Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Can Badawi Weathers The Storm ?

Hantu Laut

Abdullah may not be the greatest prime minister this country ever had, at least he has given Malaysians more freedom to express themselves without fear of being incarcerated.Malaysians are now bolder than before to go on the streets and show their displeasure at the government.

How many people have Abdullah sent to ISA detention other than the Hindraf 5 ? How many have Mahathir detained under the ISA during his time? Incredible as it may sound, some of those  locked-up by Mahathir are still in prison, forgotten by society, because the families are just too poor and helpless to bring their appeal to the authority.Unless you are a famous political figure or someone known to the public, you would be forgotten and unforgiven.

The blogging fraternity is a stark example of the huge difference in freedom Malaysians have now than before to criticise the leadership and the government.

Abdullah has taken in his stride many of the unfair criticisms and slighting remarks on his personality.Just go to any of the popular political blog and you would find unsavoury language used by blog readers on the Prime Minister and his family.

I do agree there are certain weaknesses in his administration but these are not insurmountable problems and given time I believe he could mend those weaknesses. Mahathir's first term in office was also a period of trail and error.

Part of the problem leading to the unprecedented losses at the recent polls was Mahathir himself.His constant harping and attacks on Abdullah's personality have had great impact and influence on voters' mind.The demoralisation in UMNO was attributable to his unrelenting and malignant attacks on Abdullah.

Mahathir, although out of office, still wields significant influence in UMNO and part of the populace.This can be seen from the popularity of his blog.It is the fastest growing blog in term of readership with over 2 million hits since its inception a few months ago. If one cares to look closely at the readers' sycophantic comments in his blog, it is obvious most of those who came to his blog are readers who are in their early youth, those who knew only one prime minister from adolescence.They grew up under the golden years of Mahathir's rule and have not known any form of hardship and would assiduously oppose any fundamental change.

Many Malaysians have fallen victims to the mud-racking campaign of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad.They forgot that Mahathir had 22 years whilst Abdullah had only less than 5 years so far and under very trying conditions.

Many of us have forgotten that when Mahathir first came to power he was also a green horn in the world of commerce and had experimented with all sorts of things.His 'Look East' policy and his dreams of building Malaysian version of the Japanese model of the 'sogo sosha' was a complete failure costing taxpayers millions of ringgits and his close friend Abdullah Ng in prison for criminal breach of trust.How many financial scandals and bank failures were there during his time? How many bail-out were there using Petronas money?The BMF scandal that ended up with the murder of a bank officer and the bail-out of Bank Bumiptra was during his time.The steel mill Perwaja which was losing huge amount under bumiputra management which he eventually handed over to his good friend Eric Chia whom he thinks is a wiz-kid and can do a better job, eventually lost even more money through corruption.Eric Chia was charged and brought to court for corruption.He was later acquitted of the charge.It was reported Chia died yesterday morning in his sleep at his own hotel.

The huge forex losses at Bank Negara was a mind-boggling financial adventure. The giving of huge projects to cronies that went down the tube would be hard to list out here.The building of the Petronas Twin Tower and Puterajaya are showcases of his extravagance and megalomania.
Some of the scandalous financial expeditions during his time are shown below:

1.Bank Bumiputra and BMF scandals in early 1980s costing the nation over RM2.5 billion in    losses and ended up in bail-out by Petronas and the murder of the bank's officer investigating  the case.
2.Attempt to corner the tin market in the 1980s costing the taxpayers in the region of RM1.6  billion.
3.Forex speculation in 1990s costing Bank Negara almost RM30 billion.
4.Perwaja losses of RM2.56 billion.
5.Billions paid to IPP(Independent Power Producer) for unused and overpriced power        generation.
6.About RM10 billion spent to shore up the stock market.
7.A ridiculous amount of RM2.2 billion spent on information and computer technology to teach   Maths and Science in English.
8.Billions spent in bail-out of MAS twice during his time.
9.Amount of RM3.2 billion spent to bail-out Star-LRT.
10.Scandalous losses of RM1.0 billion at Bank Islam.
11.Annual expenditure of RM500 million spend on so-called National Service which are merely     badly-run holiday camps some with high mortality rate.

The above list is not exhaustive, there were many more below the tip of the iceberg.

The awarding of huge government projects at highly inflated prices to cronies and party members to buy patronage is humongous.Some of the projects were sub-contracted so many times, there weren't enough profit left for the final contractor to make money, who had no choice but to cheat, using sub-standard materials and work to cut costs and what do you get, sub-standard and dangerously built buildings and highways and abandoned projects which incurred additional costs to rescue.

Just take a look at the divisional heads of UMNO branches.See how filthy rich they are.They fought tooth and nail to be divisional head, it's a shortcut to the bounty and instant wealth.

After the President and Supreme Council this is the third most powerful position in the party, even ministers have to kowtow to them during elections time.The politic of patronage and money politics started during Mahathir's time.He closed his eyes and pretended not to see the goings-on. 

I wouldn't doubt Mahathir's contributions to the building of this nation and successfully brought it to what it is today.It could have been better if he had been less autocratic and more frugal in financial management.As much good that he has done he has also rendered some very unpleasant flavouring to the politics of this nation.

Since he handed over power to Abdullah and the shelving of his pet projects he has gone on a rampaging war path against the Prime Minister.His fulmination of Abdullah is expression of his deep-rooted anger of his feeling of being played out and decided that Abdullah must be punished  severely for the broken promise.If Abdullah had built the crooked bridge and not cancelled the double-tracking railway , we would see different 'wayang'(shadow play) being played out by him.Mahathir's criticism of Abdullah can be likened to the 'pot calling the kettle black'.

Other than being awkwardly inconsistent, dozing off at parliamentary sittings and flip-flop if you like, many of the fashions of the government being used today were inherited from Mahathir.The only big mistake Abdullah made was to open the flood-gate and let Malaysians speak out more freely.

Dozing off at parliamentary sessions is a natural phenomenon in many countries, but many Malaysians  made a big play out of it to ridicule Abdullah.

Because of public perception created by Mahathir's relentless attacks that Abdullah is incapable, flip-flop and not fit to be a prime minister, some segment of our society had become judge and jury and have passed sentence on the Prime Minister. Journalists who has agenda against him were quick to snap pictures of his slumber.

Winston Churchill was known to have taken cat-naps  during meetings of his War Cabinet and had, for all the cat-napping he took, turned out to be one of the greatest prime ministers Britain ever had. During the same period Theodore Roosevelt, a paraplegic, was President of United States and ran the nation from a wheelchair.These two men and to some degree Stalin of Russia had saved the world from total hegemonic control of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.So cat-napping may not be so bad after all.For some people it may be the only way they can re-charge their batteries.

Beleaguered Abdullah's attacks came from all fronts, from Mahathir and disenchanted UMNO members,Anwar Ibrahim and his oppositions partners and from some segment of the population who have bought Mahathir's and Anwar's story.

Most people would have thrown in the towel.Abdullah has steadfastly stood his ground against all odds.The many predictions that he would fall sooner than later have not materialised.

Anwar Ibrahim's perennial claims that he would be taking over the government had so far come to naught.Lot of talk but didn't have the guts to start the ball rolling by using his own PKR MPs to bring a motion of no confidence against Abdullah. He had instead approached Yong Teck Lee for help to demolish Abdullah, which have back-fired badly.His next dateline is not later than September 16, if he failed, he has to put his foot where his mouth is.

So far Badawi has managed to temper the would be rebels in his own party and calls for him to resign has quieten down and it looks like the other components in the BN are heading the same way.  

Will Badawi survives the full term?

To be continued


Pok Kam said...

Dear HL,

The only thing so irritating about AAB is yes, as you have said it, his inconsistency. Other than that I have no complain.

I sometimes compare AAB current position to that of Pairin during PBS days in the opposition. He'll last his term so long majority of his rankings officer do not form a mutiny and dump him.

Or that DSAI suddenly had his grand formula he so many times claimed he had and goes about forming the new government.

iman said...

Dea HL,

I rather have AAB than Najib. AAB should take all the criticism, review it and move forward.

RPK's SD would have made Najib's supporters edgy and they are probably thinking of jumping ship either to AAB or to PR.

aquilage said...

Dear Hantu Laut,

AAB has to do 1 thing to bring credibility to what he says and to win trust of the people.

And that 1 thing is to get REMBAU OUT OF POLITICS, out of UMNO and out of all his meetings with his cabinet ministers.

It is not AAB that we have to worry about - it is REMBAU.

AAB has given Malaysians freedom no doubt. Blogging would have never happened during Dr. M time. I can put down my bet to it.

Anonymous said...

# Maka di sini sudah jelas yang Malaysia adalah negara yang memastikan impian segala lapisan masyarakat menjadi kenyataan untuk membentuk BANGSA MALAYSIA yang kita impikan dan suku - suku bangsa yang ada di Malaysia berbanggalah dengan kejadian ini.

# BANGSA MALAYSIA, BAHASA MALAYSIA, JIWA MALAYSIA, DUNIA MALAYSIA...marilah kita bersama - sama membuat pilihan yang sewajarnya kerana untuk 50 ke 100 tahun akan datang cabaran globalisasi adalah agenda utama!

# Majulah Malaysia untuk Semua.

Garrett said...

Dear Hantulaut,

For all your claims of being unbiased, you sure have your daggers out for Mahathir! While I am no fan of his, I am even less a fan of Badawi. While Badawi is a nice chap, I despise him for his weakness and especially of his lack of control and over-reliance on his son-in-law and the 4th floor boys. Under Badawi's admin, corruption seems to have gotten worst - and it's only been 5 years! Imagine how bad it'll get in another 17 years!
Are you sure there are more freedom under Badawi? Remember, during the Anwar vs Mahathir days, reformasi folks used the internet to the fullest to whack Mahathir, yet there were no attempts to control the internet. I'm sure you have seen the attempts by the govt to clamp down on bloggers, but have found that an impossible task! That's the only reason why the govt seem so lenient - it has no other choices!
Badawi is no intellectual, but if he really has the heart and sincerity to rule Malaysia properly, he should rid himself of the 4th flr boys, and rely less on KJ and get himself some experienced and good advisors. Then I will probably respect him more.

Hantu Laut said...


Appreciate your frankness and honest opinion, this is not bashing of Mahathir, it is my personal observation of the chain of events that led to the falling out of the two men.I am positive Mahathir's ostensible reason is personal. I did not completely maul him and gave him due credit for the good he did.

Abdullah has also been on the receiving end on some issues which I felt strongly about and felt are not good for the nation.I look more at issues and policies rather than personality in totality.

I don't believe in mud-slinging personal attack as it will only attract the proletariat readers with their obscene and nasty comments.

One must admit there are occassions when one tends to be a little bias when one feels fairness and justice had become a one-sided affair.

I do feel there are more freedom now than before otherwise people like Yong of SAPP had no chance of his talk of vote of no confidence against the PM, Abdullah can always do a sequel to 'Operation Lallang' and do what his predecessor did.

I also think Abdullah is a good man surrounded by too many scyophantic self-serving half-baked professional advisers and aides.The recent price hike and formula used to compensate the people was a reflection of their incompetence.

I have in my previous posts also taken Abdulllah to tasks.Below are some of my comments, some of which coincide with yours:

" Abdullah needs massive image reconstruction if he wants to stay in power.His popularity rating has slid further down after the price hike.He is in dire need of a cabinet reshuffle and should get rid of those lazy ministers who have done him more harm than good.He should disband his 4th floor academicians.They are probably better suited to give lectures in our local universities than dishing out advices to the Prime Minister. Those kiddies from Oxford and Cambridge have not shown their mantle. If they had, the Prime Minister wouldn't be in such predicament.

The recent price increase has not been given serious thought and no campaign has been carried out to bring awareness to lessen the shock to the general public. The government should have used the mass media to advertise and dish the dirt out to the people on why the nation needs to reduce the subsidy, at least for six months before the date of implementation.It is obvious his cabinet ministers and public relation officers are not doing their jobs."

Go to some of my previous posts and see for yourself what this blog is all about.

Anonymous said...

Dear HL,

First and foremost would like to congratulate you for taken up the task of the 'Defender of Pak Lah and KJ'.

Garrett said...

Dear HL,

Noted....all's cool! Thanks for your reply.