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.
lah ‘Jib! (You are finished, Najib!) You are just another Pak
Lah! Malaysia cannot afford two consecutive incompetent leaders as it enters
the 21st Century. The precious and critical first decade is already
latest “Pak Lah moment” came when his Chief of Police, Khalid Abu Bakar,
threatened to arrest Mariam Mokhtar for sedition over her article, “One
Ideology, Two Reactions,” posted on Freemalaysiatoday.com on November 29, 2013.
Mariam dared to highlight the highly favorable treatment Aishah Wahab, the
woman allegedly held as a slave by her Marxist master in London, received from
the Najib Administration versus the visceral contempt it heaped upon Chin Peng,
leader of the defunct Malayan Communist Party.
suggested that the Najib Administration’s generous gesture to Aishah was more
on exploiting the favorable publicity surrounding that London slavery case.
had better watch out,” the Chief warned, “or we will go after her!” The “her”
is of course Mariam.
Jantan kampung betul! (a real village
bull!), as we say in the village when referring to such petty bullies. The
Chief of Police should display his manhood where it would really count, as with
confronting the Singaporeans spying on Malaysia, those intruders at Lahad Datu,
or the alleged treachery with the loss of Pulau Batu Puteh. Those are the real and
menacing threats to the nation’s security and stability, not the eloquent
writing of a young woman!
Najib and his officials are threatened by Mariam’s ideas. Najib is stuck in the
time warp of the old feudal ways, unable to grasp the new reality of a porous digital
age. He and Khalid should be complimenting Mariam for her ability to write
well, and in English, as well as her courage to express her views.
and Khalid have a better grasp of English, they would have discovered that
Mariam’s earlier essay in Malaysiakini.com,
“Three Slaves and the Rakyat,” on the same case had more punch. In that piece she
noted that while the three London women were imprisoned for three decades,
Malaysians have been “metaphorically imprisoned for the most part of 56 years,”
adding that the three women were shackled by “invisible handcuffs,” just like
is doubtful,” Mariam continues, “if many Malaysians realize the similarities
between themselves and those three women.” Now that’s powerful stuff, but Najib
and Khalid missed Mariam’s well-chosen metaphor and imagery!
Mariam! Your voice is being heard at the highest level, and widely too as
judged by the outpouring of comments both articles elicited. Keep writing! I
hope the police chief and Najib’s other top officials would continue widening their
reading repertoire beyond the UMNO newsletters The New Straits Times and Utusan
is not the first writer to be intimidated by the authorities. She does not need
to be reminded of the horrible experiences of Kassim Ahmad, Syed Hussein, and
Raja Petra, among others.
have nothing to offer Mariam except my best wishes, and I wish her that, and
much more, as with her continued success in writing. I can however, pass on the
advice from that great Indonesian writer, the late Ananta Prameodya Toer, a man
who had endured much from his government.
“Orang boleh pandai setinggi langit,” Pramoedya
wrote in Rumah Kaca (The Glasshouse), “tapi selama ia tidak menulis, ia akan hilang di dalam masyarakat dan
dari sejarah.” (Your intellect may soar to the sky but if you do not write,
you will be lost from society and to history.”
assured that when the collective “invisible handcuff” gets unshackled, as ultimately
it will, Malaysians owe a huge debt of gratitude to brave individuals like
Mariam Mokhtar. As for that police chief, only his family would remember him,
or if remembered by others, he would prefer not to be. Look at his many ‘illustrious’
predecessors; one jailed for punching Anwar Ibrahim, another a defendant in a multimillion-dollar
lawsuit, and a third rewarded by being chairman of a casino. That character apparently
Ultimate Pak Lah Moment
Back to Najib’s other Pak Lah moments, the
supposedly pious and humble Pak Lah squandered millions of taxpayers’ funds to
renovate Sri Perdana before he deemed it livable. This from a man who only a decade
earlier did not even own a house! Najib however, bested Pak Lah on this front. Najib
burned over two million ringgit a year
just on electricity. When citizens complained, he haughtily defended his wasteful
ways by suggesting that his official guests should not have to dine by candle
light! He must have the whole United Nations delegates as his guests, and every
likely Najib must have really turned down the thermostat and then had the
fireplace roaring to simulate the English ambience of his student days so he
could cuddle up to Rosmah.
should remember the advice he received from his prime minister father when he (Najib)
and his brothers were clamoring for a swimming pool at the old Sri Perdana. “What
will people say,” Najib quoted his old man as saying in turning down their
there is the ultra-luxury, custom-fitted Airbus jet. Even Queen Elizabeth and Prime
Minister Cameron do not have one. Pak Lah was severely criticized for his excessive
use of that expensive toy. At least his wife (the first or second) did not get
to use it in her personal capacity. Today we have Mrs. Najib (the second) jaunting
off in it, oblivious of the cost to taxpayers. I do not know which is more reprehensible;
Najib requesting the approval from his cabinet for his wife’s use of the jet or
the cabinet approving it. This at a time when he warned the country is on the brink
Badawi burdened Malaysia for over five years; the nation is still paying for
his many follies and general incompetence. Many claim that Najib is worse than
Pak Lah; that is being petty. When you score is already a miserable F, it does not
really matter whether it is also F-minus.
at this week’s (December 2, 2013) UMNO General Assembly for Najib to execute
yet another Pak Lah moment – reading his “own” pompous self-congratulatory pantun (poem). Do not expect however, for
the delegates to even mention let alone review this critical issue of his glaring
incompetence and profligate ways.
it behooves Malaysians to ensure that this burden of Najib inept leadership comes
to an end soon. Malaysians must force Najib to perform his ultimate Pak Lah
moment – resign!