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Thread: A Streetcar Named Abdullah

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    A Streetcar Named Abdullah

    Thursday, December 11, 2008
    A Streetcar Named Abdullah

    Just imagine. You have been bombarded with this movie trailers for months on end. ........

    ..........Here comes a PM who, at last, would not transgress into our rights and who would exercise his powers without wanton abuses and blatant disregard for the people's rights and freedom. Here comes.... change.

    Not! As we all would later find out, much to our chagrin.

    Killing All Of Us Softly With His Songs

    Abdullah's entry into Sri Perdana started with a feel-good spin. In fact it was a spin after another after another. It was like the first scene in every Love Boat series. He started off with the now famous work-with-me-and-not-for-me statement. How nice. Finally, a Prime Minister who cajoles and coaxes the citizenry to work with him for the betterment of the country. Then he set out to repair the relationship with Singapore, which had then degenerated into some kind of a comical impasse caused by the Mahathir's school of international diplomacy. Soon Abdullah was seen playing golf with what's-his-name Singapore PM. They even exchanged private phone numbers. The newspapers reported that the two leaders even agreed to call each other if problems cropped up in the future. Just call. That was it. So easy. No need a 80 member delegation invading Singapore for a round table talks or vice versa. At last, diplomacy made simple.

    Then Abdullah set out to show that he was a good and progressive Muslim. He formulated Islam Hadhari as a way forward. It has all the right ingredients for a progressive society. I actually liked the idea. And many did too. Finally, I thought to myself, Malaysian Muslims were not going to concentrate on khalwats, transvestitism and whatever nots. Finally, we, the Muslims are going to look at the bigger picture, strive for tangible progress and material as well as spiritual empowerment.

    Later, in order to show that he was his own man and to free himself from the shackle of Mahathirism, Abdullah stated that he did not need and would not indulge in mega projects in order to leave a legacy. Heck, he didn't even need a legacy to begin with! His premiership was all about doing good deeds for the benefit of all the people. Just to prove his point, he announced that his government would even reinvent the agricultural sector, which, in his opinion, was much neglected and ought to be revived for the benefit of the people, especially the people in the rural areas.

    Now, in the twilight of his premiership, we all know that all the feel good words are just, words. As it turned out, relationship with Singapore did not get a teeny wee bit better. Much of the old issues are left unsolved till this very day. The water supply agreement. The Malaysian Customs Complex and Railway lands. The air rights. The crooked bridge. The relationship just appeared good and better than before. But that was just because there was no engagement at all on the issues at hand. If you don't talk about it, then there is no problem. That appears to be Abdullah's idea of a good diplomatic relationship.

    The worst was to come. The Pedra Branca issue became quite a controversy. In a move which later proved to be a disastrous one, the Abdullah administration decided to refer the matter to the International Court. As it turned out, we were ill prepared - even one of the photos used at the proceedings were taken from an unverified website and was immediately found to be doctored - and ill advised. The case was won by Singapore and Pedra Branca was declared to be under the Singaporean sovereignty. Malaysia had to content with the ownership of the Middle Rock, a bank of rocks which would appear during low tide and disappear when the water rises. All round embarrassment! Had this happened in the UK or any other countries with a tinge of credibility in their government, the Foreign Minister and the AG, if not whole government, would have resigned! But of course, in Malaysia, accountability is a dirty word and life goes on as if nothing had happened.

    Meanwhile, Islam Hadhari, which was launched with much fanfare, disappeared like the morning dew on a very hot morning. The promised fairness and equality; protection of rights and freedom; a healthy inter religion relationship and all the sweet and soothing words were only and remain as castles in the air. The government controlled media, which propagated the concept in all earnest, had even acted against the very concept by spreading lies. Their report on the Bersih rally is just but an example of the blatant lies which they spread. My letter to the NST complaining about these lies did not see the light of day.

    I don't need mega project! Yea...rite! Barely one and a half year into his premiership, Abdullah launched the Iskandar Economics Development Region, which later was shortened into Iskandar Development Region. As if by deleting the word "economics" from the name would make any kind of tangible difference to the project, which till this date, had miserably failed to attract any kind of substantial investment. The IDR was followed in quick succession by the Northern Economics Corridors; the Eastern Economics Corridors; the Sabah Development Corridor and last but definitely not the least, the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (nicely acronym-ed as S.C.O.R.E.). These projects had dwarfed, both in terms of sheer size and value, DrM's favourite Multimedia Super Corridor, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya. Yes. Read my lips. I don't need mega projects!

    Welcome to the era of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

    A Crooked Bridge Over Very Troubled Water

    Soon after playing golf and exchanging phone numbers with the Singaporean premier, Abdullah suddenly was reminded of DrM's favourite project, namely, the crooked bridge. He then thought that it was a good idea and so he bravely made an announcement that come what may, - Singapore's objection regardless - we were going ahead with the project. Never mind international law. Never mind international conventions. Never mind. Because "we can do whatever we like on our side of the straits!" That was the spin.


    Just about a month later, out of the blue, Abdullah announced that Malaysia was canceling the plan to build the bridge. It would appear that the first stand was ill advised. In fact I think it was made without any kind of advice at all! It would have been legally disastrous for Malaysia to build the bridge without Singapore's approval. Pure and simple. While it is correct that we, as a nation, could do whatever we like on "our side", it is clearly not correct to build this particular bridge without Singapore's approval although the bridge would be on "our side". This is because the construction of the crooked bridge would entail the removal, reconstruction and replacement of the various water pipes which are now placed on the existing bridge. These concern the existing changing or at least varying the agreement between Malaysia and Singapore! It would have been an international legal disaster for Malaysia had we continued with the project. Pedra Branca would have been chicken feet in comparison with this crooked bridge debacle!

    Thus started the flip-flop school of administration pioneered by Abdullah's government. At this point of time, Malaysians began to suspect the ability of the Abdullah's administration to govern properly.

    Dr Mahathir meanwhile, was kicking up a ruckus about the decision to shelf the project.. While his motivations for doing so remain clouded - well, probably he just loves everything that is crooked - it was obvious that the good doctor was not at all amused. Abdullah's government later had to agree to a colossal "compensation" package with the contractor of the project.

    Bad Company

    A person's character is well defined by the company which he keeps. So goes the saying. And Abdullah had quite a company. He had his level 4 guys. A bunch of bright youngsters from Cambridge and Oxford. Who moved around in dark single breasted jacket (as opposed to the politicians' obligatory double breasted jacket with brass buttons which they call "coat"!) with 3 buttons and nice shoes. Chief among whom was a smart guy whose name is Khairy Jamaluddin. Oh, he happened to be Abdullah's son-in-law too.Then there was a guy whose name was Kamal, a part owner of a company called Scomi. Oh yes, by the way, he is Abdullah's son. To complete the triple "K" clan, there was also the chief spinner, Kalimullah Hassan. Then there was this "Mat Smart", the always impeccably dressed Patrick Lim, the horse loving businessman who headed Equine Capital Bhd. That is Abdullah's main company. The inner circle.

    There is no doubt that the level 4 boys are all very clever. What Abdullah had failed to realise, however, was the fact that a difference exist between being clever and being smart. A 13 year old may graduate from Cambridge or Oxford, or even from both, with a Doctorate in international finance. But that doesn't mean that that 13 year old can run a country or be a decision maker on how a country should be run.

    Level 4, in truth, must be the equivalent of the old middle kingdom, a fabled kingdom in which the Chinese believed they were in, until the British came and fed them all with opium, that is. These people existed and yet they didn't. Their modus was unknown. Their exact functions, and the purview within which they functioned, were all stuffs of mysteries. They were like the Puteri Gunung Ledang, a beautiful princess who was the fantasised by Sultan Mansur Shah. Of course, she had to ask for a cup of blood of the Sultan's prince before her the Sultan's desire for her finally, and immediately, diminished. Level 4 boys however, I believe, did not ask for any cup of blood.

    History would show however, that Malaysians were not too fond of Abdullah's company.

    Oops, I Did Again, Over and Over Again

    If there was one thing which Abdullah loved, which he kept on doing over and over again, it was the establishment of committees, in various sizes and shapes as well as of various functionaries. Abdullah excelled in saying the right things. "I will be fair, and my government will be fair, to everyone. I will listen."...bla bla bla .... that kind of things.

    Thus, to show that he meant business when he said that the image of our police force needed to change, he forthwith established a Royal Commission to look into and address the people's complaints about the police force. Of course, sometime around the same period, the police force was rocked by the infamous "naked squat" case, where a lady was stripped naked and made to squat while being filmed by another person. In a response which was as weird as a Kafka novel, the brilliant IGP made a statement promising that a full investigation would be carried out to find out the identity of the person who filmed the incident!

    The Royal Commission did its job and came out with various recommendations. Chief among the recommendations was the establishment of independent police complaint commission. That recommendation has however, to this date, remained a mere recommendation. The truth is, Abdullah did not have the political will, nor the ability to assert his executive authority over those who matter, including the police force, to accept such recommendation!

    If the Royal Commission on the police was somehow related to a video, another video was later to come. The Linggam video, that is. This video showed someone who looked and sounded like a lawyer whose name was VK Linggam talking over the phone with someone who, in the ordinary course of the conversations, could be concluded to be Ahmad Fairuz, the then Chief Justice. The immediate response which came from Abdullah's government, through its chief mouthpiece, Nazri Aziz, was one of denial. Later, that denial transformed itself into allegations of tampering. Nazri Aziz even spoke for Ahmad Fairuz. When asked why Ahmad Fairuz had deemed it fit to answer to the allegations through Nazri Aziz, he (Nazri Aziz), in a show of embarrassing ignorance, said "because I am his minister!". And so, it was then established that our Judiciary came under a Ministry and the Judges, even the Chief Justice, had a Minister, to whom, we all could presumable conclude, they were answerable. Brilliant!

    And so, another day passed. And another Royal Commission was established. The Commission went on to do its job and came out with damning report. Various findings were made, including about Eusoff Chin's trip to New Zealand; about VK Linggam lobbying and fixing the appointment of judges with Ahmad Fairuz; about Mahathir Mohamad being possibly influenced in his selection of Judges etc. Abdullah, as we all were accustomed to by that time, promised a full investigation into all the findings of the Royal Commission.

    Alas, till to date, after all the yogis had gone home, after all the lesbians had been damned, all the Hindraf guys have been detained, all the bicycles have been burnt, after all keris have been unsheathed and kissed to bleeding death, the result of the "full investigations" have not been known. Probably the investigations have not been "full" yet.

    Then there were road accidents, the number of which which seemed to increase year in year out during festive seasons. Abdullah promptly established a committee. Then he followed it up with a committee on racial integration. It was one hell of a huge committee, with about 80 members, if my memory serves me right. There was also a committee which would look into hillside and hilltop development. Of course, last week, another landslide had happened and nobody knows whatever had happened to the last committee.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, there should now be a committee whose function is to look into the performance and effectiveness of all the other committees. Lets call it the Committee for the Supervision of the Effectiveness of all Committees or COMMITSUPER-F in short.

    Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone

    Abdullah loved his wife and his family. The late Datin Sri Endon was an elegant and lovely lady. They would be pictured together, sharing a laugh while walking around in the evening together. Unfortunately, she succumbed to her condition and passed away. The whole nation mourned the passing of a lovely lady.

    Rumours then ran wild about Abdullah being in love with Jeanne. When asked he flatly denied. Of course, not long after, they were married.

    Abdullah did not seem to know the difference between a clever answer, where one denies things without really denying them; where one tells the truth without actually telling the truth or where one tells a lie without actually telling a lie. Perhaps he was too honest. Or perhaps his spinners were just hopeless! When asked about Jeanne, he could have just said that "please respect my privacy" or "an official announcement will be made if necessary". But no. He just had to flatly deny it. And in doing so, he lied. And he, of course, failed to realise that.

    He followed that with one of the most blatant, and unsophisticated, lie any Premier had ever made. "The Parliament will not be dissolved!", he blurted to all and sundry. The next morning, all major newspapers quoted him in their headlines. That very afternoon, he dissolved the Parliament. When asked, he of course had to say that he did not know when the Parliament was actually going to be dissolved because the King had to decide! Good God! If he did not know, why didn't he say "I don't know when the Parliament is going to be dissolved because the King has to decide"? Or he could just easily say, "no comment". Or "I am tired, ask me tomorrow". Or even "the moon is a harsh mistress", and then he could smile and pretend to fall on his face! But he didn't. He said it outright, the Parliament was not going to be dissolved. By doing so the next day, he lied.

    The government controlled mass media took after him. TV3 lied. NST lied. During the BERSIH rally, where pictures were splashed over the internet and Al Jazeera had an in-depth report, and it was clear that about 50000-60000 people came out to rally, the government gazettes reported that 4500 people came to "demonstrate". Blatant lie.

    Emotions have played a large part in Abdullah's administration. Nazri Aziz branded the people who rallied as "coward". Quite how they were coward is beyond me.

    When Singapore, after winning its territorial claim over Pedra Branca decided to extend its free economics zone in accordance with the United Nation's Laws of the Seas, Rais Yatim gave a very emotional, albeit nonsensical, response. He said something to the effect that Singapore should not have done so and that Singapore should have negotiated first! Why should Singapore? Does Malaysia negotiate with other countries over it's rights over oil wells within it's territory? And what does Malaysia do, legally that is - as opposed to emotionally -, about Singapore's extension of its free economics zone till now? Has there been a response? None that I know of.

    The inability to engage the people at an intellectual level continues. When the rise of Anwar Ibrahim, after the March 8 election this year was uncontrollable, the government responded with a sodomy charge against him. HINDRAF's demands ended with ISA detentions. Raja Petra Kamaruddin, whose blog is followed by millions of Malaysians, and foreigners, every day was charged with sedition and criminal defamation. He was later famously detained under the ISA too, before a courageous act of a Judge freed him. Teresa Kok was also detained under the ISA before being released, without any valid reason ever being given for her detention.

    The most blatant and abusive detention was that of Tan Hoon Cheng, the Sin Chew journalist who reported the various racist remark made by Ahmad Ismail, an UMNO head honcho from Penang. She was of course released after a night in police detention. Syed Hamid Albar's explanation for her detention and her subsequent release were stuffs of legendary comic. Apparently, she was detained because of concerns for her safety. Can we all imagine that?

    I Shall Not Return

    The most embarrassing act ever undertaken by Abdullah, to me, was when he left Permatang Pauh early in the night before official election result was to be announced. Unofficially, Anwar Ibrahim's landslide victory in the Permatang Pauh by-election was known early in the evening. Abdullah and his deputy, Najib Razak left Parmatang Pauh early that night without even waiting for the official result. That left UMNO's nominee, Ariff Shah Omar Shah, high and dry, to face his workers and supporters alone during the official announcement.

    For a General to leave his soldier alone on the battle field, to face an inevitable death was an act of cowardice! As a General, Abdullah and his Deputy should have stayed on. He should have stood on the stage with Ariff Shah, held his hand, faced to announcement and took the defeat on his chin like a man. He should then tell his man, and his supporters and workers, that all is not lost and that they will return one day. He should then thank all of them for all their efforts.

    He did not do so. Instead, he left early.

    And that encapsulates his administration of this country. That also encapsulates his UMNO Presidency.

    He just have to leave early.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Re: A Streetcar Named Abdullah

    Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in my eyes, shall go down as the worst PM of this country.
    "The only thing necessary for evil to trumph is for good men to do nothing" - Edmund Burke

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