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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.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Prove Us Wrong, Muhyiddin!

Prove Us Wrong, Muhyiddin!
M. Bakri Musa (www.bakrimusa.com)

[News item:  On Sunday March 1, 2020, following a week of political intrigue triggered by Mahathir’s unexpected resignation, Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as Malaysia’s 8th Prime Minister. The Agung was satisfied, through individual interviews with MPs, that Muhyiddin had the majority support in Parliament. That assumption has yet to be ascertained.]

To assert that new Prime Minister Muhyiddin is underwhelming would be a severe understatement, his successful machination to the top slot notwithstanding. Despite his long years in politics, it is hard to gauge his legacy. One that comes to mind was the “Cowgate scandal.” He approved that project as Minister of Agriculture way back in 2006.

Muhyiddin should be inspired by world leaders who despite their initial underrated status would later shine. President Reagan was one. Like Muhyiddin, Reagan too reached the top at an old age, and was initially dismissed as just a third-rate actor.

There is no shortage of books about Reagan. Muhyiddin however, is not the reading type, and there are no Readers’ Digest edition. Instead I suggest that he ponders some of Reagan’s memorable sayings.

Like Reagan, Muhyiddin had made a good start in stating his objectives. He wants a government that is bersih, berintegriti, dan berkaliber (clean, with integrity, and of caliber). Reagan went further and surrounded himself with smart competent people who shared his worldview, as well as commitment to freedom and free enterprise.

So too should Muhyiddin. Bersih means that those now facing criminal charges should be excluded. That would eliminate a dozen aspirants. Former Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid has removed himself. That he was even considered should be the big question.

Innocent till proven guilty is fine in a criminal court, but in appointing individuals to positions of high trust and responsibility, the standard must be much more stringent, as with not even a hint of impropriety.

As for berintegriti, that would eliminate that semburit Azmin Ali character. Deadbeats lack integrity. Likewise those who squandered public funds, as with buying helicopters but not delivering them. That would disqualify the likes of Hishamuddin.

Berkaliber would eliminate that latah lady Zuraida who fudged her academic qualifications, as well as a few others.

Acknowledging his uncertain health, Muhyiddin should select young blood. Eliminate tired old characters like Mustapha Mohamad. If Muhyiddin were to pick UMNO’s has-beens, retreads, and turncoats, then he would merely be returning favors, not creating an A-team.

There is no shortage of local talent. If Muhyiddin wants a Malay-centric cabinet, at least pick smart Malays, like outgoing Minister Dzulkefli Ahmad, as well as young MPs like Nik Nazmi and Nurul Izzah. They would be more effective in furthering the Malay agenda by improving national schools over those who forever holler Ketuanan Melayu. Entice that shining star Rafizi Ramli.

If Muhyiddin fears unnecessary “politicking” among his appointees, then have them commit to notrunning in the next election. That would discourage the career politicians and party hoppers.

Most of all Muhyiddin must acknowledge the limits of government. Disabuse Malays on our misguided notion that the answer must always come from there. As Reagan once quipped, the most terrifying words in the English language are:  “I am from the government, and I am here to help!”

Malays have been getting “help” from their government for decades. Look at the good that does. Special privileges did not improve Malay competitiveness, instead they bred corrupt ersatz entrepreneurs like that billion-ringgit UMNO stalwart “Tengku” Adnan. Name a product or service associated with him.

The government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives, Reagan asserted. A timely reminder should Muhyiddin ponder having the likes of PAS Hadi.

The needless drama of the past two weeks reminded me of yet another Reagan quote. “Politics,” he said, “was the second oldest profession, but I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.” Look at those politicians whoring themselves, utterly without shame or morals.

It is well over a week and Muhyiddin has yet to select his ministers. If the delay is due to his seeking the most qualified, then by all means take the time. However, if it is due to ongoing backroom horse trading, then beware. Plunderers are rarely satisfied with their loot. There is no honor among thieves. Expect more betrayals.

Muhyiddin may not turn out to be a Malaysian Reagan. Nonetheless if he were to have bersih, berintegriti, berkaliber Administration, then Malaysians, more so Malays, would be the beneficiary. And America might just resume repatriating more of the recovered 1MDB loot.


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