‘Billion Dollar Whale’ won’t exonerate Najib – and Shafee knows it

September 25, 2018

‘Billion Dollar Whale’ won’t exonerate Najib – and Shafee knows it


COMMENT | Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the lead counsel of former Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, affirmed last week that Tom Wright and Bradley Hope’s ‘Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World’ can strengthen the case of the defence.

The book apparently describes Low Taek Jho as the “puppet master” who led Najib into various fake and nefarious financial transactions with 1MDB, many of which are now hanging like the sword of Damocles over the head of Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor.

Since Low is the mastermind, the argument goes, all responsibilities of financial misdoings can be attributed to him. There is a huge flaw to this argument, and Shafee knows it.

In all cases of criminal breach of trust and money laundering, the deed has to pass through four vital stages. First, there must be the intention or plan to cheat, which is clearly manifested in 1MDB, since it was essentially a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that was meant to be a false sovereign fund.

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Low Taek Jho + FLOM Rosmah Mansor= 1MDB Scandal= Najib in Sungei Buloh

This SPV has had no business model from its inception in 2009. While it could pile on debt, even remove the whole board at will, it never come close to having any revenue-generating activities. Thus, the intention to cheat was inherent from the very beginning.

Secondly, there has to be a plan of implementation. The financial transactions in Dubai, Geneva, Hong Kong, Singapore and the offshore financial accounts in Seychelles and the British Virgin Islands, there was indeed a grand plan to transfer the money in and out of the global financial system.

Opening the door

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Shafee Abdullah should know that the buck stops at Najib’desk, or is he too dumb?

Indeed, if Shafee (photo above) wants to use the book by Wright and Hope to bolster his legal defence, then other sections of the book are equally illuminating.

The authors argue, for example, that without the seedy offshore financial system, Low could not have pulled off the world’s biggest heist. This was a white-collar crime of the utmost size and magnitude, that eventually brought down Najib and the whole government of BN government on May 9.


Also, criminal breach of trust and money laundering both involve implementation. Despite revelations on possible wrongdoing by MPs and various reports, it remained parked under the Finance Ministry. Throughout the whole process, there was no plan to unearth any evidence of wrongdoing, and no arrests were made.

Plus, it wasn’t just Low and his accomplices who enjoyed a wild life, but Najib and Rosmah as well, especially given their lavish lifestyle.

Lastly, if they could live beyond their means, it can only mean that they breached the ceiling of their spending powers many times over – especially since Najib, from the age of 23, was not supposed to benefit from any trappings of public office other than that which the government has provided.

Thus, the intent, planning, implementation and accomplishment were all there from 2009, only to be exposed more globally by 2015.

As far as Malaysians are concerned, the fall of UMNO and BN is indictment enough. But it helps if the courts can indict not just the mastermind and Najib, but every unsavoury character in the madcap charade that burned through public funds – the lack of which is preventing the new government from having the necessary financial means to help the country prosper immediately again.

Given the huge national debts and contingent liabilities of RM1.09 trillion, which is almost 80 percent of the GDP, it goes without saying that Shafee may not be cognisant of the sheer gravity of his client’s alleged crimes.

Little wonder that Shafee himself is being charged over receiving RM9.5 million to prosecute Anwar Ibrahim in 2014, whose guilty verdict has since been expunged from all criminal records due to a full royal pardon.

Shafee looks to be entering the wrong defence, precisely because he has zero options left. Using a book cannot exonerate Najib and his spendthrift wife any more than the salacious details of the book can be prevented from being known by the public.

It is all too late for the wolves of Putrajaya.

PHAR KIM BENG was a multiple award-winning Head Teaching Fellow on China and Cultural Revolution in Harvard University.

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

Shifting Alliances in the Corridors of Power

September 21, 2018


Shifting Alliances in the Corridors of Power


The Pathetic Inheritors of the Corrupt UMNO Najib Legacy

COMMENT | Former minister Nazri Abdul Aziz is now brazenly saying out in the open that UMNO’s best-case scenario for future prospects is to support and team up with Anwar Ibrahim.

More than any party here by far, UMNO is a collection of fat cats.They reached their heights of obesity and opulence by sitting in the free-ride comforts of a government they never imagined losing control of.

Quite simply, almost all UMNO leaders have absolutely none of the integrity, experience, gumption, skill, drive, motivation, diligence, intelligence, passion, know-how, fibre, endurance (you get the idea) or interest really, required for being an effective or successful politician outside of the federal government.

All the UMNO fat cats really want is a shortcut that will take them from the cold rain, in which they now shiver and starve, back into the warm government mansion they grew up in, to purr and preen in comfort amidst their never-ending gravy train.

The path Nazri seems to be advocating offers exactly that, and all they apparently have to do is to create enough friction between Bersatu and PKR, and make sure that Anwar becomes the prime minister.

As detailed in Part 1 of this article, Anwar could conceivably then dump Bersatu in favour of UMNO – especially if he starts to feel that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed may renege on his promise to hand over power.

Mahathir could of course react by calling for early elections. Perhaps it was in anticipation of such a scenario that Anwar started courting good relationships with the Malay rulers very early on, as a refusal by the palace to dissolve Parliament could complicate matters.

Mahathir taking pre-emptive measures?

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Needless to say, Mahathir is far too intelligent to let such an outflanking manoeuvre happen without a response, and calling for early elections is likely a last resort rather than the first line of defence.

I think this is the context of UMNO’s recent resignations – the post-Port Dickson timing of which could be no coincidence at all.

Not every UMNO person buys Nazri’s plan. Indeed, while most of the party members do favour the fat-cat shortcut back to power, there appears to be considerable differences of opinion as to which shortcut in particular is best.

The three main schools of thought seem to be: through PKR, through PAS, or through Bersatu.

Nazri is probably correct in pointing out that going through PAS makes pretty much no numerical or ideological sense whatsoever.

Image result for Musthapha Mohamad and Anifah Aman

Perhaps the likes of Mustapa Mohamed and Anifah Aman(pic, above) are leaning towards the Bersatu route.

This is an interesting response. If there is a sufficiently large migration from UMNO to Bersatu, this could basically make Bersatu the new UMNO in terms of their position in the coalition – a big, Malay party that everyone agrees will nominate the PM.

Splitting UMNO could also neutralise any effort by Anwar to use UMNO as a threat against Bersatu.

If large numbers of UMNO MPs join Bersatu, then the UMNO support may no longer be the same bargaining chip it currently is.

Then again, for all an outsider like me knows, Mustapa and Anifah could be the ones looking to join PKR.

Either way, those who have left clearly do not have faith in UMNO as a bloc, and appear to be seeking their futures elsewhere.

Two out of three

In summary, in this bizarre love triangle between Bersatu, PKR, and UMNO, almost any two-out-of-three combination essentially produces a workable win.

There are a number of other factors, and/or radical possibilities.

DAP will obviously play a big role, while PAS, PBB, Amanah, and Warisan will play slightly smaller ones. Then there is the Azmin Ali factor.

Only while writing this article did the scenario occur to me: Especially if Azmin loses the PKR Deputy President’s race, what’s to stop him from defecting over to Bersatu?

This solves a number of different problems for both Bersatu and Azmin.

If the PKR elections go on in its current trajectory, the bad blood between team Azmin and team Anwar may be irreconcilable, and Azmin’s position within PKR may no longer be tenable.

Azmin moving to Bersatu would give the party a more viable succession plan with regards to subsequent PMs (a Goh Chok Tong to Mukhriz Mahathir’s Lee Hsien Loong perhaps?), and the numbers that could follow Azmin would also, again, help with Bersatu’s low-in-parliamentary-seats problem.

An exodus from PKR to Bersatu would be even bigger if Bersatu goes multiracial – further reducing the role or need for a party like PKR.

These battle lines are perhaps already visible in the copious amount of columns, blog posts, and viral Whatsapp messages that are either very strongly pro- or anti-Anwar, suggesting a consolidated and coordinated effort.

The race factor

Needless to say, all of this is speculation – and a somewhat sensationalist one at that.

For all I know, we could see a smooth transition to Anwar becoming the next PM, a stable rota system put in place to determine future prime ministers, and Harapan continuing just the way it is, happy as a clam.

Or, it could all be unrecognisable inside a year. It’s hard to say.

All these seismic shifts are potentially possible in large part because ideology has almost never played a big role in modern Malaysian politics.

The only vital and somewhat ideological question is how much of a factor race should be in Malaysian politics. This may come into play, say if Umno MPs need to decide which new party they want to support.

Perhaps some see maintaining Malay supremacy as the priority, a goal which can only be achieved by supporting Bersatu or PAS, while others may prefer the PKR route.

Other than that, Malaysian politics can likely be said to be dominated more by personality politics than anything else. It often comes down to which feudal lord one likes better.

Transforming incentive structures

Of course, just because this is the way it is, doesn’t mean that this is the way it always needs to be. Changing the incentive structures and the architecture of our political system could largely eliminate the need for many of the conflicts above.

One radical way to drastically cut back on inter-party conflict (such as Bersatu and PKR fighting over long-term stewardship of the PM’s post), is simply for all Harapan parties to merge.

Many would cite mind-boggling logistical difficulties (true, no doubt), and extreme resistance to the idea by conservatives.

If we think about it though, what function does having multiple parties in the coalition actually serve?

The old BN model was simple, for the peninsular at least. We have one party for one race. If you are Malay and have a problem, go see UMNO; Chinese, look for MCA; Indian, MIC.

It was devilishly simple in its concept, but simply devilish in the divided Malaysia it eventually created.

What about the realities of today? Do we want to follow the old formula? Malays see Bersatu, Chinese see DAP, and Indians can see the new Malaysia Advancement Party?

A merged party will still have leaders and elected representatives from every community that voters will likely find approachable.

True, little Napoleons will perhaps find themselves with less power, but wouldn’t that be a good thing?

It’s a bold idea that is unlikely to see the light of day, but regardless, I do hope we keep looking to radical solutions to blaze paths forward and leave behind the endless internal politicking that takes up far too much time and energy of Malaysian politicians.

After all, all the intrigue and speculation is somewhat entertaining, but don’t we have a new Malaysia to govern?

YESTERDAY: Future PMs: Many possibilities within Bersatu, PKR and Umno triangle

NATHANIEL TAN is eager to serve.

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

Malay anxiety, exclusion, and national unity

September 21,2018

Malay anxiety, exclusion, and national unity

A fragmented Malay society is making ‘Malay unity’ more urgent for those defeated by GE-14.

Image result for Rais Yatim


Mahathir the Disappointed Leader–Father

September 12, 2018

Mahathir the Disappointed Leader–Father


by Nathaniel Tan


COMMENT | Over the (very many) years, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed has kept a fairly consistent tone regarding what I suppose he might term the Malay Dilemma – a tone that we saw again during the recently held Future of Bumiputeras and the Nation Congress (KBN 2018), at the Bersatu anniversary,  and a recent interview.

I suppose I might term this tone that of the Disappointed Leader–Father.

I have this image in my head of Mahathir, himself a successful bumiputera, looking down and shaking his head while sighing, maybe face in hand, constantly disappointed at what he sees to be an endemic failure of his fellow bumiputeras to live up to his hopes and expectations.

We get the sense that Mahathir has a very clear idea of the kind of attitude and character you need to succeed as an individual and as a community, and that a big part of his persona seems to be having to deal with his view that the bumiputera do not live up to these standards.

Mahathir’s favourite counterpoint appears to be the Japanese, a fact reiterated by his recent visit to Japan and specifically named once again in the interview, where once he again he has held them up as the paragons of self-sacrificing patriots whose self-worth is tied to how diligently they can contribute to the betterment of their nation.

He then likes to ask: “Why can’t the Malays be more like the Japanese?”, in the same tone perhaps a dad would ask his kid, “Why can’t you be more like your older brother?”

Unhelpful comparisons

Mahathir’s other big go to, of course, is to compare Malays with other ethnic groups, notably the Chinese. A common theme of his seems to be something along the lines of the Chinese are successful because they are hardworking, and the Malays are not, because they are lazy.

“Mahathir’s sincerity is not doubted, and he has a great many strengths. Effective motivation, however, may not be one of them. His recent comments show that while he has changed in many positive ways, he still seems to rely on a certain amount of BN era fearmongering, his trademark sarcasm, and a degree of condescension.”

Most recently, at KBN 2018, Mahathir has taken this a step further:

Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad today questioned whether the bumiputera will be able to compete with a new wave of skilled and business-savvy entrepreneurs from China making their way to Malaysia.

Speaking during a dialogue session on bumiputera economy, Mahathir said the new wave of immigrants will be unlike early Chinese settlers in Malaysia – who were then mostly involved in small businesses, and whose children have now gained control of major developments in the cities.

“These are the Chinese already in Malaysia whose attitudes we can accept. But if we bring in three million more people from China, what will happen to us?” he asked.

“They are hardworking and skilled in business. The ones who are coming, they are not labourers, but those who are already successful. Will we be able to compete with them?” he said in response to a question on China nationals buying property in Malaysia.”

In the West nowadays, this kind of framing would likely be denounced as having considerable elements of racism. Sadly, the truth is that this rhetoric retains the culture of fearmongering perpetrated by UMNO over so many decades – a variation on the theme that the bumiputera are under constant threat by other ethnic groups.

Mahathir’s approach is marginally better in that his conclusion is not “Therefore you need UMNO to protect you” but “Therefore you need to work much harder.” Of course, this is not to say that Mahathir’s tone has not changed at all. He now says that it is foolhardy to blame other races for the shortcomings of the Malays. On the whole, though, we should ask: is this a truly helpful approach?

Has Mahathir’s approach worked?

Mahathir’s sincerity is not doubted, and he has a great many strengths. Effective motivation, however, may not be one of them. His recent comments show that while he has changed in many positive ways, he still seems to rely on a certain amount of BN era fearmongering, his trademark sarcasm, and a degree of condescension.

If you have ever been on either end of questions like “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” being repeated over and over, I think you know the ultimately negative end result – a lot of resentment, and almost never any actual change towards becoming like the said brother.

After all the years of Mahathir’s Look East Policy, do we actually see any significant movement of Malays or Malaysians adopting Japanese values? (Anime does not count.)

I am also most curious as to where this idea of letting in three million new Chinese nationals came from. Is this a thing? Or was it plucked from thin air, to be used as the convenient bogeyman?

It’s true that global competitiveness should always be a cause for concern, but bringing up the sceptre of some sort of invasion by foreigners who bear a striking resemblance to Chinese Malaysians in a Malay-only conference could easily be seen as striking the wrong note.

The dichotomy of the ‘successful’ Chinese nationals of today compared to the ‘inferior’ Chinese labourers from whom today’s Chinese Malaysians descended could also rub people the wrong way.

Inspire hope, don’t fearmonger

Some say that the biggest two motivators are hope and fear. One might have hoped that a coalition named Pakatan Harapan might be intrinsically inclined towards one instead of the other.

At the end of the day, Malaysians are Malaysians, and the Japanese are Japanese. Each has their strengths and weaknesses, and each can learn something from one another.

If, however, you keep expecting one to become the other – something they simply are not – only disaster awaits. Your children may be siblings, but they are each unique individuals.

Instead of constantly berating or belittling Malays with fearmongering, unflattering comparisons or sarcastic jibes at every turn, think about how you can motivate them positively.

It is good that we start addressing practices like Ali Baba schemes out in the open, but why not focus more on success stories? Highlight successful bumiputera entrepreneurs and how and why they succeeded. Use them as inspiration.

Sometimes all that is needed is the reminder that having only ‘becoming rich’ as the goal is a recipe for failure.

We need only look at the lives of successful Malaysians – from any ethnic group at all – to see that the right goal is to develop the attitude, character and habits that breed success, and that once that goal is achieved, riches come fairly easily.

Abandoning the racial lens

As a Malaysiakini commentator correctly said, it is in the interests of all Malaysians for Malays to be successful. That said, perhaps a big part of the problem is looking at it as a Malay or bumiputera problem.


Perhaps what we need to solve racial inequality, somewhat counterintuitively, is to stop seeing everything through a racial lens, and stop obsessing about comparing one ethnic group with another.

If, for example, you have never met a lazy Chinese, you simply haven’t met enough Chinese.

It’s not accurate to go so far as to say that culture plays zero role in the welfare of a community. Sometimes, historical factors such as living in harsh climates where saving for the winter is essential to survival, breeds a slightly different work ethic than living in temperate climates, where food is easily available all year round.

That said, any type of biological determinism is inherently unhelpful, and not relevant to the question of how we can best move forward.

Play to each individual’s and community’s strengths

People react much better to being inspired and encouraged than they do to being belittled or scared–especially when it comes to becoming self-motivated achievers. Every sibling has unique strengths and talents to contribute.

The role of the parent is to play to those strengths, encourage those talents, and help each child maximise their potential – on a road that they themselves determine.

Ultimately, helping each Malaysian achieve their unique potential is the single best way to help the Malaysian family as a whole.

The way to do this is to reverse this habit of public dressing downs and bemoaning, and adopt instead an approach that does not ignore reality, but acts on that reality in a manner that is less negative, and more one of positive encouragement.

NATHANIEL TAN is eager to serve.

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

Time for Malaysian Bar Council to act against Shafee Abdullah

September 11, 2018

Time for Malaysian Bar Council to act against Shafee Abdullah

by Malaysiakini

Arrogance is this outstanding lawyer’s Waterloo. I watched Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah in action during the Dato Ramli Corruption Trials. He was brilliant, earning the presiding judge’s respect and consideration.A man of his talent and legal reputation does not need the money. His gamble is likely to bring an end to his brilliant career as a prosecutor and defence attorney. –Din Merican

The Bar Council has been urged to take action against lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah for allegedly receiving RM9.5 million from former Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

“We urge the Bar Council to uphold the Rule of Law and to invoke the provisions stipulated in the Legal Profession Act 1976 and to take necessary action against Shafee inter alia, by lodging a complaint with the disciplinary board,” Perak DAP legal bureau chief Leong Cheok Keng said in a statement today.

Shafee purportedly received the payment for his services as special prosecutor in PKR President-elect Anwar Ibrahim’s appeals against his Sodomy II conviction in the Court of Appeal and Federal Court.

According to Leong, the Perak DAP legal bureau believes that Anwar may have been denied a fair trial as Shafee had not acted independently in the appeal, but for “financial or pecuniary interest.”

“An advocate and solicitor is duty bound, even when, or more so when, acting as a senior deputy public prosecutor to uphold the law, the dignity and the high standing of the profession at all times, and shall not practise any deception on the court and shall not accept a brief if his professional conduct is likely to be impugned,” he said. This is all laid out by the Legal Profession (Practice and Etiquette) Rules 1978, he added.

As such, he said he believes Shafee may have committed misconduct in his professional capacity, which amounts to grave impropriety and is subject to disciplinary actions by the Advocates & Solicitors Disciplinary Board.


On Sept 6, it was reported that the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AG-C) submitted “new information” to the Court of Appeal that showed Najib paid RM9.5 million to Shafee between 2013 and 2014.

The evidence was submitted by a special task officer to the attorney-general in an affidavit, which included transaction details of Najib’s and Shafee’s bank accounts. It also included a copy of two cheques from Najib dated September 11, 2013, and February 14, 2014, to Shafee for RM4.3 million and RM5.2 million respectively.

However, Shafee has since responded to this, admitting yesterday that he received the RM9.5 million from Najib, but that it was merely part of fees owed to him for legal services rendered to Umno and BN since the 1990s.

Shafee also alleged that it was Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who had pushed for him to be appointed special prosecutor in Anwar’s trial.

In 2010, Anwar was charged and tried with sodomy for the second time, this time involving his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

The High Court in Kuala Lumpur cleared Anwar of the charge, but the prosecution appealed, this time with Shafee being put in charge as special prosecutor.

The Court of Appeal then overturned Anwar’s acquittal in 2014, which was reaffirmed by the Federal Court in February 2015.

Anwar received a royal pardon for the conviction in May. He had argued at the Kuala Lumpur High Court that he was denied a fair trial because his prosecutor had received payment from Najib. The appellate court is set to hear his appeal on September 14.

UMNO’s Stagnant Pool, Contaminated Bottom Feeders and the Malay Psyche

September 10, 2018

UMNO’s Stagnant Pool, Contaminated Bottom Feeders and the Malay Psyche

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

The occasion of the recent launch of the book, Anatomy of an Electoral Tsunami jointly written with Terence Netto and Cmdr S. Thayaparan provided questions and issues which should be of interest to a larger public.

Image result for An Electoral Tsunami  in Malaysia

According to the Guest of Honor, Tawfik Ismail, the defeat of UMNO in GE-14 was because the party had become a stagnant pond of water breeding only bottom feeder fish.

Image result for Tawfik Ismail

In his speech which he subsequently elaborated to the media, he described UMNO as having no inlet and no outlet. “In such a pond, fish which are of beauty cannot survive, all that can survive are the bottom feeders.”

Tawfik argued that UMNO,  founded in 1946, ended in 1988 during the political crisis when the High Court ruled that UMNO was an illegal party.

“It (UMNO) had actually died in 1988, it was killed off. So ….we need to keep that in mind when we talk about why the tsunami changed things,” he said in reference to the recent election.

Since then he noted that by voting in the old guard as leaders during the recent party elections, the same mentality was still at work. “At the moment UMNO is directionless. They don’t have any ideology or new ideas that attract young people. They are feeding on themselves. They are a self-supporting group.”

He said the party remained the same post GE-14, was still filled with bottom feeders and [they] have not changed their approach to politics.

“The garbage that’s coming out doesn’t inspire much confidence in the species which is now the Opposition,” he commented, “with race and religion still being harped on”.

 Can UMNO Escape from the Stagnant Pool?

 Tawfik is no ordinary UMNO member or leader. As noted in my speech thanking him for gracing the launch, he is the son of a great Malaysian, Tun Dr. Ismail who played a key role in our early nation building. He was also a former parliamentarian in the Sungai Benut constituency in Johor from 1986-90.

 I pointed out that Tawfik himself in his own way has tried to shape UMNO and Malaysia for the better. An advocate for a secular, open and multi-racial Malaysia, he belongs to that small group (perhaps generation is a better term) of UMNO leaders who could have brought a different leadership and change to the party and nation.

 Can a similar group of moderate, secular and more multi-racially oriented UMNO leaders emerge to lead the party to regain the trust and respect of Malaysians? Can UMNO escape from the noxious and fetid pool it is trapped in?

Tawfik provided no answers or clue to this poser during his presentation.

 UMNO’s Role in the Creation of the Malay Psyche

I had no knowledge of what Tawfik would speak on at the launch. Neither did he have any  inkling as to what I would be touching on in my presentation.

But as it turned out, my prepared speech was a partial elaboration of Tawfik’s concerns with a slightly different tack.

 In it I noted that high-level corruption and economic excesses and crimes are among the easiest of the improprieties and legacy of the BN regime that the PH government has to deal with.

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 More resistant to remedying are the policies, programmes and mindsets, which the country’s state apparatus and most institutions of Malay dominance in public and private sector life (educational, media, professional, socio-cultural organisations, religious bodies, etc) have propagated to a largely captive, and passive, audience.

As explained in a recent article by Fathol Zaman Bukhari, editor of Ipoh Echo:

“The Malay psyche is not something difficult to fathom. It is the result of years of indoctrination (brainwashing) by a political party that is long on hopes but short on ideas. Fear mongering is UMNO’s forte because the party believes that Malays are under threat. That their religion and their sultans are being assailed and belittled by imaginary goblins and make-believe enemies … Anyone other than a Malay and a Muslim is considered unworthy to assume any sensitive appointments, which are only reserved for Malays. But on hindsight, it is the Malays who have let the nation and their own kind down.”

In the introduction to the book, I had argued that “it is this less easily definable, less financially quantifiable, but more ubiquitous, and ruinous feature of nation-building directed and manipulated by the previous leadership for the last 60 years, which needs to be contended with and purged of its negative and toxic ethno-religious content if the new Malaysia is to have any chance of succeeding.”


Fathol Bukhari  mentioned Najib and his UMNO clique as those who have let the Malays and the nation down.He was being politically correct and polite.

 Lest we underestimate the magnitude of the reform challenge, let us not forget that most of the present crop of Pakatan’s leadership – Dr Mahathir, Anwar, Muhyiddin, Mukhriz, and others – have been among the supporters or leaders of the indoctrination movement in its diverse manifestation. They have been responsible for the Malay psyche, which needs transformation if the new Malaysia is not to remain a mirage.

 Recently, Siti Kasim, the extraordinary lady who is a columnist with The Star and the sole reason I buy the paper on a Sunday put out this challenge to the Malay leaders.

Without a change from the religious-centric environment the Malay society is currently in, and an education system that indoctrinates rather than enhance critical thinking, Malay society will continually drift towards the insularity of religious conservatism and away from progressive capabilities to succeed in the modern world. And population demographic with UMNO DNA will ensure that a progressive Government will eventually lose out.

Therein lies the real Malay dilemma. Would any of the Malay leadership be willing to change its society from a religious centric one to one that is progressive and modern in character? Do you want our Malay society to continue to regress and be uncompetitive? Do you want it to drag the rest of us down the road of conservatism and economic ruin?

As Malay leaders, do you placate or do you lead for change? How do you lead that change? I am sure Malay leaders and many others in the community must be sharing the same concerns and asking the same questions that Siti, Fathol, Tawfik and others are pursuing.


Low Hanging Fruit of Change

 Here is a suggestion I threw out to the audience at the launch.

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 Pluck the low hanging fruit of changing consciousness and transforming the Malay psyche. Use a strategy which does not need millions of dollars of consultancy funds, establishment of national councils that need 1 or 2 years to produce a report which is then seen as window dressing or put into cold storage.

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As a start, I suggested that the writings of independent Malay intelligentsia and intellectuals – Pak Samad, Syed Hussein Alatas, Rustam A. Sani, Kassim Ahmad, Siti Kassim, Zaid Ibrahim, Syed Akhbar Ali, Din Merican, Prof Tajuddin Rasdi, Mariam Mokhtar, Marina Mahathir, Zainah Anwar, Farouk Peru, Hishamuddin Rais, A. B. Sulaiman, Azly Rahman, Bakri Musa, Hussein Abdul Hamid (Steadyaku47), Dr. Syed Husin Ali, Dr. Syed Farid Alatas and others – be compiled and widely disseminated.

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As these writings are almost entirely in English, bring together an editorial group to translate to Bahasa Malaysia the selected articles and commentaries.

Print them in a bright and attractive magazine format – perhap 10 pages weekly – and leave this as a free handout where Malays and especially the youths congregate – 7-11’s, McDonalds, MRTs, LRTs, bus stations, university canteens, mosques and so on.

Also put them out in Bahasa, Tamil, Mandarin and other Malaysian languages in the social media.so that we can have a frank exchange and analysis of the Malay psyche – its positive and negative aspects as it pertains to nation building.

The second thing I would suggest is to take leaders of Malay political parties and NGOs, editorial writers and key staff from Malay media such as Utusan to the highways – Grand Saga, Lekas and Silk Highway in Selangor and elsewhere in other states – to spend time observing the phenomenon of Malay youth racing on the highways. I would also take them to drug addict haunts and other areas where Malay B40 and also where the Malaysian underclass live so that they are in touch with reality and can put their minds on how to deal with these social realities instead of engaging in diversionary or opportunistic rhetoric and politics.

 But even these may be measures too difficult to implement in our race and religion obsessed nation.