Monday, December 22, 2008



What kind of world do you have in mind for us, Mr. Obama?

The world perspires in cold sweat as Barrack Hussein Obama readies to become US president on the sleight of possibly the worst financial hand since King Solomon overspent on his hundreds of wives and on their commemorative temples to slump Jerusalem into a wild hyperinflation nearing the end of the 10th century BC.

American New Age financial wizardry, striking rot, is estimated to have dug a hole in banking and in financé that’s about USD 62 trillion deep.

When the multiplier effect is applied to that, the number may run to USD 620 trillion some say.

Even if the numbers given are somewhat exaggerated, the simple effects of the current malady will write into history the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression of the 30s.

Obama’s pin-up status as the first colored American president is wearing out. What’s appearing before the new world he is destined to herald is a giant depression that tells a story of inebriate greed sown into the flag-bearer of capitalism that’s now a pall-bearer.

America was spending way beyond her means, using mathematical models to issue bundles of credit to stretch money into what has finally caused the bankruptcy of American banking and finance, with the spillover suggesting loudly the failure of poorly regulated free-market capitalism.

With the world’s largest economies in deepening recession, it is the emerging market economies that are now keeping trade alive, for a while. These economies are themselves weakening.

China already growing at less than eight percent from 11.9 percent in 2007, is facing workers’ protests demanding wages and salaries owed to them by foreign-owned factories that closed down.

The Gulf States, the other strong performer, having lost more than 200 billion following the oil price slide, may be posting only 2.2 percent growth in 2009.

Labor unrest will sweep through the world. This would be an explosive mix with riots in 40 countries that have run short of food in the midst of plenty, their food supply exported for cash.

About two billion of the world’s 6.5 billion inhabitants are strapped below the poverty line with half of the number abject, and a swath of the world is hamstrung on asymmetric war nobody wants, apart from those that swarmed the White House to remove Saddam Hussein by the might of mayhem, unilaterally.

Change is clearly begging swift address. In the given circumstances, it is looking likely that the flag-bearer of capitalism will have to herself apply tariff barriers to protect what’s left of her physical economy if she is to at all recover within a decade without having to resort to war.

But the automobile, electrical and electronic industries have lost essential market segments and have begun to retrench. In the case of Japan, her markets in Europe, the US and in Asia have contracted so severely the country, already in recession, has become a net importer.

In Germany the car producers are all down, the country herself, the third largest economy, is also in recession.

Expecting Obama to single-handedly will away the dread is merely a hysteria. Obama should quickly squeeze into the US and the world real remedial policies and structural changes.

Change takes time to settle. Remedy for this financial and economic ills will need at least a decade.

Post America

It is simple to conclude we are looking straight into the prospects of a post-America era, the facts saying loudly the world cannot be wishing for a superpower such as America has been, to continue.

America decided on her own to fatally wound Iraq and to restructure the Middle East, to forcibly throw Islam out of fashion, to spring a surprisingly fragile financial system for a world she wished to hold under her hegemony in a free-market system, while she controls the IMF and World Bank as she has done.

The world would be obviously looking for a means to peaceably resolve conflicts, not for a tight Missile Defense System Mr. Bush had wanted to hoist over and above the decided advantages America already has in firepower, war machines/technologies and strategic balance of power.

Russia has only a fleet of four leftover aircraft-carriers we are told, while China has none, meaning America remains uncontested in the oceans. But there are now surface-to-sea missiles.

Over Western Europe the US is reported to have more than 560 middleweight nuclear warheads (excluding those in Israel) ready to act against any contestant, which could have been one reason for the European Union to militarize under the stalled Lisbon Treaty that Ireland has refused to accept.

Since America will continue to keep her technological edge in various fields for a while yet, and she is certainly remaining the sole superpower even if she is a bankrupt individual, the world will continue to be depressed by the prospects of having to live with a not-so-competent Sheriff and Big Brother who has made the globe much less fortunate under Mr. Bush, “The Shoe Man”.

There are definitely more “Muslim terrorists” now than could have been imagined before the US quest for glory struck Iraq, and then, the defenseless Afghanistan, where reconstruction is hopelessly obscure.

The troubles in Afghanistan have now overflowed the border into Waziristan and Pakistan, proclaiming American policy, method and outlook in the containment of “Muslim Terrorism” have failed.

In Asia people have begun to turn aside from the US’s containment of China and are looking forward to having Asian IMF and Asian mega-infrastructural development banks to prosper the continent and the trade-blocs within.

New Bretton Woods

M. Obama must know going back to Bretton Woods is merely a route to stabilize currency and trade.

Going back to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s freedom from wants, freedom from fear and freedom from tyranny is more substantial than the simple equation of Bretton Woods, IMF and the World Bank, especially when the idea had become monetary control rather than of a credit scheme for mutual development between sovereign countries they were meant to serve.

A growing number of countries in the world now want an ethical standard and an economy of mutual assistance (ta’awuni in Islam) within the context of the trade and economic blocs.

The beacons for these are not with America at all. Instead it has been the Latin American countries that have inspired ethical statecraft and diplomacy with mutual aid as a basis for the new social and international reality, leading to a grand infrastructural development covering the whole of South America.

The Latin American example has become a new existential springboard to redeem humanity from the greed of the “new economics”.

In the same passage for redemption, though less dramatic in impact just yet, are the Islamic ethical financial institutions and the Islamic securities crafted from it – the Shariah-compliant financial regime that has been spared from the frightful reverses we read of everyday inside the laissez-faire banking and finance.

Islamic securities have only surpassed USD 1 trillion, a little drop in the ocean, but stable and expanding at a rate of more than 20 percent per annum just before the economies shuddered in the current crises.

Islamic banking have been unscathed and should begin to broaden its scope to pursue the ethical economy and society internationally as an alternative to the ideological variance deemed viable by the world before.

It is not about being different. It is rather of an ideological and cultural pluralism that fit with the wishes for a multi-polar world that shall encourage healthy competition between the economic blocs and also share in seeking for the best imaging of the human collective that we can possibly call a world soul – a human personality that is good. ---a. ghani ismail, 23 December 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008




The Kuala Terengganu January 17 By-election

While the Barisan Nasional will have against her the stubborn inflation resulting from the fuel price-hike that was clearly a bad boob, for the Pas it is a challenge against Terengganu’s parochial thickness if the party chooses again to field Mohammad (Mat) Sabu for the January 17 by-election.

Unlike in Kelantan where many “outsiders” have won in elections running as Pas’ candidates, the same does not hold true in Terengganu. Even the brand new Pas Secretary-General failed in his bid to breach the difficulty in the 8 March polls. He contested in Besut.

Mat Sabu lost on 8 March 2008 by 628 votes in Kuala Terengganu because he was not a domicile. There’s no other reason that can explain why the “imported candidate” had lost as narrowly as he did.

Kuala Terengganu is a hard place for the BN to win too. Voters gave three from four state seats within the federal constituency to Pas, with the total votes exceeding the BN take by 2,283, meaning Mat Sabu ought to have won.

But if the Pas were to opt for Wan Muttalib Embong instead, or Dr. Syed Azman Syed Ahmad who won in Batu Burok (Kuala Terengganu), the BN, which is likely to choose the educationist, Zuber Embong, or the CEO of the Religious Council, Alwi Mohamad, will have to fight tooth-and-nail to keep the parliamentary seat in this by-election.

Kuala Terengganu passed from the BN to Semangat 46 in 1990 and then to Pas in 1999.

It can go either way once again, the BN being sadly depressed by the general disenchantment arising from the out-of-control prices of goods and mainly of foodstuff.

Prices of foodstuff kept going up in Malaysia after the prices of fuel at the stands were reduced since the price of oil had gone down from the record of USD 147 to below USD 36.

There’s no way for the government to explain this sad failure without making voters cry foul louder than otherwise.

On the brighter side in Kuala Terengganu are the facts the present state government was chosen by the palace and the sultan will be chairman of the Terengganu Investment Authority where RM 10 billion of the state’s sovereign fund shall be deposited.

Sultan Mizan, who is presently the Yang Dipertuan Agong (Malaysia’s King) is highly respected in the state for himself and not merely as a constitutional ruler. He and his household have conducted themselves beyond a mist of reproach.

The sultan is above party politics, of course, but the gist of the fact he chose the present state government against the wishes of the Prime Minister is a big plus for the BN.

The previous Terengganu state government had been cruelly mangled by federal intrusions that introduced the jinxed “Typhoon Cup”, said businessman, Syed Muhammad, a grandson of the famous savant, Tok Ku Paloh.

Like the cherry on the cake, this year’s Typhoon Cup was held while Kuala Terengganu was flooded.

In a recent move the state government was seen to have weeded out the poorer performers in the state capital, paving a path for a more efficient team to finally commercialize and industrialize oil-laden Terengganu instead of being dependent on tourism.

The tourism binge had been a follow-through of the Monsoon Cup. It gave Kuala Trengganu a classy façade of a crystal mosque and a miniature Taj Mahal, some jobs and a face-lift.

Those artifacts on Pulau Wan Man off Kuala Terengganu did draw more than 1.5 million sightseers this year.

But how all that would improve the state’s human resources and lead into a sustainable economy after the oil and gas are gone, is beyond easy reach of sensible minds.

Is Terengganu too primitive to be thinking half as loud as Dubai?
Is it true Terengganu’s ship-building industry is quite recent and found only on Pulau Duyung opposite Kuala Terengganu?

Ocean-going ships of three to five masts were built in various locations of Terengganu from as early as the 14th century according to available records and chances are, the ship-building had been there several centuries earlier.

Terengganu was the second Malay kingdom on the Peninsula after Patani and it was already a Muslim country long before Islam reached Malacca with the conversion of Parameswara in 1411.

Trengganu was ahead in this maritime region with a strong ship-building industry, gold mining and metallurgy, silk and fabrics that still survive as batik and songket, and agriculture and fisheries.

Terengganu was an industrial leader in the region, and probably the leading ship-builder in the whole of Nusantara even after Aceh began building her large ships of war in the 16th century under IskandarMuda and Iskandar Thani, and then when the woman, Malayahati, was Laksamana (Admiral).

Hence people in the coastal state have asked where has the will puffed to deter setting sail for the gone-glory?

The Malay Archipelago (The Spice Islands) remained the largest contributor to the world GDP even during the initial encounter with the Occident before widespread colonization was forged by the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824.

Kuala Terengganu was a ship-building and industrial port that was looking eastwards during those times when China was a big maritime power.

Now, after decades of oil-wealth, it does sound ludicrous to be busily gearing Kuala Terengganu into a tourism hub, spending billions on glassy enchantments in the murk of the muara (river mouth) while the people are left without understanding even how a tungsten-bulb is made.

It is certainly time to change the direction of government in Terengganu and this is what is being accomplished, beginning with the sultan’s intervention following the 8 March elections.

There’s an air of expectation in Terengganu. Will that translate into a larger-than-normal winning number of votes for the BN on January 17 is what’s left to be seen. ---a. ghani ismail, 19 December, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008


How do you shine a light in a straight line through a prism

Instant Unity has not been patented yet, which is a hard bite on the hope to forge integration in Malaysia outside the common schooling experience.

Ernest Renan, defining a nation as a large-scale solidarity based upon the feelings of past sacrifices and the willingness to sacrifice again for the future, is sadly quite right about what are missing in the Malaysian plural society.

No matter the fact the members of the major races have fought together against the nation’s foes and together the races contributed to the country’s growth and development, the threesome cannot be said to have achieved integration at any time in the history of the country.

Memories are not something we can rely on to build unity in plural and competing ethnicities. As many have observed, it is the grievances that are more reliably remembered than the shared triumphs in our separate memories.

About 95 percent of Chinese parents send their children to national-type Chinese primary schools and a smaller percentage pursue the same stream to secondary and tertiary levels.

Chinese schools are not about mother-tongue education, as are Tamil primary schools. In the Chinese schools the medium of instruction is Mandarin, the Chinese national language and which is quite apart from the mother-tongues of the several Chinese tribes that have made Malaysia their home.

Malaysian Chinese have a separate nationality, and a member of a successful global Diaspora in the world. How we shall ever get the community to override its demand for a separate commonweal to integrate with the others has been a matter deliberated from the Barnes Education Report of 1951, and since becoming a never-ending story.

In recent years the Malaysian Indians too have become a Diaspora their motherland espouses.

The Malays and other Bumiputras are caught in-between these grand dispersals of nationalities that are bound to be playing big roles in the world.

Chinese and Indians shun the army and police as low-income recruits. However, they willingly apply to become commissioned officers in all branches of the armed-forces.

Discussions 10 years ago ended in a compromise solution. The government decided on a half-way measure, i.e. to pool the vernacular primary schools into a shared compound in which students and teachers may share some classes and cooperate in extra-curricula activities.

The idea was named Vision Schools (Sekolah Wawasan), a float from inside a great debate on how to herd the Malaysian plural ethnicities into a single identity, a single sense of nationality and a shared destiny.

To pursue a single schooling experience would be asking too much against the residing chauvinism and against the real need of the various communities to retain their mother-tongues. Hence, the half-way measure – Vision Schools.

But on what basis will the Vision Schools work to help forge the single sense of nationality? Can Vision Schools bring about the “large scale solidarity”?

It would need much more than that, obviously, and much more than a revised or reformed common curriculum too.

So, Mukhriz Mahathir who is contesting for the top post in the Umno Youth, asked to close the vernacular schools and to coral the pluralism into a single educational life-space for high-speed integration.

But MIC president, Samy Vellu, instead recalled the Vision Schools, saying it would have worked for the better had not the outgoing Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, neglected it.

The half-way measure suggested a slower approach to the same thing Mukhriz had wanted outright.

Leaving things the way they are would be letting us become something like the Ottoman system of millat, whereby each community is separately governed by its representatives who finally share power with the host.

In Turkey of that time, Renan wrote, ‘the Turk, the Slav, the Greek, the Armenian, the Arab, the Syrian, the Kurd, are today as distinct as they were on the day of the conquest.’

In Malaysia, even if we now live side-by-side in corporate housing schemes, there’s too little that is shared between the ethnic communities to say we have a “Malaysian society”.

Of course the Vision Schools can help. But there are merely five or six such schools, all reportedly “very successful”, before Abdullah Badawi decided the idea useless..

Former Deputy Minister of Education, Aziz Shamsuddin, said the children mixed and the staffs learned to cooperate and together organized extra-curricula activities in the existing Vision Schools.

In other words, we do have a modest advantage in the Vision Schools. The children learn to share and teachers/parents loosen much of their mutual suspicions.

Mukhriz, because he is contesting for Umno Youth chief, has been read to be seeking for easy mileage by suggesting the closure of all vernacular schools.

He is, in fact, voicing a popular thought among Malays in the current political setting. Some non-Malays have been demanding meritocracy and equality, i.e. to do away with Malay Special Privileges without wishing even to pay lip-service to unity and integration.

That is an absurd demand in the given circumstances. You’ll need the two-third majority in parliament to alter the Constitution. Without that, the noisy demands are only hot-air, good for floating the bloat. --- a. ghani ismail, 9 December 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008



It’s a personality subversion Malays feel they are being made to face by the resurgent non-Malay chauvinism the past decade or so.
Some from the Hindraf, Dap, GERAKAN and PKR continue to bash the Malays, even claiming there really isn’t a Malay community at all, as though the Malays are merely shadows on the inside of their cranium.

The idea is to break the Malays into Javanese, Baewans, Aceher, Minangs and so on. While that may happen in Singapore, in Malaysia there are nine (9) Malay rulers the chauvinists must cause first to disappear.

The hate-Malay hate-Islam campaign has gone mad, leaving in its trail a dead PKR with the charismatic Anwar Ibrahim frozen solid in his track, a failure once again.

Some Chinese and Indians now say everything Malay is Indian or Chinese in origin, which is insane.

The idea is to harass and undermine the collective personality, the same way the colonial masters had done to the conquered.

As long as the name-calling did not take on an overt political nature the Malays do not seem to care. But it did.

The Gerakan and the Hindraf came under recent Malay reactions.

In last week’s episodes a group of 50 Silat (Malay martial arts) organizations convened by Pewaris on Saturday 22 November was to have begun the offensive against GERAKAN Wanita chief.

The gathering decided to march to a police station and lodge a report against Tan. But some people intervened and the march was called off.

When on the same day it was heard the National Fatwa Council had reached a decision to declare Yoga forbidden (haram), it did not cause any close observer to feel distressed.

But the popular reactions quickly sloshed into the wilds, few stopping to ask what the fatwa (legal decision) was really about.

The stampede did not even care to ask how many Malays or Muslims in Malaysia were involved in Yoga? For that matter, how many persons in Malaysia, regardless of race or religion, would be in the habit of performing Yoga?

In the fatwa, mention was purposely made about the fear the Muslims could be influenced by Hindu monism.

What then is the nature of the monism that was meant?

In Islam God is the Real (al-Haqq) and Perfect Being, or The Existent (al-Maujud). We are merely souls (nafs), or personalities.

Perfecting the personality is our existential objective - to become insan al-kamil (perfect man), a servant of God and not by any chance, God.

It ought to have been simple to understand the events as a light force reactions against the Malay- and Islam-bashing using Hindu monistic relief to send the Hindraf offensive scuttling for cover.

It should be remembered Pagar Ruyung (in Minangkabau) was founded in the mid-14th century by Adityawarman, the king who was a Bhairava, a God, by an immaculate address of Tantric rituals.

He depicted himself in stone, as did other Bhairava(s), standing on dozens of human skulls, now “couched in a dark corner of the Jakarta Museum”, said a Minang writer.

Written underneath the skulls was a description of how he slaughtered hundreds of his subjects and drank their blood, stemming the stench of the dead bodies by millions of fragrant flowers.

That is, to the Malay mind and historical experience, Hindu monistic relief. This contrast between Islam and Hinduism in the Malay World never did die.

Adityawarman ruled for several decades but his son and heir seemed to have been king of Minangkabau for about two years and then suddenly vanished without a trace.

In Hikayat Raja-Raja Pasai the Hindu god-king insisted on incest and killed his son and heir who secured his two daughters from his lascivious divinity.

A man-God or God-man can do anything. The National Fatwa Council is simply asking is that what you want?

Islam battled against that Hinduism. The religion had not reached into the Malay world wholly by peaceful investments of Sufi teachings as many early historians had wanted us to believe.

Recent studies suggest Samudera-Pasai was overtaken by the early Muslim kingdom of Lemuri, which later became Aceh. Lemuri was founded in the 10th century, dispelling the history in our school textbooks that say Islam arrived in the archipelago not earlier than the 11th century.

The same style of Islamic expansionism felled the great kingdom of Majapahit. It was Muslim Demak that finally put the nail into the coffin of the Hindu-Buddhist empires in Nusantara.

And then, little is known in our schools about the intricate movements of Muslim spiritual persuasions (Tarekat), or of the diplomacy, statecraft and warfare in the Malay theological states.

Sumatra is not our neighbor but essentially a part of the Malay heartland together with Malaya (Tanah Semenanjung) and the Riau islands the British and Dutch sundered in 1824.

In Sumatra Aceh battled against the Portuguese and other Europeans as a part of pan-Islam jihad led by the Ottoman in Istanbul in the early 16th century, and later as a part of the India’s Mughal reform movement under Aurangzeb.

Minangkabau combusted in 1803, leading into the Paderi War (1813-1833), a fight to the finish between Wahabi Islam (of Saudi Arabia) and the rule of Adat (Malay Customs and Traditions).

The Adat some blamed for the accesses in Malay society, causing sexual exploitation of women in some communities and in others, to rampant homosexual practices. These are recorded in a Hikayat or two.

The Paderi War, finally led by Imam Bonjol, left in its wake a legend of puritanical Islam that is still very much alive in the Malay Muslim mind and is recalled whenever Islam is faced with upstarts or moral irregularities.

It is a combat that is meant by the fatwa on Yoga, a puritanical force that should take care of the wayward and the upstarts.

The fatwa is suggesting a revivalism by which the Malays and Muslims can achieve the cohesion and coherence they would need to remove the nuisance and return the Barisan Nasional to power with the two-third majority when comes the time to vote again.

It’s over for Anwar Ibrahim and his experiment with a multiracial party. Most Malays have turned away and more will do that in days to come.----a. ghani ismail, 27 November, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008



Time is reaching a standstill for Anwar Ibrahim. While the clock has turned back to place him in the dock for sodomy once again, the votes he had drawn from the masses to strike the biggest win in history for the Opposition in Malaysia is dwindling at a rate faster than the slide of Dow Jones in Wall Street.

Anwar is in the dock this time on the reverse side of his attempt to deny Najib Tun Razak the chance to become Prime Minister of Malaysia. But Najib has clinched it.

In the wake of Anwar’s ill-will lies a couple of affidavits, one alleging on hearsay that Najib had serially sodomized the murdered Mongolian woman, Altantuya Sharibuu, and the other appearing as a desperate attempt to send Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, to the gallows.

Najib’s political strategist, Abdul Razak Baginda, since freed of the charge of abetment in the murder, has denied Najib and Rosmah had ever known Altantuya.

Razak lifted from the couple the cloud of suspicion Anwar and his sidekick, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, had conjured, giving the breather Najib needs to move on to his destiny, a chance to do as well as his great father had done for the Malays and for Malaysians.

The result is a certain relief especially among members and supporters of Umno who had voted the Opposition on 8 March 2008. Chinese and Indians are returning to the MCA and MIC too.

Most people answered positively when asked whether Malay voters would choose Umno again as they did between 1999 and 2004.

The pendulum had swung one way and then the other in the aftermath of Anwar’s incarceration following charges of corruption and sodomy.

Asked whether they would support Umno after Abdullah Badawi retires from government, Prof. Dr. Isahak Harun from the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), Tanjung Malim, said “possibly”, him wishing the new leader would opt to use the Malay language instead of English to teach Science and Mathematics in schools.

Others contacted were quite unhappy with the government’s failure to foster a viable and sustainable Bumiputra (indigens) Commercial and Industrial Community (BCIC) well into the 9th Malaysia (Fiver-Year) Plan.

Former BERNAMA editor-in-chief, Rahman Sulaiman, said Najib is somewhat injured but Umno members and supporters will have to eventually return home to roost. There’s no where else for them to go.

The real forces behind the “re-conversion” of Malay voters must be the fact some non-Malays among members and supporters of the DAP and Anwar’s own Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) kept bombarding Malays and Islam in a frenzy of race-hate.

In the aftermath of this round of the flame-baiting for the communal votes, DAP’s Senior Selangor State Executive Councillor, Teresa Kok, sued a newspaper for RM30 million and RM100 million for what she construed were defamatory reports and a damaging short-story.

Earlier, a couple of dud Molotov-cocktails were tossed into the compound of her family home, a note attached to warn her and everyone else against playing the role of the enfant terrible in the combustible comedy of errors.

Raja Petra, Anwar’s friend from his school days, in his famous blog, Malaysia Today, slammed the Malays and at Islam for reasons people are still seeking to know. He says he is a Bugis, and not Malay.

The point is, there is nothing anyone can do to change the status of the Malays, of Islam and of the National Language, without summoning a two-third majority in parliament and tossing away the relevant clauses from the Constitution.

As a result of the bad political and social tastes, and for asking Who Are The Malays?, the Malays have after years of patience, suddenly turned around and are asking who had been responsible for giving the non-Malays their status as Malaysian citizens?

The Malay rulers themselves have issued caution. Do not question their sovereignty, nor distress their dignity.

The idea of the aggression was to seek for equality between the races and reject the special status accorded by the Constitution to the Malays and to Islam.

Malays simply have to retaliate. They are openly asking the non-Malays in the Opposition, including Anwar Ibrahim’s PKR, to agree to do away with the Social Contract even if there had, in fact, been one. In other words, they want to go back to before British colonization.

In the wake of the new developments someone quickly wrote to remind the people Anwar had made an agreement with the Pas and the DAP not to question the special privileges of the Malays and the position of Islam.

But what would such an agreement be worth? These matters are already enshrined in the Constitution.

Anwar is still baying for a simple majority he could not produce as promised before 16 September 2008, and now “before December,” which is only several days away.

He ought to be reminded the Opposition merely managed to take about 40 percent of the total Malays votes in the 8 March elections, the largest chunks coming from Kelantan and Kedah states.

Umno, which held onto the remaining 60 percent, can and will regain the lost ground in the next general elections or in a snap-election Najib may choose to call before the end of next year, though probably not as well as it had done in 2004.

Even as Umno is grappling to control “money politics” that’s bedeviling the party’s morale, Anwar, it would seem, has failed to control the emotions of his bedfellows, and is now verging upon political bankruptcy.

The charismatic political maestro, his persona screwed, is closing in on his end……. the sage withered from the lakes and the birds no longer sing. ---a. ghani ismail, 20 November, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008



A Tale Of Moral Depreciation And Morale Slide In Umno

The Malays are returning to communal politics after the bad flirtation with integration, Except for the pool of young voters who are enthralled by Anwar Ibrahim’s charisma, most will either vote Umno once again or split the votes between Umno and Pas.

Umno has been deprived of moral and historical functions.

After five years of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s unsubstantial leadership, the party which was born to fight British colonization has become “rotten at the core”, a remark and conclusion made by the chairman of the party’s disciplinary committee, Tengku Ahmad Rithaudeen, that hit the nail right on the head.

The Malays have had enough of listening to Chinese and Indians who think of themselves as the successors of the British Raj, and therefore, are remaining mentally comprador.

The ceaseless Hate-Malays and Hate-Islam campaign they launched from some years before has finally struck gold.

On Sunday 16 November a forum that discussed the Social Contract convened by Perkasa, decided to tell the non-indigenous Malaysian communities they can reject the Social Contract and end the agony of questioning it. The non-Malays have even been asking who, indeed, are the Malays!

It is clearly a signal that the color-blind days of the Malay Anak Malaysia have ended. I am told most of these good people have decided to revert to their identities as Malays and Muslims.

While it would be a happy hum-along tune for Najib Tun Razak who will become Umno president and Prime Minister at the end of March 2009, Umno is sadly saddled with a gigantic internal corruption.

Facing deep global recession, the party is now having to reach into its heart for what’s left of a historical mission and an ethical purpose to continue being relevant to the Malays.

“It has gone rotten at the core,” said Tengku Ahmad Rithaudeen, him charged with the responsibility of taking disciplinary action against “money politics” in Umno, the vote-buying and vote-selling in the party that’s making it a market place for political aspirants who are rich to gain power without political effort or talent.

The disease, erupting about two decades before, reared its head again from the moment Abdullah Badawi took over from Dr. Mahathir. His son-in-law, a new comer, intervened in party and government, becoming number two in the Umno Youth by rewarding contestants who pulled out.

Abdullah was hauled into national prominence as Mr. Clean. The irony and stark contrast of Mr. Clean and Dirty Politics is probably not a matter of nature but a straight character of incompetence, or non-substantial leadership that’s now lazily sauntering to a finish by end of March, a date that’s bad simply because it will take time to come, says his predecessor, Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

There was and is an audible sigh of relief when it was decided Abdullah shall not stay on after March. But the question many are asking is why should Abdullah stay on after December when the party’s general assembly should be held?

Abdullah ought to go. Japan has fallen into recession. Commodity prices have fallen from USD147 for a barrel of oil to USD 55 and still falling.

Palm oil, which affects directly a large number of Malaysian farmers and workers has fallen below the critical RM1,500 to around RM1, 450 per ton. It is expected to go down some 46 per cent more by mid-2009.

What’s Abdullah doing about this?

He is doing nothing. Instead, he insisted he should stay for an extra three months from December simply to read the Bills in parliament that will introduce a Judicial Appointment Commission, an independent Anti-Corruption Agency and three other Bills in a state of an economic meltdown that will be the worst Malaysia has endured.

Abdullah can stay for the three months if the Prime Minister-elect, Najib Tun Razak, is given the freehand he needs to quickly put in place the stimulus and fallback packages the country will have to have. We should have already begun counter-trading, for instance.

There will be about 300,000 unemployed Malaysians coming home from Singapore alone.

But how can Najib act freely and take all responsibilities to usher in new policies and to change structures if he is still number two?

Umno reacted to the stresses of party and nation in remarkable somnolence during the recent divisional meetings that nominated Najib as party president without contest.

In more than half of the party’s divisions, it is learned that the members just came and went, leaving the halls and the speeches delivered inside merely a bout of stout words mainly for old men and women.

These oldies came with the belief that the party they love is still the same one they had known before. But it is not.

Umno is now a ruling party of a successful commercial and industrial nation. In the transition moral integrity in the party simply slid off, leaving the idealism in a slough of despond.

Moral integrity virtually caved-in inside Umno, leaving a bleeding wound that can only be medicated by “money politics”.

Members of the newly enriched in the party were known to have spent more than two million Ringgit for positions number one at divisional level. Some among these took vote-bearers on oversea trips until the eve of the elections so opponents cannot reach them.

They were never purged and neither were they disciplined.

Umno members asked, was there collusion, negligence or a blind spot at the top all along?

At the general elections of 8 March 2008 many party members refused to work unless their palms were laced. When that was done some branch and divisional leaders complained the amounts paid were chicken-feed.

The party paid dearly. The Barisan Nasional lost five states and one federal territory on the 8 of March and a lot of members were happy with the outcome.

Umno was not facing an internal revolution. Rather, it was internal revulsion that had caused the party to bleed profusely in the 8 March elections.

Abdullah was seen not only as an incompetent leader but corrupt as well. His family and some friends blatantly became ultra-rich.

They became multi-millionaires - father, son, son-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, cronies and, according to Dr. Mahathir, also his sycophants. Mahathir himself enriched his children and his cronies, Abdullah said. He called Mahathir a Ten Percenter.

The rot at the core of the party had become debilitating. Umno lost moral purpose.

The question before Najib is how can the party recover its moral and historical motives? Alternatively, should he rule as a member of an oligarchy comprising of the ultra-rich in Umno and in Malaysia?

Umno is not ideological and neither is it religiously Islamic like the Pas is. Will Najib turn in a rule of a triumvirate with his cousin, Hishamuddin Hussein Onn and Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz, for a powerful mix of kickapoo to overcome the problems of ideological and moral lack in the party?

But that would put Mahathir in the Big Man’s shoes and he is alleged to have ruined the integrity of the judiciary as well.

This is what Najib will have to resolve along with the impacts of terrible global stagflation (recession with inflation) that has already set and will quickly worsen, with no solution in sight.

This is a systematic breakdown of the world financial order.

It is also a systematic moral depreciation in Umno, and a certain erosion of party morale Najib will have to somehow restore.

Which way Najib navigates once he is in power will finally determine whether or not the majority of the Malays will want Umno, or go to the Pas instead.

People will not be impressed by a simple communal pretense. Being ultra-Malay is of no value. What will he do to translate that into policies and goodies? Will he reaffirm what his great father, Tun Abdul Razak, did for the Malays?

The PKR of Anwar Ibrahim is sadly viewed as the cause of the mud-slide the Malays are facing from the comprador mentality of some non-Malays in Malaysia. Some Malays say PKR opened the flood-gates. ----a. ghani ismail, 18 Nov. 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008




Kassim Ahmad And His Autobiography, Mencari Jalan Pulang – Daripada Sosialisme Kepada Islam

It’s about reaching for an ending of a normal kind for an extraordinary lifetime the former Parti Sosialis Rakyat Malaysia (PSRM) president, Kassim Ahmad, has put into a book Mencari Jalan Pulang, an autobiography that’s a full-bodied jug of inebriating wine.

While it ought to answer the critical questions why he left the PSRM after 18 years at the helm and then joined Umno, the book answered little of those mysteries of Kassim; writer, scholar and mainly a gadfly with a voracious appetite for ideas and an equally powerful enthusiasm to let loose those ideas into a society that has been reluctant to accept them.

But the ideas were often imported along with their masters, forcing Kassim having then to look for a group of writers to help him weather the storms he brewed or to explain to society the abstruse philosophies they brought.

After he had left PSRM he first launched Dr. Rashad Khalifah and his rejection in toto of the Hadis (Prophetic Traditions). It meant to demolish a basic structure of Islam, the Hadis being a source of Islamic Law.

Rashad was soon to be killed in his own mosque in Tucson, Arizona.

Kassim, himself knowing less than he should about Islamic culture, was visibly shaken by the event and to stand clear he found Lyndon LaRouche. He soon dragged the ideas of the man into the country.

This was a useful move. LaRouche’s movement not only served Kassim with good ideas but would prove useful as an American connection that did not appreciate Anwar Ibrahim.

LaRouche was leader of a Quaker political movement which later became a faction of the Democrats. His ideas were and are revolutionary, threading the development of political, economic and scientific ideas carefully from sources in the Greek beginning to reach for a future humanity.

But Kassim, in the process of these flights to fulfill some emptiness in his life, lost his new friends and lieutenants, something he seemed to find difficult to explain in his book, and perhaps also to himself.

Kassim’s trouble was he could not be genuine in Umno however much he tried. He was primarily a socialist thinker and leader who should have remained in PSRM where he had been at home.

For reasons of his own he left the PSRM in 1984, explaining in his book he had been meeting Umno president and premier, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who, though reluctant at first, was later to agree to consider the possibility of PSRM joining the Barisan Nasional, the ruling coalition.

But did the socialist party know of his meetings with Dr. M or had Kassim taken matters into his own hands and then expected the party to simply agree to abide by his edicts?

Some PSRM members say “Kassim stole PSRM’s money and he had to flee”, a metaphorical description that stuck on Kassim like a leach that would not let go. He had leapt away like a frog after leading them for 18 years, and they preferred him dead.

They regretted the years some of them had spent in political detention.

In one case a few interrupted this writer’s speech to tell the forum four members of the audience had been in detention in Kamunting “because of being loyal to Kassim”.

Now that the leader had joined Umno, what were they supposed to do? Should they all hug, kiss and bid their past goodbye as Kassim had done?

Were they all merely to fall in line behind him and together aggress against the Hadis and then study Lyndon LaRouche and assiduously read the Executive Intelligence Journal of Lyn’s outfit?

Even if he tried to explain he had lost faith in Socialism, the image he had built of himself as a socialist he cannot erase for as long as the men and women he had led remained alive.

These workers and peasants haunted him. Some spent more time than Kassim in detention, him incarcerated from 1976 to 1981. Many of them believed he broke down in detention and so he changed his color and his soul as well.

I was to witness a little of this distressing abyss in Kassim’s life after he called me through Dr. Chandra Muzaffar to help put right his writings on the Hadis he presented in a series of seminars at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Chandra was later to remark Kassim never acknowledged the contributions we made to help him with those papers that became his book on the Hadis.

Now, in his autobiography he wrote to say those meetings we had in Chandra’s house or at his office in 1985 were about Islamic Reformism.

We discussed that for only one or two days. The other times we met were about the Hadis and on what we deemed proper concerning the subject.

Kassim did not know enough about the subject. He had not known then about the Medinah Charter (Shahifah Medinah) and the treaties, letters and pledges the Prophet had made and which defined the bases and limits of Islamic diplomacy.

He had also failed to take into consideration the Islamic financial institutions and instruments that were determined mainly by the Hadis.

These institutions and instruments are today offering the best alternatives to the world that’s wracked by a systematic financial breakdown.

LaRouche predicted the breakdown from decades before but he had nothing to say about Islamic financial institutions, instruments and products, which are measures of civilized progress, no less.

Kassim kept telling a few of us he had been meeting the premier Dr. Mahathir and Dr. Mahathir agreed with his views. About what?

What would the premier’s agreement do for him and for us? How would that help him become a Muslim reformist in or outside Umno? When had Dr. M become a prophet of Islam, someone asked him.

His friend and business partner, Hamid Merican, became so fed up with Kassim’s talk about his meetings with Dr. M he finally told Kassim to simply ask the premier for a fat contract or shut up.

It is now clear from his book that Dr. M’s position was the same as that of the rest of us. He accepted authentic hadis and therefore had no intention of damning the structure of the Shariah (Islamic Law).

In the meetings with Chandra Muzafar and this writer, Kassim was confronted with instances when the law had only the Hadis to stand upon and we insisted he change his views.

He finally did but would revert to his iconoclasm time and again, whence we called it a day. He had committed himself too widely to retract. He had cast the dye on himself.

My friend Kassim had nothing to put in the spaces he was causing to rupture by rejecting the Hadis and blowing apart a basic structure of Islam.

The liberation he was after was possibly more meaningful to his own intellectual and spiritual maturity rather than relevant in the game-play of forces to shift Malays and Malaysians into a new deal, or in the world at large.

He was merely playing a game of his own shadows meaning to show to his friends he is still the same Kassim they knew but in a different guise and wishing to remove the opiate from inside the anatomical system.

I argued against Kassim’s blind distaste for Islamic traditionalism, the time being the period when Muslims were putting together the Islamic financial institutions with which I was a little involved.

Regulations defining these financial institutions and instruments are mainly sourced from the Hadis.

Kassim kept insisting Islam was merely available as theocracies and refused to think as I did in terms of “theological states”, such as Japan and Israel, or of India under the BJP. In any case, how many theocracies are there in Islam today for Kassim to make his general assumption?

It would seem like Kassim has not been able to forget me because of the disagreements. He now mentions me in this book too.

In page 207 he alleged I had been a member of Uthman el-Muhammady’s group at Tar Tujuh (sic) in Pasir Mas in 1974-75 and we (Uthman and I) were waiting for the world to end.

The facts in the book are not true. No such thing happened.

Uthman’s group was probably wishing to build a community which would develop into something akin to the Darul Arqam of Ustaz Asha’ari Muhammad, but it failed. The leader, one Abdullah Sharif, did not measure to the height of Asha’ari.

I was never a member of Uthman’s outfit. I went to Pasir Mas to join Abdul Wahab (an economist, since deceased) and Sharifuddin (an Accountant) to begin a business base and a school.

Wahab was soon to fall terminally ill and we shelved our project.
But we had become a strong enough force to threaten the Pas under Asri Muda and it reached the point when he demanded I leave Kelantan in 24 hours.

Asri couldn’t lift a spoonful of rice to his mouth to feed himself after more than 75 percent of his party had left him from the first quarter of 1974. We could have taken half of Kelantan in the next general elections, hands down.

You cannot do without Islam in Malaysia at that time. You cannot do without Islam in the world now, especially not when the geopolitical structures and designs will have to change with the financial and economic crises.

Kassim’s cannonball against Islamic structure in 1984-5 came as a bolt from the blue and many who knew my friend, Kassim, wondered whether or not he was having a difficulty to live with himself after leaving PSRM and hence, he was tossing a tantrum.

In Mencari Jalan Pulang Kassim admitted he kept losing his friends. He said the reason was the pressure from the controversies he enjoyed.

I doubt if that had been at all a reason. Rather, he was losing his friends because they were seeing him as laboring to cover a deep gash in his life and he was not genuine in seeking to form a group of ideological juggernauts in or outside Umno to combat Islamic conservatism or extremism.

Deciding to quit PSRM after 18 years at its helm must be an injury that would leave behind a showy scar. That scarification will show on the members of the party as well, and especially those who had lived through detentions. Their families were ruined “because of Kassim”, some said.

Many thought my friend, Kassim, seemed unable to see beyond himself. But a flight of the sort that he had done would cause many to simply flop on the floor, blabbering insanely to be convinced they had done the right thing.

How does anyone dump 18 years of party leadership on the pretext of philosophical immaturity? Can the person become useful other than as a writer and an agent of other movements after that?

Kassim quit Umno in 1996, believing it’s time to let the past rest and the present come to relax in the shadow of his doubts.

This autobiography of Kassim, published in his 75th year, is his own description of the means a prodigal son had chosen for his return journey from the wilds of philosophical search and ideological conflicts to come to rest in a pleasant country home.

It is very interesting reading. Read the book, Mencari Jalan Pulang, Dari Sosialisme Kepada Islam. ----a. ghani ismail, 13 Nov. 2008

Ps. The food supplements with his book in the picture above is to tell Kassim to stay fit and to keep writing. He’s only 75!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Goodbye Pak Lah



Critical questions rise like morning mists as Pak Lah agonizes about how he shall make his exit after five years of weird leadership. At the Umno Supreme Council meeting on Thursday he was told he would not get enough nominations should he choose to contest the party election in December.

His day is done. He should leave before Oct. 9 when the party divisions begin to nominate the contestants for the Supreme Council.

With Pak Lah assumed crippled and out, members have now to decide about how to rehabilitate party and nation.

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Pak Lah) will be remembered for suspending democratic elections for all numbers one and two positions in Umno in the first party election he presided.

It was his means to ensure he will not be contested. Consequently the 2004 Umno Supreme Council elections became a market for votes.

More than 50 Umno veterans appealed to him to restore democracy in the party immediately after. It did not bother him.

He instead postponed the next Umno election by more than a year on the pretext he intended to call the general elections in 2007, which he did not, resulting in the 8 March 2008 general elections being his doomsday.

In the run-up to the upcoming Umno Supreme Council election reports of corrupt practices abound and one Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) has opted not to contest in protest of the rampant vote buying.

Five Years Destruction

The five years of Pak Lah at the helm of the party and government have been destructive. He not only refused to continue with the purpose and vision of his predecessor but he instead dismantled piece by piece what Dr. Mahathir had done, including selling Proton’s holdings of Augusta for Euro One which was later sold for about USD300 million.

Dr. M, soured to his gallbladder over his choice of successor, remarked Pak Lah has said nothing about the global financial crisis. The Ringgit began to weaken against the USD after gaining some ground, prompting Dr.M to suggest pegging it once more.

But even when the Lehman Brothers collapse caused Asian bourses to yoyo in panic The Premier still said nothing.

In his Family First leadership the son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, in his wish to become prime minister before he turns 40, already has several of his men appointed ministers and deputy ministers.

In scrap-yards in Sungai Chua and Serendah are a couple of thousand Rapid KL buses left to rust when the country is in dire need of an efficient public transport system. In many cases, bus services have been terminated since the sudden fuel-price hike in June.

There is no more bus plying the route from Kuala Kubu Bharu to the Fraser’s Hill resort for instance.

The Komuter (train) that ran every 10 minutes is now running once in 20 minutes and the trip from Rawang to Kuala Kubu Bharu which ran every half hour now runs once an hour. Some people say these problems of dysfunction are linked to the son’s companies.

Baroque Leadership

It has been somewhat of a baroque leadership these five long years, the sufferance of which prompted Dr. M to conclude there’s a Level Four in the Prime Minister’s office that makes the decisions and does the interventions, Level Five, where the premier sits, merely acting out the roles that utters and mutters.

After the doctor’s diagnosis gained wide currency, the questions that must now arise immediately address how Umno and the Barisan Nasional can best be rehabilitated and quickly return the country on course to Vision 2020.

In the recent Permatang Pauh by-election Umno members accounted for more than 20,000 of the voters but the party candidate was returned with much less than that, showing the same ills that paraded in the 8 March general elections that floored the BN in five states in West Malaysia plus a Federal Territory.

The BN lost the two-thirds majority in parliament for the first time.
Then three rulers refused to accept the Prime Minister’s choices of Menteri Besar.

The Premier was interceded in Perlis, Trengganu and Johor, causing a large question to loom concerning state-federal relationship and whether or not the rulers will form an intervening power in the structure of government.

How shall the irrationalities and the ills be overcome? How can Umno and the BN survive the next general elections?

Presidential Council

Now, after Pak Lah’s insistence that he will stay as party president and premier until 2010 has been rebuffed, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah will be free to contest for party president against Najib Tun Razak in December, should he get the required number of nominations.

But after the new president is decided, will the party be run as it used to be or will it opt for a presidential council?

Pragmatism and Mineral Water

From 22 years of his leadership, Dr. M was a strongman for 14, though hard hit in the final four. He could have run the country solely on pragmatism and mineral water when he was the big boss.

He did not need to articulate an ideology, though he looked for one.

What the country needs to know is how can Malaysia be run smoothly and efficiently without an ideology when there’s no strongman, especially in a global financial crisis with a hot geopolitical landscape to boot?

We have no stable and meaningful ideology, like what Tun Abdul Razak had attempted to introduce when he was Prime Minister and Umno president.

As a result Umno failed to produce a cadre system.

Dr. M was an early warrior, having started in his school days to aggress against the environment, and therefore, had in his head a clear vision that he did not care to articulate in words but did by his deeds.

Yet, in five years of the baroque twist in leadership almost everything he had painstakingly built was eroded and dismantled in a deliberate pursuit of obsessive destruction.

To dispel the fact the structure allowed one such as Pak Lah to succeed him and to undo what he had done would be the height of impudence towards history.

Something is structurally weak, or even wrong. Could it be located merely in the fact the Malays have apparently no wish to become a civil society and therefore, is mute and hapless within the Umno patron-client overdrive?

Has it been only an irregularity particular to Pak Lah? What? Even the striking hubris and the overwhelming materialism and the colossal corruption that hasn’t the civility and humor to spare the party even?

Is everything dependent on who exits and who enters in Umno?

Morale in the party is rather low. The members and people need to know what will be done. ----a. ghani ismail, 20 September, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Teresa Kok On The Rocks Over Azan Issue



Teresa Kok isn’t the face that could have launched a thousand ships but she would have rocked the Pakatan boat strong enough to capsize it for good if allegations against her are founded.

Protests against using the loudspeaker for the Azan (Islam’s call to prayer) especially for Subuh (dawn prayer) by some Chinese residents of Kota Damansara, Sri Serdang and Puchong Jaya point towards a third hand using the event as a ploy to win over more Chinese even if the society and country are destabilized – a game of desperados meters away from power.

Teresa denied the allegation, but another matter with ethnic overtones and clamoring to champion the Chinese slipped into the frontline tension – a demand to add to road-signs Chinese characters while dropping the Malay Jawi script.

Teresa was said to have made a road-sign of her own for Bukit Bintang in that fashion, an art not so skillful in the given tensile climate of change in Malaysia.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) suffered its worst setback in the March 8 general elections under the absentminded leadership of Pak Lah, The Premier.

Teresa was appointed a senior executive councilor of Selangor, an exposure to power and to political maneuverings the DAP big-wig could not be naïve enough to become victim so soon.

The allegations are about a double-barrel ambush in an already charged atmosphere involving an extensive Hate-Malay Hate-Islam campaign worse than what transpired in the run-up to the May 13 1969 blood-let.

The question to ask is who gains should Malaysia lose ethnic harmony once again.

As for Teresa, Raja Petra Kamaruddin and Ahmad Ismail (who was punished before anyone verified what he had actually uttered), they merely serve as facts or fictions in the making of the historical event one or some powers are pursuing.

If Teresa has nothing to do with the twin-attack as she wants us to believe, she should have been smart enough to positively reject the demand rather than allow herself to be trapped by the devises of her opponents, or her sponsors.

This is what the police probably want her to do – appear on TV explaining the entire development and make the spectacular condemnation of the two protests to defuse the situation.

Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley residents live with the hustle and bustle of grown metropolitans, in some cases with screeching LRTs and the rumble of the Komuter trains beginning 6.00 in the morning, for now.

The protests against the Azan having surfaced several times before, the police read into it what it actually says – to tempt the devil and take the lead role in becoming champions of the Chinese.

It’s popularly seen as yet another political samsu trip of the DAP, the first a lash-out against the Perak Royalty that earned the party three Molotov-cocktails bouncing off the signboard at the party’s HQ in Ipoh weeks after winning in the state.

But something more ominous appeared to have loomed in the plural society and country.

An Umno divisional leader in Penang was suspended for three years on the basis of a solitary report in a Chinese newspaper that he had said something nasty against the Chinese in Malaysia. He apparently called the Chinese pendatang (migrants).

Only after the suspension of Datuk Ahmad Ismail following protestations and pressure from the Gerakan and MCA was an effort made by the police to question the reporter.

The editor responsible for publishing the three paragraph report in the Sin Chew Jit Poh was reported to have fled, leaving little for the accusation to stand upon and a lot to wonder at the Chinese sensitivity and paranoia.

Then came the Teresa Kok adventure, the event causing some people of the mosques in the country to call her Porky The Pig (Babi) and spreading the largesse to include Raja Petra Kamaruddin for his volume of bad remarks on the Malays and on Islam in the blog, Malaysia Today.

Some ask, is he married to a European or to a Chinese?

Fact is, Raja Petra was formerly into the Flower People (a hippie) and quite scantily religious. But the trouble with the man may have less to do with whatever he was rather than what could have become after the rude intrusion of Narcissus.

The upshot is a certain rejection of the Pakatan, now obviously a Hate-Malay Hate-Islam elephantastic dance the wildly-charismatic Anwar Ibrahim is leading from where-to-nowhere in particular.

Anwar is finally the loser in this Hate-Malay Hate-Islam caper the DAP is seen to be leading with his school-mate, Raja Petra, as the thumb sucker.

In many mosques all over the country Malays who once prayed for his release from prison now read Sodom and Gomorrah in the Holy Qur’an, showing certain distaste for Anwar, his strange-bedfellows and his type of politick.

His, they say, is a mission to become premier at any cost and by any means.

Unless Teresa was out-maneuvered, whatever it is she had done merely makes her a political kookaburra, laughing alone by the billabong and having little else to do by the limitation of her own nature, and stature.

Now it is Anwar and the Pakatan a lot of the Malays want out, a quick change of mind perceiving him as a leader who will be at the mercy of the DAP.

The Pas too is in trouble again. Whatever is the party doing sleeping in bed with the DAP?

That obviously must have been the reason for the Pas’s Kota Raja MP, Dr. Mariah Mahmud, to quickly lodge a police report against former Selangor Menteri Besar, Khir Toyo.

To counter the effects of his remarks against Teresa it was feeble and wishful, making Mariah a willful nut-cracker attempting to remake what has already become a trap and placing Teresa limp upon the rocks. A slip will equate with her drowning.

After the Pas is known to have been discussing informally with Umno to avoid a Pakatan takeover that cannot be undone, it is difficult to conceive the three strange bedfellows can concur and conclude the marriage of convenience with an unabashed, neat and fruitful ménage et trio.

Teresa Kok may or may not have willfully taken the country closer to ethnic combustion than had anyone else in this season of economic and political depression.

But it is rather apparent Teresa did nothing to dissuade the remarkably coincidental protests among some Chinese in Selangor to aggravate the already tense situation.

It is clear there’s not going to be a let-up. Many are waiting for the Selangor Menteri Besar, Datuk Khalid Ibrahim, to open his mouth and reveal his position concerning his Senior Executive Councilor’s conduct in view of Islamic ritual propriety and Chinese letters on all road-signs, sans the Jawi script.

Will he continue to keep her in his state government? Will he be consulting the new Opposition Leader, Anwar Ibrahim, and leave it to Anwar, who is PKR’s Adviser, to decide the fate of the sassy damsel in self-distress?

This is Ramadhan and it has been eventful for millions of Malays and Muslims who convene nightly for the special Tarawih prayers, then adjourn to the corridors of the mosques for tea and talk.

Perceptions built in this way are difficult to change and once the idea is fixed the truth does not anymore matter.

I am told in Kota Damansara the mosque first complied, then minds changed and tempers build instead, which was probably why the police acted in a hurry.

One way or another, the months that follow this September ought to make for a time to remember. --- a. ghani ismail, 15 September, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dark Clouds Over Malaysia?




The punishment meted on the Umno Bukit Bendera chief, Datuk Ahmad Ismail, generally perceived as too drastic, has made the Umno president and premier, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Pak Lah), too much a caricature of power to be redeemable.

Now, two days after, we are suddenly told Malaysia Today Blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin was arrested under the ISA and three newspapers were asked to show cause, meaning the security situation is under some threat.

Are the events inter-related and the threat is coming from tensions that have been rising since the March general elections and the June fuel price hike? We are not given enough to even guess intelligently.

To make matters worse, Singapore issued unfriendly restrictions affecting Malaysian travel, causing security to loom more important than it could actually be.

On Wednesday the Umno Supreme Council, under pressure from Gerakan and MCA, sentenced Ahmad Ismail by a split-decision to three years suspension for what cannot be anymore than name calling of Malaysian Chinese as “Asian Jews” and as “squatters” (setinggan?).

With all 13 Umno divisions in Penang (including his) giving Pak Lah the butt over the issue the Gerakan raised, the prime minister and party president should have known better than to push as hard as he did to punish the party divisional leader.

The Umno leader was suspended for three years and relinquished of all his political and social positions by the Umno Supreme Council on Wednesday.

But what did Ahmad actually say during the Permatang Pauh by-election campaign which seemed to have extremely offended Gerakan nobody cared enough to inform the people.

All that’s known is the fact a vernacular newspaper had dedicated three paragraphs to what Ahmad was alleged to have said.

Now, as a result of the three para report, Gerakan, which was mauled in the 2008 general elections, wanted Ahmad detained without trial for saying ‘the Chinese in Malaysia are squatters and cannot expect equality vis-à-vis the Malays and Bumiputras’, or words to that effect.

The Umno Deputy President, Datuk Seri Najib Razak was asked to apologize on Umno’s behalf and Pak Lah came in strongly against Ahmad, only to have the 13 Umno divisions in Penang firmly backing the divisional head.

The result was the party president appearing more baroque than Charles Chaplin could have been to parody political leadership on the screen.

Ahmad Ismail was called to appear before the Umno Supreme Council and punished while the army and police were asked to warn the people against fueling the tensed situation. But what was it all about?

To the observer it was quite apparently a political skit issuing from the tantrums of a party and coalition that lost miserably in the recent general elections. Someone has to be the source of a ruckus.

But how terrible were the things Ahmad could have uttered has become a question that’s gaping like the Batu Caves, causing Professor Dr. Adnan Nawang from the UPSI to conclude we are dealing with Bebalism (tantrum).

Well-known intellectual, Professor Dr. Shamsul Amri of UKM, suggested it could be that the Barisan Nasional may have to lose power first, like it had been with the Congress in India and LDP in Japan before it can regain the stature and the sobriety it has lost.

The two reactions simply say people are at a lost. The conflict is between members of BN components in Penang and not with the Opposition.

It could not have been anything more than name calling, the semantics of which is uncertain since we do not know what had, in fact, been said and meant.

Everyone knows most of the Chinese in Malaysia are citizens and there really isn’t any movement in Umno or in any other Malay political organization that’s wishing away the rights the non-Malay citizens enjoy.

In any case you would need a two-third majority in parliament to try such a stunning constitutional reform, the same as what it would take to remove the Malay Special Rights clauses in the Constitution.

How could it be that the Gerakan found the name calling as offensive apparently defeats some of the best brains in Malaysia.

Is there, indeed, such a state of paranoia for some Chinese in Gerakan to believe Umno will, for the heck of it, curtail the rights of non-Malay citizens and employ apartheid?

Hence, either it is Bebalism we are facing or some cunning maverick is trying hard to find a reason to shut the doors to the alarming possibility some BN MPs may crossover to the Pakatan Rakyat.

A third possibility is that the components in the state that lost badly cannot any longer hold together and its time for the fireworks display before leadership change ensues.

The people in the skit are otherwise good persons. Neither Koh Tsu Khoon, nor Ong Kah Ting or Ahmad Ismail is the ogre-type.

But it must be tough to be losing jobs, money and power in a single go like the sun suddenly refused to rise after March 2008.

Golf mates leave you, neighbors let their dogs out on you and your wife wears her le masque in bed. Husbands take to the hookah, oozing smoke like they are on fire and hence, Gerakan Women’s Wing wanted Ahmad locked up under the ISA. Who’s bad?

Ahmad was reported to have said Umno (meaning his division and/or Penang Umno) is happy to work with the MCA and that the Gerakan can quit the BN if that is what it wants to do.

What communitarian impulse and output could that ever be? What “racism” do we have in Ahmad and the Malays when the term racist must assume race superiority, like Nazism, or White Superiority that called the Niggers and colored the sons of Sam.

Have you heard any Malay who thinks the Malays are genetically or racially superior? Have you? Have you met any Chinese who thinks and believes he belongs to a superior race?

Unless it is Tsu Khoon’s and Ahmad’s joint idea of humor to rock the boat and cause Pak Lah to slip overboard, I have to agree with Dr. Adnan Nawang, that Gerakan is looking like a poor loser.

It was a split decision in the Umno Supreme Council and the end of the story may not have yet been told.

In the meantime many in Umno are happy with the way Muhyiddin Yassin is speaking up for the members and the people.

An Umno divisional leader called me to say he hopes more and more in Umno will do as Muhyiddin is doing.

But what will be happening in the country now that the ISA is back and several newspapers have been asked to show cause or get clamped? ---a. ghani ismail, 12 Sept. 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

In The Path Of Mahathir's Return



Dr. Mahathir is coming back into Umno by the back door. Disgusted with Pak Lah’s ineffectiveness and lack of direction, some Umno warlords are preparing for a resolution from a party division to restore Dr. M as a member, leaving the party’s Supreme Council to decide whether or not he can be readmitted.

Nobody threw him out. He relinquished his membership in dismay.

But the chips are down and with problems appearing unresolved, a triumvirate could be the solution to return a direction to the party and nation.

Warlords opposed to Pak Lah are trying to put together Tengku Razaleigh, Muhyiddin Yassin and Dr. Mahathir, in a last ditch effort to remove Pak Lah.

It will depend a lot on whether or not Umno delegates to the Supreme Council election in December believe the party and the BN are systematically being crippled and the country will be in a bloody mess should Pak Lah continue as number one.

But with Najib Razak staying with Pak Lah, the triumvirate can only count on a slim chance to win, the party still steeped in a patron-client culture and will want to follow the incumbent leaders.

Expected is a showing strong enough to further weaken Pak Lah, making it untenable for him to stay on until 2010 before letting Najib takeover, the couple of years some described will drag like a thousand years.

Since Pak Lah is expected not to care and will deny he was even challenged, observers are reading it is the end of the BN rule come the next general elections. Some say Umno and the BN are both asking for it.

Tension is high. With the initial demand for meritocracy successfully worked into a hate-Malay and hate-Islam campaign worse than it was in 1969, the face-off in Penang where all 13 Umno divisions has given the party president and BN chairman the butt now teeters like a rock that can anytime roll into an avalanche.

The Tengku Li, Muhiyuddin and Dr. M grouping will need the avalanche to upset Pak Lah and Najib together.

DAP has always stood for meritocracy and for equality, a path the Singapore PAP had taken when Malaysia was formed in 1963, leading to the expulsion of the island republic in 1965 and snowballing into racial emotions that finally combusted on May 13, 1969.

This time around the recall of meritocracy was initially given a wrapper for integration, meaningfully devised by the Barisan Nasional (BN) into a step-by-step move, with the Vision Schools (Sekolah Wawasan) at the base in a clear attempt to bring together the children of all communities.

About 95 percent of Chinese parents send their off-springs to Chinese primary schools. With Chinese education rising from primary to tertiary in Malaysia, the shared life-space in the old system of colonial education was gone.

Now that China and India are speedily growing into big powers and economic giants infecting a new swing of ethnic nationalism in Malaysia, while Islam is under and returning fire in more than half of the Islamic world, unless integration is taken seriously the chances of Malaysia avoiding ethnic strife in the next 15 years would be thin.

The Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Pak Lah), unprepared for premiership when he replaced Dr. Mahathir in 2003, hugged Singapore in vicarious embrace,

He abruptly dumped The Bridge, a move Mahathir had made on the request of the Sultan of Johore to remove the Causeway and return the use of the Tebrau Straits to Malaysian shipping.

The Singapore-Sling inebriated Pak Lah. He was prepared to allow the Singapore Air-Force to use Malaysian air-space, prepared to sell Singapore 2 billion tons of sand from Johore, and then he made Singapore the anchor for the Iskandar Malaysia.

When his leadership was roundly raped by the Opposition in the 2008 general elections and the BN was left clinging to power by a margin of only 29 bodies in parliament, the flood-gates were lifted and vocal non-Malays with a minimum of education and altogether lacking taste mucked the Malays and Islam like the country was already theirs to ruin.

Pak Lah could not decide who he should first represent - the Malays as Umno president, the Malaysians as BN chairman, or those non-Malays who are Singapore’s boon.

The nation Mahathir had built in 22 years is dying. The Vision Schools are history and even the Smart Schools Pak Lah shunted out. Who, indeed, is killing Cock-Robin?

To a lot of people the premier and party president is a dysfunction. He flip-flops, he dismantled and he confounds, leaving hardly any confidence to enable him to resolve the Penang face-off and the many difficulties the country is facing.

In Penang the Bukit Bendera Umno chief, Ahmad Ismail, up to the gills with the incessant complaints and demands for equality, said the non-Malays are migrants and cannot be equal in all respects with the Bumiputra, a statement a lot of Malays are happy someone finally uttered.

Gerakan president, Koh Tsu Koon, demanded stern action or he wanted out, his party routed in the recent general elections leaving only two in parliament.

Pak Lah cast a strong warning on Ahmad Ismail whereupon all 13 Umno divisions in Penang (including his own) stood firmly behind Ahmad, goring Pak Lah in the butt like a Spanish bull.

The Wanita Gerakan has made itself silly for demanding the Bukit Bendera Umno chief to be sacked from the party and locked under the ISA.

There could be riots on the streets if Pak Lah were to do that. A hearing will do. Malays are being made to feel they are guilty of ethnic-cleansing even and nobody cares how they feel. For how long do these people believe they will keep cool?

Malays, Islam and Malaysia have been pilloried without Pak Lah showing the least will to take control of the situation, him acting only against the Hindraf Five who had taken matters to an extreme of extremes.

It is apparent Pak Lah hasn’t even a whiff of a solution to the current confusion, what with the sudden hike of fuel prices that lifted the Consumer Price Index (CPI) obviously higher than any kite he has flown as premier or before.

The result is a simple compound of emotional stress, tension and rebuff Dr. Mahathir had clearly foreseen and cleverly kept to his own brand of deliberated process of change, modernization, development and integration.

He is comfortably saddled on the Malay resistance. What’s left to be seen is whether or not the resistance will pick up a sustained pace long enough to bring the required alterations and resolve the problems before hell instates.

It’s almost like the Spielberg thriller, Dr. Jones and the Temple of Doom. ----a. ghani ismail

Wednesday, June 25, 2008




Even as astounding events unfurl simultaneously over Malaysia that are sizzling the Prime Minister in an aggressive swear of no-confidence and the street-demonstrative Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) has turned upon itself in a fury of alleged higher-up misdealing, it is still Raja Petra’s rush upon a flavor of fantasy to knuckle “the full” band of killers of the Mongolian beauty, Altantuya Shaaribu, that has hogged the attention of the country.

Raja Petra Kamaruddin, blogger of bloggers famed for his No-Holds-Barred in Malaysia-Today, believes the number of killers on the fateful night of October 18, 2007, should be six and not the three that are now still facing trial.

He rammed right into the heart of power his Statutory Declaration (SD) of Wednessday, 18 June, that’s behaving like it is meant to scuttle once and for all the ruling Umno’s numbers one and two, hence securing for the Opposition the way for regime change kicked started by the SAPP in Sabah a couple of days earlier.

Petra’s SD, popularly described as a “nuclear bomb”, threatened to wrack the Malaysian political terrain and can blow the lid of Pandora’s Box, naming as it did the wife of Deputy Premier, Rosmah Mansor, her aide de camp Norhayati and her husband, Acting Kol. Aziz Buyong he described as a C4 expert, as the second triad that killed Altantuya and blew her body to bits to remove the evidence.

In his SD he wrote his source had informed him of an army intelligence report which said the trio were also at the scene of the crime at the material time and the report was sent to the Prime Minister who had given a copy for safekeeping to his son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin.

Another copy, he said, was sent to one of the Malay rulers, meaning he was sure there’s a cover-up and pointing towards a state extra-judicial killing, suggesting the actors were like the special agents of M15, CIA or MOSAIC, and in Malaysia possibly M.I.C.K.E.Y. M.O.U.S.E., involving as it were the number two’s spouse, Rosmah Mansor, as chief of operations, code-named ‘Madam’.

The blast from Petra’s “nuclear bomb” can toss him back into prison where he had been for a few days after refusing to post bail following a charge of sedition only months before.

After the CID chief had mentioned the jail term for making a false report could be two years, Petra once again looms as an incredible hulk battling alone for years against the state’s terror agencies and remaining fit for yet another shot against the oppressors, this time fighting those he believes are licensed to kill.

In the dock are Najib Tun Razak’s political strategist, Abdul Razak Baginda, and two Special Task Force police officers detailed to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, making the second trio the complement of a ring around Najib that some find it easy to believe since it provides the missing links to the macabre murder that had happened in a spot on a blukar-covered hill some have named “the police killing patch”.

The weakness in the facts and figures in the case is the missing melody about who procured the C4 from the army’s armory. That blank has been causing people to continue thinking and filling the vacuity with songs they would otherwise never sing against Rosmah Mansor.

Those come from the question about who ordered the two police officers to execute the Mongolian woman.

The popular plot needed a big-shot in the Ministry of Defence to give the order and to obtain the C4 and Rosmah, her aide de camp and her husband fall neatly into place.

Petra had boldly said the long trial was a “show trial” and after he implicated the deputy premier’s wife and was charged for sedition, he was reported to have said he could be holding a document which we now know as a report from army intelligence.

In his SD Petra reminded the country to withhold evidence is a crime, meaning the Prime Minister and his son-in-law are together liable if his story is true.

But his evidence could run out of character and it could stretch itself into a fantasia of absurd cross-purpose the likes of which was never seen before or after Cervante’s Don Quixote charged some gruesome enemies that were, in fact, windmills.

What then are probably Petra’s plan and purpose?

The Prime Minister has since denied there has been an army intelligence report of such purport.

Unless Petra has corroborative evidences that will stand in a trial, his only relief appears to be hanging somewhere in a royal privy.

He did not tell us which royalty is the link, causing many to suspect the royal household is in a Disney studio he is using to hold the police at ransom so the department must thoroughly investigate or find itself facing the ire of the sire just in case Petra’s story somehow becomes true. He is closely linked to the Selangor Sultan and was also a close friend of the Sultan of Trengganu, who is now the Yang Dipertuan Agong (King).

There is another face to Petra’s novel action. If he had timed his adventure to mix well with the SAPP’s curtain-raiser revolt against Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, his temper this time is, indeed, a sparkling act of self-sacrifice to divide the house into two halves, one believing there was a cover-up no matter if the police investigation finds not an iota of truth in Petra’s hearsay.

Should the police investigation reveal nothing, Petra need to merely point towards a royal household that will remain silent to set Malaysian politics adrift in a divide of wills, with one side allegedly guilty of extra-judicial murder and removing the bodies with C4.

Petra, if he is jailed for sedition and for making a false report, will become the cause celebre, as Anwar had been before.

Raja Petra Kamaruddin, once before the chairman of East Asiatic Company and proven a mean mind in corporate strategy is showing his natural bend for political strategy as well. He could be trying to turn the tables, playing the counter-conspiracy game in a style not altogether unlikely.

Should all go according to plan and he finds himself back in a jail cell, all he would need to pull off another spate of spitfire web- and street-aggressions against the government of flip-flop Pak Lah would be a death-fast he had longed to do.

The glorious intermix of political revolt with the stress of hyper-inflation ought to pack enough force to unseat the premier.

Pak Lah could be forced to call for a snap-election and that would leave Umno and the Barisan Nasional in ruins no matter the troubles brewing in the PKR against its Selangor Mentri Besar.

Raja Petra is a genius gone stark crazy, a Bugis as impulsive as they come and choosing to dance on the flavors of fantasies in creating history, like it was with I La Galigo.

I La Galigo was the Bugis legendary hero who took for himself and his nation a niche in China simply because he found a Chinese princess attractive and must have her, plus the kingdom her husband ruled, or he would rather be dead.

He planned all sorts of plans and finally decided to simply walk straight into her room, let her take him captive and seduce him instead, stayed for days with her and finally replaced her husband as ruler of the land as well. Some guts! ----- a. ghani ismail, 25 June, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008



It is Pak Lah’s failure to understand the new realities issuing from the transition from bureaucratic government to the informational society his predecessor had initiated that could have resulted in what the former premier, Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, described as the lack of openness, a terminal understatement of the new regime’s control of the Press uploaded since the “Nice Guy” took over the helm at the end of 2003.

Mahathir, in his blog,, said many journalists who were sacked or who accepted voluntary severance, and other senior journalists who were believed to have been “linked” to the former premier were refused even the slightest space in the mainstream media since Pak Lah took over as Prime Minister.

Mahathir’s statement is true. He said Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and he himself were not allowed to speak to Umno members to campaign for the Umno Supreme Council election scheduled for December.

Pak Lah held tight control over the mainstream media in Malaysia.

He placed people from the PM’s office and a select crop of his friends to the top of the heap. They removed all and sundry deemed or suspected of having been “linked” to the former PM or who showed little enthusiasm for Pak Lah as the big boss.

The actions are those of people who believe in the power of the bureaucratic hierarchy and the resulting information became the spin of tamed editors and the media shamans.

Pak Lah was swiftly spun into a Nice Guy and a Mr. Clean. He had then, in fact, recommended his brother-in-law for the Iraq Oil For Food Program and later rewarded members of his family and cronies to the tune of the fabulous.

Fist-tight control of the Press and hiding a nepotist tilt as bold as Mount Rushmore could not possibly escape popular ire in an informational society.

It proved to be the greatest of Pak Lah’s follies, the sacked journalists with fellow bloggers from all walks of life detailing the New Media of the informational society with strategies, talents, humor and courage the likes of which were never known before in Malaysia, resulting in a stripping of the sunshine spun by the artful shamans of the controlled media and leaving Pak Lah and his son-in-law, Khairy, in the blind side of reality.

Pak Lah was aiming to place all of the conventional media under one roof, Media Prima, striking a shadow of a doubt of the Singapore Press Holding that is said to control information in Singapore so precisely people can hear a pin drop when the powers decide to let them hear. Otherwise even a wise-crack as good as that will be retired into Pandora’s Box.

Pak Lah probably never understood what Mahathir had known well – that the informational society would work at its best in a mutual leadership within a free and sharing open community, making the control of information and opinion by a bureaucratic hierarchy in Malaysian plural society the worst of errors.

Mahathir was the architect of the Malaysian informational community, himself trained as a medical doctor with a distinction in Physics in his pocket and hence, well-endowed to convene the world’s best and foremost in the field of ICT in Putrajaya.

Mahathir was also a self-taught writer. He was later to become himself a phenomenal Blogger, discovering rather late in life that he should have been a Blogger decades before. He is a born Blogger.

Pak Lah, alas, was heavily into Civilizational Islam (Islam Hadhari) he seemed to have understood as that part of Islamic culture that was an extension of the Greco-Roman philosophical and scientific pursuits which could be deemed to have begun in the late 9th century AD and limped after the fall of Baghdad in 1258.

It then revived and died sometime in the 16th century after the apex of Mughal art and architecture was reached in India, hence leaving the premier’s perception of control and governance stalked by the medieval feudal-religious regime and of bureaucratic government that filtered later into the Islamic landscape through Western colonialism.

He was centuries behind Mahathir, sliding under the sheath of the Singapore-anchored Level Four boys for appearances of efficiency and effectiveness but failing to impress because of the open nepotism, flip-flop policies, and finally, an undeniable cerebral incapacity to do better than his predecessor who he wanted so much to outdo.

He should have been replaced with Najib, but for the fact Najib is power-shy, perhaps remembering his father had taken all authority following the 1969 Emergency and then quickly returning to the people parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.

Maybe Najib was too young then to have understood what, in fact, his great father had done. Tun Razak was a member of the British Labor Party, himself an evolutionary socialist who genuinely placed the nation and people first and foremost.

Pak Lah was believed to be ideologically Islamic, but that can hardly be upheld. He has given himself so enthusiastically to the power-patent of the feudal regiment, favoring his own family and his cronies, rewarding sycophants and punishing people he suspects of alien alliance.

He applied such a tight-control over information and opinion he had become to the New Media, undeniably an ogre.

Much has been said about the New Media being a significant reason for the failure of the Barisan Nasional in the 8 March elections.

It would be easier to comprehend the efficiency of the blogosphere should we limit the damage done mainly to the person of the Prime Minister, his son-in-law, the Level Four boys and the medley of maimed Barisan Nasional leaders who either damaged themselves by hubris or were injured by enemy fire for being too arrogant, corrupt and complacent.

The blogosphere is a people’s sphere of information that’s an extension of our nervous system. It is where we express our shared feelings and sensitivities. Pak Lah possibly failed to grasp the change that has found root in Malaysia. Locked in the assumption that the feudal patron-client culture remained efficient, he aggressively purposed and pursued it, leading himself into the underside of doom. Hush! ---a. ghani ismail, 16 June, 2008.