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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.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

UMNO Ultras Defanged!

One least noted but most consequential impact of this last election is that those rabidly racist UMNO ultras have been effectively defanged. Malaysians can now be assured that the next UMNO General Assembly will not see the likes of Hishammuddin Hussein or Khairy Jamaluddin putting on their race-taunting, kris-wielding stunts.

These hitherto UMNO young bulls have been, as we say here on the ranch, “cut off.” Yes, castrated! They are now reduced to sterile steers destined for the slaughterhouse; they are not worthy to propagate the herd.

Khairy Jamaluddin in particular had a near-death political experience in Rembau, his father’s village and a previously safe UMNO constituency. Unknown PKR’s candidate Badrul Hisham Shaharin, or Chegu Bard, a product of the local kampong school and the nearby Raja Melewar Teachers’ College, proved a formidable opponent for Khairy, the self-puffed ego and product of Oxford University via Singapore’s World United College.

Khairy is smart enough to realize that had it not been for the timely “rescue” in the form of postal votes, together with the earlier last minute cancellation by the Elections Commission on the use of indelible ink that would have prevented fraudulent voting, Chegu Bard would have easily humbled Khairy. How else to explain an initial hundred-vote victory for Chegu Bard would turn out to be a massive 5,000-vote victory for Khairy on “recount”?

As I wrote elsewhere, even UMNO morons are teachable. That is not a surprise, for the ability to learn is an attribute of all living things. The only variable is the slope of the learning curve and of course the timing.

UMNO operatives may have learned their lesson with this election, but it is already too late. The implosion of UMNO has begun.

That said though, there are still some slow learners within UMNO; the lesson has yet to sink into Abdullah Badawi, for example. He still thinks he had a thunderous victory and vows to carry on with business as usual. Unfortunately his ministers and UMNO Supreme Council members are all lembik. To them, their naked emperor is still immaculately attired in fine embroidery. There is no jantan left in UMNO to disabuse Abdullah of his delusion. That is, until now.

Enter Mukhriz Mahathir

Enter Mukhriz Mahathir, yes the scion of that Mahathir. Abdullah had earlier selected Mukhriz to contest the “iffy” seat of Jerlun instead of the more predictable Langkawi. Much to the surprise of his detractors, in particular the hierarchy of UMNO Youth, Mukhriz won handily, and without resorting to a recount!

In a letter to Prime Minister Abdullah immediately following the election, with convenient copies to top UMNO leaders who were too chicken to convey the blunt message directly to Abdullah, Mukhriz called for Abdullah to resign for the greater honor of the party and “bangsa, agama dan negara” (race, religion, and nation).

Surprisingly, the mainstream media carried this item. Perhaps those editors have also learned their lesion in this election. It would not have mattered anyway as that letter is widely circulated on the Internet and foreign press.

Many would think that Mukhriz is a chip off the old block, recalling that nearly forty years ago his father, then a defeated candidate in the parliamentary election, also sent a similar letter to Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman asking him to resign following the 1969 election mess and the ensuing horrendous race riot.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Unlike Mahathir’s letter which was written in traditional Malay form filled with self humiliating terms like patek and hamba (slaves), and was excessively deferential as a peasant would in addressing his lord and master, Mukhriz’s was direct and with the minimal of formality. It was to be sure polite, but there was no mistaking his blunt message.

One would think that Mukhriz would shy away from such a bold move. For one, he is a relative newcomer to politics. Mahathir had expressly forbidden his children to be active in politics while he was in power, a lesson he unfortunately did not impress upon his successor. Mukhriz should therefore be a “good” and “obedient” Malay; meaning, he should “know his place.”

For another, Mukhriz should at least be terhutang budi (indebted) to Abdullah for having selected Mukhriz to contest this election. Clearly this young man saw his duties beyond that of personal loyalty or gratitude. Instead he saw his loyalty extends beyond any one personality or leader. He clearly saw the greater cause for his party and country.

Obviously Mukhriz is not your grandfather’s Malay. He is a true modern-day Hang Jebat, loyal to institutions and principles, not personalities and titles. He is a worthy and necessary adversary to the hordes of latter day Hang Tuahs who surround Abdullah these days.

As an added measure, Mukhriz let it be known in his letter that he was prepared to face the consequences of his action, as if daring Abdullah to, “Go ahead! Make my day!” Mukhriz was challenging Abdullah mano a mano, man to man, a gauntlet that could only have been thrown down by an assured jantan.

Abdullah’s reaction? He deferred to UMNO Youth leaders to “take the necessary action.” Lembik leader! As for UMNO Youth’s task-baring, nose-flaring, and kris-wielding Hishammuddin, his muted response was simply to assure the public that Mukhriz was speaking in his personal capacity.

Earlier on party veteran Tengku Razaleigh also called on Abdullah to “take full responsibility” for the rout. The Tengku was too genteel and indirect that Abdullah missed the sendir (subtlety). Ku Li should have been more frontal like Tun Mahathir, who also called on Abdullah to quit. Rest assured that there will be many more and louder such voices coming soon.

I do not see Abdullah giving up voluntarily much less gracefully. He has to be literally dragged out and figuratively hit on the head with a two-by-four.

In Mukhriz we finally have a true “young Mahathir” in UMNO. All along we had been duped by that other pretender, that Kurang ‘Jar (K‘J) character who had been publicly fancying himself as UMNO’s “young Mahathir.”

We all know the fate of Hang Jebat in that story. Before today’s Hang Tuahs in UMNO gloat however, they should remember the fate that befell the more important Malacca sultanate.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tun Mahathir said they should discuss about changing UMNO's constitution in the coming EGM. Mahathir has a very sharp mind, I think they should listen to his advice.

7:56 PM  

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