The NEP:”A Magical Touch” or Systemic State-Sponsored Discrimination?


February 9, 2017

COMMENT: The objectives of the Tun Abdul Razak’s  New Economic Policy (1970)  were (1) to eradicate poverty regardless of race and (2) to create a Malay Commercial and Industrial Community to eliminate the identification of race with economic function. It was intended to deal the root causes of  the May 13 1969 riots that shook Malaysia and promote national unity.

Image result for Malaysia's New Economic Policy

It was Tun Dr. Ismail Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak’s Deputy, who likened it to a golf handicap system to enable the Malays to compete against the more economically successful Malaysian other. It was  to  “serve as a temporary affirmative action policy with a 20 year lifespan but which now appears to have been extended ad infinitum.”(Lim Teck Ghee).

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad used it to create a UMNO crony capitalism and make the Malays beholden to the UMNO state for handouts. In the name of “democratization of education” our fourth Prime Minister also lowered university entrance requirements to enable Malays to attend our public universities, the consequences of which are quite well-known to all of us.

If the Malays are to compete in a globalized world, they must learn to be self-reliant and resilient in the face of adversity. Like my friend Teck Ghee, I feel that empowerment of the Malays, not dependence on UMNO handouts, is the way forward  in the pursuit of national unity.–Din Merican

The  NEP –“A Magical Touch” or  Systemic State-Sponsored Discrimination against The Malaysian Other?

by Lim Teck Ghee

Surely our well informed Royalty must also be aware of the collateral damage that pro-Malay bumiputra policies have had on governance, economy, social cohesion and race and religious relations. Surely Sultan Nazrin, with degrees from Oxford and Harvard, must be aware of the vast literature available, in English and the national language, of the downside of maintaining the NEP past its original shelf-life of 1990.–Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Recently the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Dr.Nazrin Shah, officiating at a religious discourse described the NEP (New Economic Policy) as a “magical touch”. The word “magic” is associated with the the power of influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces. It is a word whose synonyms include “sorcery, witchcraft, wizardry, necromancy, enchantment,the supernatural, occultism, the occult, black magic,the black arts, shamanism” and the like.

Image result for raja dr nazrin shah
Malaysia’s Oxford and Harvard Educated Sultan

The “magical touch” of the NEP which gave more opportunities for the Malays to participate in mainstream development and encouraged the growth of youths especially from the rural areas to have a strong foundation of race and religion. of course, did not come from the waving of any supernatural or magical wand, although some of the superstitious in the audience may believe it.

It was a human and politically-crafted public policy in the aftermath of the racial violence in May 1969 and it was intended to serve as a temporary affirmative action policy with a 20 year lifespan but which now appears to have been extended ad infinitum.

The assertion that the the NEP benefited Malay individuals and families and also injected a new confidence and pride into the Malays is also well-known and is incontestable. No one can deny that the younger generation Malays, especially women, “filled Malay secondary classes in bigger numbers, held high positions in their careers, especially in the public sector, enjoyed influence and underwent a cultural transformation, including in the workplace and home” as a direct outcome of the NEP.

But there were other ripple effects from the application of the “magic” touch which the Sultan did not bring to the attention of his audience. These effects – principally relating to the non-Malay community but also now impacting on the Malays – are also important and necessary to bring to the attention of those who continue to advocate it as the panacea for the ills and shortcomings of the Malay community.

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Such a critical, empirically-grounded ]and non-romantic analysis is especially necessary to emphasise in religious and Malay-centric fora that are held ostensibly to instill “Islamic values” of justice, moderation, equality, and the other ethics deemed as central to the practice of the religion; or during events intended to uplift Malay pride and self-esteem.

Who Lost Out With The NEP

That magic wand waved to secure the employment of Malays in the public sector and their accelerated promotion and advancement in it, as well as in other sectors, has required the suppression and holding back of other citizens in their employment, career and even life prospects, however deserving or qualified they may have been, simply on account of their minority ethnic identity. Enough has been written about this for so long that even the most out-of-touch or uneducated in the country is fully aware of it.

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UMNO-BN Election Gimmick?

The loss has not only been to the many hundreds of thousands of non-Malays who have had to make personal sacrifice or have been denied fair treatment as a result of a policy pushed down their throats to ensure ‘national unity’ and so that Malay politicians (and Royalty) can have what these dominant groups consider to be a fair share of the nation’s wealth.

The loss is also that of the nation as a whole.

Surely our well informed Royalty must also be aware of the collateral damage that pro-Malay bumiputra policies have had on governance, economy, social cohesion and race and religious relations. Surely Dr, Sultan Nazrin, with degrees from Oxford and Harvard, must be aware of the vast literature available, in English and the national language, of the downside of maintaining the NEP past its original shelf-life of 1990.

Sultan Dr.Nazrin who is also the Financial Ambassador of the Malaysian International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC) also said that Malaysia is always described as a modern Islamic nation which is developed, progressive, peaceful and moderate. According to him, “Islamic leadership in Malaysia is highly respected. The wisdom of the Malay leaders in implementing programmes for the development of the people and the country has been acknowledged throughout the world.”

OECD’s Damning Analysis

As Financial Ambassador, he would do well to read the recent Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Review of Innovation Policy report which categorially states that the NEP is among the causes of Putrajaya’s limited success in upgrading the economy through science, technology and innovation policies since the mid-1980s. The recently released Malaysia report noted that “[s]ocial equity rules associated with the New Economic Policy, affecting a wide range of domains including education and businesses, did not allow sufficient mobility of resources which, in the end, hindered innovation activities”.

The report also noted that the domination of government-linked companies (GLCs) and major family-owned conglomerates – all factors the Sultan should be very familiar with – have tended to block competition, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Finally the reported noted that “[e]ven the best initiatives have suffered from a lack of sustainable efforts, political interference or, in some cases, clientelism and corruption”.

The NEP and its successor policies need an open, rigorous and transparent stocktaking to ensure that the Malay community and other Malaysians do not continue to be led astray or become victims of an anachronistic, increasingly elite-favouring, corrupt and indefensible policy.

The magic has been long gone and will never return. Perhaps the Sultan’s next speech may see him provide some ideas on the replacement policy to the NEP.  Empowerment of the Malays, not dependence of UMNO handouts is the way forward  in the pursuit of national unity.

A Malaysian Trilogy


February 3, 2017

A Malaysian Trilogy

by Dr Chin Huat-Wong

PENANG, Malaysia — How does he do it? How does Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia stay in power despite allegations that he embezzled $1 billion from a sovereign wealth fund?

Corruption is nothing new here, but the scale and implications of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) affair are staggering. It may be the world’s largest money-laundering scandal involving a sitting head of government. The case is being investigated by authorities in at least six foreign states, including the U.S. Justice Department.

Yet there’s been no mutiny within Mr. Najib’s party, no vote of censure in Parliament, no mass protests. In both 2015 and 2016, tens of thousands of supporters of BERSIH, an electoral-reform movement, took to the streets calling for Mr. Najib’s resignation. But the demonstrations don’t seem to have loosened his grip on his party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), nor UMNO’s grip on Malaysia: UMNO has been governing the country in coalition governments for six decades.

Mahathir Mohamad, a former Prime Minister and former mentor of Mr. Najib who recently left UMNO, blames the political stagnation on personal patronage — or what he calls “animal feed.” Others blame it on disarray within the opposition, an uneasy assemblage of parties representing different ethnic and religious interests.

But both explanations place too much emphasis on agency among the elites and too little on structural causes. Mr. Najib remains in power because Malaysia has become an electoral one-party state and because UMNO has captured the Muslim-Malay majority by peddling communalism under the guise of promoting equality. The opposition has yet to find an alternative model on which to build a sustainable coalition for change.

In 1969, after UMNO suffered an unprecedented electoral setback, Muslim Malays’ longstanding grievances about their economic marginalization, a byproduct of British colonialism, devolved into widespread riots between the Malay majority and the Chinese minority. Two years of emergency rule followed.

Photo

Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia after delivering remarks at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Kuala Lumpur last month. Credit Fazry Ismail/European Pressphoto Agency

Abdul Razak Hussein, the first Prime Minister after the May 13, 1969 riots (and Mr. Najib’s father), approached multiparty democracy with great cynicism. He co-opted opposition groups into the governing coalition. He permanently abolished local elections, which had previously put opposition parties in charge of municipalities and given them standing to challenge the federal government’s authority. And his government tightened the sedition law to ban discussion of sensitive communal issues.

Most important, Mr. Razak introduced the New Economic Policy, a nativist plan to restructure the economy, then dominated by local ethnic Chinese and foreign capital. Muslim Malays and indigenous peoples of Borneo, together known as bumiputera, were given preferential access to education, employment, equity and homeownership. These groups soon came to dominate the fast-expanding bureaucracy and state enterprises.

The policy was a masterful move by UMNO to lock in support from Muslim-Malay voters, as well as fend off competition from the Islamist party PAS.

The system was reinforced under Mr. Mahathir’s rule, from 1981 to 2003. His government substantially privatized the economy, producing a new bumiputera capitalist class and more patronage networks. Mr. Mahathir tried to enhance UMNO’s legitimacy among Malays while further sidelining Pas with so-called Islamization policies — starting halal food certification, promoting Islamic courts and offering Islamic banking. He also sent political opponents to jail, shut down newspapers that challenged him and concentrated power in the prime minister’s office, weakening the cabinet, Parliament and the courts.

The combination of communalism and authoritarianism that both Mr. Razak and Mr. Mahathir embedded into the system over the years helps explain Mr. Najib’s resilience today.

In fact, Mr. Najib only survived the last general election in 2013 thanks to years of gerrymandering and the skewed allocation of seats in the national legislature. That year the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat secured only 40 percent of seats in Parliament despite winning 51 percent of the popular vote.

Dissenting voices have been increasingly harassed. In addition to the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is in jail on what many people believe are trumped-up sodomy charges, at least 18 opposition lawmakers have been investigated for or charged with sedition and other offenses since 2013.

Meanwhile, the affirmative action programs have stalled. Although they greatly reduced absolute poverty among Malays, they have done too little to raise their competitiveness. For example, Malays are overrepresented among unemployed youth with university degrees. Yet UMNO has deftly managed to exploit the policy’s waning effectiveness and even the prospect of its demise.

Malaysia’s first-past-the-post election system and the great concentration of power in the prime minister’s office mean that a change of the guard could happen suddenly and have sweeping effects. Playing on Muslim Malays’ growing fear that their dominance would be threatened if UMNO lost power and the bumiputera preferences were terminated, the party has doubled down on communal politics over the past decade.

Since the strong showing of opposition parties in the 2008 general election, ethno-religious controversies — over how women should dress, over who can say “Allah”, drink alcohol or touch dogs — have multiplied and intensified. UMNO routinely accuses opposition parties of serving Chinese or Christian interests to the detriment of Malays. When Mr. Mahathir left UMNO last year, a party leader accused him of being a “puppet” of the secularist and predominantly ethnic-Chinese Democratic Action Party (DAP).

The once-formidable opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat — consisting of Mr. Anwar’s centrist party, Pas and DAP — fell apart in 2015, largely because of disagreement over Pas’s proposal to harden Shariah punishments in some states. UMNO is now backing a bill Pas submitted to Parliament that would pave the way for such penalties. This rapprochement is a shrewd political move — a signal by UMNO that it is trying to preserve Malay-Muslim unity by strengthening the place of Islam in Malaysian politics.

What glues many Malays to UMNO isn’t just personal patronage, as Mr. Mahathir claims, but also, and much more so, communal patronage, reinforced by the system’s authoritarian features. UMNO’s affirmative action policies may have reached a dead-end, but even if the opposition hopes to transcend Malaysia’s ethnic politics, it simply cannot do so right now. It has few options ahead of the next general election, which is expected to take place by August 2018.

To win over communalist Malay voters, some people in the opposition want to woo PAS back. But that would mean agreeing to PAS’s Shariah project, which is what ripped the opposition apart in 2015 and remains anathema to many non-Muslims (and some Muslims, too).

Image result for Chin Huat--WongOthers, like Mr. Mahathir and his supporters, seem to be on a personal crusade against Mr. Najib and tend to downplay the system’s structural flaws. Not admitting his part in creating those problems may be a way for Mr. Mahathir to reassure Malay communalists — he isn’t kowtowing to the Chinese; the bumiputera preferences will remain — but it is already alienating some minorities and reformists. In any event, only bold institutional reforms could correct the system’s authoritarian and sectarian features.

Malaysia needs a wholesale political transformation, but it isn’t ready for one. Six decades after independence, true multiparty democracy is still a long way away.

SARAWAK Report: Rosmah and Najib Razak apply pressure on Thai Government


September 17, 2016

SARAWAK Report: Rosmah and Najib Razak apply pressure on Thai Government regarding Xavier Justo

Shock news from Bangkok has confirmed that the  so-called ‘holiday’ taken by Najib Razak and wife Rosmah in Thailand this week was no coincidence.

Wife Laura is distraught

Laura Justo

In a dramatic reversal, the Thai authorities have made a U-turn over a promised prisoner transfer agreement for Xavier Justo with the Swiss Government.

Under normal rules for prisoner release the star witness and whistleblower in the 1MDB/PetroSaudi financial scandal had been due to be returned to Switzerland on September 1st.

Informal assurances had already been given to the Swiss and US authorities that this was indeed the case and that only a few formalities were needed and papers to be signed.

Then on August 31 there was a sudden delay. Diplomatic whispers explained that since Najib was due to visit in early September it would be polite not to dominate his visit with headlines concerning his global kleptocracy case.

However, Laura Justo told Sarawak Report that she feared the Malaysians were pressurising the Thais to keep this embarrassing witness in the 1MDB case from testifying to global regulators against Najib and his former colleagues at PetroSaudi.

Her fears now seem born out. The formal meeting to secure the transfer had been postponed till today (September 16), just after the Malaysian couple had left.  However, Justo’s lawyers confirmed that the papers were now all ready to be signed for his immediate transfer, already delayed under the inter-country convention on prisoners.

There was never any doubt Rosmah would fight this release

The Justo family had made a decision to lower their profile during this sensitive period to allow formal procedures to take place. However, there was increasing concern that the desperate tactics they had already experienced at the hands of the Malaysians and PetroSaudi, now in centre frame for the world’s biggest ever kleptocracy case, would again come into play.

“They were there [in Thailand] to use every influence they had, power, money, sweetheart deals and cooperation, to get the Thais to hold on to Justo. They played the same game with Singapore. They are willing to sell out their country’s interests to save their skin” explained one observer, close to the family.

Laura Justo went public on the circumstances of her husband’s arrest and conviction in July. She explained how PetroSaudi operatives had blackmailed him into a forced confession and had boasted they had “paid everyone in Thailand” to get him arrested.

The British Director of the company, Patrick Mahony, has further admitted in a recorded conversation that behind him it was Najib who was directing the operation because:

“A Prime Minister of a country is in deep shit because of him [Justo]”

But Malaysia’s first couple and their entourage, who refuse to accept they are not all powerful and protected by impunity are still using every power they have to fight through and cement their grip on the situation.

Phoney excuses

Sure enough, today Thailand presented a U-turn to the Swiss authorities, whom they had earlier assured that all was proceeding with the transfer.

“Because of all the delays in releasing him and the recent amnesty the Thais are now saying that Xavier now has just less than a year left to serve, which means he apparently can’t be transferred! This is a complete turnaround on their previous commitments and they are playing games” wife Laura Justo has told Sarawak Report.

“My biggest fear is that the Malaysians will try and take this a step further and extradite him under some kind of legal pretence” Laura added.

Thai officials have now further warned Justo’s lawyers that despite there being ‘less than a year to serve’ there could be several months of delay after the end of the sentence before he can be released, because of ‘paperwork delays’!

Najib’s game plan to stay in power against growing coalition

Jho Low joined Rosmah and Najib in Thailand

Najib has changed his strategies by the day to keep power in the face of increasing exposure over 1MDB.

First, he lied and organised the jailing of Justo in Thailand. He then persuaded a Saudi Minister to appear to condone a story that Malaysia’s stolen billions had been ‘donated’ from an anonymous Royal donor.

Now that the US Department of Justice has exposed the whole scam Najib seems determined to just bludgeon control in Malaysia as a growing coalition of political forces are joining from all sides against him.

The couple are now preparing to fight early elections in March and Najib is trying to bulldoze through a last minute further gerrymandering of seats to disadvantage already disadvantaged opposition politicians – the size of many opposition seats is now well over ten times those of BN held constituencies, which are located mainly in rural areas where the party believes it can control the outcome through ‘money politics’.

With this ‘mandate’ the desperate ‘first couple’ believe they will be able to sweep aside all protests over their billion dollar heists.

Council of War – Jho Low joined Najib/Rosmah in Thai retreat

The purpose of the extended visit in Bangkok was plain from the start, observers say. The Malaysian Prime Minister and his wife were there to offer whatever was wanted to the Thai leadership seeking cooperation on border controls.

Malaysia’s public money is also plainly on offer to smooth any consciences in a country which PetroSaudi Directors had bragged that ‘everyone’ can be bought.

Joining the couple in Thailand was none other than the fugitive 1MDB financier Jho Low, sources have told Sarawak Report.

Others linked to 1MDB, including Nik Faisal Arif Kamil, the executive still in charge of the former subsidiary SRC International, is also believed to have joined the council of war in Thailand. SRC borrowed RM4 billion from the pension fund KWAP in 2012 and has yet to produce a satisfactory account of where that money now is.  However, several millions have been traced into Najib Razak’s private spending accounts from SRC.

Nik Kamil is known to have now returned to his home in KL, which is believed to now be the safest place for known 1MDB fugitives from the international manhunt for key players in the theft.

However, Low, who is instantly recognisable in Malaysia, has not dared to returned to the country since he was exposed last year for stealing billions of the country’s development money on behalf of Najib.

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Sarawak Report has previously revealed that Taiwan and Bangkok have been his favourite haunts since then, although the financier also still retains his yacht, which recently returned to Hong Kong, where he is believed to be attempting to make a sale.

Putrajaya Apes (Primates) in the Year of the Monkey


February 10, 2016

Putrajaya Apes (Primates) in the Year of the Monkey

by Dr.M Bakri Musa
Morgan-Hill, California

Former Prime Minister Mahathir ( and he is no Prophet!) recently expressed his deep regret in having groomed the young Najib. Mahathir grooved the path for Najib because he (Mahathir) felt he owed a huge debt of gratitude to Najib’s father, Tun Razak, who “rehabilitated” Mahathir when he was in the political wilderness after being expelled from UMNO in the early 1970s.

It looks like Mahathir will carry to his grave not only his huge debt of gratitude to Razak but also the burden Mahathir had imposed upon the nation for being instrumental in Najib becoming Prime Minister.–Dr.M. Bakri Musa

Dr. M. Bakri Musa with Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz

I was visiting my old village near Sri Menanti, Negri Sembilan, recently and was struck by an unexpected but common sight. That is, the absence of any fruit trees or vegetable plots around what few remaining houses there that were still being occupied.

Such a scene would have been unthinkable during my youth. Then there were always nearly-ripe papayas or bananas ready to be picked for breakfast, and enough long beans in the garden or chickens scurrying around to fill a cooking pot should unexpected guests arrive for lunch.

On querying my few elderly relatives who were still there and loving the serene kampong lifestyle, they replied that the monyets and keras (monkeys) have descended from the jungle to destroy everything, including the chickens. Those monkeys have become so brazen and aggressive that my relatives now fear for their safety.

That is one of the many consequences of our having destroyed the primates’ natural habitat through illegal logging and replacing it with the hostile monoculture plantations of rubber and palm oil. Like displaced people, those monkeys are forced into the kampongs to survive and unleash their frustrations. Meanwhile those loggers and planters luxuriate in their new wealth oblivious of the burden they had inflicted on those monkeys and poor villagers.

Back in the city I read the daily papers, only to discover that marauding monkeys of another kind have also descended on and ravaged Putrajaya. The year of the monkey began early in Malaysia.

The havoc wrecked by the keras in the kampongs are readily visible and the damages they inflict potentially recoverable. The critters too could also easily be scared away by letting those villagers have shotguns.

Not so with the primates of Putrajaya. The damage they inflict, while not readily visible, appearing only on the computer terminals of banks and other financial institutions, is nonetheless no less devastating, if not much more so. Worse, it is being borne not only by citizens of today but also generations to come.

Already scholarships for some of our brightest students are being withdrawn for lack of funds. They are our next generation of talent, their dreams crushed at the last minute through no fault of their own. What a loss to the nation!

At least my relatives in the kampong are smart enough to be aware of the menace posed by those monkeys. By contrast many Malaysians, in particular the Malay elite, hold their chief monkey marauding in the nation’s capital and plundering the country’s wealth as the Prince of Putrajaya, perverse though it might seem to the rest of us.

Such an obscenity and the perversion of our values are possible only because the Malay elite holed up in Putrajaya and elsewhere have abandoned their souls. They have unabashedly sold theirs. Their price is pathetically cheap; the leftover crumbs that fall their way after their chief monkey has satiated his gluttony.

When confronted with their chief monkey’s continually changing and contradictory “explanations” to rationalize his gluttony, those little monkeys around him would insist that they have not sold their souls rather that they have merely “loaned” or “sacrificed” them to their “beloved” chief monkey.

Well, monkey see, monkey do. When they see that their chief monkey being “exonerated” upon returning the money it had earlier stolen, the little monkeys around soon get the message. That is, if you get caught stealing, then return the loot, or make a pretense of it. Then it would not be considered a wrong or a crime.That is the new ethics of those Putrajaya monkeys.

They also have a new religion. That is, if they steal something and not get caught, then the loot is halal. Likewise, if they are caught and then returned the loot, then they have not committed a dosa (sin)

With the loot that they have acquired, if they still harbor a tinge of guilt or remorse, they could “cleanse” themselves by undertaking the Hajj or Umrah, just to be sure.What a mockery of our great faith of Islam! Today our monkey chief has sold, oops, “lent” his soul to the Arabs; tomorrow it would be the Mainland Chinese. Who will be next?

The philosopher HAMKA related a story of the Prophet (pbuh) who encountered a sad young man in the mosque one day. When asked as to the cause, the young man replied that he was deep in debt and unable to repay it.  He now feared for his life.Whereupon the prophet advised the young man never to be fearful of another mortal. We should fear only Allah.

There are eight ways in which we put ourselves in fear of our fellow human being, the Prophet(pbuh) counselled the young man. For brevity as well as relevance, I will mention only the last one.

We put ourselves in the grip of others by being indebted to them. Ah Longs instill fear and dread in their victims. We could spare ourselves such a terrible fate by simply not borrowing or being in debt. That was the lesson the Prophet (pbuh) imparted on the frightened young man.

Debts of money or material things are potentially repayable and you would then be freed from the bondage and carry on with your lives. You may have to work very hard to achieve that, but at least it is doable.

There is one debt however, that can never be repaid, the Prophet (pbuh) advised the young man, and that is the debt of gratitude. An ancient Malay saying reflects this wisdom:  Hutang emas boleh dibayar, hutang budi di bawa mati. A debt of gold is repayable, but you carry your debt of gratitude to your death.

Former Prime Minister Mahathir ( and he is no Prophet!) recently expressed his deep regret in having groomed the young Najib. Mahathir grooved the path for Najib because he (Mahathir) felt he owed a huge debt of gratitude to Najib’s father, Tun Razak, who “rehabilitated” Mahathir when he was in the political wilderness after being expelled from UMNO in the early 1970s.

It looks like Mahathir will carry to his grave not only his huge debt of gratitude to Razak but also the burden Mahathir had imposed upon the nation for being instrumental in Najib becoming Prime Minister.

Najib in turn owes a huge debt of gratitude to the Arabs for their generous “donations” before the last elections, and to the Chinese for currently bailing out 1MDB by buying its generating plants and other assets.

I could not care less what burden Najib would carry to his grave, but I am concerned with the huge burden he has imposed and continues to impose on Malaysians of today and on their children and grandchildren.

The keras in my old village could easily be gotten rid of by giving those villagers rifles. Getting rid of the monkeys of Putrajaya is more problematic.

If only Najib would really emulate Razak


January 18, 2016

In my reaction to Robin’s article below and since my views on Prime Minister Najib Razak are already well known and documented, I quote, good friend, Dr. M.Bakri Musa as follows:

In Najib we have an individual full of fluff, blissfully unaware of the fury he has unleashed, and totally incapable of handling the ensuing wreckage. He is, to borrow Nazri’s less-than-elegant phrase, a “rah rah” leader, reveling in his (Najib’s) own Pollyannaish fantasy.–M.Bakri Musa

If only Najib would really emulate Razak

by Robin Augustin

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Really? The PM says he strives every day to live up to his father’s legacy, but talk is cheap.

Last Thursday’s Special Commemorative Seminar on Tun Abdul Razak was a boon for Malaysians too young to have experienced the leadership of one of the country’s great statesmen.

The event started to a packed hall, with those who worked with him or knew him in some way paying glowing tributes to our nation’s Second Prime Minister, recalling his dedication to his responsibilities, his uncompromising hold on principles, his sincere concern for the downtrodden, and his humility.

Soon it was the turn of the great man’s son, Prime Minister Najib, to speak, and you could sense members of the audience straightening up in their seats.

Of course, Najib said what everyone expected him to say. With a choking voice and tears welling in his eyes, he spoke of Razak as his great inspiration. He said that he, as Prime Minister, strove every day to live up to his father’s legacy and to continue his work.

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There was no doubt that many in the hall were touched. Perhaps it was they who left soon after Najib did, leaving the hall half-empty. But Najib’s teary-eyed speech got an opposite reaction online, with many netizens speculating that the tears he shed were crocodile tears.

Who are they to make such a judgment? Surely it’s not surprising that anyone recalling memories of his late father would be filled with sadness. It isn’t fair to doubt the sincerity that produced the tears. However, when it comes to Najib’s declaration that Razak’s leadership was an example for him and that he strove to continue to do his work, that’s a different story. His track record says otherwise.

Razak did not want the vast emergency powers granted to him through the National Operations Council in the aftermath of the May 13 riots, and he sought to restore parliamentary rule.

Najib, on the other hand, has pushed through the National Security Council Bill, which will grant the council, headed by himself, sweeping emergency-like powers at the expense of the rights of citizens.

Razak was uncomfortable holding the finance portfolio as Prime Minister because it went against the principles of checks and balances. Najib doesn’t seem to have any qualms holding both portfolios and more.

Most of all, Razak, as told by those who knew him, was a man who put the interests of the nation ahead of his political interests, a man who would not compromise on principles and a man who did what was right for the country instead of what would ensure his continued hold on power.

Can the same be said of Najib? It is admirable to emulate a great leader like Razak, but talk is cheap.

Malaysia: Time to be your own Man, Mr. Prime Minister Najib Razak.


January 17, 2016

COMMENT:  I will re-title Jocelyn’s article “Forty Years in Politics–Time to be your own Man, Mr. Prime Minister Najib Razak”. 

Of the 6 Prime Ministers, Najib is the first chief executive of our nation to rely on his illustrious father, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein to bolster his much shattered image. His forty years in politics have come to nothing, given his performance as our Prime Minister since taking over from Tun Abdullah Badawi in 2009.

He let many people who pinned a lot of hope for change including me down. No matter what Jocelyn chooses to write to re-image the man, I do not see how Prime Minister Najib can recover from being perceived as a weak, dishonest and lying politician. He excited the nation with his 1Malaysia concept and other early initiatives, which I thought were consistent with the promise he made to me in 2010 at the Maybank Malaysian Golf Open held at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and  Country that he would make Malaysia great again.That is what a leader is expected to do. In stead, he became a politician of the worst kind Malaysia has seen since Independence in 1957.

Tunku Razak and Hussein

I do not know what motivated him to play dirty”Cash is King” politics and smear Malaysia’s image to the rest of the world right before our very eyes. Not for power. I think. Because he has awesome power which he inherited from Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. He used that power to outwit his political opponents from within UNMO including the  Tun and his faction, and  subdue his critics in the Opposition and civil society. Maybe it is greed, cynicism, and arrogance.

I do not need to defend my statement that Najib abused power with impunity since the evidence  is clear for all of us to see, despite all the cover-ups. Here is Malaysia’s astute politician who could have used the  power of his office for the greater good of all Malaysians and become a truly progressive leader. In stead, he has used race and religion and state coffers to divide and rule the nation and mismanaged the economy.

Jocelyn quoted UMNO leaders who are sycophants and cronies to praise him. Her article could have been more balanced and  accurate if she had interviewed ordinary citizens who are victims of his failed economic policies and divisive politics. It is true that Najib’s smart politics is working for him. He may be “UMNO’s marathon man and also the great survivor given the way he swam to shore after a ­tumul­tuous 2015.”But for how long?

Durability comes with competency and integrity, both of which are sadly lacking in Prime Minister Najib. If he possessed there qualities, he  could have been his own man and not depend on Tun Razak’s goodwill. Stop shedding crocodile tears.  –Din Merican

Najib’s Marathon Journey

Dato’Seri Najib Tun Razak will mark his 40th year in politics next month, a journey that he embarked on following the death of his father Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.

IT has been a nostalgic week for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.The media has been brimming with ­articles and documentaries about his late father and Malaysia’s second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.

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Malaysia’s second Prime Minister was one of a kind. He rose to power on the embers of May 13, his policies were bold and impactful but the candle burned out too soon. He was only 53, in the hot seat for barely six years when he died of leukaemia in London on January 14, 1976.

Najib, the eldest-born, has been quite ­central in the string of events ­commemorating the 40th anniversary of his father’s death. His emotions bubbled to the surface and he teared up when paying tribute to his father at a seminar on Thursday. It was probably a combination of sentimental and filial feelings as well as a certain realisation of the journey he has traveled in his father’s footsteps.

At 63, he has outlived his father by a good 10 years. He has also outlasted Razak as Prime Minister. Najib will mark his own 40th year in politics next month.Razak’s death was an immensely sad and poignant junction in the lives of his wife Tun Rahah Noah and their children.It also pushed Najib into the world of ­politics. He was then only 23. It was unlikely he had politics on his mind but he was the firstborn and was expected to rise to the occasion. He took over as MP for Pekan after winning the seat without a contest.

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February 21 will be 40 years to the day of the start to his political career. Politics can be such a ruthless game and it is amazing he has survived this long. His more visible contemporaries from back then include Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, 78, and Lim Kit Siang, 75.

Najib has often told his close political ­circle that politics is a “marathon run”. If that is so, then he is UMNO’s marathon man and also the great survivor given the way he swam to shore after a ­tumul­tuous 2015.

Every single one of those 40 years in politics has been spent in positions of some responsibility and power. He was immediately appointed a deputy minister in 1976. In 1978, he contested a state seat within the Pekan parliamentary area and went on to become the Mentri Besar of Pahang.

There had been a crisis between the palace and the then Mentri Besar who had to resign and Najib was a timely ­solution. His ties with the Pahang palace is still as smooth to this day and that says a lot about his finesse with regard to the Malay Rulers.

He first mentioned his four ­decades in ­politics at the UMNO General Assembly last December. “It was his way of telling us that it has been a long journey, with lots of ups and downs,” said Kapar UMNO division chief Dato’ Faizal Abdullah.

It was not a sentimental message but a pointed reminder to his ­audience and ­particularly to those trying to topple him that he is no pushover.As one political insider pointed out, Najib is a product of the system. It is in his blood, he knows where all the nerve points are, and which buttons to press.

But Najib has often pointed out that throughout his career, he has only contested a post when it became vacant. He has never tried to topple an incumbent.“He went up step by step. He knows the terrain, he is very experienced and he has seen it all. That’s why it is not easy for anyone, including Tun Mahathir, to take him on,” said Faizal.

It took Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim a mere 11 years from the time he became Permatang Pauh MP to become Deputy Prime Minister.Najib was born with a silver spoon in his mouth but it took him 28 long years to become Deputy Prime Minister and ­another five years to reach the top post.

But nothing in all those years could have quite prepared him for his annus horribilis in 2015. It was terrible being the target of attack by the once formidable Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad but he made it through.

There are basically two ways to remove a sitting Prime Minister. One is via his party and the other is through a vote of no ­confidence in Parliament.In Najib’s case, UMNO stood by him, the powerful division chiefs rallied around him and the endorsement he received at the party general assembly in December said it all. On top of that, he has the numbers in Parliament.However, Dr Mahathir and also the 1MDB issue have damaged him in a way that no one else could.

Although Dr Mahathir has backed off somewhat since the rationalisation plans for 1MDB were put into place, UMNO politicians think the elder man is merely waiting for the next opportunity to attack. The perception in UMNO is that Dr Mahathir no longer cares whether his attacks on Najib will also bring down their party or Barisan. The chasm between the two men is beyond repair.

Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is a great admirer of Razak, was invited to speak at one of the events commemorating Razak’s legacy. But it is understood that Dr Mahathir was not invited to any of the events, which is quite sad because Dr Mahathir and Razak enjoyed a certain political bond in their time. Razak had brought Dr Mahathir back into UMNO in the 1970s and the latter had ­conti­nued Razak’s legacy of development ­during his premiership.

The irony is that surviving Dr Mahathir has also strengthened Najib’s hand in UMNO.“When politicians survive this kind of ­crisis, they come out stronger than before because they would have defeated or ­eliminated their key opponents and ­enemies,” said a former Putrajaya official.

The best example is Dr Mahathir himself. His political might grew each time he ­defeated or axed those who were against him such as Tun Musa Hitam, Tengku Razaleigh and Anwar.“Those who were predicting Najib’s demise last year did not realise he is such an ­experienced party man. He understands the UMNO psyche. At the end of the day, as long as the party is with him, he will be there,” said a long-time friend of Najib from his days as UMNO Youth chief.

Najib’s political longevity is also thanks to the political network he established during his years in the Youth wing. He continued to cultivate them even after he moved up the party.

Recently, he was seen visiting PAS ­President Dato’Seri Hadi Awang in IJN. But he had gone to IJN specifically to visit Johor ­politician Dato’Nasir Safar who was also hospitalised there.

Nasir is from his old UMNO Youth circle and he was one of those who stood by Najib last year. Najib is not a touchy-feely person but they held hands as they posed for a photo.“He remembers names and, without fail, he will have a buka puasa every year for our batch. Any of our friends who passes away, he is the first to go and he will find out if the family needs any help. The friendship is there even after so many years. He looks out for them, they go the extra mile for him,” said his old UMNNO Youth friend.

This network of friends and allies forms an important part of his support base.It is what the above political insider calls the “batch system”. They rise together as a batch and when he is in danger, they are there behind him.

Dr Mahathir and the 1MDB issue almost did Najib in but his 40 years of experience held up. Some of his friends in UMNO refer to him as the “tai chi master”, in the sense that they had not anticipated many of his survival moves. In any case, he outmanoeuvred the old maestro.

And now that the party is in calmer waters, some of the UMNO division chiefs joke that what Najib went through in 2015 was reminiscent of the movie, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

The title of the movie comes from a Chinese idiom in which the tiger and dragon refer to concealed danger and people with hidden skills, and the idiom is often used as a reminder to never underestimate anybody.Najib’s annus horribilis is over. The year 2016 will present a different kind of ­challenge as he grapples with the economy.

Forty years and a second lease of life – that is more than any tiger, dragon or politician could ask for.