There was fear and loathing for Mahathir many years ago. Today only loathing remains. What we can all agree to is that the leaders we have today in Malaysia are lacking in the values and graces that we would like them to have.
What we can all agree to is that the leaders we have today are lacking in the values and graces that we would like them to have.
In my view, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has brought himself down just a notch by breaking his elegant silence on the arrogance and the self-serving persona that is Mahathir Mohamad!
There is nothing new in what Abdullah, lovingly known as Pak Lah, has to say on his quarrel with Mahathir in the book ‘The Awakening’.
What he does is only to confirm that as prime minister of Malays, he was powerless to put Mahathir in his place – the same problem that the present prime minister, Najib Tun Razak now has.
What does that say about these two leaders? What does it say about Umno? What does it say about the state of politics in our country today?
There is much to be done if we are to put people and country above the needs of an old man who is past his prime, past his use by date in politics and certainly past any hope of redemption in the eyes of many people of this nation.
There was fear and loathing for Mahathir many years ago. Today only loathing remains. There is no need for Pak Lah to confirm this, unless, like all of us, he needed to give vent to all the frustrations and dislike he had for Mahathir.
Like of all us he had his regrets about what he should have done. Like most of us he had no second chance to make right what he thought he had done wrong while in the highest office of this land.
But Pak Lah forgets he can still council his son in law Khairy Jamaluddin. That upstart, too big for his boots, Khairy did much to make us all think just that much less of Pak Lah!
Before Khairy does much more damage to himself, to others and to his potential as a future leader, Pak Lah should do something about it.
I hope this time Pak Lah will make the effort and not again have regrets as to what he should have done and never did. Only by so doing can Pak Lah make Khairy understand the damage that arrogance and corruption do to the very psyche of our people and our nation.
Those of us who have been in business and have worked in Malaysia will know what arrogance and corruption is all about. We all have a heighten awareness of what we have to do with politicians, with government servants and with others who approach us to offer their services to help us in our business.
We look upon them with contempt and loathing and yet we know that without these dregs of society our business will suffer. Their ‘expertise’ could mean there is food on the table for our family or there is none.
It could mean success or failure to our life, work and all that goes with it – the employment of our staff, education for our children, the well being of our family.
In the early years when I started doing business selling burgers at the hawker’s center at Padang Brown in Penang (beside the Penang Prison) I had no problems.
It was only later when I started a trading company in KL and began doing business with the Defence Ministry, DBKL, RISDA and other ministries that I started to understand what the ‘kongsi’ part of business meant.
Giving and taking
Yes Mahathir is right! We must kongsi. For every ringgit that we make, we must kongsi a percentage with culprits that masquerade as politicians, government servants and their machais.
For every ringgit that we stand to make, an allocation has to be put aside for bribes. And at times we have to advance these bribes before we even make our money to fund the expenses of these politicians, government servants and machais so that they can cover their expenses while doing their ‘work’ to get us these businesses.
Their work would consist of meetings at 5-star hotels with salacious female company that would invariable be adjourned to the rooms upstairs – paid for by yours truly – to discuss further the business of the day.
It would include petrol money, pocket money, Hari Raya money or just plain money. At times the “boss” is in need of funds to balik “kawasan” or even for a trip abroad on government business.
All this we must be prepared to fund if we think there is hope of securing the business opportunities. More often than not, we businessmen become an open-ended source of finance for these corrupt culprits to lead the good life – family, girlfriends and mistresses included.
But all this cannot go on indefinitely. Even as we got our business opportunities, greed got the better of these corrupt people. And with greed, came the baser instincts that we see played out in Indonesia, Thailand, and Cambodia and in other parts of the world where government exists to serve the selfish interests of those in government.
And so we have the Malaysia of today driven by the greed and arrogance of its most dominant political racial group – the Malays.
I am a Malay. I have taken part in these insidious acts from both sides of the divide. I have done the giving and I have done the taking.
In doing the giving you do have a sense of contempt for the taker and yet know that you are beholden to the taker for the return of your “investments” in him.
When doing the taking all you are concerned with is to lull the giver into a sense of ‘comfort’ where the giving does not stop. Either way each are in their own hell and when in reflective mood would rather not be part of the whole process.
That’s what bribery and corruption do to you. It degrades and takes away any shred of dignity, self worth and respect you will have for each other and all that is left is the money bit.
It really is left to the leaders within society to make some sense of this need within people to be greedy and arrogant. Peer pressure and the values these leaders exhibit in their daily life can be held as examples we should all emulate in ours.
Idi Amin, Mugabe and Mahathir are not leaders we would want to emulate. Neither are Najib and Muhyiddin. Pakatan Rakyat leaders too have their failings. What we can all agree to is that the leaders we have today in Malaysia are lacking in the values and graces that we would like them to have.
Same old story
The 13th general election is well and truly over.
Anwar and his cohorts have quietly bungkus their “We will continue this struggle and we will never surrender” battle between the rakyat and an illegitimate corrupt and arrogant Barisan Nasional government.
Najib and his cohorts are now focussed on ensuring their survival at the coming Umno elections.
A Malay lady and her dogs are the flavor of the month. Our streets are now the preferred venue to settle old scores – murders, assassinations and snatch thieves compete for space, and Khir Toyo’s Hari Raya greetings tells us ‘Selamat Hari Raya, Awasi Keselamatan Diri dan Harta Benda’.
How appropriate for the rest of us but not for Selangor where he has already been caught with his hands in the cookie jar!
So my friends…tell me what else is new?
CT Ali is a reformist who believes in Pakatan Rakyat’s ideologies. He is a FMT columnist.
...we are not going to sit in silence... we are not going to live in fear...