The curse of Dr Mahathir? Umno culture became: money talks, bullshit walks.

It seems we are in the season for cursing and curses, wakakaka.
Recently PAS did the unusual in having a prayer session to curse UMNO. The cursing itself was not unusual as you can bet such curses would be a norm during the period running up to an election, be it for the state or party. It was only unusual because PAS announced the cursing session openly, wakakaka.

I wonder whether UMNO pollies bought some tangkals (azimat) from Pak Bomoh Awang Mohd Yahya to neutralize the PAS curses. wakakaka. Well after all, more than a few UMNO, PAS and PKR pollies (not Tian Chua or Sivarasa though, wakakaka) consult bomohs prior to any election on to their respective chances - see my posts Religious Devotion of Malaysian Politicians and Doctor is in - by appointment only!

wakakaka
Anyway, many were shocked by a prayer session being used, or as they believed, misused for cursing. But actually, cursing has been part of the Abrahamic religions for eons, with the most dramatic being good olde Moses laying down the evil word on the Pharaoh with the god-given curse of 10 plagues.

The 10 plagues (or god's curses manifested) started with the mild, just the River Nile turning red with blood, but escalated in harshness with each succeeding plague until the most drastic and evil of all occurred with the 10th, when the god of the Hebrews murdered every innocent first-born in Egypt, human and animals (Exodus 11:4-6 - KJV):

And Moses said, Thus saith the Lord, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt:

And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.


And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.


That was worse than the Chinese 'harm kar ch'an', a genocidal curse on the family line of one's enemies - very barbaric and only uttered by low class Chinese [low class in character, mentality and behaviour, wakakaka].


Of course if you leave it to the Judaists and Christians, they would tell you god punished those Egyptians because ... yadda yadda yadda ...

... but really I wonder, which creator god (supposedly loving, compassionate and forgiving) would do that to his own creations.


Answer: Of course only the god of the Hebrews. And it would be hardly surprising that such a Hebrew god would call his Hebrews (and thereafter, Israelites, Judeans, Jews) his 'chosen people', as we have come to learn from the OT bible, one incidentally written by, would you believe, the Judeans, wakakaka.


If you ask the Japanese, they would tell you they are god's children, where their emperor is descended directly from the Sun Goddess Amaterasu and their islands created by the Japanese gods Izanagi and Izanami.
Amaterasu
Not to be outdone, an ambitious UMNO man with the moniker of Reezal Merican, undoubtedly eyeing some high positions with all its trappings (wakakaka), decided to make a name for himself by copycat-ing the Judean (Jewish) claim and declaring that Malays are mukhtarin, god's 'chosen ones', and of course (the principal motive and objective) UMNO has been anointed by god as the equivalent of Moses, presumably to lead the Malays into some sort of UMNO-ish promised land.

Naturally he omitted mentioning that Moses led the Hebrews wandering around in the wilderness for 40 years, from 1972 to 2012 circa 1350 BCE.

Reezal Merican then openly pontificated “What is there of the Malays before Umno came along?”

What about them living in the glorious golden age of the Malacca Sultanate? What about them being citizens of the amazing Srivijaya Empire before they decided to be known specifically as Malays?



Never mind, obviously he wasn't asking for answers as he intended his rhetorical question to be the answer as well, to wit, to remind the Malays of UMNO's Mosaic role.
But Reezal Merican wasn't the first 'Malay' (wakakaka) to claim the 'chosen' status for Malays. Harussani what's-his-name, Perak's chief mufti, beat him to it by declaring in 2011 that Malays are more special than Arabs in Islam, though he, perhaps merajuk-ishly and grudgingly wakakaka, admitted Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was an Arab.

In the preposterous claim to primary Islamic pedigree, Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas, the director general of the Institute of Islamic Understanding, even preceded Harussani what's-his-name by informing us in 2006, that:

“The Melayu is defined as first being a Muslim and because he’s a Muslim, he follows the customs and traditions of the Malays which are derived from Islam, followed by the language of the Malays which (also) derives from Islam.”

Huh? "...  the customs and traditions of the Malays which are derived from Islam, followed by the language of the Malays which (also) derives from Islam ..."?
But then in this, I suppose he's supported by PAS in Kelantan which has prohibited the wayang kulit from showing episodes of Ramayana and Mahabharata because of their Hindu origins.



But hey, perhaps wayang kulit proponents could use Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas' argument that the customs and traditions of the Malays including the wayang kulit and makyong have been derived from Islam and have nothing to do with any other religions.

And just to be on the safe side, the bersanding ceremony should be reviewed to cull off any inherited Hindu cultural elements, while the Malay lexicon must be purged of words such as raja, agama, negara & bangsa, all of which have been inherited from Sanskrit, wakakaka.

Thus, not withstanding Reezal Merican's oratorical antics, and the Hebrews and Japanese myths, it's a matter of who wrote the book (or uttered same at a political party's general assembly, wakakaka) for a race to become god's 'chosen' ones.

Old Testament
All the above UMNO and UMNO-affiliates' silliness have risen to prominence only in the last 30 years - more of their cause later.

Back to curses - the one in the Bible I particularly admire for its scary threat is in Deuteronomy 28:22 which warns:
The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.
Gasp ... but Deuteronomy 28:30 is quite frightening too in stating: Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: ... etc etc ...
Wow, the curse of the Hebrew god actually promoted husbands being cuckold-ed and wives committing adultery? No wonder it set those Hebrew men on their murderous rampage in Canaan.

But okay, those biblical curses by god were about 4000 years ago. Today no church or priests/monks would do that ... aha ... except for those clerics in PAS, perhaps indicating their mentality still resemble the original mould (template) designed during those ancient times, wakakaka.
But let's forget about PAS and its perennial perpetual problematic obsession with sex and matters sexual such as Shimshon (Samson) and Delilah in a Kota Baru salon, and Dawid and Yehonathan (David and Jonathan, son of King Saul) allegedly cavorting at the KB airport a la 1 Samuel 18:1-4 (KJV):

And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. ... Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.

David & Jonathan
David to Jonathan
A couple of days ago I posted The Curse of Marina Lee Abdullah? Today I though I would write along the same line but with Dr Mahathir as my new 'Moses' and his curse, that is the curse of (or by) Dr Mahathir, not that bloke who was confused as to whether he was Egyptian or Hebrew.
I have to confess that, while I had previously penned a bit here and there about Dr M's 'curse' before, and planned to do an improved post, it has been RPK who inspired me to get on with this task by a few paragraphs in his post The journey in life is never a straight line (PART 16).

RPK's post talks about the Great UMNO Split in 1987 (about 8 months after the nation's 1986 general election), an irreparable schism brought about by the acrimonious tussle for power between Dr Mahathir and Tengku Razaleigh (Ku Li) which was brought to a finale in UMNO's 1987 party election. The lines which caught my eyes are:

Ku Li
... the mother of all battles looming over the horizon -- the contest between Team A and Team B.
And did it prove to be the mother of all battles! Never before had so much money been spent on a party election. Never before had threats as well as blackmail been used to the extreme to make people do the bidding of those who aspired for power. Never before had Umno been brought to the brink of destruction and which it never really recovered from ever since. 

The 1987 party contest changed Umno for good and introduced a new culture into Umno that transferred the party from the hands of the nationalists into the hands of the capitalists.

Basically, Umno was transformed from a party of intellectuals and educators into a party of business taukays. Umno became what MCA always was -- a money party. Umno sent shivers down MCA’s spine because Umno became more money-driven than even MCA itself.

The new Umno culture became: money talks, bullshit walks. And it has remained that way ever since.

Umno would never be brought back to what it was when it was first formed in 1946. Umno became ‘Umno baru’ in 1987 even before Umno Baru was legally and officially registered in 1988. And this is what many did not grasp at that time ...

Leave aside RPK's contention in his The journey in life is never a straight line (PART 17) that it had been Anwar Ibrahim who, through his bullying tactics in UMNO intra-party politics, denied us of Tengku Razaleigh as Malaysia's political head in 1987. Tengku has often been touted as the best PM we never had.
Instead, Anwar endowed the nation with Dr Mahathir's 22-year premiership, which RPK surmised as a fitting padan muka for poor Mr Manmanlai, wakakaka.


But in all fairness, Anwar had/has benefited from both Dr M's mentor-ship and ironically enmity, for:

... without Dr M, he wouldn't be UMNO's DPM (and more likely, PAS president, wakakaka - now, where's my scotch?);
... without the support of those who hated and were repulsed by Dr M and his legacy (UMNO becoming unbearably feral under AAB from 2004 to 2008), he wouldn't have been successful in his so-called refomasi after 2004;
... without a USA perceiving Dr M as a hostile national leader he wouldn't have been so pampered by the Americans and nurtured as a potential friendlier alternative PM (now, with a Najib who's very US-friendly, and assuming Najib continues to be PM, let's see if the Yanks will accord Anwar the same degree of 'warmth' he had previously enjoyed).

Extending from RPK's first hand account of UMNO being ... transformed from a party of intellectuals and educators into a party of business taukays, I humbly opine the underlying cause of such an UMNO transformation has quite a lot to do with Dr Mahathir's chip on his shoulder, which he provided a glimpse of in his The Malay Dilemma book.


Of course, I'm no Barry Wain with a 363-page book like Malaysian Maverick - Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times. This is only kaytee's personal take of Dr M in one single post, so okay, here goes:
The olde man was aggrieved, or if we want to call a spade a spade, mightily pissed off that the Malays, the officially determined indigenous people of Malaya-Malaysia, had been subjugated (enslaved) in their own land by the other races, presumably and principally the Chinese, with the collusion of the Poms, all because of their (Malays') tolerance and non-confrontational nature.
There has been some truths in his assessment but there have been gross errors (and nonsense) as well, but as they say, the best bull would be the one built on half-truths.

Dr M wanted an official program of affirmative action to address what he saw as the Malay disadvantaged position vis-à-vis Chinese control of business in Malaysia. His argument, as expressed in his The Malay Dilemma, must have influenced Tun Razak who after Brutus-ing Tunku Abdul Rahman following May 13, formulated the NEP as well as brought Dr M back into UMNO's inner fold.

And when Dr M became PM, he went about it (the affirmative actions) in a far bigger way. Yes, you can't ever say this man was the Sultan of Somnambulism, wakakaka.

His ventures were additionally blessed or cursed (depending on your philosophical outlook) by Malaysia's new found wealth of oil and gas, giving him almost unfettered latitude in implementing his policies and schemes.

The major downside conferred by the new wealth, I suspect, was a nonchalant and tolerant attitude towards his protégés' failures, bullshit* and the associated profligate waste.


* recall reading a news report that Dr M bemoaned someone lying to him about the dropping of a Proton Saga at the North Pole, one of Boleh-Land's gimmickries to instil pride and confidence in Malaysians (Malays). I reckon both the gimmick and the attempt to cover up the failure to achieve what was intended were bullshit.

In the general case, the affirmative actions, while itself a noble program, was so thoroughly misused and abused that it soon negated any motivation for actual acquisitions of know-how, skills and incremental competencies for entrepreneurship and/or professional trades and occupations, and their subsequent improvement, effectiveness and efficiency.

I would say his known tolerance instead encouraged 'go-for-broke' get-bloody-rich schemes or gimmickries, no matter how useless, irrelevant or wasteful the schemes or activities might have been.

Back to that chip on his shoulder - if translated into very simplified terms, I suspect this would mean that, just my simplified example, for every 10 Malaysian millionaires, 10 big business tycoons, 10 industrialists, 10 doctors, 10 engineers, 10 chemists, 10 what have you, etc, he would like to see approximately 6 Malays in each of those groups.



If we are prepared to ignore the fact that the magic formula was not extended to the police, military, civil service (and university intakes), then we would find nothing wrong in his vision-objective per se, and indeed even applaud him for it. It was a reasonably fair objective.

I'm full of idioms today, so as they say, the devil was in the details (or implementations). Thus the World's greatest social engineering project, alas, fell very very short of its intended (higher) objectives and worse, brought about undesired attitude, generally referred to sneeringly as 'the rental mentality'.

Reserving 30% of new housing estate with a 7% discount for Malays, as an item in the grand social engineering scheme, unfortunately brought about two inequities:
(a) it benefited only the elite who purchased same and sell the discounted houses off for a quick profit while ordinary Malays were either not interested (because they have land and houses, admittedly in the kampungs, but where they prefer to reside) or could not afford the houses, and
(b) the non-Malay purchasers of those new houses had to subsidize the 7% discount of the 30% reserved allocation - if anyone believes the developers would absorb the 7% discount, then he/she must be in la la land.


Let's move on to another issue. I heard he devised the payung concept, which in simple terms involved the government identifying, supporting, promoting, fostering, nurturing, etc, say, 10 Malays to become very high level participants in society, such as industrialists, big businessmen, and hopefully all becoming millionaires, etc. 

Each of these new heroes in turn would then do likewise (ie. identify, supporting, promoting, fostering, nurturing) another 10 Malays, with a hope-for snowballing effect until his dreams come true, of Malays assuming their rightful and proportionately-correct positions in Malaysian society.

It's a noble objective, but alas, Dr Mahathir, being the superman and super intellectual he has been, had not reckoned with the ordinary man's inherent selfish and weak nature, and made allowance for these. 
Some or perhaps many (though not all) of his 'chosen-ones' (his, not God's) were only humans with all their weaknesses, not helped at all by the lack of forging through the furnace of hard work, hardships, apprenticeships, and experience.

More than a few were failures, yet he kept forgiving them, each time helping them picked themselves up to try again, and again and again ... I suppose because their success was fundamental to removing the humongous chip off his shoulders. There have been horror stories of massive bailouts ... and bailouts ... and bailouts ... and ... well, you get the idea, and you know about the bailouts, etc.

The invisible safety net was always there, the humongous rewards were mouth-watering, and Don Corleone was renowned for his indefatigable tolerance and forgiveness (except to those who were treacherous to him, wakakaka).

His blind loyalty to his protégés, friends (or cronies) and supporters was legend, and had in many cases proved to be a liability as he sheltered them from falling off the face of the earth. But while I admire ‘loyalty’ I didn't let him off scot-free for his fallible virtue. I had once written of him: “He chose the lame and therefore he must accept responsibility for their inability to perform.”

He was way too far ahead of his protégés
There have been many examples of how his loyalty to his protégés, friends (or cronies) and supporters were misplaced – eg. Tajudin of MAS, his own Kedahan UMNO pollies (Osman Aroff, Johari Baharom, Saad Man, Samsudin Ahmad – see my post Et Tu Baharom and No Hang Tuah for Dr Mahathir), Najib who did a quick zig zag back to safety, thanks to an Anwar offer he dared not refuse (as revealed by RPK in The journey in life is never a straight line (PART 16)) and of course Mr Manmanlai himself, wakakaka!

And what happened to the payung concept? Perhaps his protégés focussed only on moving themselves from being millionaires to becoming billionaires. I have also suspected that the targeted Malay equity had already been achieved (but not admitted) and held in the hands of only a few.

I had a sneaky suspicion Dr Mahathir knew his affirmative programs were not gaining traction. Perhaps he was in denial that the shortcomings were due to a combination of the lamentable 'rental mentality', the ever present safety net - both serving as the crutch he accused the Malays of relying on for too long - and the selfishness of those who succeeded but ignored the rest of the less fortunate or less clever mob.

Perhaps he believed that they needed a prod, prompt and push, and a huge dose of self confidence. Was this the reason for the birth of the Boleh-ness indoctrination program and its wasteful gimmickries?

His Boleh-ness indoctrination succeeded beyond his wildest imaginations though not in the way he had envisaged or intended. His legacy allowed the 'chosen' to think really BIG, where 'commissions' or 'revenues' were no longer considered in mere sums of tens of millions but rather (up periscope please) hundreds of millions if not multi billions. The opposition protested until the cows didn't come home wakakaka.

Khir Toyo's Bali-style palatial mansion
Dr Mahathir also didn't expect his 'Kepimpinan melalui teladan' (Leadership by example) slogan to become so successfully adopted. Can you blame the mata-mata for his natural 'urges' when he drives by the Bali Palace in Selangor or the Satay Palace in Klang, and wonder WTF he was achieving by comparison when he was at the front-line risking his life on duties? And yes, he would also think BIG lah.

very Malaysian style
RPK informed us that The 1987 party contest changed Umno for good and introduced a new culture into Umno that transferred the party from the hands of the nationalists into the hands of the capitalists.

Yes, but those capitalists (and their cronies) were 'extraordinary' capitalists where they were guaranteed humongous incomes and protected from loss - Tolls, IPP, etc and as an example of unaccountable profligate waste, hundreds of millions if not billions were given to a local contractor to build naval boats, most of which didn't appear on the docks let alone the seas.

in lieu? wakakaka
The courts were also party to crimes of land robbery a la the Adorna Properties Sdn Bhd v Boonsom Boonyanit precedence, so much so it infuriated Judge Gopal Sri Ram that he as a judge did the unprecedented, by saying f* off (kaytee's words, wakakaka) to the doctrine of stare decisis.

Note: The lamentable Adorna precedent was eventually dismissed by the Malaysian courts in recent times, but its existence for several years was a huge blotch on our justice system and judicial credibility. How the f* could such a ruling happened in the original case if not for the terrible state of affairs that has been the Malaysian system. 

In such a climate where tolerance to poor performance was legend, safety net for the chosen guaranteed, sheer unrestrained avarice and arrogant display of unaccountable obscene wealth condoned, and screwed-up governance and questionable judicial rulings accepted, the lamentable mélange provided a toxic cocktail with a stench masked over only by the ringgit-perfume of oil and gas, creative non-accountability and the arrogance of a lop-sided majority of the ruling party in Parliament.

Thus, we have our Malaysia today where corruption, non-transparency, unaccountability, poor governance and sheer political-ethnic arrogance have become an intrinsic part of our socio-economic-political landscape.


Dr Mahathir's supporters will look at his illustrious and more benign achievements as his blessings. And we mustn't deny him his dues, for he achieved many things for Malaysia. He was a ruthless one-man juggernaut as he dragged a reluctant Malaysia screaming into the 21st Century. Anyone who stood in his way was 'chopped' down. He had no bloody patience for namby pamby heel-dragging stuff.

He was determined to propel Malaysia into the rankings of 1st World nations a.s.a.p, as an admired, respected, competitive, wealthy and proud member, and by a deadline too. The last word in his vocabulary was procrastination.
Undoubtedly he saw Singapore's progression into the ranks of 1st World nations with much chagrin as Malaysia is in reality resource-richer with more potential than the little island nation. Yet ....., and that probably might have been what had frenetically driven Mahathir when he was PM.

Singapore
But paradoxically, he entrenched a political system that demands ethnic supremacy and ethnic dominance in virtually every field, instead of reliance on meritocracy and the free market, and thus contributed enormously to a gradually failing state. We are now running on reserves, which we have accumulated in the earlier days of our independence as well as from the wealth from our nation's primary resources.

He alluded to his failures (to advance the Malays to his perceived Utopian state) more than once, blaming the Malays for over-depending on the crutches which ironically he provided and still demands for their continuing provision.

Have all the above been the curse of Dr Mahathir who started off on a noble cause but ended up with a near failing state (in terms of governance, propriety and accountability, etc) for us and future generations?

We could go and on but to summarise in a pithy form, I opine that his 22-years rule has turned the Malaysian popular and catchy colloquialism of 'Jaga standards' into something of a joke today.


Now, if you visit London and happen by St Paul's Cathedral, which was designed and built by Christopher Wren, you will see on the wall above his tomb in the crypt the engraved message in Latin, 'Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice' which means 'Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you'.


I believe the same tribute can be attributed to Dr Mahathir too, with a minor amendment, for it to read 'Reader, if you seek his monument, both good and bad, look around you', where in place of Wren's cathedral, we have Dr Mahathir's Malaysia including its many lamentable systems and policies, faults and failings.


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