Archive for category Bakri Musa
M. Bakri Musa
6th April 2015
We Malays are obsessed – and cursed – with the single-issue politics of bangsa, agama dan negara (race, religion and nation). We have paid, and continue to pay, a severe price for this. Our fixation with those three issues detracts us from pursuing other legitimate endeavors, in particular, our social, economic and educational development. Perversely and far more consequential, our collective addiction to bangsa, agama dan negara only polarizes us.
We, leaders and followers alike, have yet to acknowledge much less address this monumental and unnecessary obstacle we impose upon ourselves. The current angst over hudud (religious laws) reflects this far-from-blissful ignorance. With Malays over represented in the various dysfunctional categories (drug abusers, abandoned babies, and broken families), and with our graduates overwhelmingly unemployable, our leaders are consumed with cutting off hands and stoning to death as punishments for thievery and adultery. Meanwhile pervasive corruption and endemic incompetence destroy our society and institutions. Those are the terrible consequences of our misplaced obsession with agama.
If we focus more on earthly issues such as reducing corruption, enhancing our schools and universities, and on improving economic opportunities, then we are more likely to produce a just and equitable society. That would mertabatkan (enhance the status of) our agama, bangsa dan negara on a far more impressive scale.
Make no mistake, if we remain marginalized or if we fail to contribute our share, then it matters little whether Malaysia is an Islamic State or had achieved “developed” status, our agama, bangsa dan negara will be relegated to the cellar of humanity. Our hollering of Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Supremacy) would then be but a desperate and pathetic manifestation of Kebangsatan Melayu (Malay Poverty). Read the rest of this entry »
By M. Bakri Musa
April 3, 2015
Library of Congress Catalog No: 2014914568
ISBN 13 978 1500776305 Indexed 308 pp; US $14.95
Now available on online stores like Amazon.com
The tragedy of state-owned Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 that disappeared amidst mystery and without trace over the South China Sea on March 2014 exposed to the world the gross incompetence and lackadaisical attitude of Malaysian officials, from senior ministers dismissive of pleas from victims’ families to radar operators uncurious of strange intruding beeps on their screens. Malaysians have long endured these; their surprise was that the world was surprised.
These essays chronicle the continued erosion of Malaysia’s once reliable institutions, the corrosion of its economy through endemic corruption and crony capitalism, and the polarization of its citizens along race, region and religion. These are the crippling consequences of the toxic leadership of the triad of the vacuous Abdullah Badawi, rudderless Najib Razak, and the sclerotic ruling party, UMNO. Not an auspicious beginning as Malaysia enters the new millennium. Read the rest of this entry »
A Modest Proposal for the Champions of Ketuanan Melayu
by M. Bakri Musa
[In Part One I suggested that our current obsession with the presumed deficiencies of our race and our undisguised resentment over the successes of others are but expressions of frus (frustration) and fury for our own lack of competitiveness and productivity. We should focus instead on remedying both, and begin with our young, especially those promising ones at our SBPs.]
It may seem obvious but needs to be stated explicitly: We must prepare these students for top universities the moment they step foot at a SBP. That’s how they do it elsewhere. American students aspiring to top universities begin their preparation upon entering high school, or even earlier. The courses they take, their extra-curricular programs as well as their summer activities are all geared towards this central mission.
My grandchildren who are in an American school in Singapore have assigned reading lists for the summer, and they are still in primary school! Likewise, SBP students must have mandatory reading lists and writing assignments during their long holidays. The purpose is two-fold. One is to prevent attrition of knowledge and study skills during the long hiatus, and the other, to inculcate the habit of reading and writing. It impresses upon them that those skills are not just for examinations.
Once when I took my family on an overseas trip, my son’s teacher asked him to keep a journal to be shared with his class while my daughter was assigned to study a Malay folk tale. In high school my son was invited to spend his summer break at Ames Research Center.
I speak with some experience. When my daughter entered Harvard Law School over 15 years ago, she was the first Malaysian to enroll there. There has not been another since. One of my sons works for an agency that prepares students for selective universities. Read the rest of this entry »
M. Bakri Musa
First of Three Parts: Have High Expectations Of Our Young
Hardly a day goes by without those self-proclaimed champions of Malay race and defenders of Malay rights frothing at the mouth demanding that they (non-Malays) do this or that so we Malays could be the unquestioned Tuans (masters) of Tanah Melayu. When these Hang Tuah wannabes are not consumed with their theatrics of brandishing their ketchup-soaked kerises, they are obsessed with denigrating our culture and national character. To them we are lazy, dishonest, and know no shame.
Strip the rhetoric and those expressions of frus (“Manglish” for frustration) and fury are understandable if not predictable. We are frustrated because with the billions spent on us and the ever-generous special privileges heaped upon us, we still lag behind the others. We are furious because despite not being mollycoddled by the government, they thrive.
We are so angry that we cannot even pause to ponder perhaps they prosper precisely because the government leaves them alone and does not direct their lives, or that the massive “help” we get is anything but that. There is an art in helping. Done right and you open the door to the world for those you help; done wrong and you have a dependent invalid.
Our futile and unenlightened reactions do not solve our dilemma; they hinder by hiding the glaring reality and fundamental issue: Malays are not competitive or productive. Read the rest of this entry »
By M Bakri Musa | TMI
9 September 2014
Last Saturday, September 6, 2014, marked a milestone of sorts for Prime Minister Najib Razak. On that day he exceeded the tenure of his predecessor, Abdullah Badawi. Abdullah served for five years, five months, and three days, the extra day thrown in with the 2008 leap year. Najib had his too in 2012. The traditional time lines for a new leader are the first hundred and first thousand days. For Najib that was July 12, 2009 and December 18, 2011.
The “First 100 Days” is President Roosevelt’s (FDR) phrase. To him that was the best or most opportune period for a new leader to reshape the course of a nation. Did he ever? The “First One Thousand Days” also referred to FDR, the title of a book by his senior aide. The expression now is associated more with Kennedy’s Camelot days in the White House. In my profession, thousand days refer to the period before a child’s second birthday when good health and nutrition, as well as parental involvement and a stimulating home environment, are critical.
Najib had little to show by all three time lines. Today he struggles and is in fact desperate to be relevant. He is less criticised, more ignored – a much worse fate for a leader. Read the rest of this entry »
M. Bakri Musa
When I think of the many needed functions of government, owning or running an airline is not one of them. Instead, taking care of the health, welfare and security of its citizens should rank way up there.
Once you have done an excellent job in those essential areas and still have extra time, talent or resources, then you could consider running an airline. A humble and conscientious leader would never be satisfied when it comes to serving the public, for no matter how excellent a job he may be doing there will always be room for improvement. The Finns have the finest schools yet their leaders are consumed with improving the system. That is what progress means.
Malaysia once again contemplates pouring billions to rescue Malaysia Airlines (MAS). Apart from consuming a never-ending amount of scarce and expensive government resources, the company receives an inordinate degree of attention at the highest level of the Najib Administration. I would have preferred that those leaders be concerned with our deteriorating schools and universities, or the awful delivery of our public services. On the day of the news of the proposed MAS bailout, there was another headline on a fire at the waste dump in Klang Valley. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »