Looking For Some Jantans

Looking For Some Jantans
M. Bakri Musa

Saddam Hussein did not by himself destroy Iraq; likewise Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe. These leaders did not become tyrants overnight. They became monsters only because of the inactions and silence of their followers. No one had the gumption to restrain them; there were no jantans (alpha males).

These leaders began with the best of intentions and noblest of motives. The seed of their (and consequently also their country’s) destruction was sown when their early strays were not corrected. The lack of jantans emboldened these leaders, enabling their suppressed evilness to surface. Once they morphed into monsters, they could no longer be restrained; they simply devoured everything in their path.

In apportioning blame for the evils perpetrated by these monsters, the culpability of those “enablers” must also be properly accounted for. They too must be held responsible even though many have already paid dearly with their life.

Not Yet A Monster

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi is not a tyrant or monster leader, not yet. With no jantan in his cabinet and UMNO Supreme Council to restrain him, rest assured he will be, and soon. In the short period since assuming leadership, he has demonstrated many disturbing traits. He is increasingly intolerant of criticisms, self righteously dismissing his critics as engaging in fitnah, a particularly derisive term deep with religious connotations.

His campaign commitment to integrity was a cruel hoax perpetrated on the electorate. He tolerated individuals with tainted reputation. Earlier there were Kasitah Gaddam and Isa Samad; today Deputy Minister Johari and ACA Director Zulkipli. Under Abdullah, Malaysia has become even more corrupt.

Abdullah is ethically blind to the obscenely rapid accumulation of wealth by his family members. We would gladly bask in the reflected racial glory had they acquired their wealth through business acumen or entrepreneurial flair. Instead, they became fabulously wealthy only after Abdullah became Prime Minister, an ugly fact obvious to all except them.

When hundreds of thousands of our citizens were displaced because of massive floods in Johore, Abdullah saw fit to open his brother’s restaurant in Perth. Such irresponsible and perverted sense of priority!

In all these lapses, there was nary a word of disapproval much less reprimand from the pundits, intellectuals, and editorial writers. They were curiously silent, a tacit approval for such shenanigans. We look forlornly for some jantan who could have taken the leadership to task. Alas, there were none! Instead we have kaki upahan (hired hands) galore. The surprise is that they could be had so cheaply.

That Abdullah Badawi has not risen to his position is not the issue. He demonstrates the classic Peter Principle (of being promoted
beyond his competence level) long before becoming Prime Minister.

The nation should not be held captive to former Prime Minister Mahathir’s mistake in selecting Abdullah. Abdullah’s 2004 landslide electoral victory should not be the excuse for tolerating his continued incompetence and sinister tendencies. President Nixon’s evil character remained hidden right through his landslide re-election. Only through the jantan in the person of the special prosecutor was Nixon finally exposed.

We should not let Abdullah interpret his massive electoral victory as a license for his (and his family’s) personal enrichment. This seemingly religious man, with previously modest taste, has suddenly acquired a fondness for luxury yachts, executive jets, and opulent mansions. To think that only a few years back when he was kicked out of the cabinet — and with that, out of his government-provided quarters — this “imam” could not even afford a house! The man’s expensive taste is as recent as it is vulgar.

Thank God for Malaysians!

Fortunately Malaysia does not lack for jantans. Our numbers may not be large enough to throw the rascal out in an election, but we do make our voices heard.

While mainstream editors are content with reprinting government press releases and reporting trivia like the Prime Minister getting yet another royal award, the real journalists and professionals have long abandoned the mainstream media. Ahirudin Attan is now more influential with his Rocky’s Bru website than when he was with the Malay Mail. Steven Gan’s Malaysiakini has long been a staple for serious Malaysia observers. Raja Petra Kamarudin’s Malaysia-Today.net regularly registers nearly two million hits daily. None of the mainstream media could claim even a tiny fraction of that figure!

The alternative media’s success reflects the hunger Malaysians have for independent news and views. It also reflects their contempt for the mainstream media. Despite endless changes in format, editors, and management, the New Straits Times continues to decline, in quality and circulation.

A few jantans are also emerging in academia. Law professor Azmi Sharom’s commentaries are a refreshing departure from the usual toadying pieces. Attorney Malik Imtiaz bravely takes on the powerful religious establishment with his fearless defense of religious freedom.

Ordinary Malaysians too are asserting themselves. Former Anti Corruption Agency official Ramli Manan already caused the non-renewal of his chief’s (Zulkifli) contract. Ramli did what Abdullah Badawi could not — getting rid of Zulkifli.

In Parliament, jantans like Lim Kit Siang may not get satisfactory answers to his serious queries, but he successfully exposed the
stupidities of government ministers and backbenchers, as well as other hired hands.

Another ray of hope is emerging from the most unlikely source. The Raja Muda of Perak spoke passionately on the importance of the rule of law and the supremacy of our constitution. He declared that good and upright leadership must be demonstrated, and our nation’s problems must not simply be wished away. In nation building, Raja Nazrin went on, enforced solutions must be avoided, and the political, social and economic incentives must reward good behaviors and penalize the bad.

He was addressing young Malaysians with those wise words. Looks like our older leaders need to hear that same message loud and clear, now that they are becoming increasingly deaf, literally and metaphorically.

It is a supreme irony that while a generation ago it was the political leaders who bravely reined in the excesses of the sultans, today it is a Raja Muda who has subtly taken our political leaders to task.

Raja Nazrin as well as brave citizens like Ramli Manan give us hope. Their vigilance is the best guard against the development of our homegrown Saddam Husseins and Robert Mugabes.

  1. #1 by lks on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 10:58 am

    When ABB won the last election, I thought at the time that he had alot of similarity with Japan former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Koizumi was elected on massive public support for his political reform against the will of his own ruling party, LDP, which like UMNO, has been the ruling party of Japan since the world war 2. He promised to fight against money politic, construction industry pump-priming that helps its owned supporters etc. During his time at the office, he faced much resistance from its own party but he always managed to “go to the people” and even threathen to campaign against his own party. Japanese people were charmed and re-elected him again with another landslide.

    I thought ABB was going to do the same with Malaysia. After all, he appears a sincere, honest, dignified and like by the people of Malaysia.

    So, what happened? Maybe:-

    1) He only say things to get elected and do not mean what he said;

    2) He meant what he said, but really has no idea how to deliver his promise?

    3) He meant what he said, but changed his mind because he found that is so much hardwork to reform! Why step on people’s toe and make enemy? Afterall, unlike Koizumi who can only stay 2 terms, he can be here for another 22 years!

  2. #2 by Godfather on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 12:42 pm

    He found out the true meaning of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”.

  3. #3 by Jong on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 1:01 pm

    Will jantans of Machap please stand up and be counted? Show those BN hypocrites the exit door! This is the best National Service you can give.

    The people of Kuching kicked them out two years ago, so can you!

    Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will go down in history as the worse prime minister we ever had. He’s a real ‘ding-dong’ alright!

  4. #4 by tsn on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 1:16 pm

    Koizumi is a bachelor, he does not have son, son-in-law and a large number of putras & putris.

    Maybe this is a time for us to relook our Asians long-claimed highly proud superior(than westeners) value – deeper love to our children, siblings & closer family ties among family members. This mentality of “MINE” makes us need to possess the wealth enough for 10 generations, whatever enough for 1,2,3 generations surely is not sufficient for 6,7,8.. generations. Once there is an opportunity, one will just grab, use, abuse disregard others suffering, so long as “my own children, grandchildren, brother….” are in comfortable/luxury life.

    Since we do not have a good checks & balances system to safeguard our public wealth, maybe in future we should elect an orphan to be Bolehland PM and ask him to sign”aku janji”-to observe celibacy in his lifetime. Problem solves at last.

  5. #5 by Godfather on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 1:39 pm

    Look, there is no need for us to speculate on what happened to AAB. He has proven to be a mere mortal, and that a number of us in his position would probably do the same i.e. backtrack on promises made because the promises were either unrealistic or impossible to implement. The fact is that the system is rotten to the core, and beyond repair.

    So go out there and make your vote count. Regime change is the only antidote to a corrupt and irreparable system.

  6. #6 by just_being_myself on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 2:58 pm

    It seems like our country still has a long way to go to be a truly democratic country……
    In my humble opinion, I believe there aren’t many who are ready to stand up against the government yet……
    I think it is simply because everyone thought they knew everything already but in fact, everything they hear(news,radio), they see(TV), they read(newspaper,magazines,etc.) are just what the government wanting them to know…..
    They have been sort of brainwashed to believe everything the government does for them is for their own good…..
    Previously before I started going into all this things about poilitical issues behind the scenes(what the ruling government are trying to censore from the public), I know nothing at all about the way things are being handled in such an unprofessional manner, full of deceptions and lies, just to be in favour of certain parties…..

    Therefore, in order to find the people who are willing to stand up for the citizens of Malaysia, to remind the government of their wrongdoings, to right what is wrong…….
    We firstly have to educate the people about their rights and let them know that everyone plays a part in making this society a better place to live in…..
    People should know what is going on around them and they should be able to access all the information especially those that involved the daily activities of their lives(such as the toll rates, etc.)……
    There’s no point if the opposition parties raises issues concerning about the public in the parliament but the truth is kept secret from the knowledge of the people(where as the government tries to filters the information which could reach the publics ears and eyes)….
    I’m telling in my opinion that if I didn’t read this blog, and realising that what I’ve been thinking about how supposedly the government is the ‘defender’ of their peoples right is actually just a big-screen drama, I would be just like any ordinary students in this country who wouldn’t give a bladdy damn on what is going on and not realising that by the day, our rights and freedom is being curtailed and we are about to grow up and go out to a new world where we will be suffocated with all this injustice and whatever bull**** the government has done…..

    So, right now, let’s just stop talking about how to change this whole world when in the first place we don’t walk the talk……
    My advice to the opposition parties :
    Start reaching out to the public and wake them up from their sweet dreams telling them that if they were to continue on sleeping and couldn’t care less anymore about what is going on around them, they would have the longest sleep in their lives……
    And don’t expect them to wake up anymore (R.I.P)…..

  7. #7 by HJ Angus on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 4:45 pm

    Whether batchelor or married I think all ministers and deputy ministers should submit their assets declaration to Parliament or the Auditor-General for public disclosure.

    After all, they used to be called Public Servants.

  8. #8 by raven77 on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 6:19 pm

    There is a difference between the Kelantanese and Chinese…..the Kelantanese take all the money fed by BN and still vote for the opposition while the Chinese take all the money fed by the BN and still vote for the BN……..so when it comes to jantan I rather place my bets on a Kelantanese who believe in…. Biar miskin tapi benar, no matter how tough and stupid it is…

  9. #9 by Jong on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 6:33 pm

    Chinese, which are you referring to – BN ‘bukan jantan’ rent collectors? You have to know the difference raven77.

  10. #10 by grandfathersclocks on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 7:26 pm

    May be it does not matter who is the Prime Minister or who is the Ketua. As long as he or she fulfills the wishes of those who have designed the blueprints to the ultimate Malaysia. It is the blueprint designers whom we have to be careful with. As for Saddam Hussein, will there be another one like him who is able to control the country ? So far there is none. May be like the Iraqis, we are also the type that likes to depend on others. We depend on any Tom, Dick and Harry to be the in charge and since things are not really that bad, we do not question the little bad things they do. That is why Malaysia is such a beautifully blessed country.

  11. #11 by Godamn Singh on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 8:01 pm

    Hello! Goddamn it! I am a jantan too and I’m here to offer my services.

    I can do any which way you want.

  12. #12 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 8:43 pm

    Can you do “up yours”?

  13. #13 by bbtan on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 10:33 pm

    hey raven77, Only Chinese rent collectors support BN. The jantans in politics and those who dare to voice out their opinions are unfairly labeled as racists. But the Chinese will accept goodies from politik wang and still vote according to their convictions.

  14. #14 by Tai Lo Chin on Sunday, 8 April 2007 - 11:47 pm

    Dr Musa Bakri had said that many leaders started out with high agenda and promises but somehow over time the seductions of power metamorphose them to become monsters.

    Bakri further lamented that there should be more of jantans (alpha males) to constitute check and balance against this metamorphosis. (What about alpha females like the Executive Director of Sisters in Islam (SIS) Zainah Anwar or Marina Mahathir?)

    “Fortunately Malaysia does not lack for jantans” – ya, one of them whom he is too modest to mention is, of course, himself with his famous “Undur lah, Pak Lah” piece which the inimitable YB brought up in Parliament ….

    But where these jantans ‘tersembunyi di sebalik tabir’ before Pak Lah became Prime Minister?

    Before then there was a super jantan (alpha males) wielding a big stick and all the ordinary jantans, except Kit Siang, were hidden in woodwork.

    Maybe the solution does not lie in having more jantans to speak up against a leader. The solution lies in not having a Jantan to be a leader.

    Most dictators are and were super jantans : Saddam Hussein, Castro, Mugabe, Hitler etc.

    WE DON’T NECESSARILY REQUIRE PM TO BE A JANTAN! (Maybe we should even consider having a woman prime minister for a change).

    Abdullah Badawai’s affability and more open style of tolerating public debate (compared to Mahathir) even when blogs throw brickbats at him and rubbish him, has ironically created conditions for emergence of many jantans mentioned by Dr Bakri Musa,

    It is a fact that Ahmad Abdullah Badawi’s political stock has declined for having stimulated such high expectations of promises of reform unfulfilled. It is hard to defend his record, and I’ll not attempt to do so here. He has failed to rein in the excesses of immediate relatives and kinfolks and their “fondness for luxury yachts, executive jets, and opulent mansions”.

    One recalls that much of Anwar’s problems of being sacked by Mahathir had to do with his attempt to initiate changes, for instances giving more authority to the anti-corruption commission and looking into corruption allegations against key UMNO leaders, including a Cabinet member that would have disturbed the UMNO power structure, which caused these UMNO chieftains to instigate and rally around Mahathir to take action against Anwar. The same would be done to Badawi had he shown more ‘jantan’ to eradicate corruption amongst this flock,

    The inner circle of his advisers, courtiers, allies, who have a personal stake in political survival have probably given him wrong advice to put his political survival above his promises to the people.

    If Badawi’s political stock and credibility plummet in eyes of rakyat the same chieftans would rally around his challenger and contender to unseat him.

    Either way his political survival is not going unchallenged. The better way is to do right than compromise for expediency. He should take the path less traveled to fight corruption vigorously without reservations. If he has to go down fighting, he still earns the respect and gratitude of Malaysians for putting up a good fight.

  15. #15 by smeagroo on Monday, 9 April 2007 - 12:15 am

    Maybe Kambing Jantan told FIL that if he no make use of his positon he no gv daughter satisfaction.

  16. #16 by Godamn Singh on Monday, 9 April 2007 - 1:39 am

    Why is everybody fixated on this word ‘jantan’. “If you are ‘jantan’ enough come out and we can settle outside” is what we hear all the time.

    I wonder what our ‘betina’ (opposite of ‘jantan’) say to each other when they are looking for a fight?? Do they say to each other, “Do you want to pull hair, lets go to the ‘Ladies’ biaaaatch!”

  17. #17 by Tai Lo Chin on Monday, 9 April 2007 - 7:26 am

    Godfather said, “Look, there is no need for us to speculate on what happened to AAB. He has proven to be a mere mortal, and that a number of us in his position would probably do the same i.e. backtrack on promises made because the promises were either unrealistic or impossible to implement”.

    I think there is a lot of truth in this. In our haste to measure Ahmad Abdullah Badaw, he hold him to higher account; because he is no ordinary man, he is the prime minister elected by strong mandate to fulfill certain pledges and in that process forget that he is mere mortal subject to same weaknesses and temptations as rest of us.

    His Mr Clean image was earned. Bakri said, “When he was kicked out of the cabinet – and with that, out of his government-provided quarters – this ‘imam’ could not even afford a house! But now this seemingly religious man, with previously modest taste, has suddenly acquired a fondness for luxury yachts, executive jets, and opulent mansions”.

    Bakri can afford to be condescending, he is a successful surgeon ensconced in Silicon Valley, USA but think of AAB, for years and years he had not the extras, patiently waiting in the shadow on the Great Mahathir who had driven his past three deputies, Musa Hitam Razaleigh and Anwar to go berserk, rebellion and political suicide. At his age how long more can widower AAB enjoy life, especially now when he has a female companion and could enjoy luxurious jet, mansion and so on? No?

    tsn is also right to compare “Koizumi is a bachelor, he does not have son, son-in-law and a large number of putras & putris”.

    Somehow family holds us to hostage. We become more prosaic less idealistic and more materialistic. We think of their welfare. We think of the welfare of our genes for generations to come. For once when we are afforded opportunity to high office and power that enables us to break the cycle of povery, would be refrain from capitalising on our good fourtune so that our future descendants will never be in want again?

    We do what we can do for the people and Rakyat in the push for reform but will many of us be prepared to risk losing the position for this Cause? Saints may but they are rare. The majority of us are not bad but just ordinary. Sio let us not judge AAB too harshly. We may not be inspired at all by his leadership but let us not condemn him as a man for his mortal’s shortcomings.

  18. #18 by Bigjoe on Monday, 9 April 2007 - 7:33 am

    Abdullah as Robert Mugabe/Saddam Hussein. The real sad thing is that he does not have what it takes. He has the tools i.e., the power of his office but not the skills.

    However, KJ is different. He could be and show no restraint that he will not. The rreal danger is that he model himself after Lee Kuan Yew which would be equally disastrous because even his son know it cannot be…

  19. #19 by DarkHorse on Monday, 9 April 2007 - 7:56 am

    “..he is no ordinary man, he is the prime minister elected by strong mandate..” Tai Loh Chin

    Excuse me if my memory is correct, Abdullah was never elected to be Prime Minister of Malaysia. He was appointed by his successor who had designs then and who harbors ambitions today of being the country’s first ‘come back kid’ (although he is an octogenarian, pardon the expression), for his weakness not his strength.

    Mahathir is the most crafty of Malaysian politicians – but that is another matter.

    “So let us not judge AAB too harshly. We may not be inspired at all by his leadership but let us not condemn him as a man for his mortal’s shortcomings.”

    Well, the people of Malaysia do not owe him or those like him a living. He may be there by choice or by accident, but as the country’s Prime Minster he must either buck up or ship out!

  20. #20 by DarkHorse on Monday, 9 April 2007 - 8:01 am

    What we can all agree is that Abdullah as president of his Party is an embattled leader fast losing legitimacy with his own supporters. He does not have what it takes to be a leader. He has always been a good follower under Mahathir, a trusted aide but nothing more. So when the reins of leadership were released to him, he is not ready for it.

    A good follower is not necessarily a good leader.

  21. #21 by lakshy on Monday, 9 April 2007 - 12:17 pm

    The Jantans in the cabinet would include Rafidah, and Semi Value?

  22. #22 by Bigjoe on Monday, 9 April 2007 - 2:57 pm

    Seriously though, the proposition here is that what is lacking is strong decisive leadership even at the expense of being smart harking back to the days of Dr. M. The Presumption here is that Dr.M is really that ‘jantan’. Frankly, I don’t know if Dr. M would have still be so ‘jantan’ if he was still in charge. I don’t think Kasitah, Isa, Zukifpli, Baharom, Taib, Musa etc. would still be punished.

    I see the main issue of decisive leadership but as the Chinese says, today is not like the golden days. No doubt decisive leadership is needed but it has to be a different decisive leadership – not the likes of Dr. M. And that is the problem. There is no past to look back at so the present group of ass-kissing followers have no clue how to lead.

    Anwar proposes a Kennedy-quesce style of leadership but for the life of me, I can only see it as a visionary copycat without Kennedy ability to execute. I don’t think we have or will ever have our Kennedy equivalent anytime soon.

    KJ proposes a Lee Kuan Yew or Deng Xiao Peng kind of leadership. Practical in lying to his partners only to betray them later in the name of real nationalistic agenda. Somehow, I don’t think Malaysians are as gullible now as Singaporean and Chinese were before the internet and cellphones.

    If there is a model leadership to follow, what we need is either Gandhi self-sacrifice or Boris Yeltsin self-destructive creativity. Both leaders saw themselves as pivotal instrument of history not history itself. In other words, its enough for them to set things in motion and let that sort things out. They did not seek to determine the outcome but rather initiate an irreversible process. They were not afraid to spent their political capital and have the outcome indeterminate confident that the nature of their reform would sort things out.

    Yes its jantan we need but not the same self-absorbed, self-import Jantan but one of quiet anger and confidence.

  23. #23 by Bigjoe on Monday, 9 April 2007 - 3:08 pm

    .. and/or reckless confidence

  24. #24 by DiaperHead on Monday, 9 April 2007 - 8:07 pm

    “The Jantans in the cabinet would include Rafidah, and Semi Value?”

    Rafidah Aziz is a feminist and therefore a “betina” and Sam? Sam is a cross between a ‘betina’ and a ‘jantan’. When he goes beserk he is a betina in the middle of PMS. He would be a ‘jantan’ if he goes around without his toupee. It looks like he’ll never be a jantan.

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