Saturday, May 01, 2010

TUN MAHATHIR AND PAK LAH

I have been late in my posting. There are so much things to say that I seems to collect files and files of info which up to now still carrying dust in my closet of information. I am driven to write now because I need to correct the misconception that has been done to smear the good name of someone good but perhaps not a good leader. Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi name's has been smeared too much that even now that he left his office he still been look in contempt by his predecessor Tun Mahathir. Enough is enough! I am sad for it was Tun who anointed him his successor and his shortcomings should have stopped once he left his office.

Limbang issue has crop up again but many people forget that issue has long been brewing. Tun Mahathir selective memories forgot to say the obvious things. He neglect to mention at the height of the currency crisis in 1997 it was rumoured he was willing to sell off Limbang to Brunei. The public outcry against it put a stop to that idea. I wonder why he receive a D.K. (medal only reserve to royalty) from Brunei,for what service? In one Malay Umno mainstream paper recently it is said it is better than selling(losing) of the land for land is permanent but money gotten could easily be lost. To whom Mohammad Nazri alluded can be anyone guess!

To allude that the Cabinet did not consent to it as alluded by Tun Mahathir is very mischievous, it is though the Cabinet was a rubber stamp like his cabinet was? That was the reason why under him no one bother to oppose him when both Stadium Negara and Merdeka were to be torn down. The piece of choice land was given to UEM to redevelop, disregarding the historical importance of both stadia. It was under Pak Lah that suddenly the cabinet has a voice and overturn the decision, after all a mamak does not have a feel for history as his own were suddenly change.

Gross indulgence of Tun are many. The Dayabumi project for instance,who develop it? Was there any transfer of technology from Japan then? Why Petronas need to save it? What about BMF? How come Petronas is use to buy up BMF? Why did the law pertaining to it was backdated? And they are many, many others to numerous to name so if PERKASA wants really to talk about misconduct let's do one on their patron saint, but then as he stand before the judge he said he does not remember( I am refering to Lingham enquiry) he is after all senile! I try to find those articles in the net i can't find but if i do go to the archives I am pretty sure it is there for all to find. So i suggest to all just keep mum it is just an old man frustration against his anointed successor. Get the facts right before jumping on the bandwagon.

NB: I was told by my source that a senior UMNO member from Sabah who was an MT of UMNO before pay a visit to Tun Mahathir last Thursday!!! It seems he blame Pak Lah for everything and denying or seems to challenge Pak Lah to reveal all about Limbang!!!! My oh my what a vindictive fellow! For an elder statesmen his rantings are tiresome and is putting a chasm on the Malays unity! Perhaps he is angry that Brian Wain 's book on him has been cleared by the authorities to be sold to the public. I suggest my readers go and get the book before it is banned again. Brian Wain writings which continue to eat at his legacy is at long last shows he can't stomach it but it was he who urge the authorities to let it be read after it was hold back by the customs pending approval!! Now it is under my need to read book! His ego was bruised and need to lash at Pak Lah, thus he will justified it by making it a point that the Author was conciliatory to Pak Lah! Go get the book!

Perkasa demands royal panel on Limbang, oil blocks dispute

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 — Perkasa wants the Najib Administration to form a royal commission to investigate the current dispute over offshore oil blocks, which were allegedly given to Brunei in exchange for Limbang in Sarawak.

Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali said a lot of questions still remain “in the dark” and unanswered, despite clarifications by former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi and national oil company Petronas in the past two days.

“Perkasa wants Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the government, to set a royal commission or at least a white paper on the issue on oil blocks L and M, situated at the borders of Malaysia-Brunei,” the Pasir Mas MP said when opening a Perkasa workshop on the New Economic Model (NEM) here.

The controversy arose after Murphy Sabah Oil Ltd, which had entered a production-sharing contract with national oil company Petronas, for Block L and Block M offshore of Limbang, announced last week that it was ceasing operations because “it was no longer part of Malaysia.”

“I am not being prejudice to either Dr Mahathir or Tun Abdullah Badawi, but there are a lot of things hanging. This needs to be explained, the oil blocks are worth billions,” said the Perkasa chief.

Ibrahim pointed out that Malaysia or Brunei had not yet confirmed or stated anything on the supposed ownership of Limbang.

“Brunei, Malaysia has not confirmed anything. Limbang belongs to who? How was the deal made? I know whatever discussed by Cabinet is secret, but they should at least provide a rough paper of the meeting on this supposed exchange,” Ibrahim quipped.

In a statement yesterday, Petronas confirmed that the oil blocks were no longer part of Malaysia, but said that it will develop the oil blocks with Brunei on a “commercial basis”.

Petronas also stated that it has set up a team to negotiate the terms of the agreement with Brunei.

“Petronas confirms that following the Exchange of Letters on 16 March 2009, the production sharing contracts covering Blocks L and M, which were awarded in 2003 to Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd and Murphy Sabah Oil Co. Ltd., were formally terminated on 7 April 2010 as these blocks are no longer a part of Malaysia. Blocks L and M were re-designated as Blocks CA1 and CA2 respectively.

“Petronas would like to clarify that following the Exchange of Letters, Petronas was invited by Brunei to enter into an agreement to develop Blocks CA1 and CA2 on a commercial arrangement basis.

“Petronas has set up a team that has begun negotiations with Brunei to work out the terms for this commercial arrangement. Both parties are committed to arriving at a mutually beneficial arrangement as soon as possible,” said the unsigned statement issued by the Corporate Communications Department.

Ibrahim said the onus was on Najib to answer, as he was also part of the Cabinet team during Abdullah’s tenure as PM.

“PM has the responsibility to answer. People want to know the details. I have personally received 186 smses.

“Petronas says it has been invited (for commercial talks.) That is a different matter. In what capacity will Petronas be there for? Who owns the oil blocks? The country wants answers,” said Ibrahim.

The independent MP said that a royal commission would be able to clear the air on both Dr Mahathir’s allegations as well as Abdullah’s decision made concerning the oil blocks.

“Dr Mahathir will never open his mouth without proper research. He is at least 51 per cent correct.

“If the government doesn’t do anything, Dr Mahathir should set up a royal commission himself to find out the details,” added Ibrahim.

Abdullah released a separate statement on Friday that the areas known as Block L and Block M would be jointly developed by the two countries for a period of 40 years.

“The financial and operational modalities for giving effect to this arrangement will be further discussed by the two sides. This means that in so far as the oil and gas resources are concerned, the agreement is not a loss for Malaysia,” said Abdullah.

Pak Lah gets flak over RM320b oil giveaway

UPDATED

By Leslie Lau

Executive Editor

Abdullah allegedly gave up the oil rights to resolve the Limbang dispute with Brunei. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 — Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is alleged to have allowed Malaysia to sign away up to RM320 billion in potential oil earnings, in return for Brunei dropping its claim over Limbang in Sarawak.

Both former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang demanded an explanation today from the country’s previous PM, after news reports emerged last week suggesting Malaysia had signed away its oil rights.

Murphy Oil, which had entered a production-sharing contract with national oil company, Petronas, for Block L and Block M offshore of Limbang, announced last week that it was ceasing operations because “it was no longer part of Malaysia.”

“It would seem that the loss of a huge oil producing area that had apparently belonged to Malaysia is okay,” said Dr Mahathir today in a posting on his blog.

Separately, Lim said Abdullah should explain whether he had indeed signed off US$100 billion (RM320 billion) worth of oil rights to resolve Brunei’s claims to Limbang a month before he stepped down as prime minister in March last year and if so, why.

In the waning weeks of his term as PM, Abdullah had visited Brunei for talks with Bandar Seri Begawan officials.

Following the trip he announced that Brunei would no longer continue with its claim on Limbang, the stretch of land in Sarawak which partly splits Brunei in two.

Abdullah, however, did not divulge details of the deal with Brunei.

Brunei also reportedly said later it had not dropped its claims on Limbang.

“Block L and Block M had been claimed by Malaysia based on historical facts. Accordingly, Petronas entered into a production-sharing contract with Murphy Oil to start drilling to produce oil. It is estimated that the reserves amounted to almost one billion barrels.

“Abdullah Badawi negotiated with the Sultan (of Brunei) to get back Limbang in Sarawak. In return he agreed to surrender the two blocks to Brunei. No Petronas representatives were present, only foreign office staff and the foreign affairs adviser to the PM,” said Dr Mahathir, who had handpicked Abdullah to be his successor but eventually became his biggest nemesis.

Dr Mahathir questioned why Abdullah was allowed to proceed with the Brunei deal. — file pic

Dr Mahathir further claimed that it was now clear that the two exploration blocks were no longer a part of Malaysia.

The former PM did not cite the sources for his information about the meeting.

He also did not provide justification for his claim that potential earnings could amount to RM320 billion.

“Abdullah has caused Malaysia to lose at least US100 billion dollars (about RM320 billion) of Malaysia’s oil in this agreement.

“Can Wisma Putra please explain why it did not stop Abdullah?” queried Dr Mahathir.

The DAP’s Lim also said it was now up to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to explain the true situation.

He said Najib must clarify whether Abdullah had signed off RM320 billion worth of oil rights to resolve Brunei’s claims to Limbang.

He said the PM should also explain the reports that Brunei’s claims to Limbang remains unaffected despite Malaysia losing these two blocks of offshore oil areas.

The Ipoh Timur MP then called on Najib to spell out “why the Abdullah Cabinet at the time of which he was Deputy Prime Minister had agreed to such unilateral and arbitrary sell-out of the country’s sovereign rights.”

Pak Lah denies giving away oil rights

By Adib Zalkapli

KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 — Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi denied today that he signed away oil rights to Brunei after a scathing attack from his predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The former prime minister issued a statement today denying Dr Mahathir’s accusation that he had given up RM320 billion in potential oil earnings in return for Brunei dropping its claim over Limbang in Sarawak.

Dr Mahathir had claimed Abdullah had given away Malaysia’s claim to oil offshore of Limbang following a trip to Bandar Seri Begawan in the waning days of his administration last year.

Abdullah said today that the areas known as Block L and Block M would be jointly developed by the two countries for a period of 40 years.

“The financial and operational modalities for giving effect to this arrangement will be further discussed by the two sides. This means that in so far as the oil and gas resources are concerned, the agreement is not a loss for Malaysia,” said Abdullah in his statement.

The country’s fifth prime minister clarified that his visit to Brunei which was made three weeks before his departure was aimed at solving a long standing border dispute “without any disadvantage for Malaysia.”

The visit resulted in an agreement between the two countries to establish a permanent land and sea boundary.

“This agreement serves to settle certain overlapping claims which existed in the past which included the area of the concession blocks known before as Block L and Block M. Sovereign rights to the resources in this area now belongs to Brunei.

“However, for this area the agreement includes a commercial arrangement under which Malaysia will be allowed to participate, on a commercial basis, to jointly develop the oil and gas resources in this area for a period of 40 years,” said Abdullah.

He added that he signed the agreement to solve a border dispute with Brunei with prior approval from the Cabinet.

“In my capacity as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, I signed the Exchange of Letters with the Sultan of Brunei after the Malaysian Cabinet approved the deal on 11 February 2009,” said Abdullah.

Earlier today both former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang demanded an explanation from Abdullah after news reports emerged last week suggesting Malaysia had signed away its oil rights.

Murphy Oil, which had entered a production-sharing contract with national oil company Petronas, for Block L and Block M offshore of Limbang, announced last week that it was ceasing operations because “it was no longer part of Malaysia.”

“Abdullah Badawi negotiated with the Sultan (of Brunei) to get back Limbang in Sarawak. In return he agreed to surrender the two blocks to Brunei. No Petronas representatives were present, only foreign office staff and the foreign affairs adviser to the PM,” Dr Mahathir had said in a posting on his blog yesterday.

The exchange of letters between Malaysia & Brunei — Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

APRIL 30 — The Exchange of Letters between the Prime Minister of Malaysia and the Sultan of Brunei signed on 16 March 2009 represents an agreement between the two countries to take certain specific steps which will finally establish a permanent land and sea boundary between Malaysia and Brunei.

Regarding the land boundary, both sides agreed to undertake a joint survey to demarcate the agreed boundary which shall be final and permanent. This work shall be carried out in two ways.

First, the joint survey will confirm on the ground the boundary in five sectors which had already been established by previous agreements in 1920, 1931, 1933 (two separate agreements) and 1939.

Second, in other sectors where no land boundary agreements exist as yet, the joint survey shall determine the land boundary on the basis of the watershed principle.

When the entire land boundary demarcation exercise is completed, there will be established a final and permanent boundary between Sarawak on the Malaysian side and Brunei on the other side. When this is

accomplished, there will no longer be any land boundary dispute between Brunei and Malaysia as a whole. This long standing issue, which had existed in the past as an irritant in the relations between

Malaysia and Brunei, will be settled without any disadvantage for Malaysia.

Regarding the maritime area, Malaysia and Brunei also agreed to establish a final and permanent sea boundary. This agreement serves to settle certain overlapping claims which existed in the past which

included the area of the concession blocks known before as Block L and Block M. Sovereign rights to the resources in this area now belongs to Brunei. However, for this area the agreement includes a commercial arrangement under which Malaysia will be allowed to participate, on a commercial basis, to jointly develop the oil and gas resources in this area for a period of 40 years. The financial and operational modalities for giving effect to this arrangement will be further discussed by the two sides. This means that in so far as the oil and gas resources are concerned, the agreement is not a loss for Malaysia.

In my capacity as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, I signed the Exchange of Letters with the Sultan of Brunei after the Malaysian Cabinet approved the deal on 11 February 2009.

* Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was Prime Minister, Malaysia between October 31, 2003 to April 3, 2009.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.

Rakyat jangan mudah melenting dengan api yang sengaja dibakar mengenai isu Limbang

May 2, 2010 by admin
Filed under Dari Meja Editor, Featured

Akhirnya isu tuntutan kerajaan Brunei telah dapat di selesaikan dengan surat pertukaran yang tidak juga merugikan Malaysia tetapi memastikan Brunei tidak lagi menuntut Limbang yang mana jika kita lihat kita mempunyai asas yang lemah untuk mengekalkan Limbang di dalam Malaysia.

Tun Lah berjaya menyelesai kan masalah ini yang telah lama berlarutan di zaman Tun Mahathir Mohamad. Keputusan juga di buat berdasarkan keputusan Kabinet pada masa itu dan bukan lah keputusan peribadi, Tiada unsur jahat mahu pun rasuah yang berlaku dan rakyat jangan mudah melenting apabila dibakar dengan isu ini oleh orang yang sememangnya mahu melihat Tun Lah tersungkur dan nama beliau di burukkan atas dasar dendam peribadi.

Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz berkata, ini kerana Malaysia tidak bodoh hendak membuat sesuatu yang merugikan dalam perjanjian tersebut.

Katanya, perjanjian tersebut jelas menyatakan Malaysia mempunyai bahagian dan mesti ada kerjasama dalam membangunkan bersama sumber minyak dan gas di kawasan itu.


Petronas sahkan kontrak L.M di tamatkan


KUALA LUMPUR 1 Mei – Petroliam Nasional Bhd. (Petronas) hari ini mengesahkan kontrak perkongsian pengeluaran yang melibatkan Blok L dan Blok M yang dianugerahkan kepada Petronas Carigali Sdn. Bhd. dan Murphy Sabah Oil Co. Ltd telah ditamatkan secara rasmi pada 7 April lalu.

Menurutnya, mengikut Surat Pertukaran yang bertarikh 16 Mac 2009, kedua-dua blok itu bukan lagi sebahagian dari Malaysia.

Malah, Blok L dan Blok M itu telah ditandakan semula sebagai CA1 dan CA2.

‘‘Petronas juga mahu menjelaskan mengikut Surat Pertukaran itu, syarikat ini telah dijemput oleh Brunei untuk terlibat dalam perjanjian bagi membangunkan CA1 dan CA2 berdasarkan perjanjian komersial,’’ katanya dalam satu kenyataan di sini hari ini.

Kenyataan tersebut dikeluarkan ekoran kenyataan bekas Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad bahawa dua blok minyak itu telah diserahkan kepada Brunei melalui perundingan bagi menyelesaikan isu tuntutan dan pertindihan sempadan Limbang.

Beliau yang juga merupakan Penasihat Petronas berkata, medan minyak itu mempunyai jumlah simpanan berjumlah hampir satu bilion tong.

Tambah firma syarikat minyak negara itu, Petronas telah menubuhkan satu pasukan untuk berunding dengan kerajaan Brunei bagi melaksanakan terma penyusunan perjanjian komersial itu.

Kedua-dua pihak dijangka mencapai persetujuan berhubung penyusunan yang memberi faedah bersama dalam tempoh terdekat ini.

Petronas berkata, Surat Pertukaran itu adalah kemuncak kepada isu yang berlarutan antara kedua-dua negara yang dicapai dengan memberi manfaat bersama, termasuk membenarkan Petronas terlibat dalam kontrak perkongsian pengeluaran baru bagi Blok L dan Blok M.

Pastikan Limbang Hak Kita

Petikan Utusan Malaysia

PADANG RENGAS 1 Mei – Malaysia tetap memastikan kawasan Limbang di Sarawak kekal sebagai hak milik negara ini walaupun konsesi Blok L dan Blok M menjadi milik Brunei dalam perjanjian persempadanan dengan Brunei pada Mac 2009.

Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz berkata, ini kerana Malaysia tidak bodoh hendak membuat sesuatu yang merugikan dalam perjanjian tersebut.

Katanya, perjanjian tersebut jelas menyatakan Malaysia mempunyai bahagian dan mesti ada kerjasama dalam membangunkan bersama sumber minyak dan gas di kawasan itu.

“Perkara itu telah dijelaskan oleh bekas Perdana Menteri, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, bahawa mesti ada kerjasama dan Malaysia ada bahagian dalam membangunkan sumber tersebut secara komersial Blok L dan Blok M,” katanya kepada pemberita di sini hari ini.

Beliau berkata demikian selepas merasmikan Kempen dan Karnival Rakyat Semarak Semangat 1Malaysia Parlimen Padang Rengas di Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Tun Perak dekat sini.

Mohamed Nazri diminta mengulas kenyataan bekas Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad yang meminta penjelasan Wisma Putra berhubung status dua kawasan pengeluaran minyak bernilai RM320 bilion yang kini dikatakan menjadi milik Brunei.

Bagaimanapun, Abdullah semalam berkata, perjanjian berhubung tuntutan dan pertindihan sempadan Limbang antara kerajaan Malaysia dan Brunei yang ditandatangani pada 16 Mac 2009 tidak merugikan Malaysia dari segi sumber pengeluaran minyak di kawasan itu.

Sehubungan itu, Mohamed Nazri berkata, Malaysia tidak akan berkompromi dalam soal Limbang kerana ia merupakan sebahagian wilayah negara ini.

“Duit banyak mana pun boleh habis, tetapi tanah boleh kekal selama-lamanya,” katanya.

Ditanya mengenai laporan bahawa Brunei telah membuat penafian bersetuju menyerahkan Limbang, Mohamed Nazri berkata, Brunei boleh membuat penafian itu, tetapi hakikatnya, Limbang tetap hak milik Malaysia.

“Kita akan pertahankan Limbang dan negara lain boleh kata apa pun, Limbang adalah hak Malaysia walaupun ada pihak yang akan mempertikaikan keputusan melepaskan Blok L dan Blok M itu,” tegasnya.

Dalam perkembangan lain Nazri meminta polis menyiasat kandungan ucapan bekas Menteri Besar Perak, Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin yang didakwa berbaur hasutan ketika berkempen pada Pilihan Raya Kecil Parlimen Hulu Selangor baru-baru ini.

Jika terbukti, Mohammad Nizar boleh didakwa mengikut Akta Hasutan kerana cuba merosakkan perpaduan rakyat di negara ini katanya.

Mahathir: Maverick, Machiavellian or merely mainstream? — Maznah Mohamad

MAY 3 — My first reaction to the book was, how could this be any different from the several others already written of the man, for example, that of Khoo Boo Teik’s Paradoxes of Mahathirism and In-Won Hwang’s Personalised Politics (Not forgetting articles and commentaries generated by countless number of print and virtual writers before this)?

After going through the first few chapters of the book I knew that this was going to be different, more impactful and more of a fine strike at the core of the matter.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has remained enigmatic and so far, seems to be unmoved by the tons of criticisms directed at him. Perhaps this was balanced by the loads of adulation and fawning by his coterie of loyalists, as exemplified by the quality of the commentators in his own blog (which could number up to a 1,000 comments for a single post, with most starting their address with Yang dikasihi Tun — The Most Beloved Tun).

In gossip circles, Mahathir is known to have the thickest skin on the planet and is impervious to any verbal assaults on his character and his ways. People are astounded by his ability to trounce all of his rivals and those he simply could not tolerate even when he is out of power.

Mahathir is perhaps the only person in the world who could evoke sympathy on this by proclaiming that he was wronged by the wrong people he had chosen to be under him, from Musa Hitam to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. He survived at least five major financial scandals and still had the audacity to reprimand his heir-apparent Abdullah Badawi by sniping in one of his blog postings that Abdullah’s “Mr Clean image meant that he had cleaned everything up”.

The following had become standard facts, not just opinions — he destroyed the independence of the judiciary, manipulated democracy and controlled the media to his liking and is still able to say that he had been denied his freedom of expression by the Abdullah government. It appears that there is no remorse in the man, nothing can break him, and he remained confident right up to Barry Wain’s last line in the book that his wrongs would someday be debunked.

For those reasons above Mahathir Mohamad is a tale worth telling and re-telling. What I like most about this book is that it just tells the story as it is, rather than try to link the episodes to some abstract generalisation or grand theories. This makes the book richer because it does not straightjacket the reader’s thinking into a particular direction. The book charts the rise of Mahathir, his stepping down, small-steps, really because he was never a hair’s-breadth away from the centre of power.


Style of book

The book is written in a breezy and enthralling style, at some parts it is almost like a political thriller and would make great material for a film of that genre. The most remarkable thing is that it is not fiction, and were a film to be made about Mahathir it would really be a case of art imitating life.

It is indeed an achievement that Wain’s book manages to focus on the personal, even heart-warming sides of Mahathir, the family man, but ends up as a powerful treatise of the public Malaysia.


The party state

From 1981 till today, Mahathir has given Malaysia its particular feature as a state. The most useful, if not intriguing concept that Wain has stated (just once on page 53) in describing Malaysia under Mahathir is that he had created a party-state. Hence, the useful contribution of the book is that it has provided much data to chart the birth of this party-state, its peaking and its possible eventual decline.

This concept of the party-state, though not elaborated by Wain, appears as the trademark of the Mahathir-rule. Elsewhere, studies on the Kuomintang in Taiwan by Karl Fields have indicated the blurring of the distinction between party and state as leading to this particular phenomenon of the party-state. This would be a good time to undertake a comparative study of all the “party-states” of Asia – Umno, KMT, LDP and the PAP, to name the most outstanding ones.

I summarise Wain’s suggestion of this same phenomenon developing in Malaysia which quite clearly originated from Mahathir’s ascendance to power. They are associated with how he had:

• weakened state and informal institutions

• packed the state bureaucracy with loyalists rather than technocrats

• intervened to subdue the judiciary so that it would yield results whenever the leader or the party’s political control is endangered.

• downgraded the status of the MCA and the MIC, which were coalition party stalwarts of equal standing with Umno before this.

• blended and merged Mahathir the strongman with Malaysia the rising middle-power state.

Malaysia was nothing but Mahathir, but Mahathir was larger than Malaysia. Not that he is unaware of this view as lately he had become quite defensive of his actions. In one of the more recent blog entries, he declared, “Thank you for agreeing that I am a dictator. Tell me which dictator ever resign. (sic)”


Important chapters

Let me now try to excavate the more important insights and revelations from some chapters in the book.

I consider Chapters 3 to 6 to be the most crucial in charting the growth of the party-state helmed by a strong man.

Chapter 3 is especially critical. It showed how Mahathir achieved his crowning moment in deploying his political and Machiavellian skills in saving himself and the party. The manoeuvre to outdo Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and the threat of a legal pronouncement that would spell the death knell for him and Umno provided the greatest motivation for him to upset the separation of powers doctrine of the modern democracy.

What was remarkable was that he resolved this issue in less than four months. The four months that shook Malaysia involved:

• the pronouncement of Umno’s illegality (February 1988)

• the registration of Umno Baru

• the ousting of Team B from the new Umno

• the sacking of the Lord President (8 August 1988)

• the sacking of five Supreme Court judges

• the transfer of all assets of the old Umno to the new Umno (March 1988)

On 27 May 1988, Tun Salleh Abas, the Lord President was suspended from his office, by the then King Mahmood Iskandar. This is the most intriguing revelation of the book, as Mahathir had managed to use his skills as a “blackmailer” to persuade the King to sign the letter of dismissal in return for protection from being removed from his throne. There were talks that the King was involved in the murder of his caddy, and was about to be dethroned by his fellow brother-rulers (The Council of Rulers).

Allegations of the killing of a caddy seemed to have been verified by both Mahathir and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Wain’s interviews with them. These are mentioned in Chapter 3, page 73.

I must also add that Mahathir would not have succeeded in saving himself if not for the MCA, although this was not noted in the book. Apparently he owed a great debt of gratitude to Ling Liong Sik, who became the first Chinese to become leader of the Barisan National, a short history worth noting, but missing in Wain’s pages. In the midst of Umno’s deregistration, Ling Liong Sik as leader of the BN had the choice of accepting Tengku Razaleigh’s party (Semangat 46) or Mahathir’s party (Umno Baru) into the coalition.

In Mahathir’s blog entry of Nov 23 2009 he expressed his emotions: “But for Liong Sik, the MCA President who headed BN, accepting Umno Baru and not Semangat 46, life would have been difficult for me.”

Hence a correction to Wain’s rendition — it may not have been Machiavellian deftness all the way which saved the strongman, but a little bit of goodwill had helped too!


Party and business

From the events of 1988, from which Umno Baru was birthed, the episode just spelled an uphill ascendance of Mahathir the astute autocrat — or perhaps a downhill trajectory for Mahathir the scrupulous and ethical leader, as the other quarter would have seen it.

This is when the notion of the party-state could really take shape — Umno had to get into business and Umno had to undermine the state in order to replace the state with itself.

Wain’s book pointed out that under the Societies Act of 1966, the party was not permitted to do business. For this Umno had to conceal its assets by setting up nominee companies and executives and lined up trusted individuals to hold stakes in various companies, which were in fact Umno-owned.

By 1988, Umno succeeded in accumulating vast amounts of resources under this arrangement. Chapter 5 seems to suggest that the registration and de-registration of Umno had originally put the party’s financial standing in a quandary. Here was where the wizardry of Daim Zainuddin came into the picture. The mix of politics and business towards Umno’s advantage would not have happened if not for Daim and his boys.

Before mixing politics with business, Umno was extremely poor. In an embarrassing detail, the book cited interviews with Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah as to how dependent Umno was on the MCA and Chinese businessmen to fund their election campaigns, including paying for routine expenses such as transport costs to talks to villagers.

But the involvement of Umno in business did not start with the Mahathir-Daim partnership. Way back in 1972, Tun Razak and Tengku Razaleigh created the secret, “Umno Political Fund”, which is discussed in chapter 5. Ku Li defended this move about getting into business because of the need to be financially independent.

Umno’s involvement in business started with their acquisitions of newspaper shares, the first time of Utusan Melayu’s in 1961 and then in 1972 of the Singapore Straits Times’.

Daim came fully into the picture in 1982, a year after Mahathir had become PM and elevated his role in fashioning Umno as a giant corporation to great heights.

In Wain’s words, Daim “woud be primarily responsible for integrating business and politics in Malaysia”. Accordingly, Mahathir merely made the “philosophical” connection rather than having a hands-on role in the whole matter.

In one of the most classic defences of why Daim did not think that there was any conflict of interest between making money for himself, for the party and the nation, he declared a series of “why-nots”,

“If I think the government can make money with me, why not?...since I have details of the company and I think it is good investment for my family, why not?... If everybody is going to make money, why not?” (pages 133 - 134)

Chapter 6 titled, “Scandal, What Scandal?” is also a fascinating, if not troubling read. In this chapter, Wain revisits Malaysia’s past financial scandals by presenting them as a series of Mahathir failures. From the mid-1980s till the late 1990s, this was the decade of serial failures for Mahathir. Financially, he was a serial failure.

The events and background of the tin trading fiasco, the BMF affair, the forex trashing and the Perwaja mess were all skilfully traced in this chapter. The conservative estimate of the worth of these failures was RM100 billion. What is useful about this chapter is not that any of these shenanigans had not been exposed before, but having them all documented together in one read allows one to discern a certain pattern of the party state.

Mahathir lamely claimed to have been misinformed about many of the dealings, or that he was not fully culpable of the acts, by justifying that:

• he needed to rescue the faltering party from financial ruin (Maybank and BBMB ended up paying for the costs of Umno’s Headquarters);

• Umno needed to be involved in business as a means of creating the new Bumiputra entrepreneurial class, basically in the form of Daim and his boys;

• Malaysia needed to stand up against the West — “to take on the developed countries at their own gains”. For example the tin and forex trading misadventures were manoeuvres to outfox the Western economies.

Besides the unsuccessful plan to outdo the West, all that the above had succeeded in generating was endemic and appalling corruption within the system. The masterminds behind the BMF and Perwaja affairs remained unpunished. To date nobody has ever been prosecuted under Malaysian laws for any of the above misappropriations.

Chapter 7 is about Mahathir’s penchant for big projects and colossal structures. But by the time he had built Putrajaya, the new administrative capital, he was already on his last legs as premier — the swan song before exit.

Chapter 8 is another invaluable chapter as it describes in great detail how Mahathir tamed the Malay Royalty by getting rid of their judicial immunity. The amendment to the federal Constitution allowed for a sultan to be tried in a “special court” if caught breaking the law. Another change was to get rid of the constitutional provision which prohibited any member of Parliament or of the state assembly from saying anything about the King or sultans without being liable to proceedings in court. But in looking at the current situations involving Umno and the royalty — in Terengganu, Perlis and Perak — it doesn’t look like the amendments have much bite in preventing royal intervention and meddling.

Chapter 9 is about Mahathir’s use of pragmatic Islam to shore up his credentials, which in the end he had little control over. Chapter 10 is about his performance on the foreign relations stage. I would say that he was most successful in his Third World persona, admired by outsiders as the champion of the Southern underdogs. But even so he did not go the full mile in resisting the West, as he was quite easily persuaded into supporting many unpopular resolutions such as the one which approved the invasion of Iraq in 1990; he even worked hard under questionable circumstances to get a meeting with Bush in 2002.

While the book is an excellent account of events from a vantage point of having Mahathir as the central, arresting character of the plot, the picture of Malaysia is not complete without considering bit players and marginal actors. In this regard Wain’s book says little about the involvement of civil society or even Mahathir’s detractors in being responsible for many of his reactions and backlashes. Nevertheless, Wain has featured DAP leader Lim Kit Siang prominently as the most consistent admonisher of Mahathir’s wrongdoings and transgressions. Almost every chapter features Kit Siang’s parliamentary dressing-down of the Mahathir malpractice. I would think that another book on the former would be a welcome addition to the list of political biographies of Malaysian leaders.


Platform for other theories and generalisations

There are many ways of looking at history. One way is to have all analysis centred around one person, which Barry Wain had expertly done. But the other way is to look at the entity in which this person operates from a larger, long-duree perspective which is to look at transformational moments rather than emblematic personalities. Looking at history this way I could view Malaysia differently. For example what were the iconic moments in Malaysia’s transformation?

My take is that there were three:

• 1969 — not just because of the riots but because it triggered a structural revolution in the form of the NEP for Malaysia. This changed race-relations and entrenched Malay dominance as the foundational politics of Malaysia.

• 1982 — this marked the take-off stage of state Islamisation in Malaysia. Anwar’s entry into government provided the wide discourse of Islam in government and private lives. Umno began to build on Islam for its legitimacy not because the party became more Islamic but because the state was made to perform that role and carry on such an image. This may have masked all the financial scandals and mismanagement by diverting the Muslim masses’ concern onto other seemingly transcendental issues.

• 2008 — the 12th General Election was iconic for several reasons; it was only the second time that the BN lost its two thirds majority and it was the first time that all opposition parties succeeded in becoming governments — PAS in Kelantan and Kedah, the DAP in Penang and the PKR in Selangor.

If we were to look at all of the above moments, where was Mahathir in all these? Surprisingly he was not the main actor or the primary mover of these moments. 1969 and the NEP were Razak’s moments, with Mahathir a bit player with his Malay Dilemma needlings.

1982 was Anwar’s moment with Mahathir playing a role in getting him into the party though Mahathir was not at all central in the Islamic resurgence movement.

In 2008, Anwar and Malaysian civil society (Raja Petra and the internet come to mind) were the main players and galvanisers of that event.

Mahathir may be here, there and everywhere. But all the time he was in fact fighting for regime-maintenance, as asserted by In-Won Hwang in a previous work on Mahathir titled, “Personalised Politics”. Mahathir was full of grand visions according to Khoo Khay Jin in an earlier article, written in the 1980s. But by Mahathir’s own admittance he failed in reforming Umno or the Malays. Was he then too afraid of going against the status-quo?

Let me just conclude by posing more questions than can be answered about the subject matter of the book:

• Was he a failure or a success as a leader? Many of his legacies today are leading to a lacklustre rather than a brighter Malaysia.

• Was he a maverick or a mainstreamer? He was more obsessed about saving and functioning within Umno, unable to discard neither the content nor the shell of the party.

If Anwar had succeeded in inheriting the position of prime minister, would he have continued the Umno legacy of the party-state and party capitalism? Could it be that even Mahathir was cornered into ridding Anwar, lest Umno would cease to be the party-state?

Stirrer or shaker?

My own conclusion is that Mahathir had stirred many events but he did not shake the system; a provoker of headline news, not a wrecker of vestiges and structures.

Despite the seemingly iconoclastic and non-conformist positions and posturing that he took, how much of the world or Malaysia did he change?

The fact that I find myself asking these questions attests to the valuable contribution of this book and I’m very sure that it will fly off the shelves for many reasons, not least because it is a riveting, thought-provoking, if not disquieting read.

For journalists and scholars, Mahathir’s paradoxes will continue to serve as a veritable textual goldmine in the production of more papers and books.

To the Malaysian citizen and taxpayer, this book is a sobering testament that you almost always do not get the government you deserve. — Aliran

* Dr Maznah Mohamad, an Aliran member, presented the above commentary of Barry Wain’s Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times, published in 2009 by Palgrave Macmillan, at the book launch in Singapore on 4 December 2009.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.

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