Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Strongman required in Malaysia?

Some times we wish we have a strong person in charge of Malaysia's. Najib is already notorious for his, or perception of his softness/weakness. Anwar Ibrahim is no better, well-known for his manmanlai tap dancing.

The two persons I deem as strongmen in this narrow sense have unfortunately retired. They are Dr Mahathir and Pak Haji Nik Aziz. On the outer, unfortunately, would be Zaid Ibrahim and Haris Ibrahim. I won't include RPK as he has indicated he won't be returning to Malaysia. 

In early days I have been told the really strongmen were our 1st PM, Tunku, his successor Razak and Razak's deputy Dr Ismail.

My Uncle told me that years ago, before there was such a thing as Internet, a Star reporter (Indian) who was responsible for the entertainment page unwittingly insulted Islam through a slip of his writing.

Poor bastard was shivering in his pants when the Muslims went berserk over his sentence that “There isn't anything on TV tonight other than the boring Quran reading competition”.

He was saved by Tunku (then retired from politics and living in Penang, and fortuitously for our Aneh, also The Star Chairperson), who told the raving mob to shut the fxxk* up as the young reporter had already apologized. Matter was immediately closed in a most kowtim-ish manner, such was the wibawa of Tunku.

* of course Tunku didn't use the f* word - it's just kaytee improvising wakakaka

Imagine how Tunku would have dealt with the current Cadbury nonsense which now see Jakim officials stating they are willing to munch Cadbury chocs to prove there's no porcine DNA, wakakaka. If you can't, then recall this: when asked by a (presumably western) reporter from the by-now defunct Far Eastern Economic Review (once the most daring weekly current affairs magazine in Asia) about a proposal for implementing the Islamic penalty of stoning adulterers to death, he replied that: ‘I fear that there would not be enough stones left to construct our roads’, wakakaka, though of course he pissed PAS and its supporters off.

Another one about this great man: He was a man who loved his drink, and never hid the fact. After he was forced into retirement, he was selected personally by the Saudi King (Good Lord, the King of Islam Holy Land?) to be the first secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC).

Humbly he refused, explaining honestly to the king that he was not a good Muslim as he loved his drink – no one can ever accuse Tunku of being a hypocrite, that’s for sure.

King replied rather interestingly that he didn't want Tunku to be the Mufti of Mecca but only as the secretary-general of the OIC, indicating Tunku's drinking didn't faze him at all.

Hmmm, I wonder if it was the King of Saudi Arabia who had said: “I fear that there would not be enough stones left to construct our roads if we stone every adulterer to death”, would PAS have received it differently? Wakakaka.

But in the final analysis, Tunku was spot on, indeed right down to a T, in that there would not be enough stones left to construct our roads if we stone every Malaysian adulterer or for any act of incest, rape (especially statutory rapes) or other forms of sexual acts, wakakaka.

Unc told me in his days many young Malays hated Tunku for betraying them, specifically for being too friendly to the Chinese - he had additionally adopted CT's wee daughter after her parents were killed. Some even accused him of corruption because of his closed association with the Chinese.

Now, I'm sure you all have hear from RPK that when Tunku went on the pre-election campaign trail for Perikatan (BN's predecessor), he refused to be paid his PM's wages on principle as he deemed that he wasn't doing work for the rakyat as a PM.

Also, in our nearly 60+ years of independence, it would not be incorrect to argue that Tunku stood out in a unique way as the only Prime Minister of Malaysia who left office virtually destitute (pokkai atau almost miskin). Corrupt?

In fact after he was ousted by his successor, Razak had to quickly pass a bill in Parliament to endow him with a pension appropriate to a retired PM, including a house in Penang - who knows whether out of compassion, guilt or perhaps just to avoid Tunku's destitution from embarrassing Malaysia.

Though a PM, Tunku was known to buy goat meat in Kedah when he visited Alor Setar occasionally because he said that meat was cheaper there than in KL - hmmm, would that be indicative of a fiscally naughty PM?

When he was stripped of his powers and packed off into retirement, he continued to be surrounded by his friends of all races, but particularly Chinese. Those were the days of that silly old concept called loyalty, even when a man was no longer in power to be of any use to anyone.

Compare that loyalty to a 1998 ingrate, no, make that two, wakakaka, or Dr Mahathir's experiences when he was 'embargoed' wakakaka by the AAB mob - see Et Tu Baharom and The UMNO interdiction of Dr Mahathir, wakakaka.

But Tunku was a strongman who was very much loved, though as the Chinese saying has it: that a god (or prophet or leader) is not loved in his own province. Tunku was sadly not loved generally by his own 'province', the Malays. I wonder whether that sad perception still prevails among today's Malays?

As for Hussein Onn, he was kind of half way in between Tunku and Razak, but a good man as a PM for all Malaysians though many today questioned his choice of UMNO's deputy president when he selected Dr Mahathir over Ku Li, wakakaka. Now, I wonder whether Ku Li would have become a strongman as well?

Here's an Uncle story about Hussein Onn. Once Hussein Onn was informed by a minister that a housing estate developer was complaining of humongous loss because the mandatory 30% housing reserved for bumiputera had not been taken up. Hussein instructed that non-Malays in the armed forces be allowed to buy those houses as he considered non-Malay military uniformed* personnel as bumiputera. My Unc was a beneficiary of Hussein Onn's policy decision.

* 'uniformed' means civilians working for the Armed Forces, blokes like RTA wakakaka, would not qualify, wakakaka.

I wonder whether another PM after him would have made the same assessment/decision, that non-Malay servicemen should be considered bumiputeras?

Then of course came along, wakakaka, Dr Mahathir. He was the last of Malaysia's strongmen, up to now that is, wakakaka. Also see my post Mahathir: Unforgettable & Unforgiveable, wakakaka.

After that we have (in stark contrast to the first four PMs) wishy washy AAB and Najib. If Anwar had become PM wakakaka I doubt he would have been any better than Najib, with perhaps only one exception, his most manmanlai silver-tongued skills, wakakaka.

I believe their perceived wishy-washiness or manmanlai evasiveness are too much influenced by their prioritized desire to protect their own 'constituency' (not just electoral one but their intra party support). Obviously, their own political interests have overruled their political commitments and service to the general public a la the Kajang Betrayal, wakakaka.

Well, today Dr Mahathir rebukes Jais (TMI report) for its arrogant intrusion into a Hindu wedding in Selangor, while 'Royal MB' Khalid Ibrahim has been keeping his 'Royal MB' mouth shut tight, as he usually does whenever stuff in the state gets a bit sensitive. He's another manmanlai, wakakaka.

Since I wrote the aforegoing sentence, Khalid Ibrahim has finally emerged to describe the Jais 'action' (he avoided the word 'raid' and called it) an 'embarrassment for us' (where 'us' presumably means Pakatan). I have thus amended my remarks appropriately.

However TMI reported: The Malaysia Hindu Sangam (MHS) has told Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim not to pay “lip service” in the issue of a factory worker whose wedding last Sunday was disrupted by officials from the Selangor Islamic Department (Jais).

Wakakaka, they should forgive him for being a 'wee' (wakakaka) slow to admonish his state's Jais.

Dr Mahathir had also earlier defended Kassim Ahmad against allegations of heresy, and spoke out against PAS' recent push to implement hudud, though it has to be said he was partly responsible for opening the Pandora Box in his tactic to outmanoeuvre PAS by proclaiming Malaysia is already an Islamic country.

His tactical gain has developed now into a strategic problem for his successors, more so for Najib rather than AAB who has better Islamic credentials to talk down PAS, wakakaka.

Of course this is only looking at leadership qualities from a very narrow perspective, concerning PAS and the non-PAS mullahs pushing for a full Islamic Malaysia, because Dr Mahathir had not quite acquitted himself as a PM well in other areas.

If he is 'forgetful' wakakaka, please remember he is 88 years old this year, which incidentally, in accordance with Chinese fengshui pun, wakakaka, endows him with an auspicious double-8. Gong Xi Gong Xi (Congrats), wakakaka.

Additionally, I have it on strong authority that his family genes favour longevity so it's likely we'll continue to have him for maybe another ten years ;-)

But alas, it had been that chip on his shoulder which let him down, where he allowed himself to be ultra tolerant of his proteges' incompetence and/or naughtiness.

For example, light years ago wakakaka, our late Bhai accused someone of being naughty in his private affairs, allegedly of a dimension that would have made Lot blush (you know Lot, the one whose wife turned into a pillar of salt, wakakaka). But Dr Mahathir brushed that allegation aside, refusing to consider that as a real possibility. Dr Mahathir was well-known for his tolerance for and perhaps over-trust of his men.

Ironically, years later it had to take a challenge from someone, wakakaka, before he reconsidered Bhai's complaint, of course by that time with additional intra party input (by different UMNO factions'), wakakaka.

In UMNO, unless you're a bloody strongman. you shouldn't be too selfishly inconsiderate to the needs of the other factions (mesti kongsi one, wakakaka) as you would be sabo kau kau by those other factions to ensure you do not become too powerful, wakakaka.

Talking about the chip on Dr Mahathir's shoulder, feel free to read an earlier post of mine The Vision of Dr Mahathir in which I paraphrased the Jule Styne-Sammy Cahn's 1954 Academy Award winning composition for him, wakakaka, as follows:

Three chips on my shoulders
Each one seeking happiness
Grown by my hopeful wishes
Which one will the NEP bless?

But wouldn't it be nice to have very strong leadership in Malaysia at this period in time. Mind, the yin would also warn us too much yang leads to authoritarian and/or dictatorial rule.

The trick is in balancing strongman characteristics with liberal democracy, yes, virtually oxymoronic in this wish, and also a task made much difficult by today's various forms of extremism (or interests, wakakaka). But we can only wish!

Three coins in the fountain,
Each one seeking happiness.
Thrown by three hopeful races,
Which one will the fountain bless?

Wakakaka, but all and more will the fountain bless, I hope.


  1. You wonder whether tengku razaleigh would be a strong man? You must be joking - he is all talk and no action, a wash-out. He can talk but nobody in his party bothers about him. If he really wanted to do something for the country he should get up from his chair, leave the party and do something.

  2. Come to think of it, I have never seen Tengku Razaleigh out of his chair. Agree with Anonymous, he would have been the same weakling as Jibby.

  3. Zahid Hamidi would be an excellent strong leader for Malaysia.
    You may not like his views, but he is one who will not hesitate to take decisive action when it is needed.

    Muhyiddin has the right persona as well, but he is getting to the end of his political innings, and will likely retire even before Najib.

    1. Ya, decisive action against those of different race and religion and those who are not pro umno/

    2. And against women too, even of his own ethnicity, if they don't kow tow and grovel to him, and especially if they are from the Opposition. Ditto to Moo Moo too.....that 'I am Malay first'. Enough said.

  4. Mahathir was unfortunately the kind of Strongman who ensured that all his next level contemporaries were weaklings. He was a strong believer in "a mountain cannot have two tigers".

    For him, people, institutions , anything deemed as an obstacle to his ambitions were not to be tolerated.
    Anyone who dared stand up to him were gone rather quickly.

    A Prime Minister is not supposed to have that level of power. He is First among Equals, but nevertheless required to consult with others.

    I don't think UMNO and Malaysia in general will ever really recover from Mahathir. The damage is too far ranging, too deep.

  5. Malaysia may have need for a strongman in the mould of Saddam Hussein. See? when he was in charge in Iraq, the country was very peaceful. There were no intra-communal shootings and bombings. Now with him gone these are everyday occurrences.

    1. organizations like PAS, ISMA etc would have been abolished by Saddam wakakaka

    2. Yup, Iraq under Saddam Hussein was actually a much better place to live in than now. Democracy is a heavily overrated system.

      In fact, most of human progress over thousands of years has occurred under the direction of strong rulers who had vision and determination.

      Malaysia's priorities now are for securing law and order, security and stability.

      Urban dwellers, especially the Chinese need to very seriously reconsider their support for Pakatan Rakyat, who seem to favour street politics, confrontation, instability and chaos.

    3. wakakaka, I can always depend on you to exploit every statement for BN

    4. Some societies/groups tend to be confrontational and utter offensive, insulting remarks that can be discriminatory, racist, and provocative. If under a no-nonsense Saddam-like strongman such groupings are banned then it can only be a good thing. Uncontrolled provocative speech can easily lead to a flare-up of violence.

      Many people have a low tolerance threshold for provocative acts and speech and will respond by lashing out in violence.

      In a number of countries in the mid east where the population can be said to be homogeneous (the population is mostly made up of the same race, speak the same language, and profess the same religion of peace) and thus leads a person to expect the people there to live peacefully and amicably with each other but no, not at all, those countries are wracked with violence and the natives are enthusiastically and peacefully(?) bombing and killing each other with savage glee!


    1. in Malaysia's current situation I feel we need a strongman to enable us to build strong institutions. For without a strongman how can we strengthen our institutions like democracy, separation of powers (executive, legislative and judiciary) and its check & balance, and further down, the EC, police, civil service, and their accountability and transparency etc

    2. Our former strongman has strengthened his own position (executive) by subducing all the other institutions !

    3. like eggs sometimes you get a rotten one wakakaka

  7. Strongman? Feudal system?

    Go Fuc*** your brains!

    Already 21st century..

  8. Be wary, be very very wary of the Cult of the Strong Man.

    It is extremely rare in history to have a Strong leader who is also a respecter of human values.
    The usual Strong Men may be strong leaders but are mainly focused on empire and power building. Do we really want another Mahathir ? Or even worse ?

    In the context of Malaysia today, with weakening checks and balances to Executive authority, non-independent EC, Police , Judiciary, Civil Service, etc. , the system is likely to produce a strongman who pushes Malaysia even further into a dark, authoritarian world.

    Somebody above suggested Zahid Hamidi as exactly that kind of Strongman.
    I actually suspect he can be a rather strong PM, but can you imagine what kind of Malaysia Zahid Hamidi would push towards ? Certainly not what I want to see.

    Both the United States and Britain have been fortunate to have strong leaders in times of grave national crisis - Lincoln, Roosevelt, Churchill - who remained steadfast to their country's constitutional bases.

    Both countries have strong institutions which ensure that leaders who rise to power respect their democratic traditions. But nothing is ever certain in this world.