Friday, April 4, 2008

A Demonised Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

Hantu Laut

The once affable Abdullah Badawi has been so much demonised by the oppositions, by some of his party members and most of all, the most vocal of all his critics, his former mentor and ex Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad.

His seemingly weak leadership, irresolution and people's perception of him allowing his family of getting involved in affairs of the nation, notably his unpopular son-in-law, has smudged and damaged his political image. Mahathir's relentless call for him to resign or be removed is making his tenure as prime minister untenable and UMNO divided.

The ex-premier has again called for Abdullah's resignation and accused him of having 'no sense of shame' for hanging on to a job that most people think he should give up. He also accused the PM of poor selection of candidates that led to the substantial erosion of support for the party by letting his son-in-law interfered with the list submitted by state leaders.

“Of course, everyone knows that the list of candidates is chosen and submitted to 'Sultan' Abdullah (Ahmad Badawi) by state leaders but once it reached to the party president, somebody else takes over,” he said, referring to Khairy as the culprit.

Mahathir's sarcasm is completely lacking in finesse. Calling Abdullah Sultan only shows his irrational nature and his grudge against the man.

Pak Lah is not fully responsible for UMNO's eroded support. The Mahathir's legacy that he inherited played significant role in its making.The culture of corruptions, nepotism, cronyism and abuse of power have always existed in that regime. Mahathir had always swept the dirt under the carpet if it is not in his favour.

During Anwar’s second trial in June 2000 before Justice Arifin Jaka, then ACA director Shafee Yahya had given sworn testimony when asked about an investigation on the director-general of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU).

Transcript of the notes recorded by the judge of this part of the testimony (excerpts are unedited):

Counsel: Adakah you search the EPU chief’s office?

Shafee: Yes, I did.

Counsel: Was a big sum of money found in the drawer of the EPU director-general for which he could not explain?

Court: What is the relevancy? No need to answer.

Counsel: Did Anwar Ibrahim directed you to raid the office of the EPU chief?

Shafee: No.

Counsel: Did Anwar ask you to close the case against the director?


Counsel: Did anyone ask you to close the case?

Shafee: Yes, the prime minister did.

Counsel: Narrate the circumstances under which the PM asked you to close the investigation.

Counsel: Were you called up by the PM?

Shafee: Yes. I was told off, 'How dare you raid my senior officer’s office?' I was taken aback and I replied 'This was based on official complaint by an aggrieved party'.

I did what was officially required under the law. He accused me of trying to fix the former DG of EPU.

I replied that is totally wrong because it is wrong in law to fix anybody. As a Muslim it is a big sin to fix anybody.

He asked me, 'Did Anwar Ibrahim ask you to raid the office?' I said, 'no'.

It was based on an official complain and to be fair to Anwar when I mentioned the complain against the EPU chief, I inform Anwar of my intention to raid but he said, 'Have you cleared this with the PM?'.

I said, 'I mentioned this to PM, the PM kept quiet'.

Counsel: What was the tone of PM when he asked you whether Anwar asked you to raid? Was it in an angry tone or normal conversation tone?

Shafee: The tone was rather accusatory.

Counsel: The EPU was directly under the PM’s Department.

Court: No more questions on the investigation on the EPU chief. I am not satisfied of the relevancy of such evidence.

Counsel: Was the EPU responsible for awarding privatisation of projects?

Shafee: As far as I know, it is.

Counsel: After you were scolded by the PM did you inform anybody about this?

Shafee: I informed the Chief Secretary to the Government.

Counsel: What was your reaction when the PM scolded you and told you to close the case against the DG of EPU?

Shafee: I was highly dissolution and when I went home I told my wife I wanted to resign. But in view that I have two or three months to finish my extension - my wife persuaded me not to resign.

Counsel: Why did you feel dissolution and decide to resign?

Shafee: In my whole career with the government, this was the first time my boss accused me of trying to fix somebody and also my dissolution in the way the PM was interfering with my duty.

Mahathir was never investigated for interfering with the ACA investigation and Shafee had never been charged for perjury, if he had actually lied about his testimony.

Like most cases involving high level corruption by his men, the case was closed.

Pak Lah's biggest mistake was the promise he made to kill corruption before the 2004 polls. Without giving it much thought he made the promise and later realized the monstrosity of the problem and the difficulty in arresting it. It was so widespread and deeply entrenched a full disclosure would have caused the collapse of his entire administration.

The second biggest mistake he made was to allow certain amount of freedom of disclosure of corrupt practices in his administration where high-level personalities were involved but did not take appropriate actions to push through the cases and charge those involved in the court of law.

If he had followed his predecessors style of putting on the lid on every case that's likely to ruin the name of his administration , he wouldn't have the kind of problem he has now.

Another big mistake he made was to ignore the Internet, the blogging community.

In a country where freedom of the press is only free for the government. The Internet was godsend. The new found vehicle for freedom of expression has created an alternative media that penetrates millions of homes, unrestricted and uncensored. The oppositions which have no access to the mainstream media was quick to jump on the bandwagon. They not only utilised it directly themselves but also have cleverly engaged independent bloggers to their sides. Many well-known bloggers are allied to the oppositions.The government on the other hand looked at bloggers as pests and considered them unworthy of any respect.

Having a self-indulging Minister of Information didn't help either.Instead of advising the PM the benefits of engaging bloggers, he did otherwise, reviled them with all kind of names and declared them enemies of the nation.

The government, of all people, should have known that the urban areas are well wired up. Many households in the urban belt have computers and ready access to the internet.It would be safe to say at least 40 to 50 percent of BN electoral losses would have been attributed to bloggers.E-news websites like Malaysiakini and Malaysia Today had become household names and have strong followings. Those like Raja Petra Kamaruddin who was so convincing with his story, even his fictional writing sounds plausible and readily believed by his readers.

After 22 years of Mahathir's Machiavellian rule most Malaysians are not quite used to Badawai's amiable style which is translated as weakness of character.Neither is he a forceful speaker unlike the former prime minister, who has better oratory skills.

The problems in UMNO are combinations of many things, past and present, and the follies of many leaders including Mahathir and Abdullah which culminated to the current political crisis.

Is it fair to blame it just on one man?

Note:Court's transcript taken from Malaysiakini


Anonymous said...

It is difficultbody to trust anybody from the government nowadays. Even testimony from the ACA DG during Anwar's trial is questionable, all have got vested interest. Anwar is no angel and that was how he got to where he was during UMNO. Abdullah could have done something with the sins inherited from Tun M. The first thing he should do is not to allow KJ into politics. Could you imagine if Mukhriz was in politics during dad's time?

Letting the time pass me by said...

Pak Lah has a landslide victory in 2004 and he has all the Rakyat mandate to implement the anti-corruption campaign...

Even at that time, Tun Mahathir also have raised the issue of AP and other issues...

But instead, he just ignore and let those things to be swept away.

Just imagine if suddenly the government initiate an investigation againt MITI, then I believe Pak Lah will get full support even from the ex-PM...

Maybe there is too much can of worm in the system that if someone is presecuted, there will be a chain reaction and the entire organization will collapse?

Anonymous said...

TDM is just very lucky. If he had not stepped down in 2003, the 2004 election results will be the same as the 2008 election result.

We he be a gentleman to resign of PM if he is the sleeply PM shoes???

The Bodowi just inherit the crap TDM legacy. He just at the wrong place and wrong time.

TDM please keep your mouth shut. The more you talk the more shit you make..

zorro said...

What is happening in UMNO and directed at the PM is a typical National Geographic scenario.
When someone in the pack is hurt, two things happen.The pack leaves him and this is when the vultures and predators zoom in. They smell weakness and the alpha male leads the attack. The odour of blood is overpowering. The predators do
short shrift of the victim whilst the vultures patiently denude the bones. Like there is no honor amongst thieves. Old loyalties and pack ideologies evaporate into oblivion. The law of the jungle is harsh. If you are hurt, you cannot contribute to the pack thus you are useless. No quarters are given; second chances do not exist. Isn't this the scenario played out so publicly and blatantly?
My harshest rebuke to Pak Lah went something like this: "You may have awakened, but you have not got out of bed. Come to the window and shout for help." If Pak Lah failed, I put the blame on his Cabinet.Period. PM's case is what is commonly known as the Peter Principle. Incompetency rears like a sore thumb when we try to exceed our personal level of competency. As managers we promote a supervisor to manager position because he does work beyond the call of duty. When incompetence occur, only do we realise that he performs best as a supervisor and not as a manager.
So whoever is the manager that promoted that supervisor should also shoulder some blame for the incompetency exhibited. That, of course does not seem to be the case in the current brouhaha. My sympathy is with our incumbent PM. He needs all the support and help to see him thru this second term.

A bit long-winded. Do excuse the ramblings of an old man.

supa said...

Actually I think that Tun Mahathir had contributed greatly to this country albeit unintentionally.
During his reign, things were set in motion that laid the foundation for the current political and societal awareness we have today.
Firstly, tremendous sums of money was spent on trivial matters. With natural resources close to exhaustion, it is now imperative that we start pondering efficient management of resources; limiting the distribution of wealth within smaller and smaller cliques.
Secondly, clannish docility was nurtured to such an extent that all the components of BN other than UMNO were reduced to charitable societies only. This unveiled the deeply racist and imperialist intentions of UMNO.
Thirdly, the protectionist NEP was implemented and swiftly abused. The effect was to create a new class of generation 'oppoturnist' that are far removed from the pragmatic and often idealist 'rakyat'. Different from their progenitors, this generation of oppoturnists are ruthlessly greedy and are painfully honest about their predatory motives; causing a general feeling of hatred and dissatisfaction.
Fourthly, the attempt to silently islamise this nation had aggravated even the atheists as the liberty to practise religion also implies the liberty to ignore religious restrictions. UMNO is now perceived as not only racist, but also 'jihadist'.
Lastly, Tun selected a docile heir to his putrid throne. The pus that had been festering for decades was too much for any one man to bear. Thus, the very bedrock of UMNO were revealed to be deception, authoritarianism, imperialism, supremacism, selfishness, stubbornness and stupidity.
For more than 50 years, the people of this land are not allowed to be brothers. For more than 50 years, we distrust each others. For close to 50 years, we have been living in this purgatory of our own-making. Will you spend the next 50 years in limbo with the newly 'improved' 'Barisan Nasional', be it under Badawi, Mahathir, Najib or whoever?
Do you live that long?

Hantu Laut said...

Sometimes it is inherently difficult to cure a disease that already widespread or at best it takes time to cure it.

KJ is just bad news.Abdullah should have put his foot down on the braggart.

Hantu Laut said...

letting the time pass by,

The AP issue is not new, it was the same under Mahathir, Rafidah had been doing it since Mahathir's time but nobody dare to expose it because of fear of Mahathir.

Hantu Laut said...

anonymous 5.46,

Abdullah's weak leadership was part of the problem.A man must have his own mind in order to be a good and effective leader.

TDM, no doubt, has his faults but he is seen as a more effective leader than Pak Lah.

Hantu Laut said...

Thanks for the visit.

Yes, it's true a man can rise to a level of incompetency.Maybe Mahathir overestimated Pak Lah's capability or he probably think he could use him to carry on his legacy, which now looked like a misjudgment on his part.

zorro said...

Sir, I seek permission to extract comments I made at6.50am on April 3. I thought I would base a new posting on the comments I made. I do not have your email, thus this form of communication.