My Anthem

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Two views, and Desi is caught in the middle

This morning's Inbox Emails contain one familiar name ~~ Sdr Dr Bakri Musa based in California has kindly sent Desi the following, his latest precious thoughts. I'm reprising it in full but I stress that though Desi's thoughts coincide with many of Bakri's viewpoints, the good doctor's opinions stated within are entirely his, and his alone.

The reason for the foregoing Intro will reveal itself if my ER exercise Patience, which I have always preached is a Virtue to be prized, just as good writes like the following, and off course, Desi's sometimes!(can't do it from the pulpit on Sundays, hence ...). Ooops, an early CON BF this morn -- which is bright and shiny -- maketh Desi go off the highway sometimes. But knoweth thou that when the good Lord favours thee, one finds the rarest gems along the byways, nooks and corners of Seremban, like sighting an Alley cat in heat chasing the scurrying rats -- to let off steam or what? Breakfast, that's mighty universal at this time of day.

So I give thee a highly committed writer on the Malaysian landscape, the big picture along with the wild, mild and high, shy things going on within:

Lead! Or Get Out of the Way

by M. Bakri Musa (

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi should quit whining. Lead, or get out
of the way! He has had three years to make up his mind. If there is
any jantan (male) left in UMNO, this is the brutally frank message he
needs to deliver to his leader.

There is a place for loyalty to the leader, but not at the price of the
followers being led collectively over the cliff.

The singa (lion) in UMNO is long gone; the kittens have taken over.
Their meows would be heard loud and clear (and incessantly too!) only
when they run out of milk. The ginger has also been long uprooted from
UMNO garden. What we have instead are Bell peppers; colorful but
pepper only in name, it spiciness long ago bred out of them.

At the upcoming UMNO General Assembly, expect effusive choruses of
praise and an orgy of adulation for the leader of the day. In
spectacle, it would not match what the North Koreans regularly put on
for their dear Leader, but the exuberance of the glorifications and
the superlatives used would; their intensity matching the desperation
of the speakers in being beholden to their leader.

Abdullah's sycophants have already bestowed him with the glorified
title of Father of the K-Economy,whatever that means. I suggest he
be adorned with a more appropriate appellation, Bapak Tanah Kayangan! (Father of Fantasyland!)

Obscenely generous money politics and political patronages have
effectively emasculated UMNO. To be sure there will be plenty of
gaily-attired putris (princesses) gracing the gathering. They will add
color to the otherwise dull background, but nothing more. As for the
putras (princes), they will be dozing off, having spent their late
nights with the Mat Rempits terrorizing the streets and neighborhoods
with their motorcycles.

I long for brave souls along the fashion of the late Sulaiman Palestin. He never hesitated to challenge even the most esteemed leader. If he were alive today, he would courageously introduce a "No Confidence" resolution at the Assembly. Even if it were not successful, it might
just prove to the needed shock for Abdullah to come out of his slumber.
The man has been daydreaming for too long.

Pathetic Performance with Mahathir

Abdullah's performance after (and also presumably during) his
one-on-one meeting with his predecessor was pathetic. If Abdullah
cannot stand up to Mahathir, how on earth can we expect Abdullah to
look after the nation's interests in even tougher negotiations with
foreign leaders?

Mahathir effectively reduced Abdullah to an errand schoolboy guilty of
being delinquent in his homework and now has to write down a hundred
times, "Imust pay attention to my work and not doze off!"?
According to Abdullah, Mahathir did most of the talking. Abdullah by
his own admission was too polite to interfere. Touching! According to
Mahathir (and Abdullah corroborated this), he brought up the very same
issues he had been harping on for the past few months.

Abdullah does not need to listen to the details again; presumably he
had heard them before and would by now be ready with the answers and
rebuttals. Malaysians and the world have certainly heard Mahathir's
litany of complaints. What he and we needed were answers. Yet there
was the sorry sight of Abdullah pleading for more time! If Abdullah
does not get it by now, he never will.

What Abdullah should have done when Mahathir began to repeat what he
had said many times before was to stop him cold and assert, "With due
respect Tun, I have heard them all before, and many times over. Let me
address them one by one!" With that, effectively take over the
meeting. Then we would know who was in charge!

After the meeting, Abdullah should have called for a press conference
and publicly invited Mahathir to join in. That of course would take
confidence and leadership, the very qualities so clearly lacking with

Instead it was Mahathir who gave not one but two press conferences to
let the public know what transpired between them. Abdullah was reduced
to whining and complaining that Mahathir was spewing venom. He took
solace behind the protective but ineffectual barks of his ministers and

Abdullah forgot that the issues Mahathir raised are also very much in
the public mind. He owes Malaysians, not just Mahathir, an
Whining, maintaining an elegance silence, or asking his
surrogates to answer for him merely exposes Abdullah's lack of
engagement. What we have in Abdullah is not a chief executive but a
pseudo sultan, and not a very regal one at that. Malaysia already has
nine sultans; it does not need a tenth.

During this past Ramadan, Abdullah was busy being an imam, dispensing
homilies and delivering sermons. Again, Malaysia has no shortage of
imams and khatibs, what it needs desperately is a chief executive.

The Issue is Abdullah's Leadership

Mahathir has long retired as Prime Minister; his legacy is for
historians to dissect. Abdullah is a significant part of that legacy.

At issue here however is Abdullah's leadership, or lack of it. He
hides his inability to make the tough decisions by rationalizing that
he leads through consensus. That has long been the excuse of the

Mahathir singled out Kalimullah Hassan and Brendan Pereira for their sinister influences on Abdullah. Mahathir is being kind to Abdullah. In my view, Abdullah's faults and weaknesses are his own making. If he
had guts, he would have long ago fired the two, not for their presumed
bad advice but for their juvenile commentaries, blatant plagiarisms,
and inability to stem the declining readership of the once proud The
New Straits Times.
If the two cannot even run their paper, how can
they presume to know how to run the country?

When the issue of conflict of interest with his family's businesses
arose, Abdullah at first denied it. When confronted with the facts, he
did not deny the business dealings rather that he did not know about
them! He should have been embarrassed by his ignorance; instead he
used it as a pretext! Now that Mahathir had brought the issue directly
to him, Abdullah's latest excuse was that Mahathir's sons too were
involved in the past. Soon Abdullah will exhaust his explanations.

Instead of seeking solutions, Abdullah grabs at excuses. Since his
advisors and those on the infamous fourth floor have not offered him
any, I will offer my solution on avoiding future potential conflicts of

Henceforth, any family member (spouse, sibling, children, in-laws) of
the prime minister, minister, or any senior government official doing
business with the government would have their contracts and bids
subjected to a post-decision independent review by a commission to be
headed by a former senior judge. That body would have court powers to
subpoena witnesses and records. Its deliberations would also be open
to the public. Details like the companies' capabilities and
principals, as well the bids of other competitors, would be examined.
Let the sunshine in; that is the only effective way to disinfect the
current cesspool that is the government's procuring process.

Related to the issue of conflict of interest is the increasing private
use of public assets by Abdullah and other leaders. The Prime Minister
is treating the government's luxurious corporate jets as his private
limousines. Someone in Parliament ought to inquire whether the Prime
Minister and his adult children and in-laws reimburse the government
for using the jet on their recent umrah. When President Bush uses Air
Force One for his campaign, his party had to reimburse the government
for the non-official use of the plane.

If we do not make an issue of such abuses at this early stage, it would
not take long for more egregious patterns to emerge. Soon you would
have some sycophantic politicians suggesting that Sri Perdana be deeded
to Abdullah.

Abdullah constantly decries about Malaysians having First World
facility but Third World mentality. The government's fleet of
corporate jets is certainly First World, but its current users are not.

Abdullah should draw up clear guidelines of when and under what
conditions can members of his family (as well as other leaders) partake
in business relationships with the government, as well as when public
assets can be used for private purposes. That would go a long way
towards satisfying Mahathir as well as other Malaysians.


Please note that the Highlights in Bakri's essay (THUS italised or Bolded) are Desi's. When Commenting, and for this instance, I need my dear ER to have an ID to which I can link to a webpage/site even it's a penaname like Anak Merdeka as I believe for national issues, opinion-makers should stand proud and tall on their views. Otherwise, just shut up! After a few days, I will forward the feedback to the original writer Dr Bakri for his information, which is following simple courtesy, of course, something that I subtyly preach from this abode but which is open to ALL COMERS except for some APs whom I have identified. AP refers to ASgent Provocateur and this species exists in every country, including dear NegaraKu.



The Other Viewpoint comes from one of the names mentioned by Dr Mahathir and referred to in Bakri's article. I had "filed" this p[iece for some days, and feel it's apt and appropriate to run along as a conpanion piece to provide what I deem a Clash of Ideas. This is fundamentally te sort of discourse envisaged in the quoted dictum that follows by my dear friend from another era whose presence is still very much in the air, fresh and breathable OR venomous and you have to hold thy breath.

"I may disagree with whay you say but I will defend, to the death, your right to say it." ~~ VOLTAIRE

Sunday Column:
It’s the time of the year to reflect and think right
29 Oct 2006
by Kalimullah Hassan

Having the family around is the best part of celebrating Hari Raya.

THE thing about Hari Raya or Chinese New Year or Christmas or Deepavali is not so much that we celebrate it.

It’s that we celebrate it with the ones we love and with friends and family.

And these are times when we set aside recrimination, unkindness and rage, and seek understanding, friendship and love.

Therefore, it is quite an empty feeling when such joyous occasions are spent away from home.

Imagine, no balik kampung, no reunion dinner, no busying around the kitchen tasting the rendang on the eve of festivities and no family and friends to hug and wish.

It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself at times like this. But heck, it happens and we live with it. Doesn’t make us feel better, but we live with it.

Almost five of my last six weeks have been spent in Britain on personal commitments. But I was luckier than most that I spent my first ever Hari Raya Puasa away from home, in London, with my eldest daughter and son-in-law.

Of course, there was hardly anything in London that would remind us that it was Raya but we counted our blessings that we could visit a nephew and have some ketupat and ayam rendang.

It has not been a bad five weeks. Met new people, made new friends and best of all, I got a break from Kuala Lumpur. I repeat, Kuala Lumpur.

Raya in London was on Monday, a day earlier than Malaysia. It was a cold morning. The expected call from home came.

As is the tradition, we sought each other’s forgiveness for mistakes and transgressions the year past.

It is through this that as we grow older, we learn to be more patient, more forgiving of each other’s weaknesses and more appreciative of each other’s kindness.

And then, my wife told me that I had been mentioned on television. What now, I asked.

I guessed right. Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had gone on another tirade, supposedly against those whom he believed, or was led by those around him to believe, were undermining him or his vision for the country.

(It’s our country, too, but I suppose we have less proprietary rights than others.)

Of course, the major part of the now familiar invective was aimed at the government, in particular Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, a man too nice for his own good.

Members of Abdullah’s administration, like his trusty deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Razak (after a long time, we now have a prime minister and his deputy who work well together), and Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz were not spared either.

Even the late Datin Seri Endon Mahmood, a kind, good woman loved by those who knew her, was not spared Dr Mahathir’s wrath.

"On the eve of Raya?" I asked.

Yes. But I was not going to allow this to spoil my day. Not this time.

After all, Dr Mahathir has called others worse names.

When he was prime minister, until he retired almost exactly three years ago, Dr Mahathir was blunt, abrasive, never mincing words.

Sometimes, you do wonder whether in this age, we have discarded decency and no longer have the generosity of human spirit. Surely there is a time and place for everything?

At one time or another, Dr Mahathir had praise for some people, like his former deputies.

After all, it was he who chose them. (Abdullah subsequently won his own five-year mandate from the people of Malaysia — the biggest in Malaysian history — in 2004. But does the democratic process matter?)

When Dr Mahathir changes his mind about them, he reviles them in his trademark acerbic language. And whenever he changed his mind, the country was asked to take sides.

It's me or him. Divisive? Or just Mahathirian politics?

Rafidah was one of his favourites. So was Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar. They have both fallen by the wayside, as have many others.

The question does arise that in his 22 years as prime minister, he could have sacked any one of those ministers or menteris besar he now disparages.

Why didn’t he do it? Why now, when he defended people like Rafidah vigorously before?

His black book list is long. Najib, Hishammuddin Hussein, Annuar Musa, Shahidan Kassim, Tajol Rosli, Lim Keng Yaik, S. Samy Vellu …

In his time, he berated his party members and the Malays for their supposed inability to compete, to change, for being lazy and for being ungrateful. (Remember Melayu Mudah Lupa?)

Then, people took it as the frustrations of an elder who wanted the best for his people.

In his time, he had some harsh, certainly undiplomatic comments to make about other world leaders. But people accepted it because they took it as views of a leader who wanted his country to stand up to the rest of the world.

But have not greater things been achieved through diplomacy rather than name-calling and hurling insults? Remember Gandhi?

In the end, you realise that not many people meet Dr Mahathir’s high standards of perfection. Perhaps he benchmarks others to his own perceived standards of himself.

But sadly, the Almighty did not make us all like him. Dr Mahathir has to accept that. But he cannot.

It’s a free country. Or is it?

That same freedom may not have been accorded to others in another era. But then, what do I know?

For example, Dr Mahathir says that the Press was free and independent during his time.

Sure it was. Editors were removed "by management" or resigned to take on "better" jobs.

In the NST, after he became prime minister, there was a string of editors replaced until the "right" candidate was found.

Since that "right editor" was found, the "free and independent" NST — which Dr Mahathir today despises because it’s "no longer free and independent" — saw its place of pride as the country’s top newspaper for 133 years erode.

And erode. And erode.

You ask yourself: What’s the problem with Malaysians? Don’t they like a free and independent media?

Sure the media was free.

The Star, which was clearly sympathetic to Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and (Tun) Musa Hitam in their near razor-close attempt to unseat Dr Mahathir in 1987, was closed down the same year together with Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan.

But it had nothing to do with their alignment in 1987, I am sure. They were a threat to national security, it was said then. Sure.

Of course, we are supposed to believe that The Star is no longer the newspaper it was in the 1980s because it chose to be that way, not because it feared antagonising powerful politicians.

And Dr Mahathir has told us that during his tenure, he never did any favours for his children and they never got any government help.

Using this argument, he takes issue with others involved in business, like Abdullah’s son, lawyer Kamaluddin Badawi, and insinuates that they succeeded because of political patronage.

But Cambridge-educated Kamaluddin started business when his father was a politician sidelined in the early 1990s, about the same time as Dr Mahathir's children.

So we are led to believe that Dr Mahathirs three sons, without a helping hand from the government their father headed, became successful businessmen because of their business acumen, hard work and ability to spot opportunities.

They have done well, thats for sure. A truly inspiring story of how they battled against the odds without any help from their father.

But others, if we are to follow the argument, only did well in business or their careers seemingly because "they are connected". They could not have done it otherwise. Right?

Dr Mahathir also argues that his children were not involved in politics because it would seem an unfair advantage, their father being prime minister and all.

Wasnt Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir Umno Youth treasurer when his father was prime minister? Yes, but he was appointed to the post by then Youth head Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Just like how Khairy Jamaluddin entered politics when current Youth head Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein appointed him to the wing’s executive committee when Abdullah was Dr Mahathir’s deputy.

Wasnt Mokhzani also Kedah Umno treasurer and Merbok Umno Youth head? Yes, but he was there "despite" his father being Umno president and prime minister.

Therefore, if we follow the argument, Khairy Jamaluddin made headway in politics because of his father-in-law, and not because he had any potential or leadership qualities. Right?

It’s sad then that other Malaysian politicians did not follow Dr Mahathir’s example.

Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik should have barred his son Hee Leong from MCA politics; Dr Lim Keng Yaik his son in Gerakan; Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh their sons in the DAP, unless, of course, the sons made it on their own merit.

Well, we learn new things all the time.


I'm again reprising Kalimullah's article in full but I stress that again, though some of Desi's thoughts may coincide with the writer's viewpoints, the newspaper columnist's opinions stated within are entirely his, and his alone. Again, the highlights -- italised or bolded -- are Desi's.

I do not know Kalimullah Hassan personally though our paths might have crossed in the small world they call journalism. Of course, I have heard much about him -- who in Blogsworld has not must have been a Rip van Winkle, which actually can be a blessing sometimes! -- and I follow his Sunday columns, not devoutly but as a media person in his pursuit of media personalities. THat's instinctly a writer's trail, iif you jknow how to read in between the lines. I assume many don't exercise their minds hard enough to be able to, hence DDC is thrown in to wake thee up from half slumber. Or is it drunken stupour?

See, Desi can be ascerbic too. No, he won't graduate into Venom, not nyet!

Now I hear some ER whisper: Okay, Desi/YL, what's your stand on the above topic?
My answer my friend can both be a long, or short one, depending on where you came/come/are coming from.
It's the sum total of my thoughts from the heart, tempered with a poetic licence, some journalism restraints, and legal constraits, and hopefully, sensitised with humanity? (that's for my ER to judge!) that I have put forth in the past one year and eight months at Desiderata-YLChong, and previously at other forums which some nosey*uckers like Howsy are trying to desiphere. Keep on, mGf, you aren't seen the daylight of Desi miss lead ing thee up the path of Eve's Gardnern. No, not nyet unlike thy family's name be associated with that of Paulo Coelho who has touched the Soul of the World.

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