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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.

Friday, June 08, 2007

High Hopes From A "Settled" Abdullah-Exchanges With Din Merican

High Hopes From A “Settled” Abdullah

Exchanges Between Din Merican and Bakri Musa

Dear Bakri:

Raja Petra of Malaysia Today was spot-on when he wrote many months ago that Prime Minister Abdullah had found someone special to fill the void in his heart after the death of his beloved wife Datin Seri Endon nearly two years ago. Raja Petra correctly identified the lady as Jeanne Danker; he erred only in stating that Abdullah had already married her.

It is now official, confirmed no less by the Prime Minister himself at a press conference earlier this week, and covered prominently by the media. The ceremony will be this Saturday, June 9 at Seri Perdana. It will be a simple private ceremony.

Abdullah was exuberantly upbeat in making the announcement, beaming cheek-to-cheek and hardly able to contain his almost boyish excitement. For a brief moment, he forgot that he had been married before! That is understandable, and we all can forgive him for that. He should not however, let the memory of his late wife to come between him and his new bride. He must live the present, and work toward a better and greater future.

For the first time I saw in him the promise of a reinvigorated leader, undoubtedly renewed and inspired by his new love. It is amazing, Bakri, what a woman can do to a man when love is in the air. I also noticed that Abdullah had a fresh look. Again, the renewed inspiration!

I am thrilled that he has found his new lifelong companion. Jeanne will be a great asset to him, his family, and our country. I have heard nothing but positive feedback on her character and personality. She has excellent people skills, and is comfortable with people from all walks of life. Her personality complements his. She is well organized and has modest taste, a marked contrast to Abdullah. She will be an elegant and competent hostess at Seri Perdana.

With her modern outlook and background as a career woman, Jeanne will be very comfortable accompanying the Prime Minister on his overseas visits. She will hold her own among the wives of other heads of states and royalty.

My hope is that some of Jeanne’s organizational and time management skills will rub off on her new husband. God knows, Abdullah needs them! An injection of self-discipline will also do him good. She has to, otherwise he will continue to be bogged down with useless official trivia, with no time left for her. Alternatively. he may devote so much attention to his new wife to the detriment of his official duties.

I hope she would be successful in imparting to him this central message: Deeds speak louder than words. This is the message you, Raja Petra and others have not been successful in imparting on Abdullah. She needs to bring a much-needed dose of realism to his life. We have had enough of that put-on “feel good” sentiment. We demand results now, nearly four years into his leadership.

Like many, I am torn between in wanting to believe that he can lead, now that he is a “new” man. The reality however, points toward nothing but hot air and NATO (No action, talk only).

Like others, I hope that with Jeanne by his side, Abdullah would now settle down and pay attention to the many problems facing our nation, like making it less corrupt and fixing the economy. In short, I hope she will inspire him not only to be a “new man” but also a “new” leader.

We Malaysians are a forgiving lot; we are willing to give him yet another chance to prove his leadership. I do not know why, as there is nothing in his track record to support our contention. Nonetheless I always have faith that we humans are capable of learning, adapting, changing our mindset, and renewing ourselves. I am going against my better judgment here, but it is my hope that with Jeanne beside him, he would have inner peace and be a leader worthy of our great nation.


Din Merican


Dear Din:

There is nothing more heartwarming than to see two people in love declaring their commitment to each other, and sharing that joyous news with us all. Love is always beautiful and precious, no matter how many times around.

The only sour note to an otherwise sweet occasion was when the Prime Minister’s office ordered the mainstream editors to tow the line on what and what not to report. They of course willingly obliged; the force of habit.

We cannot lay the blame solely on the control freaks of the Fourth Floor; they have too many enablers in the editorial floors of our newspapers, radio and television stations. If this is how the boys on the Fourth Floor handle the good news, imagine what they would do when the news is bad!

The last occasion when citizens were engrossed with details of their leader’s love life was the time when President Clinton was busy with that infamous intern in the closet of the Oval Office.

Deaths and marriages are life-transforming events. It is not unreasonable of you to expect change in Abdullah from his new marriage. This new groom may turn out to be a new man, and in turn an invigorated leader. There is always hope. At least the wedding will be a restrained affair, unlike the gaudy extravaganza of that forty-something Datuk who married the celebrity singer his daughter’s age. Perhaps Raja Nazrin’s example is beginning to have an impact on our people.

Yes, the man has been distracted by his late wife’s long battle with cancer. That her death was expected did not make it any less sorrowful. The last few years must have taken their toll on Abdullah. I cannot pretend to comprehend the burden that he and his family had to endure. It must have been considerable.

I have factored in those elements in my assessment of Abdullah. I look at his record during his earlier tenure as Education, Defense, and Foreign Minister, among other positions. These were when Endon was still very healthy; meaning, he had no personal distractions.

At his age, it is unlikely that Abdullah would have any hitherto hidden talent remaining untapped. The chance of a “late bloom” is remote.

Abdullah reminds me of the simpleton character Chauncy the gardener, played by the late Peter Sellers in the movie, Being There. His unobtrusive silence and simple witted utterances were mistaken as profundities. Chauncy went on to advise even the President!

God knows, many sharp minds in Malaysia were taken in by Abdullah! Just ask Mahathir! The difference between Chauncy the gardener and Abdullah the Prime Minister is that Chauncy had no advisors. What he uttered were his own words; he was his own true self. Fool on those who wanted to read or give something more to the simple gardening wisdom he uttered.

Abdullah’s advisors insulate him. Even if he were to be transformed by his new love, his advisors would remain the same, and so would their advice to him.

While the country has no choice but to tolerate his “No action, talk only” stance, Jeanne would definitely not be satisfied with Abdullah’s NATO, husband-wise!

My fear is that with Abdullah totally consumed with his newfound love, his advisors would now become even more emboldened. Abdullah would not be there, at least mentally, to restrain them.

Further, if before we could be forgiving of Abdullah for his being always sleepy at important meetings (blaming it on his personal problems), now with a new young wife, he would have an even better excuse to be sleepy during normal working hours!

I wish the happy couple many long blissful years, and I hope, Din, that your and other Malaysians’ expectations will also come true.




Blogger Daily Nibbler said...

Agreed. An invigorated PM can only do good for the country. What's more, an able companion and assistant by his side.

Lets hope the newly wed couple will meet the expectations of the rakyat. We, Malaysians, are indeed a forgiving lot.

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also do wish the PM & Jean a very happy marriage.

But I'm hoping against hope if I expect the PM to do what was promised the last election.

6:34 AM  

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