Saturday, March 1, 2008

ZAHID: A VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS

Hantu Laut

I remember the famous speech made by George Bush after 9/11 when he tried to gather allies for invasion of Iraq whereby he warned other countries "If you are not with me, you are against me".

About a dozen or so European countries responded positively to his demand with the exception of French and Germany. To punish Germany and French for their refusal to give support to the invasion, Bush openly declared than no business dealing with Iraq would be given to French and Germany.

Back home in Malaysia, UMNO, the dominant partner in the BN coalition takes no nonsense approach to any member who criticises the party policies or makes suggestions for improvement if seen to clash with the orthodox practices of the party. Bright young ideas are not welcome in this Malay political fiefdom, where feudalism and autocracy are the rules rather than the exception.

Those that play balls would be rewarded while those who wanted to bring changes would be ignored, ostracized or expelled from the party.

In December 2007, I wrote a short review of Zahid Ibrahim's book "In Good Faith". He has been dropped to contest in this coming election, which I strongly believe was due to the inconvenient truth he wrote in his book about UMNO and the current government policies, lopsided and seriously imbalance to benefit mainly Malay bumiputras.

I reproduce below the relevant article:

Friday, December 21, 2007

Zahid Ibrahim's 'In Good Faith':An Inconvenient Truth

Hantu Laut

I have just finished reading Zaid Ibrahim's 'In Good Faith'. An explicitly honest analysis of the damning truth of the socio-political structure in this country. An admission, from an inside man, of the pseudo-interpretation of the social contract, perpetuated by those desirous of keeping the gravy train on track and on an infinite journey, more often than not, for pecuniary advantages and using hegemonic inculcation to subdue the minorities through coercion and consent.

The first Prime Minster, the late Tungku Abdul Rahman, in his book the 'Viewpoint', said "While I warmly welcome help for the bumiputras, I deplore any act that is likely to divide true Malaysians into two halves; division will benefit no-one.I have always said that this policy of"divide-and-rule" was a colonial practice, and with the era of colonialism behind us we should have seen an end of it.Yet "divide-and-rule" seems to linger on".

The discriminatory social contract should have been done with when it reached the end of its shelf life. However, the bumiputras, those in power and already spoilt by the easy picking have steadfastly refused to do away with this unfair and divisive policy. The iconic keris is a deplorable reminder to non-Malays not to toy with the idea of questioning the social contract.

Zahid, a Member of Parliament from the dominant ruling party, took a critical look at the various aspects of governance within the ambits of the bumiputra economic policy, Malay supremacy, economic mis-managment, rising religious intolerance, Islamisation of the country and encroachment of Sharia into the civil liberties of non-Muslims. His liberated views and forthrightness have given a breath of fresh air to many Malaysians. By the same token, I assume, it would have made him a pariah among his peers in UMNO. His views on some of the policies of government is diametrically opposed to those ossified by other leaders of his political party.As a lawyer with the biggest law firm in the country, he admits he had also benefited from the NEP, but would not lend his support to the perpetuation of such policy, which he thinks has a long-term negative side-effect on the bumiputras.A conclusion not far from the truth, as can be seen, from the failure to attain the 30% equity over the time frame initially given by the government. The NEP revivalists have unequivocally called for the NEP to be revivified without a time-frame.

Zahid must be the first elected representative in UMNO who was bold enough to go against the grain.An ideology that may make the top and middle echelon of the party very uncomfortable.Those before him that had fallen from grace, like Anwar Ibrahim, had been out of personal conflicts and power struggle, not differences of ideology. If there were more Malays like him in UMNO, this country would see a more progressive society.The unfortunate thing is, most Malays like him were not in UMNO.

The book was lucidly written, honest and splendidly readable.I would suggest every member of UMNO in particular and the Malaysian adult public in general to read this book. It was an unexpected surprise from a well-to-do and politically well-connected Malay.

6 comments:

Zawi said...

HL,
When he fought the last election that he won, he was the only candidate that went to great length to bring home all voters from outside the state. That strategy paid off for him. Others lost by a few votes due to the lack of initiatives of farsight.
As long as his firm has to rely on Government for jobs, he wont be able to speak as much against the government lest the status of the biggest law firm in the country may change overnight to a nonenity.

Hantu Laut said...

Zawi,

I am sure by now he knows better not to pursue his ideology.I am pretty sure a big firm like his rely a lot on government jobs.

That's UMNO for you, my friend.

SM said...

HL,

I'm sure ZI knew that he would be dropped by UMNO this GE. He is an intelligent man & obviously courageous enough to speak the "truth", but I'm sure smart enough to know that if you go "against" the "grain" in UMNO, they will not allow it.
The Oppoisition could do with someone of his distinction & calibre but as you said, a big firm like his will rely on lots of jobs from the Government BUT then again his firm (if I'm not mistaken) is the biggest Law firm in the country, will be able to get lots more if Malaysians knew that he was being "sidelined" by UMNO (notice I said UMNO here as I've always maintained MCA, MIC & Gerakan as as "Parti2 Kurang Relevan"!).

Mat Salo said...

H-L - Sir, many moons ago when I was a naive young man (still am naive --but not so young now!) I seriously thought that it's better to join 'em and try tp change things from within.

Even a high-flier-with-unlimited war-chest and conscientious UMNO stalwart like Zaid has no chance in hell--what more an inconsequential pundit like me?

I'm glad THAT never happened.

Great article, H-L and I will surely buy the book. Thanks.

Hantu Laut said...

SM,
The father for bumiputra law firms is still the government.Banks,GLC and other government related entities are where the big bucks are.

Law firm without bumi partners would not be given government jobs.

Most politicians are known to be vindictive, so Zahid is taking a big risk by going against the grain or his firm is too big they can't touch him.

Hantu Laut said...

Mat Salo,

Nice to hear from you again.Keep up the spirit.Good will always prevail over evil.

What we need is not a new government, we need a strong mechanism to check and keep the government transparent,accountable and responsible.

That's why I always push for no 2/3 majority for the BN.With 2/3 they become big-headed and do whatever they want to do with impunity.