Dr. Clive Kessler remembers Nik Aziz bin Nik Mat (1931-2015))


February 22, 2015

Dr  Clive Kessler remembers Haji Nik Abdul Aziz bin Nik Mat (1931 – 2015)

http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2015/02/16/remembering-tok-guru/

alfatihah-nik-aziz

We go back a long way together, Tok Guru and I. To the beginning, each of us after his own prior apprenticeship, of our ensuing public careers in our closely intertwined fields of work.

Two synchronous starts

His work, that is, of pursuing and exemplifying an identifiably “traditional” and committed Islamic life within the modern political world; and mine —— born of a conviction, held against the grain and bias of prevalent academic attitudes at the time, that efforts such as that of Nik Aziz to “make Islam real in modern political life” needed to be understood —— as a scholarly analyst of and commentator upon such things.

I was convinced that the new, and newly assertive, politics of Islam within, and even against, the modern world had to be studied, not dismissed as a mere relic of an earlier, now waning pre-modern political era. He, on his part, believed that that kind of Islamic politics needed to be pursued and deepened. Both of us took the matter seriously, and each of us was committed to his own part of that task.

The two parts were complementary, but not symmetrically so. His side of the challenge did not need me or mine; my part made sense, and could only exist, in relation to his.

Our careers came together as they began. As we began those two public journeys and careers, he as a noted Islamist politician and I as a student and observer of Islamic politics, in Kelantan in 1967.

By then I was at last getting down to the project of field research that I had begun to think of in about 1962: a ground-level village-based anthropological study of the sources of the then unusual, even paradoxical, mass support that the Islamic party PAS had managed to mobilize and retain in Kelantan from shortly after Malaya’s achievement of national independence.

In 1959, PAS had dramatically won —— at the expense and to the great discomfort of UMNO and its Alliance Party coalition —— 28 of the 30 seats that then comprised the Kelantan State Assembly. In defiant opposition to the national federal government, PAS had captured state power in Kelantan.

And, after many delays and setbacks, I was by July 1967 beginning what was to become about two years of field research centred in Kelantan’s Bachok district, leading up to and beyond Malaysia’s fateful 1969 elections.

1967, a busy year for PAS

And 1967 was to be a big year for Islamic politics in Kelantan. PAS had survived the 1964 elections, held at the peak of Indonesia’s Konfrontasi against the new, expanded Malaysian Federation, and, though with a significantly reduced majority, retained its control of Kelantan. But, with its improved position, UMNO was now hopeful of defeating PAS, and “seeing it off” from the national political scene, at the next elections due in 1969.

This guaranteed that politics in Kelantan between the two rival parties competing for popular Malay support (and the political credibility and legitimacy that it provided) would, in the interim, be keenly, even tenaciously, contested.

The entire Malaysian opposition, especially the parties of the radical left, had been accused (notably in a government “white paper” entitled A Plot Exposed) of sympathy with and complicity in Indonesian confrontation and —— based upon the connection of PAS through its President, the pre-war radical leader Dr. Burhanuddin Helmy, with the “old Malay left” —— PAS too was under enormous pressure. In him, the radical or “populist nationalist” side of the PAS leadership was “put out of play” and detained as a risk to national security.

Meanwhile, the more Islamically-minded (or “ulama”) side of the PAS leadership had also been dealt a savage blow from which it had not yet recovered. The party’s pre-eminent Islamist political intellectual, Ustadz Zulkifli Muhammad (born 1927), rising from his connection with the new Kolej Islam in Kelang, and while serving as the federal MP for Bachok, had been killed in an automobile accident in 1964.

The party had fallen into the crisis custodianship of the Islamically educated radical nationalist Kelantanese politician, Mohamad Asri bin Haji Muda (1923-1992).

As 1967 began, the religious side of the party’s leadership was, if not in disarray, then in eclipse. There was a gap there be filled, an opportunity to be seized.

Two more events in 1967 were soon to shape dramatically the political contours of Kelantan and PAS. First, in July, the “firebrand” PAS MP for Pasir Mas was murdered outside the PAS headquarters in Kota Baru. There were murmurings of political conspiracy, but personal animosities may well have been the main motivation. A heated by-election was held to replace him.

No sooner was that by-election completed than the member for Kelantan Hilir (or “down-river” Kota Baru), one of the old PAS ulama (religious scholars) also died, and in November a by-election was held to replace him.

The candidate that PAS, somewhat surprisingly, produced was Nik Abdul Aziz bin Nik Mat, a well-known and widely respected religious teacher in the area but, until then, not a man publicly identified with PAS.

On the contrary, he came to PAS candidature from his previous employment as a co-ordinator of programmes of rural extension (“adult education”) religious teaching offered by the UMNO-led federal government through Kemas, the Jabatan Kemajuan Masyarakat (or Department of Social Development), generally seen as a kind of government-housed UMNO rural outreach instrument. All Kemas employees, it was assumed, were either explicitly pro-UMNO or else decidedly neutral and non-political.

With his emergence as candidate, Nik Aziz —— to the surprise of many, since he had been a conscientious but politically undemonstrative servant of Kemas, but amid grumblings about disloyalty and deception from some UMNO functionaries —— declared his true political colours and allegiances.

Starting gradually, Nik Aziz, or simply “Tok Guru” as people would come to refer to him, over the following years became a major political personality in Kelantan, a high-profile PAS identity nation-wide, and a powerful force and focus of the reassertion of the ulama presence and their power within PAS.

Nik Aziz and Bachok politics, 1968-1969

From the time of his election to parliament and as the 1969 elections approached, Kelantanese politics became increasingly heated. Partly this heightening of tension reflected national-level developments, as Malay discontent grew and found expression in agitation over such issues as Malay as the national language, education policy, and the obstacles to Malay bumiputera economic advancement.

But it was also in response to local, village-level developments too. In Bachok district it certainly was. In 1968 the State Assembly member for North Bachok died, and another by-election had to be held.

As I have noted elsewhere, “In this, the third by-election caused within a year by the death of a PAS incumbent in Kelantan, the UMNO was again eager to capture a PAS seat and thus promote a flood of defections to its side before the approaching general elections of 1969. Though it had twice increased its share of the vote in PAS strongholds, the UMNO had been denied the dramatic victory it sought. Rating its chances better in North Bachok than in the earlier contests, the UMNO decided to pursue victory aggressively” (Islam and Politics in a Malay State: Kelantan 1838-1969, Cornell U.P., 1978, p. 151). And it proved brutal.

UMNO deployed enormous power and resources in this third contest, now concentrated within a small, state assembly constituency area. It brought to bear a full range of government instrumentalities, an enormous government-provided “war-chest” to fund offers and inducements, and overbearing social pressure as well.

Humble villagers were approached on a near daily basis by teams of UMNO operatives and “grandees”, who sought politely to “win their hearts” but also socially to cajole, shame, humiliate and overwhelm them. To pressure them to say, just once, as a way of getting some relief from the sustained onslaught, that, yes, they would vote for UMNO.

Once they did that, they would find it difficult, under unrelenting daily reinforcement, not to deliver their vote on the day; and, meanwhile, having promised to do so, they would often find themselves cut off and shunned by their fellow villagers who, having resisted such blandishments, still supported PAS.

And, when PAS people tried to persuade those who had wavered and wilted that they might still vote their own minds and consciences, they would find the prospective defectors surrounded and protected by young UMNO supporters and “enforcers” who were determined to keep the “new recruits” isolated from their own village friends and to keep PAS operatives away from them.

In these circumstances, interpersonal tensions rose rapidly, and soon escalated into overt violence. When that happened it was generally the UMNO side that found its position upheld by the Police, and the PAS partisans found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

najib-razak-Nik-Aziz

Things became very ugly. Especially in certain villages identified and targeted by UMNO as “ripe” for breaking open and capture.How was PAS to respond to this onslaught? It lacked UMNO’s vast material resources, its access to government infrastructure, and its ability to rely on police support.It could turn only to what we might term “moral resistance”.

To hold the situation, and hold their supporters together (and out of UMNO’s easy reach), PAS sent out to those “beleaguered” villagers a number of its religious teachers and ulama operatives —— not just for an afternoon’s pep talk but to stay and live with them, in their houses and villages, for days on  end, until polling day.

These men would stay with the PAS-supporting villagers, provide a focus of attention and activities, talk with them and tell stories, lead prayers, give religious lectures and offer personal assurance and advice. They came to be and also stay with their party’s local supporters, holding them together in tight social and political cohesion, bound together in exemplary Islamic terms by what many were ready to regard as “the rope of Allah”, of divinely encouraged Islamic solidarity.

The Nik Aziz political paradigm

Under the guidance of the party’s ulama emissaries, the Kelantan villagers came to see and experience themselves as part of the core drama, and moral paradigms, of Islamic politics and Islamic struggle, not just in Kelantan in the 1960s but at all times and places. They became, in their own eyes, true believers engaged, in full standing, in the defining drama and struggle of Islam itself.

As I have noted: “What had happened in their parish, they were instructed, was no obscure dispute in a remote village on the fringe of the Muslim world, but part of the whole fabric of Islamic history, woven from the warp of unending oppression and the woof of a responding intransigence. Islamic history was not simply the ancient, almost legendary events of distant Arabia, but a process in which, through unyielding commitment, they had participated on a basis of salvationary equality with all who have suffered for Islam. ‘What is Islam,’ mused one villager, ‘but a community of suffering? We here in our own way have been fully inducted into the ranks of the Faithful’” (Islam and Politics in a Malay State, p. 155).

And it was —— in the year or so following his election as Kelantan Hilir MP and based upon his experience as the programme organizer for the Kemas adult education and outreach activities —— Nik Aziz who conceptualized, devised, headed, developed and promoted those live-in ulama teams, their modus operandi and techniques. And what we would today call their persuasive “form of discourse”.

Nik Aziz did not just devise and personally oversee this programme of Islamically-informed “moral resistance”, of modern Malay politics in a locally accessible Islamic idiom. In doing so, he created or recreated himself as Tok Guru. As the prototype and archetype of the Kelantanese and Malaysian Islamic politician. As the persuasive template and identikit of the Islamic man of faith in action: not in the madrassah or in party political conclave but “out in the world”.

A lot of facile nonsense is uttered these days about “public intellectuals”. Well, Nik Aziz was something similar but also entirely different. And, of that specific social type, he was “the genuine thing”. He was the living epitome of the “public alim”: an exemplar of “ulama politics” who personally embodied and projected a powerful vision and doctrine about how the everyday challenges of Islamic politics —— of “being and doing Islam in the world” —— were to be faced as a single, coherent, ubiquitous and paradigmatic form of struggle.

How did he do it?

From Ustadz Nik Aziz to Tok Guru: it was a remarkable transformation or image “remake”.How did he do it? My answer to this key question comes not from talking to the man or any similarly close and privileged insight into him in those years but from observing him publicly. From watching and being fascinated by his presentation of himself and by his projection, through his austere persona, of his political outlook and message.

And I was not alone in seeing him as this often remote, aloof and ascetic yet compelling man or living symbol.  A leading international journalist who stumbled upon one of his political rallies in a Kelantan kampung during the 1986 national election  was similarly struck —— but in his published report greatly offended his admirers by likening Nik Aziz, his aura and demeanour to “Uncle Ho”, Ho Chi Minh.

It has become a commonplace for people to tell their stories of how modest, open and approachable —— often to their great surprise —— they found Tok Guru on meeting him.But, early in his public political career, I did not find him easy to approach. Though generally of gentle and withdrawn demeanour, he could be fierce, even terrifying —— especially when denouncing UMNO and inveighing against what he saw as the arrogance and abuses of those who represented it and projected it into village life.

In those days, to be honest, I suspected him of being a committed but quietly spoken fanatic. When our paths crossed, as they often did, in the Bachok villages, I suppose he wondered what I was doing there, suspecting that, whatever my purpose, I was (from his point of view) up to no good. And I also recognized that, given his politics and attitude to the kind of thing that I was doing there, he was probably right to think so. Hence I always felt awkward in his stern and forbidding presence.

So I did not pester or intrude upon him. I simply observed and listened to him, watchedKessler-C his “performative” social presentation of himself and attended closely to his words, their patterning, their subtly calculated and accumulating, even cascading, effects.

Until his election to Parliament in 1967, Nik Aziz was what was technically known at the time, via the standard Arabic term, as a mubaligh, meaning not just a religious teacher or “propagandist” but an exponent of balaghah —— of the arts of rhetoric, argument and persuasion.

Balaghah has always been a key component of the curriculum of the so-called Sekolah Arab religious schools in Malaysia, as elsewhere. Mastery of the traditional skills and art of public speaking and argument, of balaghah, has always been fundamental to PAS campaigning, and has long been the basis of its persistent ability to “out-argue” and “out-persuade” UMNO on the ground in kampung-level Malay politics. In its title, one famous prewar guide to Kelantanese argument characterized this verbal jousting as Tikaman Bahasa, as stabbing with words, or verbal dagger-work.

Ustadz Nik Aziz was a master of those verbal skills.  These, in his own case, had been further sharpened by his overseas studies, in this aspect more significantly at the formidable Dar Ul Uloom Deoband Academy in India than by his later studies at Al-Azhar in Cairo. As he now emerged as Tok Guru, he created and defined himself through their masterful deployment within the brutally uncompromising intra-Malay politics pitting PAS against UMNO in Kelantan in and from the late 1960s.

Rhetorical style and technique

When Tok Guru addressed a Kelantan village audience, he did not only speak in the local Kelantan dialect. He also adopted a “folksy” —— replete, elaborated and locally accessible —— narrative style. (Some insight into these processes is provided by Farish A. Noor, “The Localization of Islamist Discourse in the Tafsir of Tuan Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat …”, in Virginia Hooker & Norani Othman, eds., Malaysia: Islam, Society and Politics, ISEAS, Singapore, 2003, pp. 195-235.)

As he talked about, and drew political lessons from, the life of the Prophet, the stories that he told became “real” and immediately apprehendable in local terms, to local audiences. Related in a recognizably Kelantanese Malay “verbal register” and style, the struggles of Mekkah and Madinah centuries ago became recognizable to Kelantanese, in ways familiar to them.

This narrative technique not only had the effect of placing his Kelantanese listeners in the midst of the conflicts that shaped the Prophet’s career in Arabia; it also, as he told those stories in richly Kelantanese idiom and style, brought the Prophet and the whole cast of characters from his life-story into Kelantan. They became people just like the neighbours of these Kelantan villagers. It made sense in a new way to many Kelantanese, a familiar and recognizable Kelantan kind of sense.

This narrative technique produced —— as in that villager’s comment about the impact of the brutal North Bachok by-election —— a merging, a collapsing and folding together, that worked in two directions, not just one. It transposed the painful and harrowing conflicts of a small and remote Kelantan village into the heart of the Islamic world and experience, into the formative events and meanings of Islamic history. And, as presented by Tok Guru, it also brought that history, its events and validating meanings and messages to the PAS-supporting faithful in those far-off villages, making those struggles coherently graspable and endowing the lives of those caught up in them with rich Islamic meaning.

Sacred history and local anecdote became one. Ancient Arabia and Kelantan —— Mekkah and Madinah and Bachok —— were fused together by a unifying narrative. What was happening in Kelantan occurred, or so it was made to seem, in the same time, place and moral space as the careers of the Prophet and his companions. Accounts of their travails and triumphs were made to provide object lessons, parables, and instructive precepts and action-paradigms for Tok Guru’s listeners. He made what was happening in Kelantan seem a part, or a refraction, of all that had happened elsewhere at other times, notably in the life of the Prophet himself.

Mekkah and Madinah became, for Tok Guru’s listeners, places whose challenges were not altogether unlike those faced by them in their own villages and state. And, not that Tok Guru was in any way an image or model of the Prophet, through his example and words people felt they might begin to imagine how the Prophet might have lived and conducted himself.

It was powerful stuff, that, to be up against. If you didn’t believe it you had only to ask UMNO, whose more locally attuned leaders and operatives saw how hard this process was either to crack, on PAS’s side, or to replicate on UMNO’s. And how hard, in fact near impossible, it was for them to undo the profoundly adverse effects these processes had for UMNO’s hopes of ever winning and holding onto Kelantan by ordinary electoral means.

In this way, via Tok Guru’s artful balaghah, the Kelantanese were made to sit four-square within the formative and recognizable history of the ummah generally; and that history, centering upon the life of the Prophet —— thanks to his narrative ingenuity and agility —— was brought to bear upon and sit with them in the midst of their tribulations in confronting the massive and intimidating force mobilized against them by UMNO. Tok Guru brought these often demeaned Kelantanese into the paradigmatic history of Islam, and he brought that grand history to them, in locally comprehensible verbal and moral idioms, to clarify, dignify and in that way also to strengthen their struggle.

If Tok Guru could do this, could invoke and “make real” for these poor Kelantanese the very essence of Islam —— make it an immediate and almost palpable presence in their often deprived lives —— then who might possibly and plausibly deny that PAS, through Tok Guru, was making Islam real for them, literally making it “come to life” with clarity and compelling coherence, in their lives?

Certainly not UMNO, with its all too “political” politicians (so dramatically unlike the master “anti-politician” Nik Aziz) and its legions of politically ambitious and self-regarding party-religious ideologues.

UMNO leaders and operatives never quite grasped that, for the PAS-supporting villagers of Kelantan, the struggle of PAS was the struggle of Islam itself: not (as UMNO always imagined) because of some lies or misrepresentations or simply verbal tricks that PAS offered; but because experientially, in those unrelenting village conflicts and through the power of that narrative technique (identified above all with Nik Aziz), those villagers came experientially to “know” and become part of and “at one with” Islam through PAS. Hence they came to see PAS not just as toying with or “conjuring up” the presence of Islam but in fact representing it. PAS somehow made Islam real, for them, in their lives.

Focusing on Kelantan

Many of the accounts of Tok Guru’s career that have appeared in the days since his death suggest that in 1986 he opted to abandon federal politics and to focus exclusively on Kelantan. This is inaccurate.

The 1986 elections —— held when Dr. Mahathir had risen high in his early ascendancy, and before any of the major problems of his prime ministership had asserted themselves —— was also the first election held after the young Shari’ah-minded Islamists around Hadi Awang had seized control of the party from Datuk Asri Haji Muda.

It was not a good campaign for PAS, and it was made worse by the fact that it offered a strenuously Shari’ah-minded platform that owed much to recent revolutionary events in Iran. And still worse, unprecedentedly, it was held during the “haj season” when many devout PAS-supporting Kelantanese were away overseas and unable to vote.

PAS had assumed that it could hold onto Nik Aziz’s parliamentary seat (the old Kelantan Hilir, now known as Pengkalan Chepa) but it wanted to make sure of winning neighbouring Bachok with a strong candidate. So the party found a new candidate for Pengkalan Chepa and Nik Aziz stood for PAS in Bachok where he was widely known, respected and liked. But strangely, in that very strange election, he lost, by a small margin but (despite the absent pilgrimage people) on a huge voter turnout. Many newly enrolled military voters may have been added, for the first time, to the Bachok rolls.

Nik Aziz lost in Bachok. Sad, but no matter. He did not greatly like federal parliament, where his presence was largely decorative and suited his adversaries’ purposes, not his own. So he was content to be the state assemblyman for Semut Api, now named Chempaka, and to concentrate on Kelantanese matters.

UMNO ended up paying a heavy price for defeating Tok Guru in Bachok. With his energies now exclusively focused within Kelantan, he did the groundwork that enabled PAS —— which had ruled Kelantan from 1959 to 1978 and then been ousted from power by high-level UMNO manoeuvering using a disaffected faction within PAS —— to return to power in the state. UMNO had won Kelantan in 1978 and then held it, in Dr. Mahathir’s first two national election campaigns in 1982 and 1986. But now, Nik Aziz was back on the case. PAS once again won control of Kelantan in a stunning victory in 1990 —— and so began Tok Guru’s 23 years as Chief Minister (and also Mubaligh-in-Chief, as it were) of Kelantan —— and it has held onto the state through the succeeding elections  of 1995, 1999, 2004, 2008 and 2013.

While many in PAS these days, along with powerful elements within UMNO, eagerly look to the imminent possibility of a rapprochement between UMNO and PAS to establish together a “Malay Bumiputera Islamic government” whose preferred terms all other parts of the nation will have to accept, within PAS Nik Aziz was an adamant and powerful opponent of any such initiative.

Nik Aziz with Anwar

He had basic disagreements within the Pakatan coalition with the late Karpal Singh over the implementation of hudud law punishments. But they were allied in resisting the clamouring from some elements within PAS for it to leave Pakatan and make common cause once more with UMNO. Nik Aziz not only remembered all too well the bitter partisan rivalries throughout the Kelantan countryside of the 1960s. He also recalled with pain the treachery, as he saw it, of UMNO’s co-opting and then betraying of PAS in Kelantan in 1978 and the years that followed.

Asked why he opposed pursuing any second rapprochement with UMNO, his pointedly bitter reply was that it would be stupid “to allow oneself to be bitten twice by the same snake coming out of the same hole”. A pithy Kelantanese village locution once again.

Whether such a rapprochement will soon become irresistible now that both Karpal Singh and Nik Aziz have departed from the mundane field of political battles is one of the large questions of the present moment and immediate, pre-GE14 future.

Tok Guru, my teacher too

Tuan Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat, or Tok Guru, will likely prove unique in Malaysian political history. He was the product of a complex combination of historical circumstances that are unlikely ever to recur.

He stands there, seemingly alone and on his own. As so many people have said lately in so many different ways, you did not have to agree with him to recognize his personal modesty and courtesy, his self-evident integrity and his own authenticity —— all of them grounded in the Kelantanese Islamic politics, society and culture of his time.

He became known almost universally as Tok Guru, and he was my teacher too.  He taught me a lot (though I am sure that it was not what he would have wished me to learn from him and his commitments) that has stayed with me throughout my life and career as a scholar for almost half a century now, since I first began observing him and how he operated.

Above all, I learned from him, from his example and by watching him carefully, about the great force that —— when effectively personified and presented, performed and projected —— Islam can be and can generate within, and also against, the modern world: against the distinctive “package” of benefits and challenges and “trade-offs” that “modernity” may present.

I learned from Tok Guru how, in the name of a faith and a sacred history “made real” for everyday folk, the agenda of an over-confident and heedlessly advancing modernity may be decisively obstructed and resisted.

Clive Kessler is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of New South Wales. He is the  author of Islam and Politics in a Malay State: Kelantan 1838-1969, Cornell U.P., Ithaca NY, 1978.

 

Acrimonious Split Rattles Malaysian Premier’s Family


February 12, 2015

Acrimonious Split Rattles Malaysian Premier’s Family

By John Bethelsen

http://www.asiasentinel.com/society/acrimonious-split-rattles-malaysian-premiers-family/

The announcement last week by top Malaysian banker Nazir Razak of his intention to file defamation charges against bloggers believed connected to a close friend of his brother, Prime Minister Najib Razak, has laid bare what has been whispered about for months in Kuala Lumpur.

Razak Boys and Tun RahahThe Razak Boys and Tun Rahah

There is a growing, acrimonious rift in the Razak family, much of it over the deeply indebted government-backed investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd, and Najib’s siblings’ relationship with the Prime Minister’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, partly because of her ostentatious flaunting of enormous wealth.  Rosmah, in addition to concerns about her behavior, is believed to have convinced her husband to initiate the 1MDB fund, which is backed by the Ministry of Finance.

One of the questions circulating in Malaysia’s business community is whether the family feud might result in problems for CIMB, the fast-growing Malaysia-headquartered bank that Nazir heads and which has become one of Southeast Asia’s leading financial institutions. Observers say CIMB owes at least some of its rapid growth to its connections to the family and hence to UMNO. “Its political connections are probably no longer a slam dunk asset for Nazir,” a business source with connections to the government told Asia Sentinel.

“The brothers openly criticize Rosmah at dinner functions and family events,” a well-wired source told Asia Sentinel.  “I have heard them myself. Nazir’s family has moved to Oxford, where he spends 60 to 70 percent of his time. His elder brother Nizam spends time with his family in Boston. The two elder brothers Johari and Nazim also cannot get along with Rosmah.”

Malaysia's PM Razak and wife Rosmah Mansor arrive at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center before the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Summit in Nusa Dua, BaliThe Powerful Rosmah Mansor

It was Nazim, according to two sworn declarations, one by a business associate of Rosmah and the other by the late private detective Perumal Balasubramaniam, who played a role in forcing Bala, as he was known, out of the country in 2008 after he issued an initial statement that Najib himself had been the lover of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a Mongolian woman murdered in 2006 in one of Malaysia’s most notorious killings and who was peripherally involved in a massive bribery case involving the sale of French submarines to Malaysia.  After Bala made the statement, he was told to get out of Malaysia and was given a hefty bribe to do so. Allegedly it was Nazim, a Kuala Lumpur architect, who took Balasubramaniam to the Hilton Hotel in Kuala Lumpur to write a statement recanting his version of the relationship between Altantuya and Najib. 

The acrimony is so bad that some of the family have spent their Hari Raya holiday – the celebration at the end of the fasting month – in Phuket and Singapore to avoid going to the Prime Minister’s obligatory open house, the source said.

The squabble has broken into the open at a time when Najib is underMahathir and his wards attack from a wide variety of sources including former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who pushed out Najib’s predecessor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in 2009 to replace him with Najib.

1MDB and the Penang-born tycoon whose brainchild it was – and his connection to the Najib family – were the subject of a long and critical New York Times article on February 8.  The article has since  served as red meat to the Mahathir forces and Muhyiddin Yassin, the Deputy Prime Minister who is said to be eyeing Najib’s job.

Hints of the rift began in January 2014 ,when Nazir wrote a long article in Kinibiz, the business edition of the widely read independent online publication Malaysiakini, which is highly critical of the government.

In the article, Nazir wrote a remembrance of his father, Tun Abdul Razak, Malaysia’s second Prime Minister, titled “Remembering My Father, Tun Razak.” Among other things the father was said in the article to have refused to use public funds to build a swimming pool for his children at the government-owned Prime Minister’s residence. He personally paid his family’s expenses on government trips, Nazir said, and was committed to national unity between the three major ethnic groups, the Malays, Chinese and Indians.

The article stood as an obvious public rebuke to the Prime Minister, who has been accused of remodeling the Prime Minister’s residence (Seri Perdana in Putrajaya) at vast public expense at the urging of his wife, using the government’s public jet for private junkets and refusing to rein in Malay superiority NGOs such as PERKASA and ISMA, whose strident rhetoric has led to a poisonous racial situation.

“Nazir has long worried about the negative influence of Rosmah, in particular, on Najib and has complained to friends and associates about it,” said a longtime western political analyst in Kuala Lumpur. “Of course, Rosmah knows this and despises Nazir in return and badmouths him to Najib.  So it goes.”

Riza AzizIn another article, printed last week in Kinibiz, Nazir said that after the first article appeared  anonymous attacks began on his family and his children from bloggers believed to be connected to Taek Jho Low, the flamboyant young Penang-born financier who has parlayed his UK school connections into what appears to be a vast fortune – and embroiled Najib in government debt generated by 1MDB, the subject of an extensive Asia Sentinel report on Dec. 8, 2014.

Jho Low, as he is known, became a friend of Rosmah’s son Riza Aziz during his school days in the UK at Harrow, while Riza was at nearby Haileybury.  After first vainly approaching the Sultan of Terengganu to use the state’s oil revenues to start a sovereign investment fund, Jho Low turned to Najib, then the defense minister. On Jho Low’s advice, 1MDB appears to have invested vast amounts in a series of misguided adventures.

In Kinibiz last week, Nazir said the attacks, constituting “lies andNazir Razak slander,” cross the line. His statement follows a series of comments by businessman and publisher Tong Kooi Ong, who had also been subjected to anonymous blog attacks that Tong claimed were due to The Edge Malaysia newspaper’s extensive and biting coverage of 1MDB.

The Edge Malaysia is part of The Edge Media Group, which Tong owns. On Feb. 6, Tong said he had ascertained the identity of the blogger going by the name ‘ahrily90’ and had served a legal letter to Jho Low, who has previously denied any links to the attacks.

US is in no position to lecture Malaysia or anybody else


December 10, 2014

 US is in no position to lecture Malaysia or anybody else

by John Berthelsen (12-09-14)

http://www.asiasentinel.com

john-berthelsen“It is not often, if ever, that one finds it possible to agree with Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the irascible former Prime Minister of Malaysia and frequent critic of the US (despite sending his children to school there, ostensibly to pick up the principles of democracy, etc). But his current outburst against Vice President Joe Biden for criticizing Malaysia’s retention of the Sedition Act is right on.

This is not to defend Malaysia’s use of the Sedition Act, which in recent months has been employed primarily to silence opposition critics, is so vague as to be misused by the majority against the minority and is of little use in any case”–Berthelsen

_______________________

It is not often, if ever, that one finds it possible to agree with Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the irascible former Prime Minister of Malaysia and frequent critic of the US (despite sending his children to school there, ostensibly to pick up the principles of democracy, etc). But his current outburst against Vice President Joe Biden for criticizing Malaysia’s retention of the Sedition Act is right on.

mahathir-siti-hasmah-umnoDr. Mahathir and Dr. Siti Hasmah at 2014 UMNO GA

This is not to defend Malaysia’s use of the Sedition Act, which in recent months has been employed primarily to silence opposition critics, is so vague as to be misused by the majority against the minority and is of little use in any case. If the United Malays National Organization(UMNO) thinks a silly law will stop the man (or woman) in the street from seeing the corruption and cronyism that characterize the party, they are living in a dream world.

But Mahathir asks where Biden gets off criticizing Malaysia for its sedition laws when the United States has kept prisoners in Guantanamo Bay for more than a decade without recourse to habeas corpus and a fair trial, where CIA officers employed water boarding and other methods of torture against suspects, where American citizens have been executed from the sky by drone without benefit of trial, and where US local police appear to have often used unjustified force against ethnic African-American citizens, killing three in controversial incidents in the past few months.

The super patriots in the United States greet these acts with a hearty Right On!  But America has no idea what this looks like from the prism of another shore. It looks like a right-wing country out of control and veering towards fascism.  How the US thinks it can command the moral leadership of the world while these injustices are taking place as a result of government action is hard to figure out

As Mahathir said in his blog, “Just don’t go around telling people how to behave and what they should not do. Tell it to your own people, about how Americans prospered through slavery, through discrimination against blacks and Hispanics, about spying on your own people, about your controlled media etc. That is what Joe Biden should do.”

joe-biden_najib_sedition-act_300

What the United States has become can be traced directly to September 11, 2001, when Jihadis at the behest of Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden crashed the jets into the World Trade Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC.  For the past 13 years, the United States has predicated its actions from fright. That included the disastrous election of George W. Bush as President of the United States and the free run of Vice President Dick Cheney and his chicken hawk cronies.

Given its early history of slavery of black people, the colonization of the Philippines, its protection of banana republic dictators in Central America and other issues, the US has little to be proud of. But from the time Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected President in 1932, the United States was on a steady march towards civil liberalism, with court decisions protecting the rights of minorities and leashing the operations of Wall Street titans.

That march continued through the elections of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and Supreme Court appointees whose decisions were based on at least some thought of the human well-being of the common citizen.  That is no longer true.  The United States, enmeshed in its own fears, has turned into something not reflected in its own propaganda.

When George W. Bush frequently announced that the United States was the leader of the free world, he did not seem to understand what those words meant. The version of “American exceptionalism” that he and Cheney and others espoused appeared to be a belief that the country could ignore crimes it committed in service of a higher truth, which is about what the Communists thought in Russia.

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard MyersBush, Cheney and the Neo-Cons

In truth, the freedoms Bush thought he was talking about were the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of the United States and its amendments.  He ignored almost all of them.

Those amendments include the freedom of speech, assembly and religion; freedom from self-incrimination; the right to be secure in one’s own home; prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment; guaranteed right to public trial with a jury of one’s peers; freedom from search and seizure without permission of an independent court; and rules governing indictment by Grand Jury, something especially important in two of the recent three cases involving the deaths of black citizens, in which grand juries refused to indict police officers who allegedly had acted outside the bounds of justice. They also include the 14th Amendment, which ratifies the equality of all citizens regardless of race, and the 15th, which prohibits the denial of the right to vote based on skin color.

Most if not all of these have been violated in varying degrees since 2001. The election of Barack Obama, a constitutional lawyer and a half African-American, was expected to restore those liberties. It has not happened. A majority of the Congress – especially the one returned to office in November of 2014 – has ensured that they will not be. The majority of the Supreme Court appointed by both George Bush and his father, George HW Bush,  in decisions on campaign funding, public prayer,  voting rights and corporate behavior, have all been in favor of one increasingly isolated group: wealthy white males.

The fact is that the US as a moral leader on the world stage has lost the principles that moored the nation in the Constitution.  Mahathir, sad to say, is right. Where does Joe Biden get off criticizing Malaysia for doing many of the same things, including shutting its ethnic minorities out of the wider economic and political picture?

 John Berthelsen is the editor of Asia Sentinel

 http://www.asiasentinel.com/opinion/opinion-score-one-sedition/

NY Times Book Review: ‘Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin


December 6, 2013

SUNDAY BOOK REVIEW

‘Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin,’ by David Ritz

by Elsa Dixlerdec@www.nytimes.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/07/books/review/respect-the-life-of-aretha-franklin-by-david-ritz.html?ref=books

How often do you remember the first time you heard a song? One evening in the late spring of 1967, I had dinner with friends at the old Shanghai Cafe under the elevated local tracks at Broadway and 125th Street. As we left the restaurant, we heard music coming from farther east on 125th. A record store had set up a turntable on the sidewalk, and was playing Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” over and over again. A small crowd had gathered to listen. My friends and I knew something about R & B, and we were even familiar with Otis Redding’s recording of the song. But we had never heard anything like this.

That evening I didn’t know that Aretha had been performing on the gospel circuit since the age of 12, and recording professionally on the Columbia label for six years, turning out well-executed versions of jazz, pop and blues standards, but never achieving a coherent album, or a hit. (“Respect” was the fruit of her new collaboration with Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records.) And I didn’t know that the shy, sweet-looking 25-year-old singer was the mother of three sons, the first two born by the time she was 15.

David Ritz, the author of “Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin,” tells these stories and many more. Ritz has served as the ghostwriter or co-author of many autobiographies of people in the music industry, including Ray Charles, B. B. King, Etta James, Smokey Robinson, the Neville Brothers and Wexler — and those are just the first names on the list at the beginning of the book. (Ritz’s collaboration with Tavis Smiley, “Death of a King,” about Martin Luther King’s final year, was published earlier this fall.)

Ritz also worked with Franklin on her 1999 autobiography, “Aretha: From These Roots.” But he was disappointed in the book, which, he says, contains “enormous gaps and oversights” although it “remains an accurate view of Aretha’s picture of herself.”

Aretha FranklinThis time, Ritz was determined to write “the story as I see it.” Though his subject didn’t cooperate with him, he spoke at length with her cousin, niece and sister-in-law. From his years of work with other singers and musicians, he has amassed a huge amount of material about Franklin, and we hear from Ray Charles, the jazz singer Carmen McRae, Billy Preston, Luther Vandross and many, many others, including her sisters. He also spoke at length to Wexler and to Ruth Bowen, who for many years was Franklin’s booking agent and sometime confidante. Ritz traces the trajectory of Franklin’s career, shedding light on her taste in material, preparations for recording and collaboration with musicians and producers. He describes the making of all her albums and her dogged struggle to remain relevant and popular after that first run of hits ended in the mid-1970s. There were duds along the way, but thanks to her talent and indomitable ambition, Franklin was able to reinvent herself again and again. Ritz’s reliance on his interviews sometimes leads to repetition, but he offers an abundance of information.

Ritz also sheds light on Aretha’s personal life — her relationships with her father, the famous minister (and King intimate) C. L. Franklin; her two sisters and two brothers (one of whom served as her manager for many years); her husbands and lovers. Although she was close to her sisters, both of whom were talented singers (and occasionally sang backup for her), she was also fiercely competitive with them, sometimes standing in the way of their careers.

In Ritz’s telling, she was hostile and unpleasant to many other women singers, from Roberta Flack to Natalie Cole to Whitney Houston (and Barbra Streisand too). She routinely fired bookers and producers and feuded with musicians. She was entirely lacking in self-awareness and, many of those close to her recall, was quick to turn pain into anger, fighting with family members about the care of her father when he spent five years in a coma after being shot during a robbery attempt in 1979, and about his funeral. Although she struggled with alcoholism, which she surmounted; compulsive eating; and an emotional fragility that probably resulted from her parents’ separation when she was 6 and her mother’s death several years later, she refused the professional treatment that might have helped her.

Beginning in the 1980s, Franklin’s fears — Ritz calls it her need forRespect--Aretha Franklin control — began to get the better of her. She was unable to fly, preferring to travel by bus (but not over the Rockies, and not during bad weather). Her inability to travel to Europe, or, for 20 years, the West Coast, curtailed her career. So did her longtime habit of failing to show up for recording sessions and canceling concerts, often at the last minute and with no explanation.

Many of the relatives and associates Ritz interviewed say that Aretha lived in a world of denial, refusing to confront unpleasant facts and inventing better ones. Ruth Bowen explains how, at Aretha’s urging, she pitched stories to Jet magazine that put the best spin on the singer’s life — either she had lost weight, or she looked better at size 13 than at size 8; a faltering marriage was perfect; Aretha was about to produce cooking videos, write a diet book, star in a movie or a musical, open a clothing store, start her own booking agency. Although it has been widely reported that she underwent cancer surgery in 2010, she disclaims the diagnosis.

The Aretha Franklin who emerges from “Respect” is not someone you want to spend time with. Reading about how Franklin insisted on turning down Mavis Staples’s voice so that it was barely audible in a recording of their gospel duets, I was reminded of Otis Redding’s response to Aretha’s version of “Respect.” Ritz quotes Jerry Wexler’s account: “He broke out into this wide smile, and said, ‘The girl has taken that song from me. Ain’t no longer my song. From now on, it belongs to her.’ ” Franklin does not display that kind of generosity.

Does it matter? Stellar human qualities and even mental health are not requirements for producing great art, and Aretha Franklin is a great artist. Her voice still has enormous power and range. Before reading this book, I played a YouTube video of Aretha’s performance of “Rolling in the Deep,” a cover of Adele’s hit from her most recent album, “Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics,” released in October. My husband paused, riveted, in the doorway, as I had stood on the sidewalk on 125th Street all those years ago. “Who is that?”

Orang Melayu Bagaimana?


November 20, 2014

Orang Melayu Bagaimana?

Yes, ahead of the UMNO General Assembly 2014, it is appropriate for us to ask Who Din Merican Newis a Malay, and What will happen to him in the 21 century. In this poem, the late Usman Awang gives us an insight into the character of this strange specie of the human race, and provides us with a glimpse of what he can be.

Today, the Malay faces many challenges, most of them are of their own making, guided by their political and religious leaders to become a lost tribe of sorts.The Malay has a serious identity problem. He is unsure what he wants to be. If anything and everything is fine to him, then he chooses to be a drifter in a world which belongs to those who lead purposeful and productive lives in the pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment.–Din Merican

Finger on the UMNO Pulse


November 17, 2014

COMMENT by Din Merican : Reading Jocelyn’s article allows me the opportunityNajib_Obama to add my observations on the coming UMNO General Assembly. I will try to speculate a little about Najib’s Amanat Presiden.

True, as Jocelyn says, Najib’s position in UMNO is secure. Not even the former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir and his loyalists in UMNO can unseat him at this point in time. Najib has done well to keep UMNO members under control, although that has come with a high price tag.

The fact that his popularity among Malaysians is at an all time low does not affect his hold on power in UMNO and the country. That makes him a smart politician aided by a group of loyalists, anyone of whom can succeed him when the time comes. Names like Hishamuddin and Zahid Hamidi have been mentioned as potential successors, if the incumbent Deputy President and Deputy Prime Minister decides to retire.

Coming to his Amanat Presiden 2014, I think he will be tough and uncompromising in his defence of Malay special rights and Islam.  He must as UMNO cannot deviate from its raison d’etre. But let us hope he will not overlook that he is also the Prime Minister for all Malaysians and must, therefore, tone down his rhetoric on Malay rights and UMNO’s defence of Islam.

His message should be a call for unity under a more enlightened and inclusive UMNO leadership. Neither the Malays nor Islam is under threat.There will, of course, be some goodies in store of UMNO members. More contracts and handouts, among other things.

With regard to the economy, he will likely crow about his achievements since his last speech before the UMNO General Assembly. A forecast real GDP growth of 5%+ is not something to be easily dismissed, given the less than optimistic outlook for the global economy, especially China and Europe and to some extent the United States.

Our growth will be domestic consumption driven, led by public expenditure. Najib will not talk about our mounting national debt and 1MDB borrowings. At the assembly, he cannot be a deliverer of bad news. He must rally the UMNO troops and sound upbeat about his economic policies which will remain Malay-bumiputra centric. After all, the UMNO general assembly is also fiesta time. And Najib must play to the gallery.

najib_razak_xi_jinpingOn foreign policy, he will have plenty to say. He has very good reasons to go to town on his achievements. Malaysia enjoys good relations with the United States, China and Europe. He is seen as a moderate and progressive Muslim leader. In ASEAN, he is well regarded. Our country will become a non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council in 2015.

In addition to that, Malaysia will assume the ASEAN Chair when it takes over from Myanmar next year. Both these roles give our country a very high profile in international affairs. Even his detractors will concede that Najib has done a good job on foreign policy.

Let us hope his domestic political plays and statements will not affect Malaysia’s image abroad. His speech will be listened to, analysed, and discussed at home and abroad. He has grown to be a regional leader with strong foreign policy credentials and must remain so.

Finger on the UMNO pulse

by Jocelyn Tan@www.the star.com.my (11-16-14)

The UMNO general assembly next week will have to take note of the growing restlessness among party members about UMNO’s direction and the way it is dealing with issues close to their heart.

IT has been quite a turnaround for Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein. Athishamuddin-hussein around this time last year, the Defence Minister was lying on a hospital bed, recovering from “chest pains”, that euphemism that public figures use when they get a heart attack.The year 2013 had not been good for him. He had come under severe criticism for his handling of the Sabah incursions, his image was down and there was even speculation that he would be removed from his Defence portfolio.

The effect of all that caused him to come in last among the three UMNO Vice-Presidents and he was almost beaten by newcomer and Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir.He had hit a low point in his career. But he became a grandfather shortly after that. His grandson is now a cute and chubby toddler while the new grandfather is looking fit and healthy. Hishammuddin smells better these days because he has stopped smoking, he eats fruit and biscuit for lunch and he works out.

A year is a long, long time in politics and the sun is shining again for Hishammuddin.  “His image has lifted following his role in two tragic disasters involving our national airline. He is probably one of our best known leaders overseas,” said publisher Juhaidi Yean Abdullah.

His mother’s death a few months ago was another rite de passage and that hehe-haha boyish style he used to be known for has disappeared, replaced by a more serious demeanour.  He has put a lot of effort into his role as chairman for the UMNO resolutions committee. He wants to bring greater meaning and result to the hundreds of resolutions that come in from UMNO branches and divisions every year ahead of the UMNO general assembly.

His committee has received a total of 755 resolutions from 191 UMNO divisions all over the country. These resolutions range from localised matters like calls for better roads to weighty stuff like defending Islam.

In previous years, the relevant resolutions were selected for debate at the assembly while the rest were usually acknowledged with a simple reply. This year, Hishammuddin has sifted through the resolutions and brought them before the relevant ministries for attention and action. His argument is that these resolutions reflect the needs, requests and aspirations of the party grassroots and must be acted upon. That was what the round-table meeting involving ministry officials on Wednesday was about.

“He is looking at the scenario beyond the general assembly. He wants the UMNO folk down there to know that issues which are of concern to them are being taken seriously by the party leadership. Taking action on views from the grassroots is a way of empowering them,” said Pasir Salak Youth chief Dr Faizal Tajuddin.

The man who had struggled to retain his Vice-President post is on a comeback and comparisons are being made with top Vice-President and Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

The charismatic Dr Ahmad Zahid was the man of the moment a year ago, celebrated as much for his God-given people skills as for his tough stance on organised crime. The moment has passed, and his profile has slipped somewhat. But it is to his credit that gangland violence has also gone down and several states have reported lower crime rates.

Last year’s UMNO assembly had been a sort of mixed feelings type of gathering. The rank and file were euphoric that they had successfully conducted a landmark party election without too many boo-boos. There was a celebratory mood as they ushered in the new batch of leaders.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin retained their posts uncontested, a sign of the party’s stability despite a bruising general election.  They could also see the second echelon taking shape in the form of Vice-Presidents Ahmad Zahid, Hishammuddin and Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.

KJ2In particular, Khairy Jamaluddin’s spectacular second-term win as UMNO Youth chief means that he is the one to watch in the years ahead. Khairy has brought the wow-factor to his position as Youth and Sports Minister, and he is one of the most watched UMNO politicians among those outside of UMNO.

His opinions on issues have shown that he is a cut above the rest and, more recently, many thought that he handled the doping issue involving Malaysia’s No. 1 badminton star with great maturity.

UMNO is still struggling between the old and the new. It wants to hold on to its traditional core values as a Malay nationalist party but it is also under immense pressure to adapt to the changing political landscape.

At the same time, there was the painful fact that UMNO is no longer the political powerhouse that it used to be and they were still hurting over what they saw as the “Chinese betrayal”. The hurt is still there and they are uncertain about what the future holds for UMNO.

The general expectation is that issues like the Sedition Act, vernacular schools and the attacks against Islam and the Malay rulers will dominate the debates.  “Warning shots” have been fired in the run-up to the assembly, with some politicians claiming that Chinese schools are creating “two nations in one country” while another politician urged that all Malay-majority seats should be contested by UMNO.

The euphoria of last year has dissipated. In its place is a restlessness for measures that can prepare the party to face the next big battle.

There is the sense that party members are impatient for answers and solutions. They are tired of excuses and inaction, they are not going to be satisfied with sweet talk and feel-good stories. They want the leaders to get tough and address issues in a concrete way.

In that sense, the debates should not be over-controlled. There was one year prior to the general election when the debate guidelines were so strict that everyone sounded like robots reading from the same script.

Frank views and reasonable criticism should be welcomed to help the leadership keep the finger on the pulse and also for delegates to let off steam.

The party has not moved forward very much since the last general election. The inability on the part of Barisan Nasional to present itself as the alternative in Selangor even as Pakatan Rakyat was fighting like crazy over the Menteri Besar post was testimony to that.

UMNO members were also incredulous that in Terengganu, a defiant Menteri Besar who was not ready to go, had arm-twisted the party and almost brought down the state government. It was so old politics.

The bright point was the UMNO win in the Pengkalan Kubor by-election. That was a real victory – a much bigger winning majority despite a lower voter turnout. The political fatigue seen everywhere is not only because of too much politicking over everything but also because people are disillusioned that the promise of new politics has not materialised.

“The PM’s political transformation is in danger of becoming a mere slogan. UMNO leaders need to put more beef into the transformation agenda or else it will become like Islam Hadhari. No one talks about that anymore,” said political analyst Dr Azmi Omar.

UMNO people are still adjusting to Najib’s political style. One of their grouses is that he is “too quiet”. They say it is important that he makes known the government’s stand and opinion on an issue so that UMNO politicians down the line know how to respond on their own part. It is also a form of taking the lead and shaping public opinion on issues.

Shortly after Najib took over as Prime Minister, Pakatan leadersMahathir Mohamad claimed that he wanted to bring back what they called “Maha­thirism”, whatever that meant. They insisted that Najib’s cordial relations with Dr Mahathir meant he was taking orders from the former Premier.

It was an idiotic story, yet so many people swallowed it. The fact that Dr Mahathir has withdrawn his support for Najib for not doing what the elder man thinks is the right thing, says it all. Ties between the two men are rather choppy at the moment. Dr Mahathir has openly criticised Najib but he still loves UMNO and wants the party to survive and recover its former glory.

It has been a challenging year for Najib who is now into his fifth year as UMNO president and Prime Minister. But despite everything, said Juhaidi, Najib’s position in Umno is solid, more so than most UMNO presidents in their fifth year on the job.

“Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was already shaky in his first term while Dr Mahathir had fallen out bigtime with his deputy Tun Musa Hitam. Tun Hussein Onn lasted only a term because of heart problems while his predecessor Tun Abdul Razak Hussein’s health problems took his life in his sixth-year in office,” said Juhaidi.

Only Tunku Abdul Rahman could declare that he was the “happiest prime minister in the world” but the happiness did not last. Najib, said Juhaidi, has won the general election and the UMNO election. “Internally, I don’t see any challengers to his leadership. The UMNO  general assembly will not be like what happened at the PAS muktamar where the guns were pointed inwards. The UMNO guns will be pointing outwards,” said Juhaidi.