Archive for category Bakri Musa
Review of Syed Husin Ali’s Memoirs of a Political Struggle.
by M. Bakri Musa
Syed Husin Ali: Memoirs of a Political Struggle. Strategic Information and Research Development Center, Petaling Jaya, 2013. 273 pp.
The deserved universal condemnation and merciless ridicule of the Malaysian authorities’ bungling of the MH370 tragedy did not arise in a vacuum. From leaders’ refusing to entertain questions at their press briefings to radar operators ignoring intruding beeps on their screens, this unconcealed contempt for the public, and the accompanying lackadaisical attitude, is the norm.
Our leaders may have had First World education, alas their mentality remains stubbornly stuck in Third World mode. Their bebalism and tidak apaism make the Jamaican “It’s not my job, mon!” a valid excuse by contrast.
To readers of on-line news portals, I am not stating anything new here; likewise to ordinary citizens who have had to deal with governmental agencies. However, when these general inadequacies and gross incompetence in their infinite manifestations are put in print as in books, there is satisfaction, at least to their authors, that they are being documented for posterity. Read the rest of this entry »
M. Bakri Musa
30th Sept 2013
In San Francisco recently, Prime Minister Najib confidently declared “to make corruption part of Malaysia’s past, not its future.” The man’s delusion never ceases to amaze me. The reality is of course far different; corruption defines the Najib Administration.
Nonetheless if Najib is serious, then he should heed Tengku Razaleigh’s call for Najib to declare his assets. Otherwise it would be, to put it bluntly in the vernacular, “Cakap kosong je ‘Jib!” (Empty talk only!)
Tengku Razaleigh’s suggestion, if implemented, would do far more good than all of Najib’s lofty declarations of “changing organizational as well as business cultures” or creating “a new governance and integrity minister” and “elevating the anti-corruption agency.” Malaysians have heard all those ad nauseum, not only from Najib but also his predecessors. Read the rest of this entry »
M. Bakri Musa
Najib’s glaring leadership deficiencies have now been glaringly exposed. Malaysia deserves better. His performance has not been up to par even when compared to his lackluster predecessor. If under Abdullah Badawi Malaysia had the modernity of Manhattan but the mentality of Mogadishu, under Najib, Malaysia risks degenerating, period.
Najib is not terribly bright or introspective. Like a little child, he always hunger for approval. He is also severely “charimastically-challenged.” A leader could survive or even thrive despite having one or two of these flaws, but to be cursed with all three is fatal.
All his adult years Najib has depended entirely on government paychecks. No surprise then that his worldview is narrowly circumscribed. His solution to every problem is to distribute government checks, well exemplified by his many “1-Malaysia” handouts. His recent Majlis Ekonomi Bumiputra was no exception; likewise its hefty price tag. Read the rest of this entry »
M. Bakri Musa
Mahathir is the only prime minister who devalued the ringgit, the very symbol of the nation’s sovereignty. If that were to be his only negative legacy, Malaysia could easily bear it.
Unfortunately the man has burdened (and continues to burden) Malaysia with many more ugly legacies. He has also devalued our culture and institutions. Most of all he has devalued the trust we have in each other, a vital but scarce asset in a plural society.
On a much lesser scale, and to serve more as a concrete example, the upcoming UMNO leadership convention will be another. With its “no contest” rule now the norm, the convention mocks the very meaning of a leadership election, reducing it to the same level as the old Soviet “elections.” This coming event will again expose the party’s corruptness and how pathetically bereft it is of talent. The same old tired and tainted candidates will be recycled. It is an exercise less of renewal and rejuvenation, more of an old and leaking sewer treatment plant, with nothing to hide the stench. Read the rest of this entry »
by Aliran on 15 May 2013
Life under the coconut shell is no longer sustainable. It is time to open our minds and challenge our preconceived notions, says Tota.
The general election is over. A allegedly fraudulent electoral system and a highly tainted electoral roll has once again ensured a BN victory, albeit a hollow one with less than 48 per cent of the popular vote.
Over a long period of 56 years, Umno has played havoc with the Malay mind through crippling political and religious propaganda. In this election, the educated, intelligent and well-informed Malay in the urban and semi-urban areas have toppled the proverbial coconut shell that Umno kept them trapped under and come out to realise that there is a wondrous political world outside!
As predicted by well-known surgeon and writer Dr M Bakri Musa in his book “Liberating the Malay mind”, Umno needs a scapegoat. The “hantu” pendatang, the Chinese bogeyman, has been resurrected once again to serve their purpose. No one has analysed the Malay dilemma more clearly and expressed it more succinctly than Dr M Bakri Musa. I quote below a few excepts from his book about what Umno has done to the Malay mind: Read the rest of this entry »
by M. Bakri Musa
Downstream Analysis: Hung Parliament Not Necessarily Bad
(Last of Four Parts)
Many fear a hung parliament as they think that would lead to chaos and uncertainty. Yes, there may be both but neither is inevitable. On the contrary I see many potentially redeeming aspects that could benefit citizens, the permanent establishment, and yes, even those politicians.
For citizens, seeing these freshly-victorious politicians brazenly jockeying for positions would be both instructive and revealing. It would be quite a sight to watch them behave worse than hookers. At least hookers are consumed with satisfying their present customers first, and would solicit new ones only after they have done that. More importantly, they do both discreetly. Those politicians on the other hand would be openly and lustily auctioning themselves to the highest bidder without even a promise of satisfactory performance to their current customers – citizens who had only recently voted for them. Those politicians would whore themselves brazenly. What matters to them would only be the price their new customers would be willing to pay, regardless how filthy and disease-ridden they are. Damn the consequences, for them or the nation. Read the rest of this entry »
Downstream Analysis: Pakatan Victory Best Outcome
(Third of Four Parts)
The best outcome would be a decisive Pakatan victory. This is the only way to effect much-needed change, specifically to end the current culture of corruption, cronyism and rent-seeking that is enmeshed and fast becoming the fabric of our – specifically Malay – society. Again addressing those under the sway of Perkasa and Ketuanan Melayu, Malays will never advance until we get rid of this destructive culture, of which UMNO is the prime enabler.
I am heartened that more than half of PKR’s candidates are new, with a substantial number of young faces. We can only bring about change with new personnel. Najib considers recycled and rethreads as fresh. How can he ever hope to transform the country with the same tired, tainted, and tattered team? It is significant that he has resurrected Isa Samad, the character suspended from UMNO a few years ago for “money politics!” Truly scraping the very bottom of the barrel! Rest assured that tainted characters like him will be in Najib’s cabinet. Read the rest of this entry »
by Bakri Musa
(Second of Four Parts)
There can only be three possible outcomes to the next election: Barisan to win with a comfortable victory; Pakatan Rakyat to prevail; and a hung parliament. A comfortable victory is one where the expected hopping of a dozen or so successful candidates would not materially affect the political balance. A hung parliament is where the buying or the shifting of allegiance of a handful of elected members would significantly alter the political balance.
Contrary to the pronouncements of many, the worst possible outcome would not be a hung parliament but a Barisan victory. The best possible outcome would be for Pakatan to secure that majority. A hung parliament is not the worse but then also not the best possible outcome either. Read the rest of this entry »
By M. Bakri Musa
Elections A System for Checks and Balances
[First of Four Parts]
When he dissolved Parliament on April 3, 2013, to make way for a general election, Prime Minister Najib advised us to “think and ponder appropriately” before casting our votes.
We can practice two mental exercises to help us “think and ponder appropriately.” One, imagine the best and worse possible consequences of our vote, that is, perform a “downstream analysis” of our decision. Two, reflect on the greater role of election as an effective bulwark against abuse of power by those in authority.
I will discuss the broader role of elections first. Subsequent essays will be a downstream analysis of the only three possible outcomes to this election: Barisan Nasional returning to power; Pakatan Rakyat to prevail; and a “hung” parliament.
Read the rest of this entry »
by Bakri Musa
Suaris Interview: The Future of Malays #7: Touching on the economy, while to date Malays have made some progress nonetheless the new generation considers that insignificant. They demand a bigger share of the cake, at least 30 percent. How can we achieve this target?
[The original appeared in www.suaris.wordpress.com on February 27, 2013
MBM: To begin with, which mortal has declared that Malays are entitled to 30 percent? In which verse is it so written? Why 30 and not 60 or 20? Queried thus, it is obvious that the figure 30 percent is only the figment of someone’s imagination, or more correctly, fantasy. Whether we control 20 or 60 percent of the economy would depend entirely on our efforts and initiatives, not based on some written parchment.
I agree that our achievement thus far, and not just in economics, is far from satisfactory. It is in fact pathetic when you consider that UMNO, meaning Malays, have been ruling the country for over half a century. Whom can we blame – leaders or citizens?
Economic development depends of us, individually and as a society, having and running successful enterprises. A successful enterprise requires three essential capitals. Most are familiar with only financial capital – money. More important, and we do not emphasize enough, are human and social capitals. We provide literally billions in financial capital, but because we ignore the other two, our enterprises often fail or do not succeed well.
When I began my private practice in America, I did not have any money but because of the value of my human capital was high (being a surgical specialist), I had no difficulty borrowing from the bank. That reflects the primacy of human over financial capital. When your human capital is high, financial capital is not an issue. Read the rest of this entry »
by Bakri Musa
Suaris Interview: The Future of Malays #5: It appears that you are cynical towards things labeled “Islam.” Many feel that you do not subscribe to conservative Islam as practiced by the vast majority of Muslims rather the basic teachings of our faith. What is your comment?
[The original was posted on suaris.wordpress.com on Feb 13, 2013.]
MBM: I am a Muslim, by birth and through practice. I believe in God and Muhammad, s.a.w, as His Last Messenger, as well as the five pillars of our faith. That of course is the belief of all Muslims.
What is the essence of the teachings of our Holy Koran and Prophet Muhammad, s.a.w.? Command good and forbid evil! That is repeated many times in our Koran and hadith. That too is agreed upon by all Muslims.
That is the “golden rule” of our faith. I am less interested in labels, those can be easily printed. Content is something else. If a state does not subscribe to the creed of doing good and forbidding evil, then I do not consider it to be Islamic regardless of the label. It is easy to carve the names “Allah” and “Muhammad” on arches and buildings; likewise for leaders to don overflowing robes and huge turbans.
The question is whether corruption, bribery, and abuse of power are deemed “avoidance of evil.” Likewise, if leaders ignore the sufferings and deprivations of their citizens, could that be considered “doing good?” When I make judgment on whether a state is Islamic, those are the crucial factors, not how often the leaders have been to Mecca or how exquisite their recitation of the Koran. Read the rest of this entry »
by Bakri Musa
It is said that Malays are at a crossroad. This is particularly so with the upcoming General Election 13 where the choice is between feudalism and liberalism. To what extent do you agree with that viewpoint?
[The original in Malay appeared in suaris.wordpress.com on February 6, 2013.]
MBM: I agree that we Malays are at a critical juncture. Our choice is between continuing on the present path that has led us to where we are today, with our minds still trapped, or make a sharp turn towards liberating them. Remember that the path to the dumpsite is the one well-trodden.
I do not agree that the forthcoming election (GE 13) will be a choice between liberalism and feudalism, as I understand both terms. Instead it will be between a party that has grown old, tired, and bankrupt of ideas versus another that is young, vigorous, and full of fresh talent.
As an aside, “liberalism” to me means a system that treats every human as having certain inalienable rights or freedoms granted unto him (or her) by Almighty Allah, among them, the freedom of thought, to choose our leaders, own properties, and pursue happiness. Feudalism on the other hand was the social system prevailing in Medieval Europe where humans were either lords or peasants. Land, property and peasants belonged to the lords. Your fate and place in society was determined at birth and remained fixed throughout life. Meaning, born a peasant, and you would remain one until death.
Clearly from the perspective of respect for human lives and values, liberalism is closer to Islam than is feudalism. Read the rest of this entry »
by Bakri Musa
[The original, in Malay, appeared in suaris.wordpress.com on January 31, 2013]
Suaris: You advocate strategies that are generally deemed to be evolutionary in nature to change the collective Malay mindset. Should Malays be “shocked” with revolutionary changes as we saw with the Japanese and South Koreans that led to their quantum leap in achievement?
MBM: When Mohamed Bouazizi burned himself to death in Tunisia on January 4, 2011, it was not his intention to start a riot or revolution. He had simply given up hope; he just wanted to end his misery. His personal action however, triggered a revolution not only in Tunisia but also the entire Arab world.
Gamel Nasser was frothing at the mouth in wanting to revolutionize the Arabs; he was lucky that his Egypt was not totally whipped by Israel in the 1967 War. Senu Abdul Rahman and other Malay leaders like Abdullah Badawi, together with our intellectuals, were also intoxicated with their Revolusi Mental back then. Today, you could not even find the book of the same title that they wrote, and we Malays have remained the same.
Whether a change is evolutionary or revolutionary depends not on action or intention but on results and consequences. Bouazizi merely intended to end his suffering but his action reverberated throughout the Arab world, taking down hitherto strong men like Ghaddafi and Mubarak. Read the rest of this entry »
[The original in Malay appeared in suaris.wordpress.com on January 25, 2013).
Suaris: In a recent interview with Astro Awani, Dr. Mahathir said that Malays would be left behind unless given continued help. He referred to such help as crutches. Do you agree that we continue to need crutches? If so, for how long?
Dr. M. Bakri Musa: If we Malays still remain backward and marginalized after over 55 years of “help” from the UMNO government, then we ought to examine critically the nature of that help.
As parents we readily acknowledge the importance of how we guide and help our children. Be too indulgent and protective, we lose hope of their ever able to shine on their own. Be too strict and controlling, they will never acquire self-confidence; likewise if we constantly criticize and highlight their weaknesses.
In modern medicine, we rarely give crutches to patients following hip surgery. Instead we give them to physiotherapy so they could be self-ambulatory as quickly as possible. I encourage, in fact insist that my surgical patients be up and about the very next day. It is dangerous to keep them in bed; the most serious complication being potentially lethal blood clots.
Read the rest of this entry »
Interview with Suaris: The Future of Malays, Part 1.
[The original in Malay appeared in suaris.wordpress.com on January 19, 2013).
Dr. M. Bakri Musa’s perspective may appear alien to some readers, especially those less exposed to the Internet and the English language. It is their loss not to have ready access to his clear thinking and substantive ideas.
Suaris.wordpress.com is taking this initiative in bringing to readers especially those versed only in Malay his commentaries. Born and raised in Negri Sembilan, Bakri represents the earlier generation of Bumiputras that had been given the opportunity for an education abroad. Yet he never forgets his roots as evidenced by his extensive writings and many books. Even though he resides in America, but through his books and essays we feel close to him.
He recently released his latest book, Liberating the Malay Mind, published by ZI Publications.
In this interview, Dr. Bakri Musa discusses a critical issue, the future of Malays in our country. We are at a critical juncture in many respects, from politics to economics, and from education specifically to social arenas generally. What is the future of our people in the decades ahead and how can we best prepare for that future?
Follow the series in its entirety.
Read the rest of this entry »
M. Bakri Musa
While UMNO apologists and sycophants in academia, blogosphere, and mainstream media quibbled over such minutia as the number of participants at last Saturday’s massive KL112 (January 12, 2013) rally, two facts are indisputable. First, that peaceful and largely Malay demonstration, the largest the nation had ever witnessed, forever shattered the myth that UMNO is Melayu, and Melayu, UMNO. Second, given a modicum of respect by and without provocation from the authorities, Malaysians are quite capable of partaking in peaceful rallies.
On this second point the authorities, specifically the police under its new leadership, are finally learning that water tankers, personnel with anti-riot gears or tear gas canisters, and other crude displays of power often precipitate rather than prevent violence. BERSIH 3.0 demonstrated that very clearly.
The size and orderliness of the rally, together with the bravery and determination of the participants, was reminiscent of the transformative event of over 66 years earlier, the opposition to the Malayan Union Treaty. That altered the course of our history. Insha’ Allah (God willing), last Saturday’s rally too, will.
The power imbalance between those demanding change and those in power back in 1946 was enormous. Then it was mostly illiterate and unsophisticated Malay peasants facing the much superior and more formidable colonial authorities. Yet in the end, right won over might, and justice prevailed!
Today, while the UMNO Government is detested to the same degree as the old colonials, it is nowhere as sophisticated wielder of power as the British. Meanwhile, those clamoring for change are far more worldly, more committed, and in far greater numbers than their adversary, UMNO and its supporters. More importantly, unlike the colonials, today’s UMNO government is crippled with corruption and incompetence while also being crude wielders of power. All the more we should expect that right and the truth, as well as justice, will again prevail. Read the rest of this entry »
by M.Bakri Musa
Before Malaysians grant Prime Minister Najib’s request for a mandate in the coming election, we should examine his performance during the past four years. It has been mediocre, satiated with slogans, and drifting amidst an abundance of acronyms. If Malaysians are satisfied with KPI and PEMANDU, or One Malaysia This and Two Malaysia That, then expect more of the same, this time with ever incredulous inanity and flatulent fatuousness.
Najib has not demonstrated any ability or inclination to clean up his administrative house. An early indication of his second term performance is this. Thus far no cabinet minister has voluntarily withdrawn from being an electoral candidate. As Najib will not drop them, if they win they will end up in his cabinet again. Nothing would have changed.
A wisecrack definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. That is true only if you let the same cast of incompetent characters carry out the task after they have clearly and repeatedly demonstrated their inability to do so. Pick others more competent and diligent, and the result may well surprise you. It would be far from insanity.
The best advice a science teacher could give a student who repeatedly fails to perform an experiment is to suggest that he pursues music instead, where “practice, practice, practice!” (doing the same thing over and over) may take him to Carnegie Hall. Likewise, the kindest gesture to Najib after he has clearly demonstrated his inability to lead would be for Malaysians to force him into another line of work, by not voting him and his party in.
After over half of century in power, what has UMNO, a party that claims to champion Malays, achieved? Malays today are even more morally corrupt, deeply polarized, and economically disadvantaged than ever before. Those are not my observations. I am merely summarizing what Mahathir, a man who led the country and UMNO for over two decades, said. Read the rest of this entry »
M. Bakri Musa
The Havoc Education Reform Inflicts: Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (Part 5)
[In the first three essays I critiqued the Blueprint’s recommendations: specifically its failure to recognize the diversity within our school system and thus the need to have targeted programs; the challenge of recruiting quality teachers; and the link between efficiency, efficacy, and quality. Part Four discussed the report’s deficiencies. This last essay focuses on the very process of reform, or how to do a better job of it.]
The greatest weakness of this reform effort is its exclusive dependence on in-house or MOE staff, the very personnel responsible for the current rot with our schools. These individuals have been part of the problem for far too long; they cannot now be expected suddenly and magically to be part of the solution. That would take an exceptional ability to be flexible, innovative, and have the willingness or at least capacity to learn. Those are the very traits not valued in or associated with our civil service.
The Blueprint’s local consultants included Air Asia’s Tony Fernandez, Khazanah’s Azman Mokthar, and Sunway’s Jeffrey Cheah, presumably representing the three major communities. These individuals are terribly busy. Unless they took time off from their considerable corporate responsibilities, they could not possibly do justice to this important national assignment.
The international consultants were equally impressive. Again here I wonder how much time they actually spent talking to teachers, students and headmasters. Another significant flaw is this: With the possible exception of the Canadian, the others are from systems not burdened with the Malaysian dilemma of low educational achievements identifiable with specific ethnic or geographical groups. In Ontario, Canada, only the Toronto School System which is separate from the provincial has significant experience with the “Malaysian” problem. The Canadian is with the provincial system.
Many of those impressive consultants were conspicuously absent during the many public sessions leading one to conclude that they were more window dressing. Read the rest of this entry »
By M. Bakri Musa | October 7th, 2012
Fourth of Five Parts: Roar of An Elephant, Baby of a Mouse
[In the first three parts I critiqued the Blueprint’s recommendations; specifically its failure to recognize the diversity within our school system and thus the need to have targeted programs, the challenge of recruiting quality teachers, and the link between efficiency efficacy, and quality. In this Part Four, I discuss the major areas the report ignores.]
Education Blueprint 2013-2025 lacks clear authorship. The document carries forewords by Najib, Muhyyiddin, and the ministry’s Secretary-General as well as its Director General, while the Appendix credits a long list of those involved in this “robust, comprehensive, and collaborative effort,” but the Blueprint itself is unsigned.
It is also impossible to tell who actually is in charge of this whole reform effort. According to the complicated box-chart diagram, the entire endeavor was anchored in a 12-member “Project Management Office” (PMO) that reported to the Ministry’s Director-General as well as to an 11-member “Project Taskforce” that in turn reported to Muhyyiddin. Both the PMO and Taskforce are manned exclusively by ministry officials. Then there are the local and international panels of experts.
Read the rest of this entry »