The ‘Level Four Boys’ have been suspected to be the real and actual ‘decision makers’ of the Government, since the creation of the office in 2003. They are now believed to have an unprecedented overpowering and absolute control of the Prime Minister of Malaysia, PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in the official capacity as the Chief Executive of the country and leader of UMNO, the ruling party.
The primary function of this Private Office of the Prime Minister is to assist the Prime Minister to do his job. It then grew so powerful that it actually undertook a lot of decision making process influences previously provided by agencies like the Economic Planning Unit, Manpower Planning Unit and at times Cabinet itself. Of course, some of top party decisions are also undertaken by this team.
The ‘Level Four Boys’ is a term first introduced by the Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in his speech dedicated to criticize PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah and his administration at a closed-door event. The event was organized by Malaysia-Today at Century Paradise Club, Taman Melawati, Ulu Kelang on 22 June 2006.
It was in reference to the ‘inner circle’, comprising of his son, Dato’ Kamaluddin Abdullah, son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin and close personal aides such as Dato’ Ahmad Zaki Zahid, Dato’ Kamal Khalid, Dato’ Dr. Vincent Lim Kian Tick, Dato’ Wan Farid and a few others.
Many speculate the overwhelming ‘influence’ these thirty-something gentlemen possess. With top British university education and grossly lack of experience and exposure (especially macro-management), they are often coyly referred to as, “Budak tak kerin’ idun” (wet behind the ears) by Tun Dr. Mahathir. Somehow, the real far-reaching effects these young men have on the decisions by PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah, is really both strategically and tactically damaging.
It was Dr. Vincent Lim and Zaki Zahid who influenced PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah on the decision to cancel the “Scenic bridge-replacing the Johor Causeway” in March 2006. Then, these duo, also concocted the blue-print of the mega project South Johor Economic Region (SJER). It has since been renamed twice, as Iskandar Development Region in November 2006, and last week, Iskandar Malaysia. It is deemed that Iskandar Malaysia is a comprehensive development program to benefit Singapore strategically, allowing contraband from nations such as Israel, to be channeled into this region of 240 million Muslims, via Johor Bahru.
Iskandar Malaysia is now being seen as the beginning of the demise of the New Economic Policy as PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah long time mentor, now made IDRA Advisory Panel Chairman former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam made the announcement in Johor Bahru March last year.
Zaki was said to have sat with PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah at the many Khazanah Holdings Bhd. special briefings to the Prime Minister. He is said to be the one who asked the many questions transpired after each briefing. Holding such a strategic position and having a very close ear to PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah, he led to the Proton scandal of disposing highly valuable MV Agusta to highly elusive and mysterious Gevi S.p.A for one Euro and Husqavarna (one of the brands under MV Agusta) was then sold off to BMW Motorcycles last year for a whopping Euro 93 million price tag.
The National Automotive Policy, which is the systematical and structured program to see the slow demise of Proton, was actually put in place by Zaki, with the help of his long time buddy Omar Mustapha Ong of Ethos Consulting. The duo were also instrumental in the giga economic development corridor humongous masterplans of Northern Corridor Economic Region, Eastern Corridor Economic Region, Sabah Development Corridor and Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy. The implementation and deliverance of these giga proportion economic development projects is thought by many to be highly doubtful.
Khairy Jamaluddin is said to have brought Air Asia’s boss, Tony Fernandes, to the Seri Perdana Complex for a private briefing with PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah on the weekend before the Malaysia Airlines Rationalisation Plan was announced. Suspiciously, Malaysia Airlines had to give up its entire domestic route (plus Rural Air Service) except for nineteen to AirAsia. This program saw an immediate redundancy for over 3,500 loyal serving airline professionals. Khairy’s close association with Fernandes was finally revealed when the latter joined ECM Libra as a director and shareholder, after Khairy made the announcement to sell of his stake in the recently obtained a universal stock broking license for the now capitally and resource enlarged firm.
Khairy, who had left the Prime Minister’s Office as the Deputy Chief Secretary in August 2005, was actually brought in to a special briefing on Singapore to the Prime Minister by Foreign Minister Dato’ Seri Syed Hamid Al Bar. The insistance of his stay in the meeting was, “Khairy is an expert on Singapore”. Khairy’s personal affiliation of Singapore is so apparent that since PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah ascended to Premiership, the bi-lateral relationship with Singapore had never been so close. So much so, even Malaysian Government and Khazanah are emulating and adopting ‘The Singapore Way’ of doing things, et al; including their terminology, “Government linked company” (GLC) in exchange to previous used “Government controlled company”.
Conveniently, at the ASEAN Head of Government meeting in November 2005, held at KLCC Convention Centre, Malaysia as the chair and host, led a charge against Myanmar in the pressure for ‘democratization’. This is very much favourable to the West, and was previously, a Singapore’s crusade within ASEAN. Malaysia, as a founding member defied its own policies and breached the fundamental ASEAN principle of “Non-interference in domestic politics” policy. In short, Malaysia saw a shift in foreign policy since Khairy came into the main administration scene.
In December 2005, when asked by The Star, on the proposed merger of ECM Libra and Avenue Capital, which directly involved his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin, PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah conveniently answered “I don’t know, I am not involved”. There is a serious breach of several explicit provisions within Securities and Companies Act, as Khairy, obviously, had vested interests in the high-powered but dodgy deal. Protests by the Minority Stockholders Watchdog Group against several issues in the merger were conveniently ignored by the Securities Commission. Until present, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee had not resolved the findings to his highly talked about scandal, especially within the capital market practitioners.
Recently, the sixteen-page private letter which Wanita UMNO Head, Dato’ Seri Rafidah Aziz had sent to PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah as a post-election reaction. The letter somehow found its way to Khairy’s mother, Datin Rahmah Abdul Hamid, and the former got a surprising earful from the latter, via telephone.
Dato’ Kamaluddin Abdullah, the biggest shareholder of Scomi Bhd., has the most to gain. His company had a meteoric rise in the Malaysia corporate scene since five years ago. Recently, post 12th General Elections (PRU 12), after Tun Dr. Mahathir and Dato’ Mukhriz demanded PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah to resign immediately, and Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh Hamzah asked 18,000 UMNO branches to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), Tun Musa went to meet PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah at Seri Perdana. As a former ‘leader’ to PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah, Tun Musa was giving his two bits personal advice on current political situation in the private meeting, when suddenly, Kamaluddin stormed in and said to his father “What ever you do, do not agree to an EGM!”. The immediate reaction from Tun Musa was, “Who is the Prime Minister, you or him”, pointing towards Kamaluddin.
Kamaluddin was the organiser of the infamous Seri Perdana Merdeka Soiree, the week Malaysia celebrated its 50th birthday at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, Seri Perdana. An esteemed flock of high-powered Malaysians were the only admitted guests, plus some from abroad, to enjoy the R & B renditions of George Benson and Al Jarreau. The fact is that, since occupying Seri Perdana, the first family have not been having the average Malaysians as guests. Not even the traditional first day Hari Raya Aidil Fitri Open House, introduced during his predecessors’ time. The only time average rakyat were allowed access into Seri Perdana since five years ago was during Datin Seri Endon Mahmood’s passing in October 2005.
Of course, the issue of media control, is the real propaganda agenda which has been taken to task by the Prime Minister’s Office Media Coordinator Dato’ Kamal Khalid. Nowadays, the mainstream media editors get calls from this office more frequently than ever. Not only what were allowed to be published were discussed, the angle of the news and the photos to be used were instructed and selected. Surprisingly, these spin effort were never really discussed with the Boss. For example, the weeks preceeding to his wedding with Jeanne Abdullah in June 2005, editors were instructed that the rumours cannot be raised during any media conferences with PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah. Conveniently, the sloppy Malaysian leader ‘let the cat out of the bag’, voluntarily.
The most recent incident took place, just before the PRU 12, PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah did something amazingly unprecedented as UMNO President and BN Chairman. In a meeting with UMNO Management Committee, PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah suddenly took over the prepared BN Manifesto. When asked by Rafidah “Lah, siapa buat BN Manifesto ni? Kita tak pernah tahu pun!“. Coyly, the answer was “Ini Zaki yang buat. He is very good, you know!”.
Time and again, PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah overtly vehement denied that his son-in-law, Khairy, was ever involved in his decision-making, be it in the Government, or the party. Since the famous TV 3 special interview, conducted by Bernama Chairman Annuar Zaini, no one in the streets actually believed him. Not even the folks in the boondocks, who have never in their lifetime had access to internet. When UMNO Pulau Pinang met up with PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah on rumours that certain unfavourable characters were to be pitted by BN as candidates in the state, his response was “Nanti saya balik, bincang dengan Khairy“.
Within this week, one of the Press Secretary Wan Esuriyanti was leaving her post. Khairy took to the task to interview Dato’ Ainon Ahmad, a former NST journalist, for the job. PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah’s trusts for his aides like Kalimullah “Riong Kali” Hassan, had actually propelled him on a self-destruction mode, prematurely.
The most recent controversial is the ’self-righteous populist’ direction PM ‘Flip-Flop’ is going, with regards to the Judiciary issue. Last night, he announced the reinstatement of gratuities and emoluments, ex-gratia, of the sacked Judges since the highly controversial but lawful ejection of Lord President Tun Mohamed Salleh Abas and four other judges in August 1988. It was almost an admission of guilt and will lead to endless further ramblings. It is still a mystery why PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah is willing to depart from the normal convention and thread along these ice-thin line which set a new irrevocable precedent, when it actually served no tangible value for the majority of Malaysians, who are actually non-chalant about this whole issue. The fact that Tun Salleh is the father-in-law of his son’s partner in Scomi, Shah Hakim Zain, is not quashing other speculations by skeptics of this odd move.
It is too apparent that the PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah has been grossly insulated from real information, and an over-reliance to the ‘Level Four Boys’ for the information all way through the decision making process. The decisions made had reached its overbearing level and inviting series of ‘mini rebellions’, within the society and system. An example never before in the 35 year history of illustrious service of Malaysia Airlines, did passengers feel so frustrated with delays and poor service of the once pride of the nation. Of course, the rate of the Police Force efficiency has deteriorated greatly, ever since the “Naked-ear-squat-in-lock-up” case, which also saw Malaysia made a totally unneccessary apology to China.
All these, were actually the most important factors why the rakyat decided to vote against BN. Blaming it on UMNO and BN’s fifth columnists was never the right approach, nor convincing enough. This is further topped by the continuous grossly vomit-level arrogance of, “We won big. We have a big mandate from the rakyat. Just eight short of two-third majority”, which will systematically drive the rakyat’s confidence and support away from UMNO and BN.
In short, the once respectable Cabinet Minister for his “pious and clean” outlook, is now being systematically destroyed and it is damagingly irreversible, by a small group of thirty-something, for his grave over reliance and morbid dependence on information and decision making process.