I wrote this paragraph about Khairy Jamaluddin in an article (do read it again, thank you) a couple of months back:
There is also this principle that one must always use in politics. When the enemy hates you, you are doing the right thing. But when your political enemy is loving you, then something is indeed wrong.
Therefore, when the opposition leaders, no less than Anwar Ibrahim had lavished praises to Pak Lah over the purported publication of ‘Awakening: The Abdullah Badawi Years in Malaysia’ we will certainly have to take a closer look at what that implies.
Not to mention the fact that book itself will be launched by none other than Nurul Izzah, the daughter of Umno’s nemesis. Nurul Izzah’s presence for the book launch is an obvious symbolism that the book itself has the blessings of Anwar Ibrahim.
Is there anything else to be said in this matter?
Let us read what the main culprit had to say:
KENYATAAN MEDIA Y.A.BHG TUN ABDULLAH HAJI AHMAD BADAWI
Sejak dua tiga hari yang lepas, banyak berita diterbit mengenai ‘buku Pak Lah’. Isu ini juga mendapat liputan luas dalam media sosial dengan pelbagai reaksi dan komen. Sebelum saya memberi apa-apa komen, mungkin saya perlu memberi sedikit penjelasan tentang buku tersebut.
Pertamanya, buku tersebut tidak ditulis oleh saya. Buku ini disusun oleh dua ahli akademik, James Chin dan Bridget Welsh, dengan memuatkan beberapa rencana oleh pelbagai penulis yang telah menyumbangkan tulisan masing-masing mengenai pentadbiran saya sebagai Perdana Menteri. Ada yang dikhabarkan positif dan banyak juga yang negatif dan kritikal.
Kedua, saya sendiri hanya terlibat melalui wawancara yang dibuat oleh James Chin dan Bridget Welsh. Wawancara ini lebih kepada menjawab soalan-soalan yang dibangkitkan oleh penulis-penulis yang telah menyumbang kepada buku tersebut dan memberi saya ruang untuk menjelaskan beberapa perkara dari sudut saya sendiri.
Ketiga, saya tidak menaja atau meminta buku tersebut diterbitkan. Sudah menjadi perkara biasa para akademik membuat analisa tentang sejarah politik negara kita dan sudah pasti era saya tidak terlepas dari kajian ilmiah. Saya cuma telah setuju untuk diwawancara agar suara, pendapat serta penjelasan saya dapat dimuatkan didalam buku tersebut.
Keempat, oleh kerana saya bukan penerbit, pencetak, pengarang ataupun penulis buku tersebut, saya tidak tahu, tidak diberitahu dan tidak bertanggungjawab diatas mana-mana jemputan untuk melancarkan atau membincangkan buku tersebut. Berita yang mengatakan pemimpin dari parti pembangkang dijemput untuk melancarkan buku ini di Singapura – kalaupun benar – adalah keputusan penerbit buku, bukan saya.
Kelima, saya tidak merancang untuk menghadiri pelancaran buku tersebut. Ini kerana saya tidak mahu orang membuat andaian yang buku ini ditulis atau ditaja oleh saya. Saya cuma menjawab soalan yang ditanya. Biarlah jawapan-jawapan saya menjadi tumpuan pembaca.
Berlatarbelakangkan fakta-fakta diatas, saya berharap orang awam mendapat gambaran yang lebih jelas tentang ‘buku Pak Lah’. Sekali lagi, ini bukan buku yang ditulis atau ditaja oleh saya. Mungkin ada yang bertanya, kenapa Pak Lah setuju untuk diwawancara oleh pengarang-pengarang yang dikatakan selalu menulis rencana yang kritikal? Saya bersetuju diwawancara kerana perlu ada penjelasan saya sendiri didalam kajian ilmiah ini. Suka atau tidak, setuju atau tidak, saya berpegang kepada prinsip keterbukaan sebagai paksi kepada demokrasi yang matang. Prinsip keterbukaan inilah yang saya amalkan apabila didatangi dengan permohonan oleh para pengarang buku ini untuk diwawancara. Walaupun saya dimaklumkan buku ini bakal memuatkan rencana yang kritis dan ‘unflattering’ tentang kepimpinan saya, saya masih setuju diwawancara atas semangat keterbukaan demi perdebatan yang seimbang dengan mengambil kira semua sudut pandangan.
Sudah pasti pandangan-pandangan dalam buku ini akan mengundang reaksi-reaksi tertentu. Terpulanglah kepada semua pihak untuk membuat rumusan masing-masing. Prinsip keterbukaan bermaksud kita sedia memberi ruang kepada semua untuk bersuara. Tetapi janganlah pula ada yang membuat andaian bahawa buku ini ditulis oleh Pak Lah yang sudah bersubahat dengan pembangkang untuk menentang partinya sendiri. Itu sudah memesong fakta dan menjadi fitnah. Apa juga teguran yang diberikan dalam wawancara saya yang dimuatkan dalam buku ini dibuat kerana saya ingin melihat UMNO terus diberikan mandat dan kepercayaan oleh rakyat. Saya tak pernah meninggalkan UMNO dan Insya’Allah bila tiba masanya nanti, saya akan menghembuskan nafas terakhir saya di dunia ini masih lagi sebagai ahli UMNO yang cintakan negaranya.
First and foremost, it does not matter if this book was not written by Pak Lah himself. But the fact that he contributed his thinking in the form of specifically arranged interview session which in turn became the very first chapter of the book shows that it wasn’t just a case of ‘saya tidak menaja atau meminta buku tersebut diterbitkan’. Surely an agreement should have been made to ensure that he will be indemnified by the publisher should litigation suits were brought forward against him. Surely proper controls and mechanism have been made in order to publish a book which is beyond reproach and above suspicion.
What is more important is the fact that Pak Lah should have the awareness that this book might be used against Umno by the opposition leaders. Sure enough, you can see Anwar Ibrahim squeezing every ounce of it with glee. It is good to have ‘semangat keterbukaan‘. But intelligent people should know that there is time and place for such ‘keterbukaan’. The last time he wanted to have this sort of thing, he lost 5 states and for the first time in history, the two thirds majority in Parliament.
If there is such written publishing agreement then surely there is a clause inserted by his team that the publisher must not let the book be exploited by politicians especially from the opposition in order to further their cause. The fact that Nurul Izzah is launching it proves that a) the opposition is politicising it and b) there is no such clause.
The inability to look further beyond the nose is a stark reminder of how ill-equipped and poor Pak Lah was as a Prime Minister. It is like the skillset did not match the job scope. Some people can wing it. Some will thrive in it. But most fail miserably. Today, we are living in his mess.
And he probably did more damage to himself and also to his son in law’s reputation within the party by using this opportunity to run with a pack of opposition figures.
Since the first chapter is a rebuttal of whatever criticisms being hurled (if any) by other writers in the subsequent chapters, then it will be opened to further criticisms and a trip down memory lane.
Already Terence Netto, a pro-opposition writer had written about it -
Here Abdullah missed out on a good opportunity to shed necessary perspective on a matter that dogs almost all serving politicians: how to counter the inevitable public perception of bias when the powerful are blood relations to underlings seen as wielding undue influence?
Abdullah’s response – conveyed in reflections that appear in a compilation of assessments of his premiership titled “Awakening: the Abdullah Badawi Years in Malaysia” – is flat denial that Khairy wielded “undue influence” on him in the five years and five months he was premier.
It was against this background of Abdullah’s vacillation on police reform that Khairy Jamaluddin’s transition from political novice to powerful presence behind the scenes took place.
The grapevine began to buzz with stories of Khairy’s influence on major decisions and even of his interference with the civil service.
Exasperatingly, Abdullah mixed vacillation over police reform with deafness to the need to decisively demonstrate that Khairy was not a power behind the scenes.
Khairy increasingly became a target of criticism even as public disappointment mounted against Abdullah over the latter’s dithering on reform.
It is disingenuous on Abdullah’s part to now say that Khairy had no “undue influence” on him. As well believe Wanita Umno leader Shahrizat Jalil when she contended that she had nothing to do with the scandalous way in which a national cattle breeding project was managed by a company run by her husband and children.
Pak Lah’s simple flat out denial in the book that Khairy had vast influence in his administration reminded us about an interview he made in 2006 denying that his son Kamal Abdullah had received any contracts from the government. A simple discovery later revealed that Scomi, a company which his son has a lot of interests in at that time, received huge contracts from Petronas and in other companies. Some of them are:
1. In March, The Malay Mail reported that KTM had in 2005 awarded a five-year RM50 million contract to Scomi Group ‘to overhaul and maintain’ as many as 1,000 wagons.
2. Also in March, Business Times reported that Scomi Group was going to submit a bid for a RM120 million contract ‘to make body parts for about 400 buses for state-owned Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd’. Which they eventually won.
3. In April, The Edge reported that Scomi Engineering Bhd is acquiring a 51% stake in MTrans Transportation Systems Sdn Bhd for RM30 million to provide it a platform to be a key player in urban transportation.
4. Scomi Marine Bhd received a letter of intent from TNB Fuel Services Sdn Bhd for a coal shipment contract for three years from Oct 1, with an option to extend for another two years, the company said. Scomi Marine announced to Bursa Malaysia on April 14 that under the contract, it would be required to transport 500,000 tonnes (with 20% variation) of coal from Australia, Indonesia and South Africa yearly. It said TNB Fuel Services would determine the actual quantity of coal to be transported and from which country upon finalisation of the contract, The Edge reported.
5. Also recently, Scomi Group Bhd, an oil services company, won a contract from Petronas Carigali (Turkmenistan) Sdn Bhd to provide drilling fluids and other services for exploration works in Block 1, offshore Turkmenistan.\
In this particular matter, he actually lied in a live TV interview!
There were more lies and examples of ineptitude which he had made throughout his career as the PM. Did anyone remember him saying on 13th February 2008 that the Parliament will not be dissolved? But he made an about turn and dissolved the Parliament on the very next day that he earlier confirmed won’t be dissolved! What kind of clowning deceit was he trying to do? A stupid one of course.
When the leader lies to the rakyat and doing stupid things, obviously the cabinet ministers will do the same. Anyone remember back in May 2008 his cabinet assured the rakyat that there will be no increase in petrol prices till September? Well, they increased it 78 sen to RM2.70 in August!
That was the single biggest jump in fuel price ever recorded in our history. To make matters worse, his minister said that they wanted to make a 50 sen increase but decided on 78 sen because they do not want to increase it twice later on. Wasn’t that a galactically stupid decision? In the mean time, the rakyat suffered inflation and all kinds of repercussions.
Back in 2007, he also quashed rumours that he had remarried but soon afterwards, it was revealed he was indeed married a few weeks before that. Talk about a natural born liar.
There were many many more mistimed and ill-advised decisions which were made during his time as Prime Minister. One of the biggest mistakes they made is the decision to create Iskandar Corridor in Johor. Many parties had warned his administration that opening up lands for sale to foreigners particularly Singaporeans will create damaging implications to the state of Johor.
Currently, the Menteri Besar of Johor is having headaches on how to curb the spiralling home property prices and how to curb influx of foreigners gaining properties there. All these negative implications have detrimental effects on the locals there particularly the malays; the largest BN vote bank in Johor.
But to the Fourth Floor boys at that time, wealth and quick money coming out of it was more important.
And the fact that he revealed he had a sleeping disorder called ‘sleep apnea’ which made him dozed off during meetings is prove that he indeed, was sleeping on his job. A responsible leader would have turned down the offer. But he felt that having power is more honourable than embarrassing the nation when pictures of him sleeping during meetings and public assemblies were circulating in media all over the world.
But miraculously, he revealed that his sleeping disorder was cured after he had stepped down. The fact that the illness could be cured easily is testament that all this was just an excuse. He was indeed irresponsible and had laid too much importance on other people to run this country.
Back then the monicker and popular phrases people had associated with him were – The Sleeping PM, Kerajaan Tiga Beranak, UnderLah Pak Lah etc’
Now this is the type of Prime Minister which after 2009, all the opposition leaders love to compliment. Even now all of them are heaping praises towards Pak Lah and his son in law, Khairy Jamaluddin. Again, when your political enemies are loving you, then something is indeed wrong. What sort of pact is going on here?
Shall we go back in time and read what Lim Kit Siang, had written about Pak Lah? You can read it here. Mind you that this is one of the ‘milder’ articles about our PM back then. Excerpt:
Abdullah should seriously find out why more and more people, including in government, the ruling coalition and the public, are talking in this vein about “a sleeping PM” when it was never said against the four previous Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein Onn and Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in the first 46 years of Malaysian nationhood.
One could disagree with the first four Prime Ministers, whether on government policies, measures or specific issues, but no one would attribute it to lack of focus, attention or interest by the Prime Minister.
Unfortunately, under Abdullah’s premiership, more and more people are putting the blame for many of the ills in government and country on “a sleeping PM”, which has not been helped by several factors, including:
- Abdullah’s trebling up as Minister for Internal Security and Minister for Finance when it is clear that he does not have the time nor temperament to be a full-time hands-on head for either Ministry.
- His 83 overseas trips in 44 months as Prime Minister;
- His “gate-keepers” at the “fourth-storey” in Putrajaya who have made the very personable Abdullah even more inaccessible to those who want to meet him when compared to his predecessor Tun Dr. Mahathir, who had the public image of being arrogant and haughty.
I have for instance stopped asking for an appointment with the Prime Minister after meeting him twice after the 2004 general election where he would invariably end each meeting with the polite standing offer to call on him whenever necessary. This was after my several requests to meet up with him were blocked by his “gatekeepers”.
I do not think Abdullah is aware as to who are asking to see him. In fact, I do not think Abdullah even reads or is informed of the gist of official letters written to him, for instance, my letter registering “strongest protest possible” to him on Tuesday at the most unsatisfactory reply to a parliamentary question in Malaysian parliamentary history which totally evaded the specific query posed — and the reply was in the name of the Prime Minister.
I do not think Abdullah has seen my “strongest possible protest” letter which had also asked for the missing answer to be furnished.
In contrast, I never had doubts that when I wrote a letter to Tun Dr. Mahathir when he was Prime Minister, it would be seen by him. There was one occasion when I wrote to Mahathir protesting against his public criticism of the DAP for not speaking up against the atrocities and genocide committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, telling him why it was baseless and untrue as he was victim of the media blackout of DAP. I immediately received a terse one-paragraph apology from Mahathir!
Although I am Parliamentary Opposition Leader, I do not want talk that the country has a “sleeping PM” to continue, as this is not good whether for the people or the country internationally.
Secondly, he must re-assert authority as Prime Minister and ensure that he is in control of the “gate-keepers” in the “fourth storey of Putrajaya” and not being controlled by his gatekeepers.
So Lim Kit Siang, who are the gatekeepers? Are they still running around creating havoc in this country? Are they your friends now?
There are a lot more we can write here but the most important thing regarding the book is this – it is just an effort to change what really happened during his years as Prime Minister.
- Ineptitude and stupidity are disguised as inability to reform Umno (Umno members are to be blamed here),
- Mismanagement and corruption of his cronies and family members are disguised as “Mahathir’s pet projects will make this country bankrupt”,
- Cronyism, nepotism and total control of mainstream media editors are disguised as ‘democratisation of society’,
- Wastage and unwise decisions are disguised as national projects,
- Dictatorial tendency where nobody within the party can criticise the Prime Minister is disguised as proponent of democracy
Perhaps the best way to look into how easy people forget what had happened merely 10 years ago is from the tweet of one called Lokman Adam. In the effort to defend Pak Lah, today he tweeted:
“Pak Lah pun pernah bawa kita menang besar PRU 2004, kita juga pernah hilang 2/3 tahun 2008.”
That is an erroneous statement. Pak Lah did not bring about the huge mandate in 2004. He wasn’t the main factor. He was barely 5 months into his term as the Prime Minister back then. What kind of reform has he done within that short space of time to garner such huge mandate? But the loss of 2008, yes we can attribute it mainly on him, judging from all the stinging vitriol by the opposition leaders as well as the rakyat’s loss of confidence in him. All those were resulted from his own undoing.
But of course, we have to forgive Lokman Adam because wasn’t even in Umno during that time as he was with Anwar Ibrahim in PKR. But now after he crossed over to Umno during Pak Lah’s reign and currently managed to become a Youth Exco, memory could be a little bit jarred.
There is no point defending the indefensible. It is a futile effort.
Nevertheless, people must remember what had really happened and since we could not rely on the opposition leaders to tell the truth about Pak Lah nor can we rely on the Umno Youth members in correcting the perception that this book could just be a pact between Pak Lah and the opposition, then we must use our own ability to search for the truth. Just use google and search its archives on all the happenings from 2004 to 2008.
This trip down the memory lane will make us re-live the nightmares.