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.

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