Wise Decision And A Class Act


by M. Bakri Musa

Prime Minister Abdullah’s decision to resign is wise. That decision is good for him, his party, and most of all, for our nation. I am certain it was not easy for him to reach that decision but in the end he did it, “guided by my conscience” and placing “the interests of the nation above all else.”

I applaud him, especially considering the intense last minute pleas by his many well-meaning supporters. It was a decision that was not expected by many, yours truly included. This is one instance where I am only too happy to acknowledge my misjudgment of the man.

Abdullah’s plaintive admission, “I know I’ve not been doing well; it’s time for someone else to take over,” must come only after the most difficult introspection. To admit to one’s limitations is never easy, especially for a leader, as there are always supplicants and subordinates who are only too willing to filter the harsh reality. Some leaders never get it at all. Saddam Hussein went to the gallows still believing that he was Allah’s gift to the Arabs.

I applaud Abdullah’s wise decision for another important reason. I never underestimate the potential multiplier effect of a single good decision. Properly seized upon, it will lead to many other positive consequences. Already judging from his resignation statement, Abdullah is now all the more committed to reforming the anti-corruption agency and the process of judicial appointments, among others.

Freed of the burden of his political future, and fully aware that these last few months could well determine his legacy, Abdullah will hopefully be more focused.
Dignified Statement

Abdullah ready set a standard of sorts in the dignified manner in which he announced his stepping down. He made sure that his cabinet colleagues and fellow leaders in the Barisan Nasional coalition hear of his decision first, in private, and directly from him.

When he made his statement, it was a formal affair, surrounded by his cabinet colleagues and fellow UMNO leaders. He also read from a prepared text; this was not the occasion to ad lib. His tone was proper; his body language and emotions displayed appropriate. He did not blame anyone, nor did he express regret. There was no hint of personal disappointment or a sense of being betrayed. Abdullah gave proper due to the serious occasion.

As well he should. The country has been good to him; he had the privilege of serving the highest office in the land, granted only to a lucky few.

The content of his announcement may have surprised many, but not its timing. There was no unexpected statement that would shock the audience and move them to public hysteria. Nor was there uncontrolled sobbing of his supporters, as the embarrassing public spectacle that accompanied Mahathir’s first announcement of his retirement.

When there are no public tears, then the question whether those displays of emotions are genuine does not arise. As we now know from subsequent events, those earlier hysterical displays of affection as shown by the likes of Rafidah Aziz during Mahathir’s announcement of his retirement were a fraud. Those histrionics were more for public consumption rather than genuine expressions from the heart.

In his resignation statement, Abdullah wisely avoided anointing his successor. He expressed only the hope that Najib would take over, and reemphasized that point in case it was missed. This was not a lukewarm endorsement for Najib or an attempt at getting even with him, rather Abdullah’s correct reading of our constitution.

The leadership of our land has to be earned. It is not your private heirloom to be passed on to a member of the next generation who strikes your fancy. Abdullah is correct in reminding everyone that Najib first has to win UMNO’s presidency.

Abdullah showed great wisdom, besides not being presumptuous, in not even hinting who Najib should pick as his deputy should he win UMNO’s presidency.

Abdullah’s Five Goals

To his credit Abdullah articulated five goals he wished to accomplish in the remaining few months of his tenure. I would be satisfied if he could accomplish two, or at most three. Apart from strengthening the Anti-Corruption Agency and setting up the Judicial Appointment Commission, Malaysians would be satisfied if he were to establish an effective social safety net.

Those three objectives are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they are closely related. If we have a judicial system that has the respect and confidence of the people, that would go a long way towards reducing corruption. And by eradicating corruption, then we would have enough resources to devote to helping the needy. We have currently wonderful programs for the poor, at least they are on paper, but because of endemic corruption and abusive political patronage, those programs suffer through considerable leakages.

There is one major reform, supported by many in UMNO, that Abdullah could initiate. That is, remove the current onerous burden placed on challengers to senior party leaders. Instead, relax the rules such that anyone with the minimal number of nominations by individuals, not divisions, could compete. When no candidate could secure a majority vote, then have a run-off election between the top two vote getters.

Abdullah’s calls for a convention of his Barisan coalition parties “to improve inter-racial and inter-religious relations.” I respectfully suggest a more modest and readily achievable goal: focus on improving UMNO. Leave the coalition alone. A clean, strong and effective UMNO will mean an equally clean, strong and effective Barisan.

Such a simple and easily implemented reform initiative would effectively dent the corrosive powers of the party’s warlords that have created the cesspool of money politics. By removing this onerous nominating barrier, the divisional meetings currently underway this month would become mute, at least as far as nominating candidates are concerned. Perhaps then those meetings could become more meaningful with members using these opportunities to discuss substantive policy matters instead of trying to create camps around personalities. That would also elevate the deliberative levels of those meetings to the benefit of the members and UMNO.

Only by opening up the nominating process and encouraging as wide a field of candidates as possible, could UMNO attract and produce its own Barack Obama. All Malaysians, not just UMNO members, would then benefit.

Those four objectives, three for the nation and one for UMNO, are well within Abdullah’s reach. Focus on them, and Abdullah would be able to redeem his leadership. That would be a legacy worth striving for.

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  1. #1 by pangwl88 on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 6:02 pm

    With all the fuzz going on with Umno and BN…….

    WHERE is our Pakatan Rakyat….????

    WHY so quiet ……

    WHERE IS DSAI ?

  2. #2 by Loh on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 6:17 pm

    ///Only by opening up the nominating process and encouraging as wide a field of candidates as possible, could UMNO attract and produce its own Barack Obama///–Bakri Musa

    How sure are you that he is good for your party? You should have RPK as President.

  3. #3 by max2811 on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 6:23 pm

    UMNO politics is always shoe polish. His late wife liked batik and the S/U Kerajaan quickly forced all gov servants to wear batik. If the next PM’s wife likes red shirts, most probably those shoe polish would tell the gov servants to wear red!! It is an institution full of bigots and racists incapable of really running the country.

    They not only don’t have ideas on how to get the country out of the dumps, but into a deeper hole.

  4. #4 by m.hwang on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 6:26 pm

    Agreed. Sound and practical advice.

  5. #5 by raven77 on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 6:57 pm

    This resignation??? Badawi was kicked out …and kicked real hard………from the frying pan to the fire……

  6. #6 by abunsui on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 7:10 pm

    Can a “toothless” tiger bite its meat? CANNOT.

    More so; can a “KICKED” out PM (PAK LAH) complete his 5 missions in 5 months. IMPOSSIBLE!

    I hope he can prove I am wrong. We will see next march. God help him with miracle.. to accomplish his last assignments for the benefit of the Rakyat.

  7. #7 by hadi on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 7:25 pm

    Unfortunately Pak Lah doesn’t think the way you wrote. Or otherwise reform would have been done since he took over the job.
    I am sorry for him that he actually being back stabbed.
    I am sorry for him coz he is weak in character.
    I am sorry for him, he lacks the quality to lead the nation.
    The truth is Pak Lah is just a very ordinary man who is not meant to be a political leader but more of a follower and at best as pak imam hadhari.
    Too bad for a man, being push away without a fight on the pretext of national interest. Its all crabbbb….who wants to believe Pak Lah?

  8. #8 by Jan on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 7:28 pm

    M Bakri Musa, you have been the PM’s harshest critic but these are kind words in his last days as PM. But don’t hope too much on reforms in his last days, he has been a dud all these years it will be pretty much the same the next 5 months.

  9. #9 by Steven on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 7:39 pm

    I think we are all too naive and optimistic to think that the man can achieve in 5 months what he failed to do in the five years of mandate given to him by the people. Come on….what else can you say when you are backed into a corner. Like the Chinese saying…grab a handful of sand even when you have fallen. It’s the so-called bulldust “Asian-value…face saving act”, isn’t it? Nothing is going to change for these UMNO goons…new faces – same tricks! Ah…enough-lah!!!

  10. #10 by wanderer on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 7:43 pm

    Outgoing PM has nothing further to loose. He should focus completely, on the reforms that he has pledged to the nation.
    If successful, the rakyat will be more forgiving to his lack of competency for the wasted years that he was at the helm. It is no more a question, whether he is able to do it in his remaining time as PM. He need to do it, so that, the nation will be spared of unhealthy political activities and unjust governance.

  11. #11 by lopez on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 8:29 pm

    A man as stupid as this guy….can become a chief, what a joke and it took 4 years to tell….it either the people are more stupid than the chief or the chief a little bit smarter than the people.

    So who the hell is responsible for putting him there in the first place….it took another 5 years from the nations people youth…because of these experiments…..why we cannot see already a donkey has thrown away 22 generations of the nations child through the education bolih experiments in moe.

    So we been taking notes….well who is not anyway …until all the old died and fade away.
    Maybe it was all planned , the general crowd is easier to control now since they are the nation’s products of the 22 years experiments.

    So then the heir to be can rule and still drive F1 and Alfa romeo around

    Solohi has been victimised , he has tasted what his club has been doing onto others. He has tasted part of the medicine he has helped concoct unto others.
    But he has no pride no honour and allows to be sholved , a man like this …if lost in the jungle will even frighten the tiger away for being so stupid.

  12. #12 by mata_kucing on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 8:30 pm

    I wouldn’t call it a class act. It’s more like a cornered animal desperately fighting for his life. With Abdullah, promises are just that unless he can deliver. With the time left, I would give him credit if he’s able to just deliver only one of his promises. And if he can deliver all five, I’ll support him to continue as the PM until he retires.

  13. #13 by riversandlakes on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 8:52 pm

    Geez, stop claiming wise, wise and wise as if that word alone would make that man a wiseman.

    Move along, What Lah. Your moment in time is over.

  14. #14 by cancan on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 9:09 pm

    How do we want to remember Abdullah Badawi as the PM of Malaysia in history?

    http://www.kingsmary.blogspot.com/

  15. #15 by toyolbuster on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 9:10 pm

    Bro.Bakri, Just hold your horses. If you believe that Pak Lah would leave office just like that, you would probably believe in Santa. He is not called Pak Flip the Flop for nothing. moreover, do you think that the little prick SIL would just allow the FIL to leave without waiting for him to turn 40. I say, I don’t think that I am so naive to agree with you. Don’t forget, the FIL is a renown liar. Tops it all, he did say it crisply that he HOPE the najis could be his successor. Coming from Flip the Flop, that message was deafeningly clear that Najis is certainly OUT of the competition. Period. And Kak Ros, you may have to continue kissing Jeanne’s hand for a long while more.

  16. #16 by Loh on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 9:50 pm

    AAB’s greatest achievement has been in making TDM believe that he could be controlled, but could not. Though TDM has succeeded in overthrowing AAB, it means that he lost five years gap as a backseat driver. That five years should mean a lot to persons in their eighties.

    AAB did not have the intelligence and ambitian to make a good name for himself in history; he wanted only money. He must have realised that what he had accumulated would last longer that he would ever spend them. So leaving the post does not mean much, where money is concerned. It can’t mean much about not doing anything for the country, since he had only been paying lip service to it.

    He was a wee bit concerned about his reputation on the manner he leaves the post. He chose to refer to his current subordinate to answer the loaded question whether he had been forced out, knowing well that it was only polite for them to deny. That way, he believed that the whole world accepted that he voluntarily chose not to defend the post of UMNO President. Like his son-in-law commenting on selling his share in ECM-Libra, AAB talked about placing UMNO interest above his own. If that was true, why the transition plan to leave in 2010, and the desperate act to extend UMNO election to ask: gimme three months more? (in TDM’s words)

  17. #17 by swipenter on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 10:09 pm

    Like a fish out of water AAB is going to flip flop till his very last day as prime minister. The whole world knows that he is being kicked out of office by his own party for underperformance.

    PM designate is not much better either. Throughout his political career he is dogged by women and corruption scandals. Also perceived to be a fence sitter and a last minute decision maker. Not much leadership qualities in him.

  18. #18 by Jimm on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 10:32 pm

    the only pm that allow himself to be played out by his SIL …
    because he afraid that his daughter will be ‘hurt’ ….
    the worst pm that Malaysia could ever seek for …. worrying about his personal and family affairs than country.
    SIL ..recorded as the youngest ever ‘side-kicked’ pm that Malaysia could ever dreamt to do away with.

  19. #19 by Anak Msia on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 10:45 pm

    talk is cheap, let’s wait for 5 months and see what he can do what he couldn’t do in 5 years, if he is so determine, he should abolish the ISA which is the easiest to do.

  20. #20 by yhsiew on Thursday, 9 October 2008 - 11:45 pm

    How Malaysia’s PM fell from grace
    =========================

    He said: “Ask them if they have forced me out.” A few shook their heads……….

    @@http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7659595.stm

  21. #21 by Jeffrey on Friday, 10 October 2008 - 5:32 am

    “M Bakri Musa, you have been the PM’s harshest critic but these are kind words in his last days as PM” – Jan posting of Yesterday at 19: 28.23

    We have to apply some filter here in respect of whether there is objectivity .

    It is only natural that those who have been the harshest critics and the first to plead passionately with the PM to step down [ “Undur Lah, Pak Lah!” ] who would correspondingly now describe his present decision to do so as a “wise decision and class act” whether or not that may really be the case!

    We can afford to be kind and maganimus when we are seized by a surge of spontaneous and powerful joyful feelings when that which we devoutly wished and pleaded for is consummated, as we settle down sated that our judgment has been vindicated by events!

  22. #22 by Jeffrey on Friday, 10 October 2008 - 5:36 am

    I don’t even like what I read here!

  23. #23 by Jeffrey on Friday, 10 October 2008 - 5:48 am

    “I know I’ve not been doing well; it’s time for someone else to take over,” must come only after the most difficult introspection. To admit to one’s limitations is never easy, especially for a leader, as there are always supplicants and subordinates who are only too willing to filter the harsh reality. Some leaders never get it at all. Saddam Hussein went to the gallows still believing that he was Allah’s gift to the Arabs” – a pathetic attempt at empathy ..

    Just like other his other statement about Abdullah not displaying, in his non contest decision of ‘histrionics’ associated with departure of Dr Bakri’s other idol – and the part about Abdullah showing in Bakri’s words “great wisdom, besides not being presumptuous, in not even hinting who Najib should pick as his deputy should he win UMNO’s presidency”, another pathetic attempt at objectivity bordering on supercilious condescension…

    Sorry, this is what I really feel about what has been written.

  24. #24 by CSKUEH on Friday, 10 October 2008 - 8:36 am

    A leader who started out boldly
    But lose more people’s support eventually
    Soon he has to give up his position
    It must be a hard to do decision
    Some reforms to be done, that’s a good sign
    If he wants to leave a good legacy behind
    For last 5 years reforms were neglected
    Next 5 months what can be expected

  25. #25 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Friday, 10 October 2008 - 10:03 am

    What we are seeing now is the concluding scene of the wayang kulit orchestrated by Mahathir Machiavelli Mohamad. That manipulative maniacal megalomaniac had done 22 years of untold damage (white elephants, contracts without bids, wrecking the judiciary and monarchy, etc, etc, ad nauseum) and set the scene for the rot to continue. He even handpicked someone he knew to be incompetent so that the successor can then be blamed for the mess. The termite infested house that is Malaysia has no chance, short of a complete rebuilding. PM Abdullah is the scapegoat – the fall guy. If he realizes this, he should do Malaysia a favour and call a snap election so that a new team of leaders can lead Malaysia out of this miasmic morass.

  26. #26 by twistedmind on Friday, 10 October 2008 - 10:07 am

    Malaysian election system is so screwed, that we could have a donkey for a PM and this donkey stayed in office for 5 years before the other donkeys realised that is was really an Ass and not a donkey in power.

    Now 2000 donkeys are going to elect a new donkey to lead 26 million Malaysians. Why only 2000 UMNO donkey to decide? Where is the rest of BN? (BN=Balls No?)

  27. #27 by Loh on Friday, 10 October 2008 - 10:57 am

    AAB’s greatest failure is that having decided that Najib would be his chosen one, he has not taken the opportunity to allow Najib a chance to clear his name through the transparent process which would not only be accepted by Malaysians but also by the international community. Of all the suspicions, the Atlantuja murder case is by far the most important, and about which Najib has made some form of a sworn statement that he did not know Atlantuja. When swearing might be given some weights on religious matters, murder case is not one of them. Religious persons might accept sworn statement if they believe that the person who made the sworn statement was religious too. Clearly with so many conditions attached, sworn statement does not guarantee that the contents would be accepted by all and sundry.

    It is impossible for Najib to clear the doubts about his non-involvement if it is not cleared by the time he ascends the throne in March 2009. People might not believe the court process even if his is cleared by the court then, when he becomes PM. PM AAB claims that he would work on judicial reform in the remaining five months. He has the excellent opportunity to prove that using the well known Atlantuja case. For that he should do Najib a favour in ordering a full investigation on the substance of the allegations offered by writings in Malaysia2day website. Najib wants it cleared, and so are the people who have no choice but to accept Najib as PM comes March 2009.

    AAB cannot claim that unlike Saiful, Atlantuja did not make a police report and hence investigation could not be carried out.

  28. #28 by Loh on Friday, 10 October 2008 - 11:00 am

    Jeffrey,

    A bit emotional eh?

  29. #29 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Friday, 10 October 2008 - 11:18 am

    /// We can afford to be kind and maganimus when we are seized by a surge of spontaneous and powerful joyful feelings when that which we devoutly wished and pleaded for is consummated, as we settle down sated that our judgment has been vindicated by events! ///

    Yup, Bakri Musa must now by sitting supremely smug and contented on Mount Olympus, having earlier cast his thunderbolt on AAB and asking him to resign. As AAB has apparently capitulated and succumbed to Bakri the king-maker, the latter can now afford to be magnanimous and coo “what a clever and obedient boy you are, AAB”.

  30. #30 by Jeffrey on Friday, 10 October 2008 - 12:04 pm

    ABB’s greatest failure – “he has not taken the opportunity to allow Najib a chance to clear his name…” – Loh

    Very well put but is anyone interested, on his own volition, in favour of clearing name by any transparent process?

    The stance so far is that the allegations don’t dignify even a response from him, much less any clearing…In fact the person who made allegations (RPK) has been charged for criminal defmation.

  31. #31 by harrisonbinhansome on Friday, 10 October 2008 - 12:23 pm

    Dear Jeffery,

    If you are still reading this, in an earlier threads by M. Bakri Musa, I have denoted that man like him only wanted AAB’s political demise.
    You can see whether he will still assume similar critics of the impending leadership of Najib, if freedom of emancipation is under siege and cooped.

    These people are only interested in the likes of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

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