Archive for category Tunku Abdul Aziz

Anwar waves his magic and and thrills European audiences

by Tunku Aziz
My Sinchew

I have had to come all the way to Brussels and Berlin to discover a side of Anwar Ibrahim that I was wrong about.

Reading the Barisan Nasional-owned newspapers that consistently portrayed him as a “traitor to Malaysia” who exaggerated the situation obtaining in the country given half a chance, I have, I must admit, tended to view him as a self-serving political demagogue who could not care less about the fate of his country as long as he achieved his ambition of becoming prime minister.

Anwar spoke last Monday evening (28 September 2010), on “Liberal Values in the Muslim World – Why Islam and Democracy are Destined to Coincide” to a packed hall of some of Europe’s powerful decision makers. These were men and women with wide international experience and could not be easily hoodwinked even if he had tried.

It was vintage Anwar, perfect smooth as silk delivery of a complex, serious subject to a critical audience. He knew his stuff. His was more than a speech; it was an intellectual journey mapped out by someone who knew the area traversed like the back of his hand. Read the rest of this entry »


Protecting the vulnerable

by Tunku Abdul Aziz
My Sinchew
25th Sept 2010

The Government of Indonesia is absolutely right to ban their nationals from coming to work as domestic servants in Malaysia until our own government is prepared to guarantee the safety and well being of these women. This is the least the Government of Indonesia can do to protect their people from being routinely and savagely abused by Malaysian employers. The excesses that are reported in the pages of our newspapers are a shameful reminder of our ambivalent attitude to human cruelty and suffering.

Maid abuse is not a Malaysian invention; it has, however, become an ugly hallmark of our domestic employment culture. There have been far too many reported cases of inhuman physical treatment of foreign maids to ignore. The number of unreported cases of criminal abuse is staggeringly high. What sort of society have we allowed ourselves to be turned into? We shower our animals with love and affection, and yet we cannot bring ourselves to treat those who live, while in our service, under our protection, with a little kindness and dignity. We are dealing with human beings who work under conditions of slavery, out of dire necessity, not of choice. With its own abysmal human rights credentials, we cannot expect our government to be too concerned over such trivialities as foreign worker protection and their rights in a supposedly civilised country. If we do not give a damn about how our own citizens are abused by abusive laws, I should perhaps lower my expectations as far as our vulnerable foreign guest workers are concerned. Read the rest of this entry »


MUSA: Last Sermon on Bukit Aman

by Tunku Abdul Aziz
15 September 2010

I squirmed. All of a sudden a wave of nausea of tsunami proportions swept over me as I munched my buttered toast while reading a news report in the NST (Sept. 9) that IGP Musa Hassan’s parting wish was that Ismail Omar, his deceptively docile successor, would “emulate him in bringing about changes to the force and lifting its integrity.”

My breakfast to which I had looked forward with great anticipation came to an abrupt end; it became quite unpalatable and totally indigestible. A more insincere and hypocritical load of rubbish would be difficult to imagine, especially coming as it did from the man who confessed, so I was reminded, at the Anwar Ibrahim show trial some years ago that he would not hesitate to tell a lie if ordered to do so by his superiors. We deserved, I suppose, to have Musa set loose amongst us, the unsuspecting long suffering public, as the country’s Inspector-General of Police because we have done nothing, or very little, to stop the general rot in our country.

For Musa, his promotion to the post of IGP was a well-deserved reward for his “turning” operations and for being economical with the truth. Musa was denounced as an unreliable witness in a Sabah law court, a euphemism, if there ever was one, for a hostile witness. In truth, we must not be too hard on the poor man because it is quite possible that “truth” was not in the lexicon of ethics as far as he was concerned. Read the rest of this entry »


INDONESIA: We Are NOT, I Repeat, Your Whipping Boy

By Tunku Abdul Aziz

If media reports on the meeting in Kota Kinabalu between our Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah and his Indonesian counterpart Dr. Marty Natalegawa are accurate, then I am afraid we ended, as usual when dealing with international issues, drawing the “short straw.” The Malaysian Foreign Minister in his anxiety to show his newly minted diplomatic template, designed on the trot, totally missed the point about the need to drive home to the Indons, in the strongest possible terms, the increasing difficulty of our trying to contain and control the anger of our people.

How much longer can we be expected to continue to stand by and watch the flag we ran up, so proudly for the first time 53 years ago, trampled and desecrated by one ugly and uncivilised mob after another? The official Indonesian response borders on the moronic arrogance of a people sustained by delusions of moral and cultural superiority. I am always amused listening to countries such as Indonesia parading their democratic credentials, including the freedom to participate in aggressively violent demonstrations, and looking down on us for our poor democracy record by comparison. My one liner rejoinder which puts the cat among the pigeons, as I am wont to do in such a situation, and which always works is, “What use is your democracy on an empty stomach?”
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Seeing the back of Musa: An answer to a prayer

By Tunku Abdul Aziz

I hardly ever receive presents because, I suppose, I rarely ever give any. I do not even bother to celebrate my own birthday; it comes and goes completely unnoticed. When on the odd occasion I do receive a present for delivering an anti-corruption and ethical governance speech, I treasure it even though it is just another Royal Selangor pewter plate, to clutter my already-cluttered sitting room, collecting dust, to the annoyance of my long-suffering wife.

The present I am now writing about is infinitely more precious, a bountiful God’s munificent blessings in answer to a nation’s desperate prayer. The prayer, in short, beseeches God the Almighty to give Hishammuddin Hussein, our often “not all there” Minister of Home Affairs, the courage and wisdom to put Musa Hassan out to pasture, not so much as a normal and inevitable consequence of the ravages of time, but, in this case, his unethical baggage had grown too large for the nation to ignore. That must surely weigh heavily against his fitness for continued employment.

In an ethically more demanding society, which ours, I fear, is not, he would never have been allowed to darken the portal of Bukit Aman, let alone occupy the office of the Inspector-General of Police, a position of trust. Musa should never have been appointed the nation’s top dog in the first place, especially after his remarkable stellar performance in the infamous earlier Anwar Ibrahim trial, appearing complete with his pathetic stock in trade or prop in the shape of a decidedly grubby mattress, for the entire world to see.
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Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em

By Tunku Abdul Aziz

What a charade. And what tragic depths of professional incompetence the recent resumption of the coroner’s inquiry into the death of Teoh Beng Hock had demonstrated for the world to see. There is a lot to laugh at in Najib’s 1Malaysia, but sadly for all the wrong reasons.

As an observer, sometimes jaundiced, of the Malaysian scene, I thought I had seen it all, but I was totally unprepared for the complete and utter mayhem of the senses that developed when Abdul Razak Musa of the MACC’s in house legal talent began his cross examination of Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand, the famous Thai pathologist. His attempt to trivialise and discredit her academic credentials was pathetic, to say the least. It backfired disastrously on him.

It showed the true measure of this sad figure of fun and ridicule who claimed to possess 24 years experience as a lawyer under the belt. I have never been impressed with experience, however long, for its own sake, not unless there is clear evidence of a string of successes to back up the claim.

Abdul Razak Musa has proved my point that years spent wallowing in the mediocrity of a professionally undemanding environment counts for naught.
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Turning MACC into a law unto itself

By Tunku Abdul Aziz

A certain member of Parliament heading an MACC committee has suggested that MACC should not only be given more money, as if the tens of millions of ringgit of government funds already dished out are still insufficient, but also the power to prosecute cases investigated by that organisation itself. A monstrous idea even if the MACC had a reputation for the highest professional integrity which, of course, it hasn’t. The fact of the matter is that this much touted independent corruption fighting outfit modelled on the Hong Kong ICAC continues to be regarded with a degree of disdain.

The MAC does not enjoy the cachet and the public trust and confidence of the Malaysian public. Only corrupt politicians and public servants have complete trust in the MACC, but, sadly, for all the wrong reasons. Someone somewhere has to have his head examined for even thinking of making the MACC a law unto itself. Has the YB concerned not heard of the need for a system of checks and balances or the vital necessity of avoiding a conflict of interest situation in the conduct of public affairs as a means of reducing corruption? The whole harebrained suggestion is akin to allowing the Attorney-General to double as a judge in a case he has decided as AG to prosecute! He may well relish the idea, but will justice be served in the process? Or perhaps we don’t care.
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SIME DARBY: A Conglomerate Gone Awry

By Tunku Abdul Aziz

There is a place for conglomerates in the business world. However, as with everything else, some are good, but mostly they invariably become unwieldy and difficult to manage effectively. Many come unstuck, leaving behind a trail of miserable examples of management failures, human greed and frailties. As always, there is a lot of cleaning up to do after the party is over. The sad truth is that we do not as yet have what it takes to run a complex business successfully, and a conglomerate is hellishly difficult to keep on a straight course because the temptation to wander off into the unfamiliar is often irresistible, and most conglomerates find themselves up a creek.

There have been many instances of major failures in the Sime stables. There was the case of the insurance business in the UK in the eighties, a member of Lloyds, which was in such a bad shape because of mismanagement that it had to be bundled with a very profitable money broking company into an attractive package and sold for a song. Sime Darby naturally had to be responsible for all the liabilities resulting from claims on policies transacted up to the time of the sale of the company. For the next several years after the sale of the company to the new owners, Sime Darby continued to send out to the UK enormous sums of money to cover the claims.
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Inspector-General of MACC: Have we gone mad?

By Tunku Abdul Aziz

The very idea that the headman of the MACC be accorded a status equivalent to that of the Inspector-General of Police was so hilarious that I, a grown man, was driven to sobbing uncontrollably before I doubled up, laughing my head off. I have, in my lifetime, been through many strange and unusual situations, but I must confess to a sense of incredulity that members of the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board headed by former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad were prepared to risk their collective reputation by putting this recommendation forward. It is absurdity personified.

The other recommendations, including the establishment of a statutory commission on appointments, and the need to have interrogation rooms equipped with CCTV cameras, must rank as among the most facile suggestions ever made by a group of people who lay claim to expert knowledge and experience of a level considered sufficient to justify their being appointed to the advisory board.

In the event, by their earth-shattering recommendations, they have confirmed what I have known all along: they know nothing about fighting corruption or, for that matter, the chief commissioner, if he had to be “advised” on what equipment was needed to be put in place to make the interrogation process more open and transparent, then he has no business to be there in the first place. I make no apology for using the word interrogation in relation to the methods adopted by the MACC when dealing with witnesses. The word interview is yet to be part of the MACC’s corruption fighting lexicon.
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Sarawak By-Election: Old Habits Die Hard

By Tunku Abdul Aziz

Sibu, that remarkable town on the mighty Rejang that the Foochows built all those long years ago with sweat, blood and tears, notched another milestone: the Chinese community decided that May 16 was to be the day when they would show the rest of Malaysia, and indeed the world, that Najib’s largesse however packaged had all the smell of moral decay, or not to put too fine a point on it, undisguised vote buying. This illegal and immoral practice is apparently endorsed and encouraged by both the Election Commission and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. Sibuans on the other hand would have none of it.

What was so distressing was that the EC and MACC were ever so quick to affix their “No Action” tab on what clearly was corruption committed by Najib who offered financial inducements to the voters of Sibu to return the Barisan Nasional candidate. Similarly they took no action against Najib for his shenanigans in the Hulu Selangor by-election. Most surprising of all, there was not even a whimper from the self-proclaimed anti-corruption fighter, Transparency International Malaysia. Have they decided to flow with the tide of political corruption as well? Najib’s practice of bribing voters into supporting his election agenda shows a complete and utter disdain for public opinion and the law.

What is the point of spending hundreds of millions on beefing the MACC up, already bloating and bursting at the seams with gross inefficiency, when the prime minister bribes the voters of Sibu, with complete arrogance and impunity? To our complete surprise, the good citizens of Sibu, unlike some of their fellow citizens elsewhere, turned up their collective nose and gave Najib the elbow, more or less telling him to “take a running jump into the Rejang.”
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Sarawak : Poverty Midst of Plenty

By Tunku Abdul Aziz

Although I have in my travels seen abject poverty in such diverse places as Addis Ababa, Dhaka, Dar es Salaam, Kolkata, Mumbai and Manila, I must confess to a feeling of utter revulsion and anger when confronted by stark deprivation in our supposedly well-governed and prosperous Malaysia.

The pockets of rural poverty in the Malay heartlands of Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu are islands of prosperity compared to the scene that churned my stomach and assailed my sense of guilt and outrage when I first ventured into the Iban long houses on the majestic Rejang.

It is not enough that we have robbed them of their ancestral lands and impoverished them in the process, but we also felt constrained to strip them naked of any residual personal dignity that they might still have by introducing policies that have succeeded in reducing them to the fringes of mainstream economic life. The Orang Asli tribes and the Orang Hulu, the Malays from the interior, have a great deal in common with their Dayak friends. For all we care, they are Malaysia’s forgotten people, but not quite. Whenever an election is underway, be it a by-election or a general election, they find themselves the centre of attention, in great demand by the rich and powerful, all claiming to love and care for them.
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1 Malaysia: Another morning glory?

By Tunku Abdul Aziz

An old English friend of mine, the late Humphrey Ball, the Malacca lawyer, once described Malaysia, his adopted country, as a morning glory — a reference to “a climbing plant with flowers shaped like trumpets that open in the morning and close in late afternoon.”

Having lived among us for so long, he was used to putting up with our little foibles, and if he was irritated by them, he kept his feelings very much to himself. Humphrey was the quintessential English gentleman.

We were having breakfast and it was a lovely morning and the city looked splendid. In between another cup of tea and a round of toast and marmalade, he surveyed the Kuala Lumpur skyline from the veranda of the Selangor Club and declared that from his experience, many of the state of the art concrete and stainless steel structures that were jostling for breathing space in the ever expanding concrete jungle of Malaysian towns and cities would go the way of all the other buildings he had seen in this country — in wreck and ruin within a few years.
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Najib Greases His Way To Washington D.C

By Tunku Abdul Aziz

And so it has finally happened. What a great honour for Malaysia. Najib, the Prime Minister of 1Malaysia fame was thrown a few crumbs, a few brief moment to savour, exchanging pleasantries with US President Obama on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit. Naturally, it was not quite the same as being driven down Pennsylvania Avenue to be welcomed at the portal of the White House, but I am being churlish as usual where Najib is concerned. Najib did get to see Obama via the tradesman’s entrance.
What irks me about this non-event meeting is that we had to resort to employing a very expensive public relations firm, for which read grubby Washington lobbyists, for close to 25 million dollars, give or take a million dollars here and there. Small change I suppose when it is not your hard-earned money.

We maintain, for a small country, far too many embassies, all the result of Mahathir Mohamad’s megalomaniac years when he developed a special interest in trafficking with some of the vilest and most violent regimes particularly in North and Sub-Saharan Africa that others would not have touched with a long barge pole. For maverick Mahathir, that was his regular breakfast fare.
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1MALAYSIA: Najib’s Camelot?

By Tunku Abdul Aziz

If, by 1Malaysia, the Prime Minister is merely invoking the undoubted virtue of, and the equally vital necessity for all of us to strive to live in peace and harmony, then I believe he is more than a half a century wide of the mark. Living peacefully together, cheek by jowl is something we are rather good at, and frankly we do not politicians, particularly those from race-based parties to tutor us on this.

In the interest of self-preservation, we have been doing just that finding accommodation with our racially and culturally assorted neighbours.. And, so, it is not entirely surprising that the same Malaysians that Prime Minister Najib is so desperately anxious to unite should feel a little peeved, and confused especially when rumour has it that enormous sums of public money – dare I venture to mention slush funds, have been expended to mount a campaign that has all the appearance of a damp squid, with apologies to all the squids of this world.

Malaysians are fed up with being continually bombarded and harangued by Najib on his slogan the significance of which he is not sure about. To the millions of us preoccupied with making ends meet on a daily basis in Najib’s economic haven, 1Malaysia cannot be disguised as anything but what it is; a hellishly wasteful and hollow symbol by any reckoning. And, that is putting it as charitably as I can.
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Is the Opposition wasting a historic opportunity?

By Tunku Aziz

A mere footnote at the bottom of a page of Malaysia’s political history or a tome on political change that recreated and revitalised a sick and openly corrupt society into a vibrant and prosperous democracy for all? Pakatan Rakyat must decide quickly where it wants to be. On present showing, it has not a ghost of a chance to ever breach and occupy the still impregnable Putrajaya citadel, in spite of the credible 8 March 2008 electoral onslaught. It does not have to look far to find out why it is in such a sorry state. Lim Kit Siang’s warning of a “one term miracle” could well become self-fulfilling and Putra Jaya would be just a gleam in the eye if his words are not taken to heart.

Pakatan Rakyat leaders must come to terms with the reality that is Barisan Nasional. We may despise its politics of immorality, of corruption and injustice, but even the most rabid alternative political practitioners must readily concede that it is still a formidable organisation with an armoury of unsavoury tricks they have to contend with. Remember Perak, and the bad after taste that lingers on and on. Pakatan must wake up from its euphoric pie in the sky self-induced dream that the one off massive voter handouts would be there for the asking at the next general elections. There will be no repeat performance until and unless it gets its act together. The electorate owes PR nothing. The truth is that Pakatan Rakyat owes their supporters everything.
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1Malaysia: A victim of mental fatigue

By Tunku Aziz

Najib’s 1Malaysia propaganda campaign, now in full swing, has taken on the uncanny appearance of a blitzkrieg that would have the Fuehrer of the Third Reich double up in the Reichstag in uncontrollable ecstasy. It really is that funny. The single-minded mindless saturation bombardment of the media, at what financial cost we will never know, has already begun to show all the tell tale signs of mental fatigue and psychological rejection. I am told that it is not unlike the metal fatigue that put a premature end to the promising start of the world’s first commercial jetliner, the Comet operated by British Overseas Airways Corporation more than four decades ago. Perhaps there is a lesson the 1Malaysia strategists could learn from history about over indulgence. There can be too much of a good thing for their own good.

I have been asking our prime minister, as indeed many others, to venture beyond sloganeering and spell out in terms that are concise and clear what he has in mind when pontificating on what appears to thinking Malaysians to be nothing more than a party dogma being shoved down their throats as part of a ploy to regain the non-Bumi electoral support. If Najib really believes that voters are going to buy his half-baked1Malaysia cake as an article of faith- that is more form than substance, he should put it to the test by going back to the country for a fresh authority or mandate to govern. His legitimacy is in serious doubt. The UMNO process of succession is open to question.
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Najib does not disappoint

By Tunku Aziz

Datuk Seri Najib Razak does not disappoint. He is true to his values whatever they might be. He upholds his principles with messianic zeal. His principles are of indeterminate provenance, but Najib is not known to worry himself to distraction over such small matters. He has made many of us happy. It has nothing to do with his 1 Malaysia vision that he seems incapable of articulating to save his life, let alone convincing Malaysians who have decided that half a century of untruths and specious, convoluted political and social arguments should be more than enough for even the most sanguine of them.

Najib has made us happy not because in a fit of mental aberration or misplaced exuberance he has added to his fantasy world the even a more preposterous 1 World vision that flashed across his mind. I bet it was a very brief moment in time. Najib has made us deliriously happy because he has just done something blatantly cynical to confirm what we have known all along about his attitude to corruption. Najib does not disappoint.

His choice of Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad as the BN candidate for the Bagan Pinang by-election has left absolutely no doubt in our minds about Najib’s real attitude to corruption. He, ever the pragmatic, suave man about town leader of a country already systematically mired in corruption, sees it as nothing more that a necessary evil. If you cannot fight it, join it.
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Living in the shadow of Najib’s 1 Malaysia

by Tunku Abdul Aziz
Malaysian Insider26th September 2009

I was in Seoul last Monday to participate in the World Forum for Democratisation in Asia (Third Biennial Conference) on “Sustaining Democratisation in Asia: Challenges of Economic and Social Justice” with some 200 delegates from Asia and the United States.

The conference brought together people from diverse backgrounds and of all ages, to seek ways of strengthening, and arresting the rapidly declining state of democracy in their countries. These men and women, all with impeccable credentials as human rights advocates, shared many of the same democratic values that have inspired human beings through the ages, all over the world, to make great personal sacrifices against humanly impossible odds in the name of justice and freedom from the tyranny of state-sanctioned human rights abuses, such as we are subjected to in Malaysia regularly.

I spoke on the panel on “Citizen Participation and Political Accountability.” In the audience were participants from Indonesia, the US, India, Cambodia, Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia and Mongolia, among others.

I thought I was doing well, having made some rather important points on the need for citizens to take charge of their own destiny as freedom was far too important to be left to the tender mercies of politicians, many of whom were charlatans at best and untrustworthy to boot. I mentioned as an example how citizens’ active participation in the March 2008 general election in my country had succeeded in changing, albeit ever so slightly, the 50-year corrupt political landscape, a feat that was nothing short of miraculous given the corrupt and repressive environment against which they were fighting to change. Read the rest of this entry »


Indonesia, we are not your whipping boy

By Tunku Aziz

The Javanese have done it again. They have burned our national flag.

Many years ago, I was interviewed in London by BBC Radio 2 as part of a series on the great languages of the world. I was asked about some significant differences between Bahasa Indonesia and our own Bahasa Melayu. I feigned ignorance about the existence of a language called Bahasa Indonesia. I said what Indonesia claimed as its language is really Bahasa Melayu.

They had no choice but to use Bahasa Melayu, the lingua franca of the Malay world to communicate among themselves because they never had a common language to begin with. Malay is undoubtedly the basis of their language. So, if we do what they in Indonesia do so well, we should be burning their flag every day because they have purloined our national language.

An excessive display of nationalistic zeal is generally considered “ugly” in civilised societies. The Indonesians by their actions have reduced themselves into sad figures of ridicule and fun. Their claim, and not for the first time, that we have infringed their “cultural copyrights” is totally absurd. They now have got it into their heads that we should stop singing our national anthem because the tune was Indonesian. What else next? Stop eating satay and wearing kain batik because these are Indonesian?
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The art of blaming thy neighbours

By Tunku Abdul Aziz

Malaysia is blessed in that there is a law for every situation; you name it and we have it all.

Tragically, the mountains of statutes have done nothing more than to earn for us an international reputation of being an overregulated and an underenforced country, with the usual, predictable consequences.

In short, we have already become a first rate country run, generally speaking, by a third rate one race-dominated public service and who have, by their general attitude to their work, made it impossible for Malaysia to be taken seriously.

We have, at the same time become a reactive, finger-pointing society whenever the inevitable happens. Both on a personal as well as at institutional level, we have developed a propensity for “blame thy neighbour” into a fine art form.
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