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M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

My Photo
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 04, 2005

UMNO's Corruption: Din Merican's Comments

UMNO’s Leaders for the 21st Century

Din Merican

The esteemed UMNO President informed Malaysians that since the dateline of April 18, 2005 had past, UMNO would not entertain further reports of Money Politics. As a result of this decision taken by UMNO’s Supreme Council, those who competed with Isa Samad during the last UMNO elections are clear of the danger from being investigated and hauled up before the Disciplinary Board chaired by UMNO elder statesman, Tengku Ahmad Rithauddin, to answer charges of party level corruption. Maybe it is true that they have no grounds to answer. Otherwise, there would have been plenty of complaints against them. To them, I suppose, one must give them the benefit of the doubt.

Sarcasm aside, what does this mean? I guess, it means that UMNO is now free from the scourge of “politik wang” just as our country is now also free from corruption after Eric Chia and Kasitah Gadam were hauled into the courts.

The Royal Police Force too is cleared of corruption, because we now have the Royal Commission Report that had nothing significantly negative to say of the performance of the Force. With that Report completed, the Police can rest easy, wait for more perks and benefits, and conduct business as usual.

More importantly, it means that the UMNO President possesses awesome political power that he can use against his “enemies” and keep others in the party in check. As Prime Minister, he can use the ISA, the ACA, and other instruments of his Office. This is, of course, not new.

The difference is that Abdullah’s immediate Mahathir was more open in the exercise of his power. He did not have to hide behind some glorified pretense. One always knew where one stood with him. He used power to maintain stability and get things done. He also ensured that the country continued to grow and prosper. I admired the man for his convictions. He never claimed to be a democrat. He was an authoritarian leader who actively and openly promoted “Asian Values.” Malaysians and Asians must be led by strong leaders.

The new man promotes “Civilizational Islam,” talks about “cemerlang, gemilang and terbilang” and civil service excellence, and champions good governance. At the same time, he treats the economy with benign neglect, and dreams of a prosperous future. He claims to lay the foundation for the long-term future. As Lord Keynes said, “in the long run we are all dead.” Abdullah must now act and stop messing around. If he can do that, he will redeem himself, and restore his credibility.

To his diehard supporters, it is “Hurray!” for Badawi, the man who rid the party and country of corruption by his simply waving the magic wand. All UMNO Presidents and Prime Ministers in Malaysia before him had done that. Abdullah has done this “noble act” to save UMNO and our country from further embarrassment, for which we the Malays who support UMNO must be beholden to him.

Unfortunately, his magic wand cannot remove the stain of corruption. What he did was to confirm that UMNO, the foremost national and oldest political party representing the Malays, is corrupt to the core. Prior to this, people who charged that UMNO is corrupt were accused of speculating. Now it is crystal clear that UMNO is corrupt.

Bakri, I must admit that you were right. I was naive to be excited when I first heard the news that Isa Samad had been nabbed, found guilty, and then asked to resign from all party positions for blatantly violating UMNO’s “code of ethics,” and for bribing delegates in order to secure the highest votes for his Vice President post.

I had expected a purge of the party at various levels. Now it looks like that is no longer the case. I am wondering how long I can continue to put my faith in the man who had received such a strong mandate in the last election. My hat’s off to his spinmeisters for their skills in creating this grand illusion, but in the end substance matters.

Best wishes, Din.


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