Friday, November 02, 2007

The Malaysian hunt for a political messiah

May Your Royal Highness continue to speak out boldly on common law jurisdictions and the judiciary on behalf of the common man (and woman) as it has become increasingly common knowledge to many of us that we are being led by a government tragically lacking in common sense.

A proud and loyal son of Perak
Martin Jalleh

The letter writer to Malaysiakini concluded with above in referring to His Royal Highness Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak delivering the opening address at the 14th Malaysian Law Conference.

In recent times, many Malaysians have turned to the Sultans as their hope-for political saviours, forgetting that some of the royalties haven’t been shining examples themselves. But politics in Malaysia has been long in the cesspits that it literally stinks to high heavens.

Not every Sultan is an Azlan Shah with his distinguished law pedigree, his erudite understanding of justice and due process, and his awareness of the democratic institutions. And it has to be acknowledged too his son has been brought up by a fine father. As they say, the acorn doesn’t fall far from the oak tree.

But such is the desperation of Malaysians for a political messiah that they have turned to a sector that had in general not been exemplary paragons of democracy or propriety.

The current infatuation with the royalty is a repeat, a clone, a search for another of the earlier so-called reformasi movement, where then the No 2 man of the hated UMNO on the threshold of becoming No 1 could even present himself successfully as a political reformer.

But many Malaysians were so desperate for change that they offered themselves as willing captives to a man who talked about reforms ONLY AFTER he was expelled from UMNO. Yes, desperation made many of us willing to swallow sh*t.

When questioned why he didn’t speak out while at the very top of the UMNO power echelon, he mumbled words to the effect that he could have been sacked, yes, the so-called champion of reforms was afraid of being sacked from his nice place among the top of the most powerful political party in Malaysia.

I have spoken to friends who admitted that they didn’t trust him but were willing to take a chance with his reform promise. I asked why they should leap from the pan into the fire, and reminded them of Anwar Ibrahim’s performance as a minister in a number of portfolios, particularly as the Education Minister.

And everyone cried that they have no choice other than him. I don’t buy that – we always have a choice. Rome was not built in a day and I believe in:

Little drops of water
Little grains of sand
Make a big ocean
And a mighty land

Anwar Ibrahim is not our political savior, not by a blooming mile.

And so now we turn to royalty, such being our frustration with corruption, chagrin at the non transparency of our government and outrage at the injustice that plagued our land.

If Anwar Ibrahim was the Renaissance Man, then must be the Sultan of Perak, in fact a truer one. He has, through his careful words and his son’s, managed to restore respect for a royalty that had lost respect and was losing relevancy - just as an indication of those depressing times for royalty had been the (long overdue) restoration of honour to the memory of Hang Jebat, the most renown traitor (to royalty) in Malay history. What would the late Tunku have said if he was still alive?

While I have room for a constitutional royalty, I don’t for one that interferes with the political process or seek a role bigger than what the Constitution permits them. Any member of the royalty is always welcome to participate in politics provided they relinquish their official royal position and take their place as a member of the Malaysian rakyat.

I do question those people who have not only been promoting the royalty as an alternative source of political power but also egging the Sultans on to interfere with constitutional provcess.

There’s no political messiah save your personal vote. Make it count rather than indulge in fairy tales of a Prince Perseus come to save Princess Andromeda in the nick of time.


    I asked why they should leap from the pan into the fire, and reminded them of Anwar Ibrahim’s performance as a minister in a number of portfolios, particularly as the Education Minister.

    And everyone cried that they have no choice other than him. I don’t buy that – we always have a choice

    Dear me KTemoc,

    Then perhaps you should tell us what OTHER choices we have than this Anwar and Pak Lah...

    It seems that you have been beating around the bush...

    Tell us one person that we can choose in the up-and-coming elections that a bigger number of Malays and Chinese would most possibly unanimously vote for.

    If there are no other candidates, it's true that we always have a choice between the 2. Bear in mind that people choose Anwar is not 100% because we think he is the ULTIMATE SAVIOUR FOR MALAYSIA.

    We need to balance the powers of Barisan Nasional. We are using our vote to instil him into Parliament to do that .. at least first.

    If he improves, then we can put him on top.

    Maybe you can explain why you say putting him in is like jumping from pan to fire...


  2. Mr KTemoc,

    I am not an Anwar fan, but I can't help but note the perpetual vendetta you have been showing him for a long time. Your opinion on the royalty as a possible messiah would have been a good piece had you not digressed to show your biasedness against Anwar. I am sure many of us already know not only about his UMNO past, but also his activities as a student leader and a Muslim youth fanatic. Many ex-students like myself in the old Univ of Malaya still can't forget Anwar's role in getting hooligans from the Malay language society to deface English signboards at MU campus in 1970. Who does not know that Anwar as once a fan of Khomeiny and in fact visited him in Iran in 1979 or thereabouts.

    However the Anwar then with his notorious past in UMNO, MLS and ABIm and the Anwar now as Keadilan de facto leader are poles apart. Anwar has been through 6 years of wrongful imprisonment and is now hitting hard at UMNO in a way that if Kit Siang and the DAP do, they would surely be cast into prison for sedition or be accused of stirring racial hatred, inviting UMNO youth to start another May 13. With UMNO youth continue to shriek threats against the Chinese, someone like Anwar, with sufficient drive and stature, is needed to whack them hard, and I am sure many Chinese and Indians are happy with the way he is hitting back hard at UMNO on their behalf.

    Large numbers of Chinese and Indians can't be blamed for still not trusting Anwar, given his background, and indeed many fear he may return to UMNO. But what have the Chinese and Indians got to lose in supporting Anwar and Keadilan fully in the next GE? We need him and Keadilan to check and balance UMNO and also PAS. If you hate Anwar so much, Mr Temoc, can you suggest someone, a Malay, of his stature, who can fight for the rights of the Chinese and Indians against UMNO? If you can't, then I think it is better for you to stop running Anwar down at every conceivable opportunity. I gather that you don't like UMNO any less than many of us, but by perpetually throwing darts at Anwar (to the jubilation of UMNO) might I say that you are actually doing all of us, Chinese and Indians A BIG DISSERVICE! I hope you can spare us any more of your anti-Anwar tirades as you are playing right into UMNO's hands. Please find for us someone who can be the messiah of the non-Malays, and unless you can do that, many people would appreciate it if you stop disparaging Anwar. Say what you like about Anwar. HE IS STILL OUR BEST HOPE AT THIS JUNCTURE AGAINST AN UMNO GOVT WHICH HAS TODAY COMPLETELY DISREGARDED THE FEELINGS OF THE CHINESE AND INDIANS.

  3. kaytee said: There’s no political messiah save your personal vote.

    Sir, you vote count for nothing when the whole electoral machinery is rigged and corrupt.

    Your statement sound so naive. In fact given the present state of affair with the EC, voting is folly and mockery and contempt of democracy. Before the EC is thoroughly purged, please don't speak of your personal vote. To take part in the electoral process is only to legimatizes the present corrupt and bankrupt administration.

    No body is advocating a bigger role for the Monarchy than that provided for in the Federal Constitution.

    Your personal grudge against Anwar do come through so obviously, and so frequently too. Enough lah...


    We, the undersigned, petition the operator of this blog to give the said gentleman above a rest for a period of 30 days.

    Names: (Anonymous acceptable)
    1. Sweet Nemesis
    2. ____________
    3. ____________

    STEPS: (1) Add your name (2) Cut & paste (3) Post

  5. To play the devil’s advocate …

    M’sians at the mo do not have the luxury of choice between good and bad, only the lesser of two evils.

    What we call ‘guided democracy’ here has been distorted beyond recognition from that which is practiced in countries with substantive demos kratos. 50 years of unmitigated, unmilitated Umno absolutism has shaped a body politic that even fails to twitch when BN unfurls a campaign slogan like “Zero Opposition”.

    As for the monarchy, pinning hopes on intercession by the rulers is a reflection of M’sian realpolitik b’cos the majority of the populace being Malay and Muslim still revere the institution. That’s why Raja Nazrin & Sultan Azlan’s speeches made more of an impact than if a politician were to say them.

    This respect accrues in large part from the Sultans’ position as heads of religion (appealing to the Malay’s constitution, both holdover and Hadhari-Madani shaped). As well as due to the feudalistic mindset that continues to beset us all (including Chinese, Indians), c.f. the cache still carried by titles, like urm ... ‘Tan Sri’ (as per someone earlier featured in your blog) - which is conferred by this very same M’sian royalty.

    Backing Anwar & the rulers to act as check & balance is pragmatism as the M’sian sees, and indeed has, no other viable recourse.

    Your points on our political structure vis-à-vis the role of a constitutional monarchy & Anwar’s Umno-tainted past are justified as theoretical analyses and in my opinion add a valid dimension to the discourse. I’m glad you brought them up.

    However, in Bolehland, those who want reform are hitting the ground running, so to speak. And as you say, “desperate” and desperate is as desperate does.

    Anonymous has thrown a brickbat in his accusation that your statement sounded naive. I would instead give you a bouquet for being an indefatigable idealist (rather than a naïf) or otherwise you would not give the commitment that you do to this blog.

    That we’re reading & leaving our comments on your konsiderations shows that we’re engaging with your idealism, and an indirect compliment to you, my dear.

    However, I do think you deserve a short break or holiday from your bete noire & as such I would put my name to the petition above (or would that be cheating?)

  6. I would not be in favour of the Royalty going anywhere beyond their role as specified in the Constitution.
    But that's exactly the point - a careful reading of the Malaysian constitution plus established common law principles (that hated word in some circles) of constitutional monarchy will show that the Royalty is NOT meant to be mere passive rubber stamps of the PM's decisions in areas such as Judicial appointments.
    They have a right to question, give their input, delay the decision. What we are asking of the Rulers - Yes, please exercise your Constitutional check and balance role.

    Politics is not the answer to every constitutional, judicial or governance issue. Unfortunately Malaysia's institutions have decayed to the extend that everything becomes part of the political arena, even judicial appointments.

    How often have you heard of a political storm over judges appointments in Britain, Canada or Australia ?

  7. An interesting relook at the wider scenario but the inherent problems with Malaysia will remain for a long time. All "leaders" so far are very imperfect beginning with TAR then lastly Mahathir.

    This AAB guy was a cheap poor quality filler( we all know that but never dare to say it openly ) whereas Anwar was a rash oppoutunist par excellante (vis a vis the Malays ).

    Which leaves a present missing Messiah( and i am afraid 4ever will be ), of which there will be none , only a farce as usual. Fakes / pretenders cannot compare with the originals when it really counts for therein lies inside the complex DNA/culture/civilisation as the learned Mahathir postulated some 3o years ago. The pampered inbred scoundral royals save maybe for the present Perak 'royal" descendents may yet offer a flashing tease of a refreshing change from the dark ages but alas our politics are much more complex.

    Modern economics and politics are incompatible with the traditional Muslim way of life ( any eay you look at it ) or any other way you may want to fisk it.

    Which necessarily means your post on the subject will remain a wild reflex hypothesis and at best an interesting entertaining read ! but informative nevertheless !

    We Malaysians i am afraid to say are too nice to face the truth and go around it every day and life as we know it , goes on and on

  8. supremacy of the constitution? asked nazri. he will tell you that majority rules and absolute majority absolutely rules. the majority defines the law. is he speaking on behalf of the government? if he is not, why is there not a dissenting voice from the ruling party.
    what choice do we have? zip, except for the royalty to intervene. and on the political scene, what choice do we have again? Isnt it Anwar the best choice now?
    you never seem to forgive a person. at least, he is consistent now in a lot of respects.