bakri is very direct and precise with his writing.. he is perhaps typing down wat exactly he is thinking and his concern for the country...
p/s ; am wearing black comes this 31st august 2007 to show democracy and a whole lot of things are dead in malaysia... let us all continue the struggle and come out victorious in order for us to wear some bright colours for the 51st anniversary...
Unfit To Lead
M. Bakri Musa
After nearly four years as Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has clearly demonstrated that he is not fit to lead the nation. He does not have what it takes to hold the nation’s top post; he must be relieved of his office.
The man is too incompetent to be even aware of his own incompetence. His trademark answer to every serious query is a plaintive, “I dunno!” There is not even a hint of embarrassment on his part, or the desire and curiosity to find out. Truly revealing!
Consider this latest blunder: As Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Abdullah is blissfully unaware of the RM5 billion blunder now unfolding at the Port Klang Free Zone project. If he is not aware (much less on top) of that impending financial implosion, chances are he is unable to comprehend the wider and more treacherous economic ramifications. Abdullah is instead riled up over some sophomoric rap rendition of the national anthem. Small mind, trivial preoccupation!
His election promises of 2004 turned out to be nothing more than the typical politician’s empty words, a cruel hoax perpetrated upon trusting citizens. For all his talk about greater transparency and combating corruption, it is nothing more than, to put it in the vernacular, “cock talk!” Under his “leadership,” all these are now much worse. His overly displayed public piety and religiosity are obviously for show only, as he is not fearful of Allah for having not kept his promises to the people.
He is consumed with the expensive trappings of his office, with luxury corporate jets ready to fly him and his family all over the globe. It is amazing how fast this kampong imam from Kepala Batas, a backwater of modern Penang, is acquiring the extravagant taste of the jet set, all at public expense of course.
Those closest to him personally and politically are serving their selfish interests in indulging his fantasy, or more correctly, daydream. The old man can hardly keep himself awake!
Unfortunately, it is the nation that is bearing the terrible consequences. The longer he stays, the heavier will be the burden, and costlier the price. We are now close to the point where the damages wrecked by this man would be irreversible. We cannot risk such a fate; the time for action is now!
This is a sobering thought, a definite damper on the current joyous mood in celebrating our 50th anniversary of Merdeka. Fortunately, despite Malaysia’s short history, the nation is sufficiently rooted in democratic principles and practices that it could effect leadership change without resorting to unconstitutional means.
There is little to learn from other Third World countries, with their predilection for assassinations, military coups, and other unsavory methods, in getting rid of ineffective leaders. Those who grab power are by nature ruthless and not likely to give it up willingly. Consequently, the end result is invariably much worse. However, considering Abdullah’s current sorry ineptness, such a scene is difficult to imagine for Malaysia.
Malaysia once suspended its constitution, following the May 1969 riot. That was in response to an emergency, when the dangers and damages were physical and thus readily comprehended by the citizens. Consequently there was general consensus to a rule by decree.
Today’s dangers are more subtle and insidious, but the consequences could be even more catastrophic. The nation is being lulled into irreversible mediocrity, condemned to perpetual third-rate status.
Another major factor to the acceptance of the 1969 Emergency Rule was that we knew who would be taking over: the able and decisive Tun Razak. Malaysians had faith in the man’s ability and integrity. They were not wrong. A few years later with law and order established, Razak re-instituted parliament and voluntarily gave up his dictatorial power. To this day, his action remains the rare exception; the general rule is for dictators to cling on to power until they die naturally, get killed, or are ousted.
I also do not think it necessary to strain the constitution with, for example, the King exercising his power to remove the Prime Minister. That would create a dangerous precedent. Besides, Abdullah is just not worth a constitutional crisis.
Tips From the First World
While the Third World cannot offer us lessons on changing leaders orderly outside of elections, we can learn from the First World. Even hitherto able leaders could be removed without compromising constitutional or democratic principles. Britain’s Tony Blair is a recent example.
Blair led his Labor Party to three successive electoral victories. Yet when he overreached and joined Bush in invading Iraq, a few of his ministers resigned in protest. That in turn emboldened Blair’s challenger, Gordon Brown.
While former Prime Minister Mahathir admitted to making a colossal mistake in appointing Abdullah, Malaysia should not and cannot be held hostage to the mistake of one man. There is no reason to be fatalistic or just sit back and suffer the consequences. While Mahathir is trying hard to undo his mistake, the primary responsibility in ridding Abdullah ultimately falls on the citizens collectively, not on any one person no matter how eminent and influential he or she may be.
That said, a single individual – even one of no particular distinction – can often initiate and effect significant change. Again referring to May 1969, it was one man who initiated the process that eventually led to Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman leaving. The Tunku was a much-revered leader, the “Father of Independence,” yet the one man instrumental in Tunku’s downfall was a defeated government backbencher.
A defeated candidate normally would have little clout, yet there was Mahathir able to effect seismic changes in the nation’s leadership with his now famous letter to the Tunku demanding that he quit.
Easing Abdullah Out
The most effective way to disabuse Abdullah of his delusion and puncture his leadership fantasy would be for his ministers to have a vote of no confidence in him. That would be dramatic, but unlikely to happen. As some of his ministers are also leaders of the component parties, such an action could split the coalition and risk paying the ultimate price: defeat at the general elections.
A more practical reason for this not happening is that his ministers are more followers than leaders. There are no jantans in the cabinet, only jantan wannabes. They were appointed not for their leadership qualities or executive talent but for their ability to grovel to and humor the leader of the day.
Recently in an unprecedented move, the entire non-Muslim ministers except one (he was abroad at the time) wrote the Prime Minister to express their displeasure over the increasing Islamization of his administration. They quickly backed down when UMNO hound dogs snarled back. That again reflected the spinelessness of these ministers.
Nonetheless their subtle message – they do not have confidence in Abdullah – was delivered. The only problem was that everyone missed that too subtle a message.
As an aside, although I share their concerns I condemned those ministers’ action. Far from challenging Abdullah, they merely exacerbated the Muslim/non-Muslim divide. They would have been far more effective had they acted individually, and backed their words with actions, as with resigning and taking their party out of the coalition. That would have startled Abdullah enough to wake him up. His hound dogs in UMNO Youth would be too rattled to spring into action. It might even embolden a few UMNO ministers to do their part and trigger a soft in-house coup.
Do not however, expect a Malaysian Gordon Brown, ready and able to take over. Brown had proven himself formidable as Chancellor of the Exchequer, a more than worthy successor, while Abdullah’s deputy, Najib Razak, carries considerable political and personal baggage. More than likely, the change process would also consume him.
When President Nixon was threatened with impeachment over the Watergate crisis, senior leaders of his party was able to persuade him to resign and thus spare the nation a constitutional crisis. Unfortunately UMNO is bereft of senior leaders with stature. Musa Hitam in theory would be a prime candidate, but since getting his Tunship, Musa is so beholden to Abdullah that he (Abdullah) can now do no wrong.
One leader (apart from Mahathir) who could tell Abdullah to his face would be Tengku Razaleigh. However he would not be credible as his efforts would be viewed as self-serving: to further his own ambition of becoming Prime Minister.
Alternatively, UMNO Supreme Council could express its lack of confidence in Abdullah. With Abdullah no longer its leader, he would have to give up his office and UMNO would have to convene a leadership convention. That would open wide the field and help ensure that the party would get a more capable and credible leader.
UMNO Supreme Council is a much larger and more independent body than the cabinet. Except for the ten members appointed by and thus beholden to Abdullah, the others are voted directly by the members. They are immune to his influence except in so far as promises of ministerial and other political appointments. There would be enough members not beholden to him who could initiate a no-confidence vote. Even if it fails, it may just rattle the old man that he may decide to spend more time with his new wife.
If all else fails, voters could always teach Abdullah a lesson. If they were to give him and his party a severe thumping in the next election, that could precipitate an internal grumbling within UMNO enough to trigger an insurrection.
The next election however need not be held till May 2009. By that time the country would have become irretrievably damaged under Abdullah’s leadership, or more correctly, lack of one. Corruption would be so endemic and embedded such that the election itself would be meaningless; it would be effectively rigged. At which stage Malaysia would join the ranks of Nigeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe, doomed to perpetual mediocrity.
It is thus urgent that we relieve Abdullah now of his job before it is too late. We owe it to our children and grandchildren.