policies inspired by her own apartheid system of divide and conquer with wealth, power, hegemony, and ideology as the hybrid of authoritarianism, continue to glue the still-cognitively unliberated society?

The question remains: what kind of Malaysian Malaysia do we wish to see? How will a rebranded Umno be an obstacle to this?

The key to dealing with any rot from happening is to educate for change. If the change we wish to see is for a Malaysia for all Malaysians, education, as the only means for a sustainable cognitive, cultural, personal and social progress should be the one taking lead.

When politics continues to travel the trajectory of ethnocentrism and only pays lip-service to multi-culturalism and the restructuring of society through a philosophy of education based on a truly Malaysian reconstructionism, we will fail as a people.

Education needs to step in and correct the political conveyor belt, changing course. As it is now, we are not seeing the Ministry of Education committed to producing such a change to reverse the major aspects of discrimination in the various levels of schooling. The issues of class, caste, race, religion and privilege is not addressed systemically.

Like many, I am concerned with the disjuncture between politics, education, economy, and national unity. There is an unhealthy development in the way party-politics is moving.

Our concerns may turn into fear of yet another wave of chaos as parties and followers and consumers of ideology and real and fake news alike prepare for another general election that will only bring stagnancy, not change.

Where are we heading? What then must we do to drum into the new regime that race-based politics should no longer be allowed to rear its ugly head?


*Dr. AZLY RAHMAN is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books available here. More writings here.

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

The Malays in Business–Summing Up


October 21, 2018

The Malays in Business–Summing Up    

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

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Dr. The many soft barriers to Malay participation in commerce such as our poor quality of human capital and inadequate financial capital are at least correctable. Build better schools and have credit facilities a la Grameen’s micro-credit, for example.

Others are more problematic. The World Bank’s 2014 Report places Malaysia among the top ten in terms of ease of starting a business. However, ask a Malay would-be (or any small) businessman on the obstacles he faces, and you get a different picture.

The Bank studied only major corporations with their lawyers, accountants, and consultants. If you are a hawker dealing with City Hall, Kuala Lumpur, be prepared for the “hassle” factors. Witness the annual circus for its Ramadan stalls. The government is doing everything to discourge Malays at this most basic level.

I cringe whenever I see overzealous Bandaraya enforcers evict hawkers and destroy their stalls. We should be nurturing their enterprising spirit. If they are blocking traffic, provide alternate spaces. If their standard of hygiene is appalling and poses significant public health dangers, then supply portable water, cheap power, and help improve the physical facilities.

If they are successful, the government would save in not having to pay for their welfare. They would also not be tempted to protest on the streets. Their would then employ their teenage sons, reducing the Mat Rempit menace. Most of all they would gain self-respect.

Another elemental enterprise is driving taxis. Malaysian taxi drivers are at the bottom of capitalism’s food chain. In addition to high operating costs, he has to lease the license from a politician, pay usurious interest rates to buy his vehicle, and pay retail for its maintainence. Imagine if taxi licenses were given only to owner-operators and they have a co-op and could enjoy fleet discounts for their cars and servicing. You would remove or reduce two or three layers of costs, thus enhancing their income.

When Malaysian policymakers think of grooming entrepreneurs, they aspire producing a local Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, or Jack Ma. Those are outlyers, the black swans of entrepreneurs. You cannot groom them; they are in their own class. Focus on simple hawkers and taxi drivers. Begin at this most elemental level where mistakes would be less costly and the consequences less damaging. If you begin with multibillion-dollar GLCs, you are courting disaster. Witness the still evolving 1MDB saga.

This urge to start or think big right away when you are ill equipped with respect to talent, skills, experience, or social structure comes in the way of grooming Malay entrepreneurs. There are others.

 

One is exemplified by a recent video clip going viral on social media of a Malay salesgirl at a convenience store refusing to scan a beer bought by her customer. Her excuse? Alcohol is haram. Her personal salvation was more important than doing what she was paid to do–attend to her customers. What a misguided interpretation of our religion. More startling, her superior, also a Malay, defended her! I had expected him to at least apologize to their customer.

When these obstacles are cited, they elicit smug smiles from non-Malays, confirming for them the many presumed deficiencies of Malay culture. This apparent cultural aversion to commerce is not unique unto Malays. In ancient China and Japan, traders and merchants were in the lowest social class. They did not produce anything, unlike farmers who were held second only to scholars.

Expectations too are important. Make it too rosy and you set yourself up for failure. Be too pessimistic and you discourage many from even trying.

Image result for Robert Kuok

 

 

Malay leaders endlessly exhort their followers to emulate the Chinese tycoons. “Be like them!” is the endless nauseating line. If Malays were to be reminded not of the Robert Kuoks and Vincent Tans, but those Chinese who early in the last century idled their time smoking opium, frolicking with prostitutes, and endlessly dreaming of Balik Tongsan, then Malays would have a more realistic appreciation of the hard work needed to be successful. Better yet, translate Robert Kuok’s biography into Malay!

Many Malay entrepreneurs failed because they assumed that securing the contracts, permits, and loans was all they needed. They were under the misguided impression that the hard part was over, when in reality it had just begun.

The crucial question arises. How did this negative mindset get embedded among Malays? Current “successful” Malay entrepreneurs and their policymaker enablers bear much of the responsibility for this virulent socioeconomic malignancy.

It afflicts not just small-time village entrepreneurs. In the early 1980s I was involved with a group of bright young Malay doctors in starting a group practice in Malaysia. They already had a thriving practice, and one of its leaders was high up in UMNO. He was the rainmaker, and a very productive one, securing major contracts from federal agencies, GLCs, and other big corporations.

I visited their facilities and was impressed. Their waiting rooms were packed. The government too was eager to support the group as it was among the few made up of mostly Malay doctors.

Beyond that favorable first impression I was stunned to discover that they had no formal agreement. Their working relationship was:  “We trust each other; we are Malays!” To make matters worse, the rainmaker was busy with his political aspirations.

To make a long story short, I did not join. That proved prescient. Shortly thereafter the key players left to set up competing practices across the street. Incredibly, they had no “non-compete” clause preventing them from doing so. As for the rainmaker’s political career, that too went downhill. He thought that running a group practice was simple–just get the doctors and the contracts!

Those bright young doctors were no different from the simple villagers as far as their business acumen or expectations were concerned. This is what I mean by the soft obstacles being much more formidable.

BERSATU They Stand: Bersatu, the new face of Ketuanan Melayu Politics?


September 29, 2018

BERSATU They  Stand:   Bersatu, the new face of Ketuanan Melayu Politics?

Image result for BERSATU

by S Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Our fight is a fundamental fight against both of the old corrupt party machines, for both are under the dominion of the plunder league of the professional politicians who are controlled and sustained by the great beneficiaries of privilege and reaction.” – Theodore Roosevelt

COMMENT | I just do not get it. There seem to be two narratives when it comes to this idea of a unity government. The first is about how Pakatan Harapan de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and his coterie are working in a sub rosa fashion with UMNO to form a unity government, while the second is about how UMNO is going, hat in hand, to Malay power structures in Harapan to cease being a “government in waiting.”

What I don’t understand is why people really think that the big bad wolf is still UMNO, as if it will be the catalyst that would down the Harapan regime. The existential threat to Harapan is not UMNO, but an ideology that paralyses any progressive destiny of Malaysia… Harapan needs a strong Malay mandate if they are to throw their weight around in a multiracial, multi-religious coalition, which they have never been comfortable with.”– S. Thayaparan

Both narratives are false because the reality is that a unity government is already forming. What I don’t understand is why people really think that the big bad wolf is still UMNO, as if it will be the catalyst that would down the Harapan regime. The existential threat to Harapan is not UMNO, but an ideology that paralyses any progressive destiny of Malaysia.

Hidup Melayu –UMNO’s Soul–has support of the majority of the Malay community

UMNO does not have to form a unity government with Harapan before the next election – because by the next election, there will be no UMNO. When the old maverick and now Harapan’s Dr. Mahathir Mohamad claims that UMNO is finished, it is not because the people voted UMNO out. The party still has support of the majority of the Malay community.

War of Attrition

What is going on now is a war of attrition within Malay power structures, which means that UMNO rats are abandoning ship and heading to other ‘Malay’ lifeboats.

Malay power structures in PKR and Bersatu have openly said they would accept UMNO into the fold. While they make weak qualifications of membership, the reality is that Harapan needs a strong Malay mandate if they are to throw their weight around in a multiracial, multi-religious coalition, which they have never been comfortable with. The old maverick knows this, and so do the political operatives – Malay and non-Malay – within Harapan.

PKR lawmaker Wong Chen , in dismissing the idea of a unity government, rightly pointed out that – “That question is best addressed to Bersatu because UMNO members are leaving to join Bersatu.”

People pay attention to the power brokers of UMNO jumping ship, but the reality is that UMNO has been haemorrhaging grassroots members to Bersatu, and to a lesser extent, PKR.

While PAS may have picked up some support because of the new anti-Mahathir feeling of some UMNO members, the biggest draw by far has been Bersatu, which is seen as the new face of Malay politics.

Bersatu They Stand

While some folks have no problem demonising Anwar for his apparent racial and religious politics, the fact is that Bersatu as the so-called champion of Malay rights and Islamic superiority is the main draw for people who want to abandon UMNO.

My reading of why Anwar is blathering on about race and religion is that because he understands that the Malay vote base is more comfortable with a race-based party like Bersatu, and not a nominally multiracial outfit like PKR.

Indeed, Bersatu benefits from Anwar’s and Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s rather silly pronouncements, because eyes are diverted away from Bersatu and the old maverick’s shenanigans when it comes to policy decisions, the Harapan manifesto, and the ambivalence towards the rising tide of Islamic provocations in this country.

Not to mention, the old guard of Umno who really did not like former president Najib Abdul Razak is working the levers ensuring that Bersatu is the main beneficiary of those exiting the former ruling party.

While Anwar may say that he has no fear of Mahathir and his personal relationship is good, his actions and those of his supporters betray the deep anxiety they have of the way the political terrain is shaping in this post-Umno reality.

So the old maverick does the needful and reiterates his pledge that Anwar would be the next prime minister. But you have to wonder if Mahathir is saying this amid talks of a unity government, doesn’t it just further the narrative that Anwar is impatient, which inflames the Harapan (non-Malay) base against his former protégé, because the majority of the Malay base is already skeptical?

‘Glory Days’

People who think that the destruction of UMNO is some sort of closure to the racial and religious politics in this country are fooling themselves. Beyond the urban centres where Bersatu and PAS are eventually going to have their showdown, the politics of race and religion will be the battleground. This will seep into the urban enclaves. It always does.

Back in the day, Dr. Mahathir, the current Prime Minister had no problem with the help of his non-Malay counterparts launching offensives against PAS, but at the same time, working the Islamic angle to his advantage.

Many UMNO supporters who are thinking of jumping ship tell me that what they see forming is a return to the old days, when the Chinese and Malays were “working together” under the great Mahathir. They see this as a return to the glory days. This is swell for them, but it was then that the roots of destruction of this country were planted.

Rational Malaysians should not buy into this propaganda of a unity government pushed by the political elites. The narratives that Harapan rejects any form of unity government, or that some in Harapan are working towards this aim, should be rejected.

Remember, the ‘Ketuanan’ system that many in UMNO find appealing has been replaced with the slowly forming pillars of BN Redux – “don’t spook the Malays” and “coming as close as we can to get the government to say those laws are wrong.”

The first is the foundation of the ‘Ketuanan’ system, which is what UMNO political operatives – and really, every mainstream Malay political operative – need to sustain political power, because they do not want to discover new ways.

The second is the compromise with non-Malay power structures, which is the easy power-sharing formula that worked so well at the height of Mahathir’s reign.

In the current climate, there will be more big-name casualties when it comes to the malfeasance of the Najib regime, and there will definitely be more defections – after a suitable period of contriteness of course – of UMNO members to Bersatu and PKR.

Anwar’s Port Dickson gambit will determine if he remains a player when it comes to this high-stakes Malay political game. But make no mistake, the unity government is already forming, and while the body of UMNO will be destroyed, its soul will find a new vessel.


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.