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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, July 02, 2007

Fraud and Incompetent (Penipu dan Pembodoh)

Malaysia-Tody.net June 25, 2007

After nearly four years as Prime Minister, I have difficulty deciding whether Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s leadership is a fraud (penipu) or simply incompetent (pembodoh). My quandary arises from my initial mistaken assumption that the two would be mutually exclusive when in fact that with Abdullah, they are not. His leadership is both.

The circumstances of his recent wedding serve both as an example of as well as a metaphor for his leadership. First there was his communications director hauling the country’s editors and commanding them on what and what not to report. True to pattern, like little good schoolboys and girls, they all obeyed. Their subsequent copies were replicas of the official announcement, down to the punctuation marks. Oh well, these editors do get to choose the fonts and discretion in paragraphing!

That reflects Abdullah’s respect for the media and the concept of the freedom of the press. Frankly, those editors deserve what they get.

Second, Abdullah wanted his wedding to be a simple private affair (he is entitled to it), yet the event grabbed headlines in Malaysia as well as regionally. Even the couple’s visit to Abdullah’s late wife’s gravesite, which should have been an intensely private and highly emotional moment, was widely publicized. This was a public relations exercise to portray the image of a man still devoted to his late spouse.

If Abdullah had genuinely wanted his wedding to be private, then he was terribly inept and downright incompetent in executing his wishes. He could not even make UMNO-controlled New Straits Times not to accept those nauseating bodek advertisements. A better and surer way would have been to have the akad nikah privately, and only then made it public. By announcing it ahead of time, Abdullah practically ensured that his wedding would be anything but private.

Alternatively, had Abdullah wanted his wedding to be widely publicized, then his initial request for privacy was nothing more than a cynically coy ploy to ensure just that. It is a variant of the lady (or in this case the groom) doth protest too much. That being the case, he is guilty of perpetrating a contemptuous fraud on and mockingly manipulating citizens’ emotions.

What should the public and the world to make of this charade? Indeed charade has been the defining trait of Abdullah’s leadership, whether in his much publicized but ineffective fight against corruption or in overhauling the civil service. The man simply tak tau buat kerja (does not know his job).

It would not surprise me if Abdullah were to announce general elections soon to exploit the personal “good vibes” generated from his wedding. He is shrewdly counting on the warm afterglow of the wedding to cover the blotches of his leadership.

Already toadying academics and commentators have opined that Abdullah’s popularity has “soared” following the wedding. Presumably they all have conducted their own private polls. Some boldly declared that Abdullah would now be invigorated as a leader as he would a man. Sadly, marriage will not magically transform an ineffectual leader. There is as yet no viagra for weak leadership.

That notwithstanding, Malaysians will again vote for his party. Again he and his advisors will delude themselves into thinking that as a rousing endorsement of his leadership when in fact it would merely be a choice of the least unacceptable. If there were to be a choice of “None of the above” on the ballot, it would be the overwhelming pick of voters.

Facts From Fantasy, Rumors From Reality

In 1971, Pierre Trudeau, then Canada’s most eligible bachelor as well as its charismatic Prime Minister, stunned everyone with his secret weekend wedding to Margaret Sinclair, 28 years younger. His aides thought he was off skiing while her family thought it was going to be a formal family portrait session! It was her only way to make them dress up without having to reveal the real reason.

Besides being charismatic, Trudeau was also a brilliant and competent leader. He knew how to get his way, both in running the country as well as in protecting his privacy. He went on to become Canada’s longest-serving Prime Minister at a time when the country was threatened by a dangerous split between English- and French-Canadians.

Alas, Abdullah is no Trudeau. Malaysia is today dangerously polarized along racial and religious lines. Abdullah’s incompetent leadership contributes to the deepening of this split. His penipu allows him to continue perpetrating hoaxes on the citizens; his pemdodoh insulates him from contemplating the dangerous consequences.

Abdullah’s crudest and most consequential hoax is his Islam Hadhari. As Prophet Muhammad, s.a.w., reminded us in his last sermon, the verities of our faith are both eternal and universal, for all times and for all mankind. There is no need to add a modifier to Islam. Abdullah fraudulently leads Malaysians to believe that banning books and locking people up without due process is compatible with his Islam Hadhari.

If only he had spent more time implementing the ideals of his Islam Hadhari and less on spouting them endlessly, he would do a lot more good for himself and the nation. Not to mention in enhancing the image of the faith. Islam Hadhari succeeded only in polarizing Muslims and dividing Malaysians, a reality obvious to all except Abdullah.

His earlier blatant public denial of his relationship with Jeanne Danker is illustrative. I could not care less of his denying details of their private life, except to state that his denial merely illustrates his inability or unwillingness to discern facts from fantasy, and rumors from reality. Such cognitive dissonance would ordinarily disturb one’s mental equilibrium; Abdullah however takes it all in with equanimity. Only a simpleton or a congenital liar could do it with the ease of Abdullah.

He did not have to lie; he could have just kept quiet, as he had done on numerous other occasions. Now that the truth is out, what are we to make of his earlier denial? To me, that was yet another demonstration of his contempt for the citizens. He does not take them into his confidence. A liar does not trust others, thinking that everyone else is like he is.

Abdullah is a leader who would unashamedly lie to citizens as when he self-righteously declared that his son did not benefit from any government contract. When confronted with the facts, he clarified without even blinking an eye that he was not personally aware of the truth. A leader reveling in his own ignorance!

When Raja Petra exposed the government’s purchase of an ultra luxurious corporate jet to the tune of over RM200 million for his use, Abdullah again boldly denied the allegation. When confronted with the facts, he again denied the reality. It was not the government that bought the plane, he allowed, rather a private government-owned entity that purchased it, a semantic clarification that would make a Philadelphia lawyer proud.

He makes a mockery of his inaugural address as UMNO President. Then, with all the pretensions of an undiscovered poet, he declared, “Aku cari bukan harta bertimbun-timbun/Untuk hidup kaya/Aku cari bukan wang berjuta-juta/Untuk hidup bergaya.” (I seek no material wealth or riches. I seek neither millions nor a luxuriant lifestyle.) All talk, no walk!

Abdullah’s leadership (if it could be called thus) is nothing but a shadow play, a sandiwara, one that has no plot, no theme, and unmercifully, without an ending in sight.

Fool Me Once, Shame On You; Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me!

Contrary to the above Chinese proverb, Malaysians are not suckers for Abdullah’s many lies. The citizens have long ago seen through and are resigned to them. The real suckers are those who believed wholeheartedly in the man, in particular his ministers, UMNO Supreme Council members, and leaders of Barisan Nasional component parties. They wholeheartedly swallow what Abdullah regurgitates. To them, what comes out of him is not vomit but predigested food, as a mother vulture to her hungry and rapacious brood. They eagerly lap it up!

When Abdullah pens his poem, they would all imitate him, even if that meant blatantly plagiarizing someone else’s creation. After all, if they readily believe lies to be truth, the word plagiarism cannot be in their collective vocabulary.

We now know that those “heartfelt” congratulatory messages, even the canned ones, were not even sent personally by those “sucking up” ministers. Even they delegated that to their assistants!

As for Abdullah’s supposedly bright young advisors on the Fourth Floor, they are too green to realize that Abdullah’s chronic lying and fraudulent acts will ultimately reflect upon them. As for their intelligence, they cannot be too bright if by now they have not realized that their master is both a fraud and incompetent.

The last laugh is on them, and the hardly know it!

1 Comments:

Anonymous John A Stebengs said...

Bakri,

What do u do with a lame duck president? Since u r there and no longer in Malaysia, perhaps u would care to advise Bush?

Tak berani ekau kan? Tu la, cakap ekau ni murah na..Dapek appointment pun bolum tontu. Apo doso negaro den kek ekau ni?

Bakri, Marin maso ekau dudok kek sini mako buleh la ekau bori pandangan. Sekarang ni ekau dah berapuih kek sinun, apo lak ekau nak sobut hal negaro den? Ekau dah jadi orang amerika. Orang amerika semuo eh hampeh, termasuk ekau sekali. Orang Amerika jadi Emperor. Mano sajo amerika ado, dio nak jagi Maharajo. Ekau ingat Amerika ni hebat bona ko? Ekau buto ko? Tak nampak apo yang di buwek kek Iraq, Iran, Afganistan dan lain2 tompek?. Mano Amerika ado, mesti ado porang.Ekau lupo apo Maharajo Clinton buwek dalam ofis eh sama Budak Betino tu? Apo ekau ontok yo? Ekau ingat ekau ni hebat na ko? Sumo orang tak boto, ekau sajo yang boto. Ekau masih ingat lae tak hukum mengumpek? Jadi ekau jago la mulut ekau tu sikit. Ekau tengok lah dulu anak / Karen ekau? Semayang eh boto tak, poso tak budak2 ni? Tak yah lah ekau pandang jaoh2. Pekso lah diri dulu. Kalau ekau ingat ekau ni handa, ado lae yang lobeh handa; kalau ekau ingat ekau ni kayo, ado lae yang lobeh kayo. Ronti an apo yang ekau buwek ni. Taubat lah…

Kalau la Cik Gu Musa ado lai..

7:36 AM  

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