Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Amanah agenda (Part 3) — Sakmongkol AK47

July 27, 2011
The Malaysian Insider

JULY 27 — There’s a practical side as to why I usually break up my articles into several parts. One is that I am writing from memory and therefore the output depends on my power of recall; if the issue at hand has decelerated, I can discontinue. I am also able to include responses to comments that come in if I judge them to be of material relevance.

Many of the comments on my articles on Amanah for example said they know of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s well-meaning intentions and all that. But they lamented that this country needs action. The action will come in the next elections is the short answer.

I think, if I may put it as such, we don’t have to rush Tengku Razaleigh into doing something strategically inopportune. It will eventually be incorporated into a political agenda on a political platform. For the moment a little patience is prudent.

It’s true, that the faces on the stage have long passed their political prime. But some of them are not looking for offices. Amanah isn’t a political party; it is at the moment, an NGO where like-minded concerned citizens come together to find the means for articulating their concerns. Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said so himself, we on this stage sudah tak tahan lagi. We have to speak out.

So why not speak out through existing political parties if it’s not Barisan Nasional they want to do so? My answer is they chose Amanah precisely because it’s led by Tengku Razaleigh. The other non BN political parties simply do not have a figure that can serve as a singular rallying point. DAP is practical minded. PAS knows its own limitations. PKR has other problems. But in Tengku Razaleigh, it is possible to find such a figure.

Why is Umno quiet about it? Because they can’t do anything about it. Even among Umno members there is increasing disquiet about how things are managed. Saifuddin Abdullah’s recent “out-of-line” statements and Khairy Jamaluddin’s conscientious objections are only tips of the icebergs.

Tengku Razaleigh is merely pointing out the realities. He is still an Umno member, so what can Umno do at the moment? It can’t sack a person of his stature without precipitating its own implosion. So go ahead, sack him and it will make the days of many.

Tengku Razaleigh is, of course, mindful of the possible repercussions of his actions. He may not be fielded as an Umno candidate in the next elections. He may lose the support of Umno Gua Musang. The last time I spoke to him, he was telling me of these reservations.

I pointed out to him that his victory doesn’t just depend on Umno votes. It depends on the rakyat. Given the history of seeing only 60 per cent of Umno members voting for their own candidates and 60 per cent of Malays voting for non Umno candidates, I would rate his chances as being above average. The opinion of the present Umno leadership is quite simply inconsequential.

So that is why Umno is quiet about the whole thing.

At the moment, this is what Amanah provides. A platform for speaking out against the abuses on the Merdeka heritage. The assault on fair and free elections. Because, if I may continue from the last article, the means by which we achieve our end, to get a clean and fair government, is also the end itself. The clean and fair government that is the end must be justified by clean and fair means.

We want to speak out against the endemic corruption that has engulfed this country; the assault on the judiciary that has caused public distrust and haplessness, the divisiveness of the people because of opportunistic racism and all that.

The first portion of Kadir’s speech was interesting. How does a government hold on to power?

Whoever wrote the American diplomatic dispatch that was made available to us through WikiLeaks and Malaysia Today gave what seems to be some correct observations:

The ruling party wants to stay in power indefinitely; for instance, the ruling party defines national security primarily as a matter of protecting Umno’s superiority and ensuring that “people power,” or a level electoral playing field, cannot become the opposition’s means of toppling the ruling party.

That would explain the bludgeoning of the Bersih planned rally.

The ruling party is relying primarily on its own party structure and the embedded system of carrots and sticks to keep party membership in line. As in other one-party states, the party is seen opportunistically as a mechanism for personal advancement and enrichment.

The ruling elite maintain control over the security apparatus through party stalwarts who run the security institutions, mainly the police but also the military. We believe the military will remain loyal to legitimate leadership and is not a likely tool to overturn an elected, royally-approved and Malay-led government from either the ruling or opposition side. The police, on the other hand, follow orders from the ruling party.

That is why I find Kadir’s anecdotal description of Nigeria’s political experience, while amusing, very instructive. He was telling the story of how the Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan came to power.

In Nigeria, there is a rotation system whereby Christian and Muslim leaders take turns to become president. Goodluck Jonathan is a Christian and the current roster is for a Muslim to be president. Having served as deputy president for the maximum allowed period of two terms, he was obliged to retire. Jonathan does not have a standing to offer himself as presidential candidates when by convention, it’s the other fellow’s turn.

But he successfully offered himself by doing the unconventional but doing what Nigerians have always wanted. The North and the South gave him the victory. How? Jonathan did offer himself by promising to do what justifies the end of getting a clean and fair government. He did it by offering the Nigerians the only means to get the end — clean and fair means.

He changed the head of the judiciary, the head of the police install a neutral and fair minded elections commission and so forth. These fair and clean means to achieving a desired end, in the end rallied the people behind him.

Malaysians have a choice, really, to adopt the method by which Goodluck Ebele Jonathan retains power or the way, the American diplomat observed above.

That is the typical way by which totalitarian governments keep their power. Everything is defined in terms of primarily their interests. Hence Bersih’s march for fair and clean elections is taken as a challenge to Malay security, an assault on Islam and Malay rulers, etc, and hence a threat to Umno’s security is taken as a threat to the country.

The Amanah platform now serves primarily as a clarion call for people to set aside their partisan politics and see what the country has become into. The beneficiaries of an independent country are now witnessing the blatant abuse of what has been bequeathed to them by our founding fathers.

While it serves as a clarion call or sounding board, the cudgels will be picked up by others hopefully. True, Tengku Razaleigh hasn’t got the organisational structures at the moment, but only because it’s only just launched and it’s not a political organisation.

But more important, I think, by launching this Amanah, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is signalling that his is ready and willing to offer leadership. — sakmongkol.blogspot.com

* Sakmongkol AK47 is the nom de plume of Datuk Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz. He was Pulau Manis assemblyman (2004-2008).

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

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