Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sorry for that long delay! I came back and suddenly I got a whooping cough which never stop! I took antibiotics and last as a last resort I'm back on prednisolone. I have too, for the time being it is part of my medicine.

The cough was terrible I hardly manage to sleep until recently. I still cough but I am amble to sleep. My Blood pressure went up for a while but now back to normal. Anyway I came back just in time to cast my vote at my hometown Taiping, and what an election it was! I never thought that the ruling government would loose so many seats until fell short of having a two third majority and besides that losing so many states which was unprecedented, never since independence that the BN or Alliance party has lost so bad! In 1969 The alliance lost Kelantan and a slim majority in Selangor and Perak, but now they lost in those 3 states plus Penang and Kedah!

I will not comment on what happen but just to say I was floored! I never realise the frustration of the people with the ruling party. I misread it entirely and so do most of my friends! But it is good for the country at least we have an opposition voice. We need that a lot. I am still sick so I still have to take it easy but I will be flying off again in April and I will be there for a month I think so keep my finger cross everything would be peachy for me!

Here is an interview with Mustapha K ong a former diplomat impicated in 1997 by Anwar as one of those responsible for his downfall. He now resides in New Zealand

FACE TO FACE: Haji Mustapha Ong

Posted by Raja Petra
Wednesday, 05 March 2008
Personally, I believe Pak Lah is doing a good job and puts in place all relevant institutions to check and balance corrupt practices, abuses of power and the delivery systems to the people, from the public and private perspective. Pak Lah should be given another full term or half term.

Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob is a trained lawyer and Malaysian political commentator. He writes for numerous international newspapers and online journals as well as hosts Face to Face, an interview segment of Malaysian/regional issues and personalities hosted on Malaysia Today. He also serves as Foreign Correspondent for foreign news organisations.

Haji Mustapha Ong, retired senior government servant and former Malaysian diplomat to the United States. A controversial figure during the Mahathir-Anwar face-off and now an observer of Malaysian affairs. Face to Face gets the scoop and perspective of this highly experienced diplomat and well-known political pundit.

(Note: Questions were prepared earlier).

1. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob : I am made to understand that you are residing in New Zealand. Is that correct? Any plans to return to KL to perhaps play an active role in politics?

Haji Mustpha Ong: Yes, I was in New Zealand and worked for the Ministry of Education, Wellington for 3 years from 2002. However, I was never a permanent resident and no intention of staying overseas. I still have my family members, including my youngest son studying in New Zealand. In this modern IT age of the Information Highway, there is no need for me to return to Malaysia in order to be engaged in politics. I could be anywhere, if my opinions are still valued and sought after by UMNO and the Barisan Nasional government.

2. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: Let’s get straight to the disputatious issues. You stand accused by Anwar Ibrahim’s supporters of playing a big part in allegedly engineering the fall from grace of Anwar when he was still the Deputy Prime Minister. Care to respond?

Haji Mustapha Ong: If the media reports, both prints and electronic were to be taken into credence, I certainly felt that there were many people in Malaysia, the neighbouring countries as well as other overseas countries, who befriended Malaysian political leaders, including Anwar Ibrahim made heaps of monies and other financial gains, lawfully or otherwise, during the latter’s term of office as DPM and Finance Minister under the former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.i.e when Anwar was in power. People also abused Anwar’s downfall and disgrace from his political power and subsequently dismissed from office as DPM, Finance Minister and Deputy UMNO President. These were the political and social parasites, who had exploited Anwar’s exit from official and political power. One of the most prominent foreign figure was the Palestinian Jordanian double agent, who had worked closely with Anwar’s aides in the most frustrated manner, and accused me of my involvement in the political power play scandal from Washington. This agent made millions from all the major media around the world and also Channel 10 TV from United Kingdom for the scandalous story that he had sold to make easy monies.
I was never involved but was implicated due to my close association with all our political leaders, including Anwar whom I had known since 1974.
My conscience was clear and I had at no time abused my diplomatic position while serving in the most prestigious mission in Washington DC. I am in absolute denial that I was not out to compromise my position as the most trusted Malaysian diplomat, who had served in a number of communist assignments, just to enrich myself with a few millions of dirty monies! My personal integrity to serve my country and nation superseded any greed for positions and other monetary benefits. I don’t think the Head of our PMO Research Station in Washington DC was being fooled or bought over by the double agents.

3. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob : Anwar now hopes to stand for a by-election at this stage. What in your view are his chances and that of Parti Keadilan or the Justice Party in the soon to be held national elections?

Haji Mustapha Ong: Anwar is a seasoned but unpredictable grass root politician, in and out of UMNO and the Barisan Nasional. He sings different political songs and tunes to different audience and situations to suit his wimps and fancies. He does not care for any negative sentiments and with his emotional pleas, etc., he could be the most mistrusted politician in this country. I.e. when he was in power as DPM, Finance Minister and Deputy UMNO President, he was not critical in his observant of the national affairs that had affected the people, both urban and rural. Why do we believe that Anwar, when in power did go against his boss PM Tun Dr Mahathir during the mid 90s due to the mismanagement of our funds and economies. In terms of national security, Anwar was part of the national administration and did he really condemn the use of ISA and OSA? Anwar is still relevant after the government decided to release him from Sungai Buloh out of compassionate grounds, though knowing very well that he was putting up a no medical issue in order to gain public sympathies. The current wind of changes in the ongoing general election may turn onto Anwar’s favour, if he knows how to exploit the prevailing weaknesses of the BN government under PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. His luck depends on the absolute political trust and support of the DAP. However, we all learnt from past alliance of PKR/DAP was only a marriage of political convenience.

4. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob : What message would you like to convey to Anwar?

Haji Mustapha Ong: Anwar’s readmission into the Malay political power base is only through UMNO, as far as the national level is concerned on an even playing field. His luck is better, perhaps through his shrewd manoeuvres, he may end up to control of one of the northern states, especially in Penang, only if the Chinese and Indians support him in his leadership, minus the hardcore UMNO Malays.

5. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob : The Prime Minister himself has conceded to the fact that many of his promises or objectives have not been fulfilled and that more time is needed. In your view, would another term in office make any difference?

Haji Mustapha Ong: We have to be fair to Pak Lah, who had been entrusted into power on the resignation of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad from October 2003. People tend to make distinction between both the political and administration ability of the two top leaders in this country. That’s not a fair equation as we are not comparing “apple to apple” and also the term of office between a few years and more than 22 years of the Mahathir’s administration.

6. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: How would you rate Abdullah Badawi’s performance thus far?

Haji Mustapha Ong: Personally, I believe Pak Lah is doing a good job and puts in place all relevant institutions to check and balance corrupt practices, abuses of power and the delivery systems to the people, from the public and private perspective. Pak Lah should be given another full term or half term, before the next political winner takes over, much depending on the coming UMNO party elections on the pipeline this year. I am optimistic that whoever is voted as the next successor to take over from Pak Lah is not in a hurry, and it could be Dato Sri Najib or any other of the UMNO Vice presidents.

7. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: Popular polls suggest that despite a drop in overall support for the PM, Abdullah still commands majority support of the electorate. Thus, if BN wins again what then to your mind will Abdullah attempt to do or should be focusing on to define his consecutive term?

Haji Mustapha Ong: Well, Pak Lah has good advisors and implementers from private sectors to assist him in realizing his economic plans, such as the various Economic Corridors created for the long term national development. The PM does not necessary rely on his son in law Khairy Jamaluddin. Pak Lah has his own vision and he is not in a hurry to develop the country nationwide and thus leave its economic implementations to his future successors. Pak Lah is a noble politician and Islamic scholar, God fearing and he still is relevant to the government and people, both the urban and rural populace.
However, his age, health and other family factors may not fall into his personal favour in the years ahead. Therefore, Pak Lah should have a contingency plan of succession to both his UMNO position and as prime minister during this term of office, if he is being elected to office on 8th March polling day. The Ministers who are tainted, overstayed should not be in the next cabinet to be formed after the general election on 8th March.

8. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: There are unconfirmed rumours that Khairy Jamaluddin will be given a seat to contest the next elections whereas it is also the talk among the grapevine that Mukhriz Mahathir may not in turn be given a seat. Assuming it to be true what are your views?

Haji Mustapha Ong: Now is confirmed that Pak Lah has listened to the majority voices of UMNO warlords and agreed that both Khairy and Mukhriz had been slotted for Rembau and Jerlun parliamentary seats respectively. It is a very wise preposition by the UMNO leadership, in order to compromise political polarization within the Malays, old and younger leaders in the party. In my opinion, UMNO should not lose these two capable young Malay leaders for the future and that differences of capabilities should be buried in the hatchet.

9. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: Let’s talk about the MCA and its apparent internal battles. The Chinese community is rather disappointed with this predicament. Can MCA pull together and save itself?

Haji Mustapha Ong: MCA politics is different from UMNO political patronage and today, the party is going for nepotism, by bringing brothers, sisters, in-laws, sons, daughters and other relatives in the political forefront. There had been unsung political crisis within MCA leadership, and there is a strong indication that a dynasty between the Ong Kah Ting and Kah Chuan will play a bigger role in national MCA politics. What have we to say when there were no protests when Ong Kah Ting was elected the incumbent President and his brother Kah Chuan, the Secretary General, making it all in the family political affair. This new political development in MCA has frustrated their senior leaders, like Chan Kong Choy, Chua Jui Meng, Dr. Fong Chan Onn and the disgraced Dr. Chua Soi Lek. I believe the next MCA party elections will be a very interesting MCA power polarization and new and younger leaders will survive the battle of political might, like Ong Tee Kiat and Liow Tiong Lai.

10. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: The Chinese community are known to be pragmatic and appear to be pessimistic over the economic future of the nation. What role or future will the Chinese community play or have in Malaysian society in years to come against the backdrop of apparent diminished economic opportunities?

Haji Mustapha Ong: The Chinese in Malaysia are a fortunate lot, as compared to their clans in Indonesia and other regions in the ASEAN countries. They had expounded on the weaknesses of the Malay economic power and know-how and stood to gain in the “Ali Baba” system. Although, under the Malays and bumiputra privileges, the Malays got most of the contracts awarded in the Class A Contractors and Developers, by reality, the Chinese corporate and business entrepreneurs had benefited from the delivery systems. I don’t envisage why the Chinese community had been marginalized by the political and economic systems agreed by our founding fathers of Malaysia’s independence from the 50s till 1957. I am of the opinion that the Chinese in Malaysia will stand to gain from the implementation of the Economic Corridor Development Projects, due to the strong regional and global economic and financial networking.

11. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: Do you subscribe to the claims by some segments of the Chinese community that they are in effect second-class citizens?

Haji Mustapha Ong: It’s a political gimmick to state that the Chinese are being second-class citizens of this beautiful country, toiled and led by our Chinese and Malay forefathers and Malaysia Independence Founders. In reality, the majority of the Chinese, both urban and rural are “first class citizens” as apart from political power sharing among the government and opposition parties, they virtually controlled all the business and corporate entities in this free economic system of governance. There is no such thing as “first, second or third class citizens” as the political, economic, financial and social sectors are very competitive amongst the various communities, the winners do not take all and also the losers are being compensated. The Chinese should be grateful as the Barisan Nasional government over the 50 years of independence had taken care of the previous, present and future generations.

12. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: What is your hope for Malaysia and Malaysians for the year 2008 and beyond?

Haji Mustapha Ong: It’s not only my hope and aspirations, but that of all loving Malaysians of our communities of Malays, Chinese, Indians and others to live in greater harmony. This could easily be achievable, through an integrated system of tertiary education and a broad-minded parental guidance of their children.
There have always been remarkable differences between those who are well internationally exposed as compared to those who are being educated locally through the confusing education system, which had been revamped every few years, without any positive results and achievements. These Malaysians who are studying overseas and graduated, no longer think of themselves as individual Malay, Chinese and Indian but as Malaysians studying overseas. The new bred of Malaysians, not based on racial grouping could only be achieved through a new two party multi-racial political systems. In political reality, UMNO and Barisan National component parties should show the lead and perhaps open their membership to all Malaysians within the next 10 -15 years from now on, in order to reduce and check political, economic and social disparity.
Face to Face interviews are conducted by way of e-mail unless otherwise stated.


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