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M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

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Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Rampas Mancis Dari Najib Sebelum Malaysia Terbakar

Rampas Mancis Dari Najib Sebelum Malaysia Terbakar

M. Bakri Musa


Se ekor monyet dengan mancis tidak mungkin menghanguskan seluruh desa sunggoh pun rumah kampung dibina dari kayu dan berbumbung atap. Namun rekaan tersebut tahan lasak, dengan dapur dalam membakar kayu dan bara asap di bawah rumah untuk menghalau nyamuk. Maksudnya, banyak perkara lain yang mesti sedia ada dan berlaku sebelum kampung tersebut boleh dijahanamkan, umpamanya cuaca panas yang berpanjangan dan sampah kering yang bertimbun.

            Walaubagaiman pun apabila terjadi kebakaran, kita terkejut dan dengan senang menyalahkan si monyet. Kita enggan atau tanpa kepintaran untuk merenung lebih mendalam. Kita tidak menyoal mengapa kebakaran boleh berlaku. Mithalnya, siapa yang memberi si monyet mancis dan mengapa dia tidak dikawal. Atau mengapa sampah dibenarkan bertimbun semasa musim panas yang berpanjangan.

            Kampung yang dinamakan Malaysia ini masih belum terbakar. Penduduknya masih lagi berlagak tanpa menyedari bahawa cuaca kering sudah berlama dan sampah sudah bergunung. Sunggoh pun demikian, mereka masih tidak mengendahi bahaya si monyet asyik bermain dengan mancis.

            Mungkin oleh sebab orang Malaysia biasa dengan cuaca tropika mereka tidak sedar bahaya iklim panas. Oleh sebab itu mereka tidak menghiraukan suasana politik semasa yang panas. Tambahan pula itu satu pengalaman baru. Malaysia bukan Nigeria atau Pakistan. Belum lagi. Mengkecualikan peristiwa 1969, rusuhan dan politik huruhara bukan stau kebiasaan di Malaysia. Begitu juga bunuh membunuh pemimpin yang degil dan kita tidak setujui. Itu belum lagi menjadi budaya politik kita.

            Pada pilihan raya umum 9 Mei 2018 ini, sekiranya Najib dan Barisan Nasional menang walau beberapa tipis pun, itu bererti pengundi telah memberi si monyet Najib se kotak mancis baru dan kemudian menggalakkan dia terus bermain di tengah-tengah sampah kering yang bertimbun dan iklim politik yang sering panas tegang. Sampah kering yang saya maksudkan ialah kelemahan pentakbiran negara dengan pemimpin dan kakitangan kanan yang tak beramanah. Iklim panas yang dirujukkan tadi ialah iblis benci membenci yang bermaharajalela dalam masyarakat Melayu kini. 

            Rakyat Malaysia tidak pernah bertegang dan berpecah belah seperti sekarang sejak pilihan raya 1969. Pada masa itu kekalahan Barisan di beberapa negeri dan kehilangan kemenangan dua pertiga di peringkat persekutuan mencetuskan rusuhan bangsa yang mengerikan. Ribuan terbunuh dan beribuan lagi cedra, serta kejahanam harta benda yang tak terkira. Parlimen digantung dan pemerintahan cara hukum paksa (decree) di tubohkan. Kudis besar negara itu kini sudah lama pulih dan dimeteraikan dengan parut yang tebal. Ia tidak mungkin terbuka kembali walaupun ramai si nakal yang cuba menggarunya.

            Pecahbelah rakyat pada masa itu ialah antara kaum, khasnya antara Melayu dan Cina, dan keganasan terhad di Kuala Lumpur sahaja. Hari ini perpecahan yang semakin mendalam bukan antara kaum tetapi intraatau dalam kaum, anatara masyarakat Melayu sahaja. Dan perpechan ini meluas. Hanya Malaysia Timur sahaja yang terhindar dari ancaman ini. Rakyat Malaysia khasnya masyarakat Melayu masih enggan atau belum lagi mengakui ancaman baru ini yang lebih ketara. Di situlah terletaknya bahaya besar.

            Saya tidak pernah melihat sifat serta peragai biadab dan kebencian yang di lemparkan dengan terus terang di semua peringkat terhadap Najib dan Mahathir. Kedua pemimpin itu serta yang lain, dari raja raja ke kaum ulama juga turut tanpa mengendahi tata tertib. Peragai yang kasar serta kotor itu tidak pernah di alamai dalam budaya kita. Itu bukan nilai bangsa Melayu. Saya bimbang jika sesuatu yang tidak diingini berlaku kepada Najib atau Mahathir, itu akan mencetuskan perang saudara yang ganas di kalangan pengikut mereka.

            Sejarah menunjokkan bahawa pertengkaran yang paling ganas adalah diantara kaum sendiri. Saksikan pembunuhan yang ngeri di Timur Tengah; ianya bukan antara Arab dan Yahudi tetapi dalam kalangan orang Arab sendiri. Keadaan Semenanjung Korea masih tegang dan sedia meletup pada bila-bila masa sahaja dan membawa dunia luar dengannya. Sebelum itu terdapat perang saudara di negri Cina. Sia sia sahaja untuk mengagak sama ada orang Cina menderita lebih teruk di bawah Pendudukan Jepun atau semasa perang saudara mereka sendiri. Bukan terlaluan jika menegas bahawa Pendudukan Jepun sekurang-kurangnya mengganggu atau memberhentikan kekejaman masyarakat Cina antara mereka sendiri.

            Bahaya besar di Malaysia hari ini ialah ketiadaan unsur penampan yang boleh melemah atau mengsabarkan perpecahan antara Melayu. Unsur budaya kita dari sultan ke ulama serta badan pengtakbiran dari Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya kepada perkhidmatan bersenjata dan polis gagal untok merapatkan masyarakat Melayu. Bahkan mereka menambah dan mengherat perpecahan antara kita. Sultan dan Agong bukan "pelindung" Islam dan adat istiadat Melayu sebagaimana mereka mengakui atau mengikut tradisi dan perlembagaan tetapi hanya melindung sebahagian sahaja kaum kita, yakni Melayu UMNO dan mereka yang terpersona dengan pikatan falsafah Najib "Wang Itu Raja!"

            Ketua Angkatan Bersenjata baru sahaja menarik kembali ikrarnya bahawa kesetiaan pasukan dan pegawainya adalah kepada Najib dan pemerintahan UMNO. Dia lupa sumpah jawatannya untuk setia pada raja dan negara. Begitu juga dengan Pendaftar Pertubuhan; dia menafikan pendaftaran parti baru Mahathir. Sementara itu anak sultan di hujung semenanjung bertitah kepada Bangsa Johornya bagaimana hendak mengundi! 

            Saya kesal bahawa rakyat bukan Melayu tidak memainkan peranan penting mereka, yaitu memadam dan mengurangkan perpecah belah didalam kaum Melayu yang kini bertambah bahaya. Mungkin mereka sifatkan itu sebagai peluang menagguk dalam air keruh. Itu satu angkapan yang sangat pendik. Kalau Melayu berpecah, mereka semestinya akan terus disedut mau tak mau ke dalam pertengkaran itu.

            Harapan saya adalah dengan Sabah dan Sarawak. Mungkin kerana disana tiada masyarakat yang terbesar seperti Melayu di Semenanjung, mereka sedar untuk menunjukkan kelakuan dan teladan yang bersifat tolak ansur. Mereka tidak membenarkan unsur perkauman yang bahaya menentukan atau membataskan politik dan pandangan mereka.

            Mungkin oleh sebab UMNO tidak mempunyai cawangan di sana, Sarawak bebas dari desakkan perkauman yang di mainkan oleh UMNO di semenanjung. Saya berharap bahawa kuman perkauman yang ganas didalam tubuh dan minda UMNO tidak dapat berjangkit ka Malaysia Timur dan masyarakat si sana kekal bebas dari gangguan hantu UMNO.
  
            Pengundi mempunyai tugas penting dalam Pilihan Raya Umum ke-14 ini. Mereka mesti merampas kotak mancis daripada Najib sebelum dia dan kumpulan monyetnya di UMNO melakukan kerosakan kepada negara. Hentikan Najib sebelum dia membakar negara.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Snatch The Match From That Monkey Najib Before He burns Down The Village

Snatch The Match From That Monkey Najib Before He Burns Down The Village 

M. Bakri Musa


It would take more than just a monkey with a match to burn down a village, despite the dwellings being made of wood and having flammable thatched roofs. Those homes have withstood generations of indoor wood-burning stoves and nightly mosquito-repelling ambers underneath their floors. There would have to be more, as with a long spell of dry hot weather and mountains of ignitable garbage strewn around. 

Yet when the kampung does get burned down, everyone would be shocked. The immediate reaction would be to blame the idiot with the match, and the fury heaped upon that poor soul would then be merciless.

Consumed with vengeance and with little inclination or intelligence for reflection, the necessary probing questions would never get raised. As with who gave the idiot the match or why was he not supervised. Few would notice much less ponder why the strewn garbage was allowed to accumulate and thus pose a fire as well as health and other hazards. 

            The kampung that is Malaysia has not burnt down, at least not yet. Malaysians are still smug and remain blissfully unaware of the long dry spell and the tinder dried debris that has been stacking up. Nor do they realize the danger posed by the idiot running around with a match in his hand and threatening more mischief. God knows he has wrecked enough damage already. 

Being in the tropics, Malaysians are used to hot weather but the current hot political climate is very recent. The 1969 “incident” excepted, political riots and turmoils are not yet the norm. Malaysia has been thankfully spared such scourges as the assassinations of leaders and politicians, the staple of Third World politics.   

If Najib and his Barisan coalition were to prevail in the upcoming general election on May 9, 2018, however slim their victory, that would be akin to giving the village idiot a match, and then encouraging him to continue playing with it amidst the flammable debris and the high-voltage political atmosphere. 

The flammable debris are our failing institutions. Malaysias are also now deeply polarized, lending to the current highly-charged political climate. The last time Malaysians were stridently divided was during the 1969 election. Then the ruling coalition’s defeat in a few states and its loss of a supra majority at the federal level triggered a horrific race riot that killed thousands and maimed many more. Parliament had to be suspended and the nation ruled by decree. The scar of that national tragedy has now thankfully been sealed with a thick scab. It is unlikely that it would be rubbed open again despite the mischievous attempts by many.

The polarization then was interracial, between Malays and Chinese to be specific, and the outbreak of violence was localized only to Kuala Lumpur. Today the schisms and polarizations are widespread but notinterracial despite crude attempts by many to make it so, rather intra-racial, among Malays. Only East Malaysia is spared. As such Malaysians, in particular Malays, do not or refuse to recognize or even acknowledge this new threat to the nation. Therein lies the danger. 

Yet the evidences are glaring. I have never seen more ugly or blatant displays of vicious and visceral hatred directed at Najib and Mahathir. The two leaders themselves have set the pace and tone. Others too like the sultans and ulamas have taken sides. Their revulsion, as well as that of their followers, is so open. Such gross and uncouth displays are so un-Malay. I fear that should something untoward were to happen to Najib or Mahathir, that would trigger a vicious civil war among their fanatic followers, meaning, Malays. 

Throughout history the most savage conflicts are intra rather than interracial. Witness the ongoing carnage in the Middle East. I am referring not to the Arab-Israeli dispute but the continuing savageries among the Arabs. The Korean Peninsula is still a tinderbox, ready to explode and taking the world with it. Then there was the earlier Chinese civil war. It would be a futile exercise to venture whether the Chinese suffered more under the Japanese or during their own civil war. It would not be an exaggeration to assert that the Japanese Occupation at least interrupted the brutalities the Chinese inflicted upon each other.

What is so volatile about the current threat facing Malaysia is the absence of any restraining element to buffer or dampen this intra-Malay schism. Our institutions–from the sultans and the Election Commission to the armed services and the police–have failed us. The sultans and Agung are not the “protectors” of Islam and Malay customs as they claim, or as tradition and the constitution would have it. They are partial to UMNO Malays, thanks to Najib’s “cash is king” lure. 

The Chief of the Armed Forces had to retract his earlier statement proclaiming his troops’ and officers’ loyalty to Najib. That General forgot his oath of office, to serve king and country. Likewise the Registrar of Societies; she did her “job” in a single blow (pardon the pornographic pun) by denying the registration of Mahathir’s new party, a powerful opposition force. Meanwhile that clown prince and sultan wannabe in the southern tip of the peninsula thinks he can titah(command) his fantasized “Bangsa Johor” as to which party to vote for! His father the sultan had gone even further.

I would have expected Malaysian minorities to buffer or dampen this dangerous intra-Malay rift if nothing else for their (non-Malay) own self-interest. Instead they are sucked in by their own miscalculations into this perilous undertow. 

A sliver of hope is Sabah and Sarawak. Perhaps because everyone there is a minority, Malaysians there are inclusive and tolerant. They have gone beyond; they have not let their ethnic and cultural identities define or limit them. It is sad that their exemplary collective stance is lost on their fellow Malaysians in the peninsula. 

The fact that UMNO, a national party otherwise, does not have a beachhead in Sarawak, explains why the particularly virulent racist virus that has infected UMNO’s body and mind in the peninsula has not spread east across the South China Sea. I hope East Malaysians will keep it that way.
  
            Malaysians have a crucial task in this upcoming May 9thGeneral Election. They must snatch that dangerous match away from that idiot Najib and his band of mischievous UMNO monkeys. He and they have done enough damage to Malaysia. Stop them before they burn the whole country down.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Longing For Our Own Cak Nur

Longing For Our Own Cak Nur
M. Bakri Musa
www.bakrimusa.com


In May 1998, amidst widespread protests against him, Suharto was still looking for ways to cling on to power. His last desperate shenanigan was to co-opt his fiercest critics. Many fell for his bribery and flattery. Many, but not all. One brave honest soul, the late University of Chicago-trained Islamic scholar Nurcholish Madjid, was among the notable exceptions.

Cak Nur, as he was referred to with great fondness by the Indonesian people, told Suharto in no uncertain terms during a private meeting that the people wanted him out. The next day the dictator Suharto resigned, after ruling Indonesia for over 32 years. With that, Indonesia was spared further anguish.

Today it is Malaysia that is longing for her own Cak Nur, someone to tell the corrupt, venal, and incompetent Najib Razak straight to his face that his time is up. Najib’s crude, race-taunting theatrics have polarized Malaysians generally and divided Malays in particular. His profligate ways will burden Malaysians for generations with a humongous debt. 

Najib has to go even if he were to prevail in the upcoming elections. Elections and other accouterments of democracy are legitimate only if untainted. Otherwise it is but a refined mob rule, refined but still a mob rule. If in a mature democracy like America elections can be and have been corrupted through gerrymandering trickeries and foreign interferences, imagine the shenanigans in corrupt, fledgling, and Third-World Malaysia where money politics is the norm, with outright handing out of cash to voters as well as that old standby–phantom voters and the stuffing up of proxy postal votes among members of the police and armed forces. Najib has denied at the last minute the registration of the new party led by former Prime Minister Mahathir, UMNO’s current most formidable opponent. 

At least in China, the Chinese knew ahead that Chairman Xi would get a near unanimous vote for him being a leader for life. There was no pretense there; likewise with Iraq during Saddam Hussein. In Malaysia however, elections are but a cruel hoax perpetrated upon the people. 

The Economistpredicted that Najib would steal the upcoming election. That statement is erroneous; it implies that Najib could tell right from wrong. The man is amoral. The US Department of Justice and law enforcement agencies in no fewer than five international jurisdictions alleged that he stole billions from 1MDB. To Najib and his dedak-fed cheerleaders however, those were but generous donations!

Najib’s warped perception of reality is supported and protected by Malay culture. In still feudal Malay society, a leader can do no wrong. Even if Najib were to be naked, his Nazris, Zahids, and Ku Nans would insist that he was adorned in the finest songketspun of the most transparent silk from the rarest specie of silkworms! To them and other Najib’s kucus, he could not “steal” an election much less 1MDB funds. They view the former as being God’s will; the latter, “donations” from the land of the prophet!

No Malaysian Cak Nur
That encounter between Suharto and Cak Nur was historic and unprecedented. Historic because it changed the future path for Indonesia away from dictatorship; unprecedented because in Asian culture one never ever confronts a leader, directly or indirectly, politely or otherwise. Yet there was the somber-faced Cak Nur in his soft but firm voice telling the ever-smiling Suharto that the people wanted him out. Cak Nur’s only gesture to respect and civility was that he did not wag his finger at the President! 

Cak Nur reflected the true qualities of an Islamic scholar when he confronted Suharto that day. Throughout Islamic history, ulamas and scholars had served as effective bulkwards against the excesses of rulers. The purest jihad, goes a hadith (approximately translated), is to speak the truth in front of an oppressor. Those ulamas who dared defy their rulers believed that the punishment they would endure on earth at the hands of those tyrants would pale those in the Hereafter. Those ulamas are take to heart the hadith that Heaven is full of princes who befriended ulamas, but Hell is inundated with those who were close to rulers. 

Malaysian ulamas and scholars on the other hand are mesmerized by royal titles and the accompanying elaborate ceremonial attire bedecked with flattened bottle caps. No surpise then that to those ulamas Najib did not steal from 1MDB, rather that was his rezeki, a gift from Almighty!

Malaysia has her fair share of Cak Nurs; Allah would not be so unjust as to deprive us of that. However, our Cak Nurs have been so browbeaten and or otherwise shunted aside that the masses no longer recognize much less appreciate them. 

In any other culture the likes of Rafizi Ramli would be adulated; the various parties would be clamoring for him to lead them. He is the brightest star in Malaysia’s otherwise dark political galaxy. Today he faces an extended jail term . . . for exposing corruption! The late Kassim Ahmad was another. For his fearlessness he was hounded by the Syriah court right to his death. Then there is legal scholar Azmi Sharum; don’t expect him to be inducted to the National Professors Council any time soon.

I am touched and humbled by the brave and defiant gestures of our artists, among them blues singer Mohammad Ito and cartoonist Zunar. Meanwhile Lat, once my favorite, is now silent, content with his cheap Datukship. Zunar bravely moves on to local and international acclaim lampooning Najib and his wife. Zunar again proves that the pen is a powerful weapon. As he so famously quipped, even his pen has a stand; why not him? Lithe Sheila Majid and sultry Siti Nurhaliza too are souring up on Najib. Those ladies’ own star power defies the lure or threat of their RTM gigs being cancelled. 

Even mercurial Mahathir is no match against Najib’s dedak. God, I hope Mahathir would succeed in getting rid of Najib; so too should all Malaysians. Yes, Mahathir was instrumental for Najib’s rise. In his eagerness to repay his indebtedness to Najib’s father, Mahathir missed seeing Razak’s dark side in the son. 

With few exceptions, the ulamas and sultans too have succumbed to Najib’s dedak. The Federal Mufti saw fit to chide songstress Neelofa for launching her new stylish headgear in a nightclub. I wish the mufti had written Najib or did a Cak Nur on him for stealing the rakyats’ billions. As for the sultans, a few contracts their way or a new palace would suffice to silence them. Najib’s dedakcastrated the Council of Rulers far more effectively than Mahathir could ever hope to with his 1980s’ constitutional amendments. Yet Malays still believe in the mass delusion that the sultans are our “protectors.” The protection of a cheap Chinese condom; except that the sultans are very expensive .

Signs For The End of Time
In Islamic eschatology, among the signs of qiamat(the end of time) are when the utterers of the truth would not be believed and instead we fall for the liars; when leaders betray their followers’ trust and be among the worst of them; and the least consequential, when people compete to erect skyscrapers. Malaysia has plenty of those portends.

Those notwithstanding, I do not believe that Malays are near our qiamat. Instead it is Najib and UMNO who are nearing theirs. History reminds us that corrupt leaders always meet unsavory endings. Witness Libya’s Gaddafi and Romania’s Ceausescu. When the Malay qiamat comes, we would be stunned in disbelief to discover how easily we had been duped for so long and to such an unimaginable depth by a not-so-bright leader. Only Najib’s venality exceeds his stupidity.

Najib’s “cash is king” success is illusory. For one, the money is not infinite. For another, the ringgit is fast becoming like the Zambian dollar. When Najib’s (and UMNO’s) qiamatcomes, he and his enablers would learn fast why the word “amok” is of Malay origin. 

On reflection, Malaysia does not need a Cak Nur; Najib does not deserve such a graceful Suharto-like ending.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Merindui Cak Nur Kita

Merindui Cak Nur Kita
M. Bakri Musa
www.bakrimusa.com


Pada bulan Mei 1998, didalam suasana rusuhan menentang dia merebak, President Suharto masih lagi sibuk dengan cerot belotnya untuk terus berkuasa. Terdesak, dia cuba memikat dan menggabungkan pemimpin pembankang.  Ramai yang terpikat dengan rasuah yang mewah, pangkat tertinggi, serta pujian tak terhingga. Ramai, tetapi bukan semuanya. Antara pengecualian yang ketara, seroang berjiwa jujur serta berani ialah ulama kelulusan Universiti Chicago, Nurcholish Madjid. 

                       Cak Nur, nama panggilan nya yang lebih terkenal, menegur Suharto dengan terus terang tanpa putar belit atau kiasan lembut bahawa rakyat sudah jemu dan mahukan Suharto mengundur. Keesokan harinya ia meletakan jawatan setelah memerintah Indonesia dengan kejam selama 32 tahun. Dengan itu, Indonesia dilindungi kegelisahan dan huru hara.

                       Hari ini Malaysia yang memerlukan Cak Nur nya sendiri. Yakni seorang yang disegani untuk memberi amaran didepan muka Njib Razak bahawa rakyat sudah bosan serta benci dengan rasuahnya yang terlaluan, peragai pemimpinnya yang kurang sopan, dan penyelewangan amanah yang tidak pernah di alami dinegara kita. Sudah sampai masanya untuk Najib berundur. Rakyat sudah tidak tahan lagi menanggung kelakuannya yang mengaget bangsa dan memecah belah rakyat. Peragia beliau membahagikan dan melagakan masyarakat Melayu tidak boleh di tahan dan di ampuni lagi. Samping itu dia telah membebani rakyat dengan hutang berat yang mesti ditanggungi sebeberapa keturunan.

                       Najib mesti mengundur walaupun jika ia menang di pilihan raya yang akan datang ini. Pilihanraya serta alat alat demokrasi yang lain hanya sah dan bermakna jika tidak dicemari. Dengan campuran rasuah dan “poltik wang” demokrasi bermakna peraturan rusuhan. Peraturan tetapi tetap rusuhan. Malah di demokrasi yang matang seperti Amerika pilihanraya boleh di tipu melalui “gerrymandering” dan gangguan dari luar negri. Apalagi Malayasia, di mana politik wang dianggap biasa dan duit disebarkan kepada pengundi dengan secara langsung dan terbuka; di mana  pengundi hantu serta penipuan undi pos antara ahli-ahli polis dan angkatan tentera dilakukan dengan terus terang.
 
                       Di negri China mereka sedar dan berterus terang dari asal bahawa Pengerusi Xi akan mendapat undi sebulat suara untuk menjadi pemimpin seumur hidup. Mereka tidak berpura-pura atau mengakui diri mereka bebas atau demokratik. Begitu juga dengan Iraq semasa Saddam Hussein. Di Malaysia, pilihan raya hanyalah satu tipu daya kejam yang dilakukan terhadap rakyat, memghampakan mereka dengan harapan kosong serta palsu. 
 
                       Penerbitan The Ekonomist meramalkan Najib akan mencuri pilihan raya akan datang. Kenyataan itu tidak benar sebab itu memaklumkan bahawa Najib boleh mempisahkan benar dari yang salah, halal dari haram. Najib tanpa maruah. Jabatan Keadilan AS serta penguatkuasa undang-undang dari lima negara mendakwa dia mencuri beribu juta wang dari syarikat kerajaan 1MDB. Tetapi pada Najib dan kucunya dalam UMNO, dia tidak mencuri dana 1MDB hanya menerima derma dari tanah suci. Kemenangannya dalam pilihan raya adalah borkat dari Illahi!
 
                       Pakar saikoloji mempunyai istilah tertentu bagi mereka yang berpandangan songsang atau jauh berbeza daripada yang lain.
 
                       Pandangan Najib yang songsang dan kelakuan nya yang selekeh itu dilindungi oleh budaya Melayu. Dalam masyarakat kita yang masih feudal, semua yang dilakukan oleh pemimpin adalah betul dan halal, tak mungkin salah atau haram. Kalau dia telanjang, kepada si Nazri, Zahid, dan Ku Nan serta kucu kucu UMNO, Najib dihiasi songket sutera yang telus dan di buat dari benang serangga yang jarang ditemui! Kepada mereka, Najib dia tak "mencuri" pilihan raya atau dana 1MDB. Yang pertama ialahkehendak Allah, menurut ulama-ulama yang di tanggung oleh pemerintah, sementara yang kedua, "sumbangan" atau rezki dari tanah Nabi!
 
 
Tiada Cak Nur Malaysia

                       Pertemuan Suharto dan Cak Nur yang dirujukan itu bersejarah serta unik. Bersejarah kerana ia mengubah masa depan Indonesia jauh dari pemerintah diktator; unik kerana pertemuan saperti begitu jarang berlaku dalam budaya Asia. Masyarakat Asia enggan berdepanan dengan pemimpin mereka dan memberikan kata dua dengan terus terang, tanpa sindiran dan tidak kira sama ada sopan atau sebaliknya. Namun Cak Nur dengan suara nya yang lembut tapi tegas berani memberi amaran kepada Suharto yang sentiasa tersenyum itu bahawa rakyat mahukan dia undur. Hanya untok menghormati kesopanan dan budi budaya, Cak Nur tidak mejolongkan telunjuknya kepada Suharto!
 
                       Cak Nur mencerminkan sifat tulen kaum ulama. Sepanjang sejarah Islam ulama berkhidmat sebagai benteng menentang kelebihan dan kezaliman pemerintah. Renungkan hadis ini: Syurga dipenuhi dengan raja yang merapati ulama; Neraka dibanjiri oleh ulama yang selalu ke istana (terjemahan lebih kurang). Ulama tulen sedar bahawa deritaan yang mereka alami di tangan sultan yang derhaka tidak seberat nya bila di bandingkan dengan hukuman di akhirat nanti.

                       Ulama Melayu terpesona dengan geleran diraja mereka, termasuk pakaian resmi yang hebat dan dihiasi penuh dengan penutup botol. Kepada para ulama, Najib tidak mencuri wang dari 1MDB tetapi menerima rezeki, hadiah dari Illahi!
 
                       Masyarakat Melayu sudah tentu nya diborkati dengan ramai Cak Nur kita.  Allah yang Pemurah serta Adil tidak akn mengabaikan bangsa kita. Tetapi kita tidak menghargai borkat Nya. Sebaliknya budaya kita memperlekehkan hadiah dari Tuhan. Di budaya lain, si Rafizi Ramli mereka dihargai. Pelbagai pihak akan merebut dan memujuk ia untuk memimpin mereka. Makhlok saperti Rafizi di anggap sebagai bintang terang di langkasi yang gelap. Di Malaysia sebaliknya, Rafizi di penjarakan . . .  kerana mendedahkan rasuah! Almarhum Kassim Ahmad begitu juga. Kerana keberaniannya dia diburu oleh mahkamah syriah hingga hujong umor nya. Lihat lah Azmi Sharum, seorang pakar undang undang di Universiti Malaya. Jangan harapkan dia dianugerahkan menjadi ahli Majlis Profesor Negara.
 
                       Saya terharu dengan seniman kita yang berani menentang ketidakadilan. Di antara mereka ialah penyanyi “blues” Mohammad Ito dan kartunis Zunar. Sementara itu, Lat, yang dulu saya minati, kini dia berdiam diam sahaja, dibungkam dengan gelaran Datuk yang murah, manakala Zunar menerima kehormatan dan pujian antarabangsa kerana berani mengejek Najib dan isterinya. Zunar membuktikan bahawa pena itu adalah senjata yang lebih kuat. Malah Sheila Majid dan Siti Nurhaliza pun sudah bosan dengan Najib. Kuasa bintang mereka melebihi daya tarikan Najib dan RTM pemerintahnya. 
 
                       Bekas Perdana Menteri Mahathir pun sudah tidak tahan lagi dengan peragai Najib. Saya berdoa supaya Mahathir berjaya menghapuskan Najib. Semua rakyat Malaysia patut menyokong dia. Benar, Mahathir bertangung jawab atas kenaikkan Najib. Mahathir terhutang budi kepada ayah Najib. Oleh sebab itu Mahathir buta kepada sisi gelap Razak yang diwariskan keanak sulongnya.
 
                       Saya kecewa dengan peragai ulama dan sultan Melayu. Mereka berlumba lumba mengejar dedak dari Najib. Mufti Persekutuan tidak sabar menegur penyanyi Neelofa kerana melancarkan tudung bergaya barunya di kelab malam. Tetapi Tuan Mufti tidak bersangka pun untok menegur Najib bila ia mencuri wang 1MDB. Mufti Bakri bukan bahan Cak Nur; jauh sekali! 
 
                       Sementara itu Raja Melayu senang juga disenyapkan dengan kontrak mahal dan istana mahligai baru. Dedak lebih berkesan daripada pindaan perlembagaan tahun 1980-an untuk mengalih gelagak sultan. Namun orang Melayu masih percaya dengan khayalan bahawa sultan adalah "pelindung" kita. Ia, “perlindungan” kondom Cina yang murah; kecuali sultan kita mahal.
 
Tanda Qiamat
 
Orang Islam percaya antara tanda qiamat ialah apabila masyarakat tidak lagi mengutamakan kebenaran, sebaliknya si penipu dan pendusta di muliakan; apabila pemimpin pecah amanah dan menjadi pengkhianat dan penyamun; dan apabila mereka berlumba mendirikan pencakar langit.
 
                       Saya tidak percaya bahawa bangsa Melayu berhampiran dengan qiamat kita. Mungkin Najib dan UMNO mendekati qiamat mereka. Sejarah mengingatkan bahawa pemimpin yang korup akan mengalami hujung nyawa yang tidak senang dan mungkin mengerikan. Saksikan Gaddafi dan Ceausescu. Apabila qiamat Najib dan UMNO sampai, kita akan terperanjat serta tidak percaya bagaimana dan betapa mudahnya negara kita telah ditipu dengan terus terang oleh pemimpin yang begitu remeh dan tidak berkobolehan. 
 
                       Kejayaan Najib dengan kesimpulannya "wang itu raja" seumpama kejayaan kupu kupu lepas hujan. Cepat terbang tinggi dan lagi cebat kebumi. Punca ringgit bukan tak terbatas. Kedua, ringgit kita sudah menghampiri matawang Zambia dalam harga. Apabila qiamat menimpa Najib dan UMNO, mereka dan juga kita akan cepat mengetahui mengapa perkataan "amok" itu berasal bahasa Melayu. 
 
                       Pada saya, Malaysia tidak memerlukan Cak Nurnya. Najib tidak layak dihormati a la Suharto.

Monday, April 02, 2018

The Monumental Task of Transforming Malaysian GLCs

The Monumental Task of Transforming Malaysian GLCs
M. Bakri Musa
www.bakrimusa.com

The 2009 midterm review of the ten-year “GLC Transformation Initiative” would have Khazanah, Malaysia’s sovereign fund that controls most of the nation’s biggest GLCs, focus on three major objectives:  one, national development, meaning, growing equity, improving total productivity factor, and developing human capital, specifically that of Bumiputra; two, performance; and three, improving governance, stakeholder management, and shareholder value.
The last two should be the cornerstone of any corporation; no marks for stating the obvious.
I am surprised that there was any mention that these corporations should also be profitable. That has to be the top priority, a corporation’s reason for being. If it is losing money, then it would ipso facto be a drain on the public treasury. The corporation then becomes part of the problem, not part of the solution. As for the first–national development–that is broad enough to include Tun Razak’s original initial three objectives.
      My model corporation must first be profitable; that is the only way it can sustain itself. If a GLC is not, then it becomes a burden on the government. Then no matter how superior its services, valuable its products, or noble its intent, those would all be for naught. It might as well be part of the public service. A model GLC must also pay its most valuable asset–its workers–well and above the prevailing wages. You cannot be a model corporation no matter how profitable or lucrative your “return on equity” is if you operate a sweatshop and expose your workers to dangerous work environment. Someone else would then have to bear those costs.
There are other more pragmatic reasons for paying your workers well, quite apart from getting the cream of the crop and then retaining them. The greatest contributor to low productivity of workers is high turnover.
Henry Ford had another reason for paying his workers well. He wanted them to be able to afford to buy his products–Ford cars–thereby increasing his customer base.
A model corporation develops the potential of its employees and not treat them as contingent cost items, to be disposed of when you hit a rough patch, as is the practice with American companies. The Japanese knew something about this, hence the lifetime tenures of their workers, although I would not go that far. That would only replicate the job security mentality and regressive culture of the civil service.
Virgin’s Richard Branson’s top priority is his employees. Treat them well and they would in turn treat their customers well. No wonder his brand is premium.
Last, my model corporation treats the community and the environment where it operates with great respect. It does this through commission, by being positively engaged in the community, and by omission, by not polluting or degrading the environment.
The current buzz phrase to reflect this new consciousness is “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR) with its aura of altruism and philanthropy. However, if you cannot link CSR to your company’s profitability then it would remain a fuzzy “feel good” concept. Henry Ford did not have to pay his workers well as there was plenty of them at that time. He did it to expand his market, which in turn contributed to his profits.
Call it what you will, the central idea is to align the interest of all stakeholders–shareholders, workers, vendors, customers, and the community. They are all interrelated. If your community is prosperous, so too would your company as those community members are your potential customers. If your workers are happy, they will do a good job and the products they make and customer service they give will be superior, as per Branson’s insight.
In a “Big Idea” article in Harvard Business Review, Michael Porter and Mark Kramer advanced a comparable concept of creating shared value, of “creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges.” To them, “creating shared value is not social responsibility, philanthropy or even sustainability, but a new way to achieve economic success.”
Enlightened corporate leaders have internalized this or comparable philosophy because it contributes directly to their companies’ profit as well as advances the cause of their communities. As a result these companies are widely-admired, valued by investors, and most important of all in terms of social contribution, respected by the communities in which they operate.
Take Nestlé. Not too long ago it was the object of wrath by NGOs and pediatric associations for aggressively promoting its baby formula. The campaign was great for Nestlé’s profits but bad for the babies in the Third World as the milk powder would often be mixed with less-than-clean water. While in the short term the company benefited from the increased sales, in the long run it earned the wrath of the community and professional bodies, as well as mothers. The company suffered not just in bad publicity but more to the point, dead babies no longer needed formula.
Creating shared value is, as its CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe put it, “a fundamental part of Nestlé’s way of doing business that focuses on specific areas of the company’s core business activities–namely water, nutrition, and rural development–where value can best be created both for society and shareholders.”
The company has endowed a prestigious award, The Nestlé Prize in Creating Shared Values. Its inaugural winner was the International Development Enterprises in Cambodia. It recruited groups of rural entrepreneurs to be Farm Business Advisors (FBA) to sell a range of products and services to help small-scale farmers improve their farming techniques. Those were simple things like drip irrigation kits to reduce labor and water usage while improving harvest and consequently their income. FBA creates shared value in that if the farmers were to be successful, then it too would profit as those farmers would then buy more products and services from their advisors. The system would flourish only if there were real values being created. As a result everyone would be heavily invested in its success.
Nestlé concept of shared value arose in response to its need for a steady and reliable supply of high quality cocoa for its famed chocolate products. Instead of pursuing the traditional route of scouting the global market to get the best price and quality, or with investing in cocoa futures, the company provided capital and expert help for its existing stable of cocoa planters in Africa so they could produce superior cocoa beans of consistent quality.
The company invested in research in West Africa to produce high-yielding pest-resistant cocoa varieties and shared the results with the farmers. The company also trained them in better horticultural techniques and built schools and health clinics in their communities. Those initiatives were not necessarily philanthropically motivated; instead they contributed directly to the company’s return. If workers had to deal with sick family members, they would less likely be focused on their work. Their productivity would suffer and the absenteeism rises. When they and their family members are healthy they could focus on planting high-yielding and superior quality cocoas. That in turn enables the company to pay them more as it is assured of a steady and reliable source, thus ensuring the future success of both the company as well as the community.
To less enlightened corporate leaders, the digging of wells and building of schools and clinics would be considered outside of the company’s purview even though those investments would directly benefit their vendors and workers. Those expenses were “externalities,” to be borne by someone else, usually the government.
Nestlé could also build those facilities far cheaper than the government by using its economic clout to extract the best bid. There would also be no associated corruption or the local politician’s “take” as there would be with a government project.
Nestles’ concept was comparable to the old company town model where the employer was omnipresent and benevolent, owning the workers’ homes and the stores they shopped, as well as controlling and profiting from their workers’ domestic activities. The benefit however, was all one-way, into the company’s profit column. With Nestlé’s “shared value” concept however, it is the sharing of common or at least agreed upon values, goals and mission between the company, workers, and the community. Nobody is subservient to or controlled by anybody. The benefits flow both ways–for the company a steady and reliable supply of a top quality ingredient (cocoa); the community, enhanced income from producing a superior commodity.
Next:  The Lessons For FELDA

Adapted from the author’s book, Liberating The Malay Mind, published by ZI Publications, Petaling Jaya, 2013. The second edition was released in January 2016.