Archive for August 28th, 2007

Unfit To Lead

M. Bakri Musa

After nearly four years as Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has clearly demonstrated that he is not fit to lead the nation. He does not have what it takes to hold the nation’s top post; he must be relieved of his office.

The man is too incompetent to be even aware of his own incompetence. His trademark answer to every serious query is a plaintive, “I dunno!” There is not even a hint of embarrassment on his part, or the desire and curiosity to find out. Truly revealing!

Consider this latest blunder: As Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Abdullah is blissfully unaware of the RM5 billion blunder now unfolding at the Port Klang Free Zone project. If he is not aware (much less on top) of that impending financial implosion, chances are he is unable to comprehend the wider and more treacherous economic ramifications. Abdullah is instead riled up over some sophomoric rap rendition of the national anthem. Small mind, trivial preoccupation!

His election promises of 2004 turned out to be nothing more than the typical politician’s empty words, a cruel hoax perpetrated upon trusting citizens. For all his talk about greater transparency and combating corruption, it is nothing more than, to put it in the vernacular, “cock talk!” Under his “leadership,” all these are now much worse. His overly displayed public piety and religiosity are obviously for show only, as he is not fearful of Allah for having not kept his promises to the people.

He is consumed with the expensive trappings of his office, with luxury corporate jets ready to fly him and his family all over the globe. It is amazing how fast this kampong imam from Kepala Batas, a backwater of modern Penang, is acquiring the extravagant taste of the jet set, all at public expense of course.

Those closest to him personally and politically are serving their selfish interests in indulging his fantasy, or more correctly, daydream. The old man can hardly keep himself awake!

Unfortunately, it is the nation that is bearing the terrible consequences. The longer he stays, the heavier will be the burden, and costlier the price. We are now close to the point where the damages wrecked by this man would be irreversible. We cannot risk such a fate; the time for action is now!

This is a sobering thought, a definite damper on the current joyous mood in celebrating our 50th anniversary of Merdeka. Fortunately, despite Malaysia’s short history, the nation is sufficiently rooted in democratic principles and practices that it could effect leadership change without resorting to unconstitutional means. Read the rest of this entry »


Higher Education Strategic Plan Beyond 2020 – what for if no “political will” for meritocracy and colour-blind policies

The bubble of the “Strategic Plan for Higher Education: Laying the Foundation Beyond 2020” launched by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday was punctured by the irresponsible denial syndrome of the Higher Education Minister, Datuk Mustapha Mohamad in Parliament the very same day.

Abdullah announced a three-prong strategy to turn Malaysia into a world education hub, viz:

  • Apex University: where only the best brains — academic staff and students — will be admitted;
  • Autonomy: public universities to be self-governing in funding and research & development;
  • Audit Panels: Standard of all universities to be assessed by independent committee comprising only experts.

The Malaysian Government has honed to a fine art the preparation of grandiloquent plans (which is why every Minister wants to have a Masterplan of his own rejecting that drawn up by his predecessor and which is what happened in the short history of the Higher Education Ministry) although there is no political will to implement them — best example being the National Integrity Plan which has seen the country plagued with more rampant and uncontrolled corruption since its launch by the Prime Minister three years ago. Read the rest of this entry »


Good Intentions Perhaps, But What Were They Thinking?

By Farish A. Noor

There are blunders and there are blunders. There are blunders that are done
out of ignorance and are, upon hindsight, pardonable. But there are also
blunders that tell us more about the blunderers themselves and are at best
laughable and at worse deplorable.

The recent fiasco to come out of the deserts of Iraq falls in the latter
category and tells us a lot about the thinking going on among the real
powers-that-be in Iraq today; namely the Americans. When American soldiers
dropped footballs to Iraqi children from their attack helicopters, few of
them realised what the repercussions might be. Little did they realise that
not every Iraqi — football crazy some of them might be — would be all that
happy to receive free footballs with the flags of the world on them, when
one of those flags happen to be that of Saudi Arabia with the Kalimah, or
Muslim declaration of faith, on it.

Needless to say, some of the less tolerant Iraqi clerics were not about to
take the matter lightly as they pointed out that the footballs would have
been kicked around, and at some point or another an Iraqi child was more
than likely to kick the Saudi flag and thus the Kalimah as well. Tempers
flared, the footballs were confiscated by irate Muslims and the Americans
have once again had to flee the scene with egg on their face. Read the rest of this entry »


“Malaysia an Islamic State” – Now Pak Lah says it, in a threatening manner

My first question for the first day of the budget Parliamentary meeting which started yesterday asked the Prime Minister whether on the occasion of 50th Merdeka anniversary, the Cabinet will reaffirm the Merdeka social contract and Malaysia Agreement that Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state.

The question was placed No. No. 24 out of 28 questions – no chance whatsoever to get answered during the 90-minute question session which saw only the first 10 questions answered.

It was a very simple and straightforward question which would have found favour and support from the first three Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein who were publicly committed to the Merdeka social contract and Malaysia Agreement that Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State.

In his written answer, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has broken ranks with the first three Prime Ministers on this fundamental issue and has now come out into the public to give support to his deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Razak declare that Malaysia was an Islamic state – and in an unusually threatening manner which seemed to presage repressive times ahead.

This is the Q & A on Abdullah’s reply: Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia’s axis mysteriously shifting

By Ioannis Gatsiounis

Asia Times Online

KUALA LUMPUR – When Abdullah Badawi became Malaysia’s prime minister in 2003, many thought the mild-mannered leader would take a more moderate approach to international relations than his prickly predecessor Mahathir Mohamad, who often locked diplomatic horns with the United States and other Western countries.

But a string of scandals and crimes with international dimensions, some even linked to Abdullah’s family members, have put his government’s relations with Washington on an uncomfortable footing.

US authorities last month arrested and charged Pakistani national Jilani Humayun for his alleged role in shipping contraband military goods to Malaysia, from where they were re-exported to Iran. He was also charged with conspiracy to commit money-laundering and mail fraud. The sensitive dual-use hardware, which was funneled through an as yet unnamed Malaysian company, included parts for F-5 and F-14 fighter jets and Chinook helicopters.

In April the US imposed sanctions on 14 companies, individuals and government agencies it accused of dealing in advanced weapon technology with Iran or Syria. Two of the companies listed were Malaysian, the Challenger Corp and Target Airfreight.

Moreover, a federal jury in New York last year convicted Singaporean businessman Ernest Koh Chong Tek of smuggling dual-use US military parts to Malaysia for transshipment to Iran’s military – a violation of the 1995 embargo the US placed on all exports and re-exports of commodities to Iran without approval by the US Office of Foreign Asset Control. He was also charged with laundering millions of dollars through his Singapore bank accounts in the smuggling scheme. Read the rest of this entry »