Monday, December 1, 2008

Watching Things Happen!

It's some months since I posted anything on this site. The reason is: there were too many thing happening and I prefer to just watch. Let things settle down somewhat before making any comment. Giving views while things are happening is like evaluating a film before it ends.

The most significant happening to me in the last few months on the world scene is Obama's victory as the next President of the United States. Who'd have guessed that a non-white would make it to the White House? It just showed that even the whites can get fed up with their own kind when the leaders they chose failed them. Does that say something for the Bumiputeras? Or for UMNO, MCA , MIC, Gerakan etc for that mater? Pushed to the point of nausea, it doesn't matter who leads so long as he seems able, capable and has a clean record.

A second glaring truth that the last few months since August have shown is that: a transition plan for a change of leadership made by the leaders themselves may not hold any longer. People are becoming suspicious of a planned change because a plan carries many aspects the values (and interests) of the past. These can nullify the objectives of the change although some kind of continuity is required for sustained development. It's just that continuity should not mean 'more of the same'.

That says much for what we want in Malaysia. 50 years of independence have given birth to a new society with new values. The prosperous Malaysians already have enough of crowded modern shopping complexes and supermarkets, jammed-up highways and roads, beautiful house, fast cars, fast food, satellite TVs etc. The poor feel that they have been short-changed, neglected or cheated. Hence the increase in the illegal means of getting what they need, crimes and vengeance. If the rich continue to get richer and the poor poorer, the Police will not have an easy time to keep the peace.

Another interesting development is the changes brought about by the new Pakatan government in the states. Many old issues (some of them swept under the carpet) are being reexamined. If anything at all, the complacency and compromises on the part of the old regime would be shaken. It's of course too early to judge the performance of the new leaders but how the old leaders react to being put under the magnifying glass, is very interesting to observe.

Most interesting, we hear some old leaders defending what they have done in the past. Listen to them carefully. Any admission of errors or mistakes? It would be so heartening to hear any such admission for it means that the errors or mistakes would not be repeated the next time around, if and when they come into power again. More importantly, such admission would prevent the current leaders for pursuing the same course of event.

We have a couple of months more to wait for the next important step in the new political development of this country. I'd prefer to just watch until then, unless something disturbing happens. Life can be quite calm and peaceful when you choose to just watch, until you find a place where you can chip in with some impact.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Aternative govt.

Barisan is still strong in Parliament although DASAI is back. Everyone says that Barisan/UMNO needs to change if it's to regain the confidence of the people. Otherwise they seem prepared or resigned to accept an alternative govt., at least for a change.

They all fully realize what the alternative govt. holds for them. A very shaky coalition, political leaders that are often at odd with each other, uncertain political stand on many issues, unclear goals, and most importantly, untried but for a few months at the state level. Why are the Malaysian willing to take the gamble? What changes do they want in Barisan/UMNO?

The cry seems to be a change in leadership. But who do they have in mind beside Abdullah/Najib? Mahyudin? Hisyamuddin? Or ex-leaders like Tengku Razaleigh and Musa Hitam? The current succession plan precludes any possibility of an immediate change, nor is an obviously outstanding candidate available. Hence the alternative govt's candidate(s) seems more convincing.

But can't there be some important changes in Barisan/UMNO without a change in the current leadership? What for example? Stop the stupid exploitation of the sodomy issue and focus on other causes of public dissatisfaction or grievances. What? If UMNO doesn't know then it has not been sensitive enough to the howls and cries of the public. Stop the 3k family affair concept of making national decision and let Cabinet's voice come to the fore. Don't overexpose Dato Najib, making statements that make people suspect his own integrity. Stop announcing billions/millions of ringgit for this and that funds when people don't actually know what becomes of them, how they are utilized and distributed, what progress made, who benefitted etc. There's hardly any convincing follow up report on money spent and progress made. Only leakages, mismanagement and corruption charges are often highlighted.

Perhaps both the PM's and DPM's speeches need to be gone through or rewritten by some professional writers who can inject some new and dynamic ideas and concepts. They seem to have lost their umph and creditability due to the repetition of the same old jargons which people do not find invigourating or refreshing anymore. New and bold concepts in line with the new thinking of the rakyat must be introduced. Less propaganda and more of challenge and motivation with obvious rewards for
successful endeavours.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Taking Stock of Events.

It's some months since I posted anything and a lot had happened since then. Let me focus on just a few to reexamine what I think and feel about them.

The oil price hike tops my list of concern. The price of crude has fallen but the retail price of gas remains at RM2.75 in spite of repeated annoucement that it will come down. Is the promise being used as a carrot for the Permatang Pauh by-election? If we win we bring it down to maybe RM2 or lower. If not, let it remain! The price hike took effect overnight but bringing it down again has been dragging for months. Unfulfilled promise is a bain, a pain, and a drag on Barisan's image. Why doesn't the government just go ahead with the price reduction and fulfil a promise before the by election?

The 'lewat' case against Anwar is becoming a joke. We've a young and 'jambu' man running around holding up his hands saying,'Hey, guys. I've been sodomized by Anwar against my will.' He was Anwar's assistant when the alledged act took place. Was there a threat he'd loose his job if he had refused? If not, doesn't it sound like there's a mutual consensus? But please don't go around telling the world, 'Hey, I've been sodomized..'and calling a press conference to give the details then say that many of the Press questions will be answered in court.

The muqabalah (discussions) between UMNO and PAS dignitaries haad dream a lot of attention. UMNO shows that it's open minded and ready to talk with PAS about power-sharing to safeguard the interests of the Bumis. PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz
immediately threw a challeng: If so let's dissolve UMNO and PAS and set a new political organization to uphold Islam and the rights of the Bumis. At the State level, UMNO's suggestion to share power is an appeal, not an offer for the power is in Pakatan's hands. Whatever is done, dissolving UMNO and PAS to create a new organization would take time and in the meantime SOMEONE else would have to run the show. Can we risk that? Would it not become like destroying two strong houses to merge them into one and running the risk of having no place to stay?

Finally, every top gun in the country seems to be facing some kind of investigation by the ACA, if all complaints are to be duely investigated into. The PM, the DPM, several Ministers, the AG, the IGP, Director-Generals of Departments ( a few already charged), Directors, you name it. What's happening? Who is calling the shots now? ACA? It may soon become a Commision with independent powers vested by the Agong. I think the time has come when the Agong has to step in more often on the advise of a high-powered judicial body. Only proper imposition of the law will bring back everything under order.

That's enough reflection for now. I'm sure that things will begin to take a new shape after 26 August, after the by election in Permatang Pauh. If Barisan wins, the new PM designate will come a step closer to fulfilling the 2010 agenda. If Anwar comes into the picture as a Parliamentarian, the country might be singing a new song, willy-nilly.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Real Test For Malaysians.

The day has come when Malaysians must really look deep into their souls to determine what's good for them. That goes for Malaysians of all racial origins, especially the Bumis.

The country is now facing a cold war: between the ruling PM and the ex PM who had ruled the country for more than two decades and who stepped down on his own choice. I was lucky to have served under both as a senior administrative officer and I feel that the current political problems faced by the country arise from their two contrasting characters.

Rest assured that if another man had taken over from the ex PM, he would have faced the same problem: ie. to keep on following the dictate of the ex boss or strike out on his own, ready to face his blistering attacks. For Tun Mahathir was such a great leader - very demanding, very sharp, full of vision, very resourceful, but who can never accept 'no' for an answer. He had
made Malaysia what it is today, but in his own way. All other leaders could only play second fiddle, or "just get on with what I told you to do."

Paklah was left with a Cabinet of Ministers 'raised' in that kind of political culture, himself being a part of it. But he is no "second Mahathir". In many ways he's the opposite, though no less astute and resourceful. The biggest difference: he works with people and not through people. He persuades and not builldozes. He smiles and not grimaces. The problem: after years of working in fear of the big boss, all the underlings take the opportunity to do what they want. The big club is not there anymore to prevent them from doing their own thing. ( No one dares to say anything against the set path in Mahathir's time. Now they can say anything they want).

The result: No one is afraid of anyone anymore. Ministers and Menteri Besars, political bosses everywhere become their own boss. And the feedback system failed to give the true information which Paklah needed for effective control and monitoring.
Political bosses at every level could just gloss over problems and assume that people will accept their decisions, AS WERE THE CASE DURING MAHATHIR'S TIME. They forget that during Mahathir's time they were only implementing what the no.1 boss has directed them to do. And Mahathir himself will answer any questions raised or arguments raised.

Paklah couldn't of course answer for what his Ministers, the Menteri Besars and the lower political bosses did on their own. He could call them up to explain whatever is objected to by the rakyat but the responsible party surely knows how to 'kowtow' to the PM. He is after all an easy man to get away with. NOT MAHATHIR. HE WOULD CATCH YOU WITH YOUR PANTS DOWN AND YOU'LL HAVE TO FACE THE MUSIC. DON'T TRY TO BLUFF HIM. HIS KNOWLEDGE ON ANYTHING IMPORTANT AND HIS INFORMATION ARE ALWAYS UP-TO-DATE.

What happened in the General Election was the result of people' dissatisfaction with what the political bosses were doing on their own - NOT AS DIRECTED BY THE NO.1 AS IN THE DAYS OF MAHATHIR. Yes, some people were fed up with Mahathir's

Paklah had no way of stopping the almost 'free for all' regime enjoyed by his Cabinet Ministers, Menteri Besars, and the other political bosses down the line. HE DIDN'T HAVE MAHATHIR'S 'DON'T TRY TO BLUFF ME" STARE nor the " CROSS ME AND YOU'RE DEAD' reputation. As people say: he is a nice man. But the motley of political leaders which Mahathir left behind cannot be handled by a nice man. You need someone who can handle the club as well as the microphone.

The rakyat expressed their disappointment in the last general election, nort necessarily with Paklah but with the political leadership down the line. Tun Mahathir has of course put the blame on Paklah alone for he's the no.1 boss. But Paklah cannot
fill the shoes he left behind and walks in the same way. He walks differently. It is his men who have walked in different directions, taking advantage of his kind nature.

So where does that leave us now? I'll only venture to give a view if this post is well received. I think I've been very fair to both the bosses I once served for I love and respect both of them. But they are certainly two different characters and to expect Paklah to fall in line with Tun Mahathir's style of leadership is like expecting the cat to control the herd. I don't think anyone can follow Tun Mahathir's style of leadership now and any other man he picked as a candiddate for replacing Paklak would fall far below his expectation. If the man tries to follow his brand of leadership, he could become even less acceptable than Paklah. ( To be continued).

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

After the Political Tsunami...

I've left the site for quite a while due to poor response. But a political tsunami has hit the nation during the last general election in early March,2008, and I don't want to miss the opportunity of examining my own thoughts on the matter. BN loss five states to the opposition and its two third majority in Parliament. What a whacking!

Why? How come? The PM has appointed a special committee of experts to analyse the election results. Perhaps we''' never see the reports since it'll contain a lot of dirty linnen. But the PM himself has stressed on a few causes of the BN's debacle. They include slow performance, rising costs of essential food items especially patrol and toll rates, underating the power of SMS and the blogs, widespread corruption charges against the Wakil Rakyat, work contracts not reaching the ground-level contractors,
subbotage work by Barisan strongmen not selected to contest the electiont, etc.

But some of the more obvious causes are rarely toched upon. They include the boastful and braggart-type of personality among BN leaders as a result of 50 years of undisputed leadership, obvious protection of delinquents and erring Wakil Rakyat by the top leadership naking them untouchable, the announcement and launching of huge mega projects with little or no opportunity for the smalltime contractors to get a share of the cake, the blatant propaganda type of programmes aired over the government controlled media especially RTM, the airing of Parliamentary debates which appeared to be no more than roadside quarrels and name calling, the Police inability to solve missing-person cases and the exasperating emphasis given on persecuting traffic offenders with the possibility of extracting 'coffee-money', the exixtence of double standards in mny governmental dealings etc.

A very important cause of a poor show in the election could be the PM's plea that peopole do not show their grievances and dissatisfation with the government through street demonstration and protest but through the ballot box. People took up the dare. So many Barisan stalwarts went down like heaps of bad potatoes.

The loss of 5 States to the opposition and its two third majority in Parliament is one thing. How PM and his strongmen are reacting to the loss is another. Many old faces in the Cabinet are dropped ( some to the great relief of people) and new, contoversial figures are brought in. Proposed MBs backed by the PM but rejected by the Sultans are causing a lot of problem.
In one case the Sultan's choice who is a BN man, is threated with expulsion from the party, and a vote of no confidence when
he calls the State Assembly to meet. It seems no one thought of the fact that a vote of no confidence to a BN led State Assembly will open the way to an opposition coalition to form the government. The previous performance of the younger ministers has not been seriously considered before giving them a new portfolio, thus enhancing the possibility of messing up what is already in a bad state of affairs.

Enough for now. This will be continued in the next posting.