Repentance in retirement : The Badawi baffle

By Augustine Anthony

A very interesting behavioural pattern is emerging amongst the Malaysian politicians whilst in power and when they are no longer in power. Even prime ministers are not spared.

In Malaysia there are many repressive laws, legislations and stifling administrative procedures that are archaic and unworkable in a modern democratic system of governance.

Often we witness politicians within the ruling government, when called upon to state their views on these laws, governmental directives and administrative procedures, either support it openly or maintain a puzzling silence.

No matter what degree of public outcry, the response is akin to “you shout as much as you can, I am in power and I will decide the way I want it” seems to be the trend in response.

But once they find place in retirement, their views become somewhat perplexingly inconsistent to their earlier views. Suddenly they are now champions of human rights and fundamental liberties.

The recent comment by the former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is now a famous example that one can refer to, to drive home the point.

Badawi is reported to have said that the government must consider abolishing the Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows for detention without trial.

He is also reported to have said that the draconian piece of legislation (introduced by the colonial masters) which has drawn negative views – should be replaced with a new legislation that allows for preventive detention and at the same time protects fundamental rights.

After years of living in fear of many repressive laws, Malaysians in general gave the biggest electoral mandate to Badawi in 2004 with hopes that he would bring all the necessary reforms consistent with the need for more democratic space in the ever changing social and political landscape of this country.

With the huge backing from the people, Badawi had this one golden chance to dismantle all unjust systems that were backed by  unacceptable laws and place himself in the hearts of the majority of Malaysians, as the man who brought the promised reforms.

But alas, a golden opportunity, squandered.

Five years on, under Badawi, Barisan Nasional suffered the biggest electoral loss in Malaysian history. The loss was due to many perceiving him as unable to bring about many of the promised reforms that were announced when he took over from the previous prime minister.

However many still perceive that Badawi really wanted to make changes to better the country but he just did not have the political and personal will, stamina and courage to fight a long entrenched system of governance that has become a frothy cocktail of treachery, deceit, cunningness and dishonest personal survival of many within this system, be it political warlords or big boys of the bureaucracy. 

Instead of Badawi getting the better of the system, the system got the better of him and he got sucked deep into the rabbit hole.

Now we have a new prime minister and the thought still lingers whether he will outsmart the system or otherwise.

Whatever the permutations are, one thing is certain and that is, the new breeds of voters are results oriented.

Announcements must be matched with delivery and promises are meant to be kept.

I do not think that the new generation of Malaysians, particularly the voting population, will pay much attention to rhymes of repentance in retirement.

(Note : In Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice follows a mysterious white rabbit into a rabbit hole to enter ‘Wonderland’, an absurd and improbable world inhabited by many strange characters – source – Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia)

  1. #1 by k1980 on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 10:30 am

    When najid is out of power, will he call for a RCI on Altan-cannot-be-named’s murder?

  2. #2 by Jaswant on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 10:48 am

    Augustine? Augustine Paul??

  3. #3 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 10:55 am

    Perhaps the former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should not be blamed for not abolishing the ISA. We all know that there are many warlords in UMNO. Badawi’s neck was probably being held by these warlords when he was in power – he wanted to reform but his neck was squeezed.

    Najib recently testified that he would boldly liberalize the national economy; he didn’t care whether UMNO warlords liked it or not as he is the biggest warlord.

    Unfortunately, Najib has underestimated the strength of the most powerful warlord in UMNO – Tun Dr. M. who is trying to make life difficult for him!

  4. #4 by yokielaw on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 10:59 am

    To:TunM,(respond to his blog today on racial issue) Can’t help but to say that if you are a responsible leader Tun, you should not have blog about this very risky provoking sensitive issue over and over again.The Malays did not blame you, you have done so much for them until wealth comes to them and they dont need to work for wealth. Do not blame on others for Malay/your failures, blame on their/your own attitutes.
    Tun, for 22 yrs you have created a big clan of Malays who needed you to spoon feed them. It is better to teach them how to fish than to provide them with the Chinese sayings goes. Those non-Malays are successful economically are all from their own blood & sweat and hardwork & willingness to go through hardship & not dependant on others.
    You had 22 years to groom the Malays with your NEP and after 22 years you “cried” in front of the whole world and declared that your brain-child NEP has FAILED,not only FAILED but you had groomed them to be “Melayu cepat lupa” personality. Sad? Why now fret over it. It was all whose doing, no one but your racialism, cronisym, nepotism policy. Every reaction has its action/cause, every result has its action/cause. Today’s political unstablility and racial tensions have its roots & causes.Find the roots and you will know the reasons for what the tokoh meant by “putting yourself in others shoes”.Its a fact. Tun, in this difficult period, we Malaysians do not need another racial issue to flare up.There are enough problems now (if you are too free, go and contribute your energy in voluntary works)quit blogging.Pls do not stir up the hornet’s nest, but pls mitigate the problem and not add salt to the wound and ask who came to this earth first or when this earth first begun.Waste of time and UN-PRODUCTIVE.Dont keep bringing bad down memory lanes.Let Go & Move On.No need to feel guilty for life, we cannot put back the feathers of the chicken once they are plucked out of the chicken.May you be at peace with the past.Dont justify.The next new generations know what is best for them and trust them to handle this country.No thank you for racial tension and racial split.It is obvious you are still a racist, with your recent phrase in the media i.e. “Malays & Malaysians”. You mean, to have double standards and 2 category of Malaysians like the Indian caste system? Pls. explain what it meant by your phrase.Thank you for reading.-Freedom of speech.

  5. #5 by Loh on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 11:16 am

    AAB is gone. He now realises why neutral government machinery and reasonable laws are good for the country. He is certainly a class above the egotist TDM who dreams only on how to create a family dynasty using the same system to his family’s advantage.

    AAB’s comment shows that only when one has lost power would he realise how the power could be put to better use. That is why a two party system provide better government. The opposition would realise what changes are needed, assuming the politicians are working for the interest of the state. UMNO should lose power and stay in the opposition, for once. That would weed out all the opportunists. It will also give them time to reflect the excesses they have committed. Hopefully they would then take politics as a noble profession, rather than as a money making opportunity.

    AAB said he would not comment on government affairs, on retirement. He should continue with his elegant silence which he perfected during his tenure.

  6. #6 by hiro on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 11:54 am

    AAB said during Asia Law Conference, after being assailed by Datuk Ambiga to repeal the ISA, thathe has “responsibilities” to the nation and he does what his conscience dictates. Guess he wasn’t telling the truth back then.

    It’s amazing how purportedly conscionable leaders relent to the power craze within their political organisation, only to wake up one day feeling guilt and remorse, and try to wash their hands of the responsibility of doing the right thing AT the right time.

  7. #7 by SENGLANG on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 12:15 pm

    The highest quality of human being is beyond self. Any one who familiar with Chinese history know about the many dark side and bright side of those in politic. Corruption is one common and abused of power is the same. Fortunate there are many good officers during that time too, who put themselves beyond self interest to serve the people. During the ancient time, if those clean officer can not fulfilled their responsibility to change the system that was corrupt they will redeem not by resigning but commit suicide to shown that they are serious in serving what was right and fix to their principle.

    Now commit suicide is the extreme but surely resigning should be the culture to show one take responsibilities.

    It was very unfortunate that politician in Malaysia only tell the true during their retirement or after they are force to resign. They only tell the right and wish they can go back to the future to bring the changes.

    For Pak Lah, he has so many opportunity to make changes with the unprecedented support from the people, but he has failed to perform. This was basically no only due to his weak character and also due to one can not sacrifice beyond one self and family.

  8. #8 by k1980 on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 12:22 pm

    Dollah is not alone. Robert McNamara, JF Kennedy’s Secretary of Defence, also felt remorse for being the architect of the Vietnam War (1963-1975) which claimed the lives of millions. But they will not be forgiven by history.

  9. #9 by taiking on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 1:12 pm

    k1980 my dear friend its more like this:

    When najib is dead and gone, rosmah found a sealed envelop addressed to she-who-cannot-be-mentioned. Upon opening it she saw a piece of paper with the following words scribbled in a familiar handwriting:

    “Pardon me my love. I beg ye.”
    “For it was not my decision.”
    “I was under the direction of she-who-must-be-obeyed.”

  10. #10 by YK Leong on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 2:03 pm

    Pak Lah, are you still sleeping. Abolish ISA? Islam Hadhari? Rushing through to set up MACC that resulted in TBH’s death. A young man? Do not open your mouth, nobody will say you are dumb.

  11. #11 by jules on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 2:12 pm

    It shall be sweet and poetic justice when the day comes to those perpetrators of all these draconian laws.
    No one can escape the fruits of the karma.
    Tunggu tunggu lah…

  12. #12 by Jong on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 5:16 pm

    Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should continue his elegant silence and disappear to practise what he preached, his own brand of Islam Hadhari!

    With all the power of No.1 CEO of Malaysia, he failed the people and nation to uncover and clean up all the shit-holes left behind by the old Jackal, his predecessor. He obviously did not have the courage nor confidence after getting to the top seat and felt comfortable snoozing away!

    We all knew he did not have the intellectual ability or capability to perform well, and that was why Mahathir chose him! Also he was surrounded by rogues and imbeciles but at least he should have tried to keep to his promise.

    How could he have ignored the alleged involvement of his devious deputy in the gruesome murder of Mongolian intepreter Altantuya? – the issuance of C4 explosives, Altantuya’s ‘erased Immigration records’ and why the involvement of Najib’s body-guards and buddy/confidente Razak Baginda?

    What about the alleged corruption in the blown-up purchase cost of submarine by the Defence Ministry that costs tax-payers billions of ringgit? And Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy II which involved Saiful Bukhari who was seen visiting Najib’s office and official residence?

    The Perak power-grab was another area AAB failed to put his foot down. It resulted in further erosion of any trust or confidence left by Perakians for BN/UMNO until today.

    Yes, again he allowed the rogue to mastermind the whole plot and they managed to grab power but at what cost, ..a pyrrhic victory?

  13. #13 by newchief on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 5:37 pm

    i laughed when badawi said that he would have abolish isa if he has more time. this is a person who once has malaysia at his hand and no one will dare to ask him how how he spent his time so where was his wasted time??? well, of course ‘entertaining’ his NEW WIFE lah at that timelah !! after entertainment, where got energy??? just like mathatir says…badawi sleeps on the job :D

    if i’m not mistaken, he was the one who spoke that isa IS HERE TO STAY & no need to abolish or review plus him creating macc which turns out to be a BIGGER MONSTER THAN ACA!!!

    i hope he feels remorse for teoh’s death (which i don’t think he does because he still SLEEPS on the job !!!!

    recently when he says isa should be abolished, he CAN STILL DO IT becuase he’s part of the government. he should take the initiative to gather all especially the useless greedy bn mps to sign sokong abolishing isa.
    if not, he’s just wayang kulit away as always.

  14. #14 by Jaswant on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 6:20 pm

    The Badawi baffle or the Badawi shuffle??

  15. #15 by The Enforcer on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 10:10 pm

    Dulu dalam gomen, tak bolih lah mansuhkan atau ubah ubah undang. Kalau tak, mana bolih dapat banyak RMRMRMRMRMRM. Lagipun dulu tak ada gelaran lagi, faham tak. Hahahahaha.

  16. #16 by vsp on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 - 11:27 pm

    Nazri can now add another “crook” into his lexicon of rogues. He already has Tun Mahathir, Tun Haniff and Tan Sri Abu Talib. Who’s next?

  17. #17 by ekompute on Thursday, 23 July 2009 - 11:01 am

    Quote from

    In 1987, Abdullah Badawi, the future founder of Islam Hadhari, said: “Laws such as the Internal Security Act have no place in modern Malaysia. It is a draconian and barbaric law.” When he became Prime Minister in 2003, however, he called the ISA “a necessary law.”

    Thus, it is not just repentance in retirement. Abdullah always held that view all along… just that when he became Prime Minister, he temporarily forgot about his beliefs as the ISA was so useful to him when he was in power. Just simply arrest anyone who goes against you under the guise of national security and presto! You get a good night’s sleep. You can arrest anyone, even a reporter who reports the truth about what Ahmad Ismail says. Islam Hadhari can stand aside for that moment and just watch the injustice. The ends justifies the means.

  18. #18 by johnnypok on Thursday, 23 July 2009 - 3:10 pm

    TDM blood-group = ‘CROOK’

    AAB blood-group = ‘SLEEP’

    NTR blood-group = “ALTAN…..”

  19. #19 by dawsheng on Friday, 24 July 2009 - 2:15 am

    Najib has said that he wants “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” about the causes of Teoh’s death, and if he serious and sincere, let him accede to the wishes of the Teoh family to have a comprehensive RCI into Teoh’s death. – LKS

    Najib lied, in fact he know the truth, he is the mastermind, what he have to do now is to hide all the truth from you. Get ready for another round of circus!

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