Thursday, May 22, 2008

Underestimating AAB

More than two years ago I posted The real Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, where I wrote:

I believe there’s an unjustified dismissal of Badawi as a weak and indecisive leader, one not in commanding control of UMNO. This is unfortunately an incorrect and dangerous perception of him, of which I too had been equally guilty of. Many merely consider him as an interim UMNO leader of limited tenure. I am not an expert on UMNO but as an interested observer I have since changed my mind about Badawi after some reflection. I now entertain an entirely different impression of him as PM [and UMNO No 1].

I went on to described AAB as a shrewd cunning person who says little but achieves much for himself. I wrote:

Rather than just dismiss his decision to remain in UMNO as typical of a passive bloke - instead of joining the disastrous Ku Li’s Semangat 46 - …….. one should actually consider that as due to his brilliant strategic assessment.

Sitting there patiently in unobtrusive manner he inched his way back into Mahathir’s favour and actually won one of UMNO’s Vice Presidency positions. That could only have come about as a result of his developing and consolidating a strong power base and factional alliances in UMNO. It must be all that more striking when we consider he achieved such a power base during a period of Anwar Ibrahim’s expanding influence and ascendancy in UMNO.

… it … highlighted … Badawi’s amazing political resurrection to become the Prime Minister of Malaysia, despite him being earlier on Team B, an astonishing party career achievement unattained by Ku Li, Musa Hitam, or Anwar Ibrahim. And Mahathir’s obligatory or obligated protégé, Najib Razak has to still wait in the wing, subordinated to Badawi.

Today as I read Malaysiakini, I see columnists Ong Kian Ming and Onn Yeoh probably making the same mistake as we had done 2 years ago, underestimating AAB. In their article
Why doesn't Pak Lah fight back? they wrote:

we have an embattled prime minister who has opted to remain in 'elegant silence' mode even as his nemesis goes all out to topple him. Yes, we are talking about Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Dr Mahathir Mohamad, respectively. […]

It's hard to comprehend why he doesn't just come out swinging. It would not be too difficult for him as the prime minister to ask the Anti-Corruption Agency, which comes under his purview, to investigate the various alleged misdeeds of Mahathir during his 22 years in power. If Abdullah can't remember or is not aware of what those alleged misdeeds are, there are at least 82 members of parliament who would be more than happy to help compile a long laundry list for him.

Well, point No 1 (about using the ACA) – ever heard of the term ‘Omerta’? That’s why!

Additionally, there’s a Chinese saying about “Never sh*tting on your own doorstep.” And to cap it all off, the Mat Salleh advises
“People who live in glass houses janganlah buang batu.”

Point No 2 (about 82 KPCs or kay-poh-chnee’s) – surely Ong and Onn must be kidding - all the ‘elegant silence’ and survival skills of AAB wouldn’t save him if he resorts to such opposition help to destroy a former UMNO leader with a standing of 22 years leadership. He’ll be hated not only by die-hard UMNO-istas but also the greater Malay community for such treachery.

First of all, I reckon Ong and Onn in their analysis have used only western logic but failed to consider the important Malay factor. AAB is a man steeped in Malay tradition. I am inclined to think he’s the consummate Malay politician, quiet, courteous, and at times a wee condescending but a master of 'palace intrigues'. I wonder whether he's the type who will stick a keris into your side while reciting a pantun, something along this line:

Langit dah gelap, cuaca pun marah,
Angin bertiup kuat dan ganggu abu
Jangan khuatir saudara kalau basah

Bukan kerana hujan, hanya darahmu

Ong and Onn might have make the mistake of thinking AAB is too complacent, totally unaware that Anwar, Najib and a fiery Dr M all have a common aim, to remove him.

Well, so far he has outmanoeuvred each and every one of them, in the same quiet unobtrusive way that he has achieved what Ku Li, Musa Hitam, Anwar Ibrahim and Najib couldn’t, becoming PM.

He has kept Dr M on the outer since he became PM, much to the chagrin of the former PM, to such an extent that the latter, out of utter frustration, has resorted to an unthinkable resignation from UMNO as the ultimate ante ….. and which, if I may be so bold as to say, is fast fizzling out.

AAB is still PM, and Najib and Anwar each waits (maybe forever in vain) in the shade of each wing.

And post tsunamic election, AAB has made several gestures that even have his critics believing he could even be a closeted reformist ha ha ha - eat your heart out, Anwar Ibrahim! Some, unbelievably lawyers, have even praised him. I see him slowly doling out the lollies to the critics hungry for reformist crumbs.

Sometimes I get the feeling that AAB and not his SIL has been the master puppeteer, pretending and allowing the curses and blame to reach the 4th Floor, while he smile in elegant smugness, slyness and satisfaction while allowing the rowdy inelegant world to believe he is the ‘fool’ …

… when in reality he has fooled all of us … ;-)


  1. True.
    He's a cunning man. Never underestimate this guy. Some people may say AAB slowlah, tidolah or even bodolah. If you observed him carefully you will see that this guy is more than meets the eye. And people give that name a the real A**. We seen his action and most of us give rush judgment about his actions. And these people commit the same mistake again and again without realizing it.

    People tend to forget that culture shape this man into what he is now. people only judge what they see the outer layer of this man not considering the part he is a Malay and people tend to give stereotyping remark when judging him. Do research on the traditional malay culture and you will find similarities in this man.


  2. Your stoic defence of the underdog while heroic is again, flawed. Your elegant alternative views smack of a populist approach and is a vendetta laden political manouevering in style and substance even though you will claim otherwise.
    but as usual the one having the last laugh could well be nobody as we will all be dead meat anyway

    truly neutral an selfish

  3. Now Badawi may be quite adept & wily as a fox in power politics; acting like a lame duck, talking softly, but carrying a big stick behind his back.

    But when it comes to running the country... he is indeed a lame duck. How many of his promises has he ever kept?

  4. Badawi a reformist? He pulled many stunts to prolong his political sruvival. Like the dinner with judges, many saw it as an act out of desperation.
    But depends on whose side your are in, if the acts suit your appetite, then you can call him a reformist, but to malaysian malority, he is just a sleepy head.


    The Zen hero. Kicks butt without moving a muscle.

  6. piggy singh, I didn't say AAB is a reformist - I wrote: "AAB has made several gestures that even have his critics believing he could even be a closeted reformist"

    ... which has been why I also said: "... in reality he has fooled all of us"

  7. "AAB as a shrewd cunning person who says little but achieves much for himself".
    The key operative word is for himself and I would add his family.

    He had done very little to lift the country out of its malaise, and for that he needs to be removed as PM.

  8. The real Mullah Dollah, tougher than Osama Ladan

  9. there's reason behind he allows oppos to rule 5 states, he want to "annihilate" them in upcoming GE given that oppos has opportunity to rule 5 states but screwed them (no development lah, empty promise, etc etc). aab and his oxford SIL would launch a successful counter attack that will rout oppos once and for all

    the oppos right now like dap chief-of-staff and selangor mb are so infatuated with their new given power and status, let's see in future if the oppos can still repeat such success (many ppl oledi regreted pangkah for oppos)....

  10. denzook

    many people also regretted that they didnt pangkah for PR and throw BN out after seeing their childish behaviour and a sore loser. look at how DBKL victimsed the hawkers (in Setapak and elsewhere). i wish these idiotic officials be investigated, indicted and then castrated!

  11. I wouldn't interpret that kind of maneuvering to keep oneself in position as a reflection of intelligence. In my view, it reflect more of corruption and dishonesty, maneuvers that could be devised by any average individual but who would not do it out of principle and integrity.

  12. Why all these sudden interest in AAB? Why so many wearing the hats of a Political-Analyst or Psycho-Analyst, all of a sudden?

    Just take it as it is.

    Mr Badawi is just a normal person like most of us, except perhaps he has a greater strength of character. Without that, good men cannot rise to the top. Unlike evil men who rise to the top by questionable and nefarious means.

    Mr Badawi is a thinking man, a fair man, a just man, and a principled man (though that can be difficult to attain at times in the political milieu, whatmore in UMNO). But he is no weak man.

    The acid test of a person's character is in running a multi-racial country in a party where all the crooks, scums, and pirates have risen to the surface.

    Try doing that and we will seee what kind of person you are truly. Wheher you have any values that acts as a ballast or as an anchor that helps you hold your principles and beliefs in difficult situation and circumstances. I think many, and I mean many, will fall by the wayside

    If one is a wise man one would have been able to see a person's character long before any "rabble rouser" commentators start talking about all sorts of nonsense about a person, especially a duly elected leader.

    I hold Mr Badawi in higher esteem than most politicians. He is foremost, a gentleman, and a fair man. Much like how the British are described. Being a gentleman doesn't mean weak.

    It is only our negative culture which holds holds being a gentleman, being fair, being just, being trusting, and being principled, as weak while bully culture, hardline views, "ends- justify-means" conspiratorial action, braggadicio, etc.. as strong. What a c**k-up world ala Hongkie TV series yellow culture world!!

    It just calls to mind a memorable quote from one of the Korean drama series -

    "There are two kinds of merchants in Yangzhou - The Shandong type and the Guandong type. Those who abides by the law and are upright and honest are the Shandong type while those who deals in prohibited goods and are cunning and dishonest, are the Guandong type."

    Figure it out. Strength of character does not mean weakness. For the young ones, think about this and not be swayed by all the yellow culture around you. AAB is a better example and role model than most other leaders. Disregard many of the unqualified commentators but live your life according to what is right even though it may be difficult at times.

    That, is your strength of character. Let your conscience guide you. This is only a temporary world. "Achieving" is NOT everything.

  13. The respected mr old timer, AAB is almost a British gentleman. But with the menace he has caused, how long he would last in British politics.Perhaps he would be showered with rotten eggs.

    KT, AAB really does fool of all, while to UMNO his ignorant becomes a burden, he is also an asset to the opposition. That's why we have now divided opinion.