Monday, November 17, 2008

The Son Rises : Mukhriz Mahathir


Written By Syed Akbar Ali

The UMNO party is in a most peculiar and perhaps even bizarre phase right now. The results of the March 8th General Elections are evidence enough that over the past five years the party has clearly lost touch with reality.

At a recent meeting in his office at the Twin Towers, Tun Dr Mahathir, former party President and Prime Minister for 22 years said that in the next General Elections in 2012 UMNO ‘are going to lose’.
Unless some serious re engineering is done to the way the party is managed and run and especially in the way the party thinks. UMNO is now in the late ‘soon to be prehistoric’ dinosaur phase.

The next step is rigor mortis and perhaps a mention in the history books as a ‘50 year’ flash in the pan in the history of Malaysia. This is the reality facing UMNO now. Dr Mahathir is particularly incensed because for 22 years he led the party to uninterrupted victory at the polls.
The party’s derailment is still ongoing. The incumbent has not been nominated for the post of party president. This has opened the path for Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak to be the sole candidate for president. While nominations for posts are closed, the party elections have been postponed from December 2008 to March 2009 – another five months away. That is an extraordinarily long period of time for politicking, mud slinging, exposes and revelations. Get the popcorn, get a comfortable seat and lets watch what happens. I feel the next five months may be potentially more exciting than the past 21 years of UMNO rock and roll.

All eyes are also focused on the contest for the UMNO Youth Chief’s position. Nominations have closed and with 74 nominations the clear front runner is Dato Mukhriz Mahathir, the 44 year old son of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. In 2004, at 40 years of age and in his first outing, Mukhriz won the election for the Umno Youth Exco also by garnering the highest number of votes.
His late start in politics is because his father did not allow any of his children to run for office under his tenure as Prime Minister. After his father’s retirement, Mukhriz’s turbo charged catching up is therefore well deserved.

In 2008 Mukhriz was also elected the Member of Parliament for Jerlun in Kedah. As a rookie MP, Mukhriz is showing credible performances. Since 70% of his constituents in Jerlun are paddy farmers, Mukhriz consistently brings up issues relating to the farmers. The son is claiming his roots in the soil. If he serves his Constituents well Mukhriz will be on very solid ground.
I met up with Mukhriz at Parliament House a few days ago to interview him for my Blog.
To digress a little, among the reasons I left banking many years ago was because I couldn’t stand wearing a tie to work everyday. Its just not Malaysian. (If needed I prefer ready made bowties – much simpler). But the guards at Parliament House insisted that I put on a tie to enter the Dewan area. The British left 50 years ago but they certainly put us in mental bondage. The word tie means exactly that ‘to tie’ something with string. Not too long ago, when the orang putih were uncivilized they did not know how to make buttons. So they used strings to hold up their shirts and trousers. They literally tied their clothes to their bodies. Itu pasal its called a tie. After they learned to use buttons (possibly from the Chinese) the orang putih kept the ‘tie’ as a fashion item. It’s a remnant of their lack of civilization from the time before TV. So why do we need to wear ties in Parliament? We don’t know buttons too?

Back to Mukhriz he looked resplendent in his dark suit, perfectly groomed and speaking crisp English with only minimal accent. Time was short and we got to the interview straight away – not much small talk – which for me was a very good sign, considering he was still a politician.

The Culture of Respect

We first spoke about respect. Perhaps it has died in UMNO. And disrespect is costing UMNO dearly. Mukhriz points out optimistically that showing disrespect is not UMNO culture, which is essentially Malay culture. He points out that the anger or unhappiness felt by many UMNO members at the disrespect shown to Tun Dr Mahathir after he stepped down as party president proves that they do not like this culture.

Mukhriz feels that in Kedah the defining moment was the hijacking of the Kubang Pasu UMNO delegates to deny Dr Mahathir the chance to be a representative at the UMNO Assembly. It was entirely distasteful. Mukhriz calls it “the epitomy of Melayu mudah lupa”.
Mukhriz points out that the only four Parliamentary seats won by UMNO in Kedah namely Alor Setar, Kubang Pasu, Jerlun and Langkawi were all related to Dr Mahathir in one way or another. Alor Setar was Dr Mahathir’s base. Kubang Pasu was his political stronghold. Langakwi was of course Dr Mahathir’s baby and his son was running in Jerlun.
Indeed it was a vote of respect for Dr Mahathir in those four Constituencies. In the rest of Kedah the voters kicked UMNO out. Disrespect could be Jalan Riong culture or Jalan Kejora culture but it is definitely not Malay culture.

Mukhriz says that before this Kubang Pasu delegates were respected and regarded in the UMNO Assemblies. That has now turned to disgust. The Malays cherish respect.
Mukhriz feels that it would be a mistake for anyone in UMNO to show such disrespect to Abdullah Badawi when he eventually leaves the scene. In short quick sentences Mukhriz says, “There is no time for ungratefulness. The party needs to be turned around. There are enemies to fight. The negative culture must go. UMNO must remedy itself quickly”.
He seems to be aware where the sins lie. This is the type of maturity which we cannot see in many of the older party politicos.

To the suggestion that Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and Gerakan should sponsor the building of a monument to Abdullah Badawi as ‘Bapa Demokrasi’ Mukhriz smiled broadly, showing his pearly whites. “There are far better ways to show gratitude” he grinned.

Mending UMNO

Commenting on the impaired status of UMNO he speaks in quick short sentences again: “UMNO can change. UMNO needs a sea change. But our basic principles remain the same. We are a Malay party. We give precedence to Malay issues. But at no time should we infringe upon others. This is not a mutually exclusive proposition. We must combat poverty across the ethnic divide”.
Certainly many ideas are bouncing around in his mind. There appears to be a genuine sense of serving the public. He refers quickly to the Hindraf:
“The Indians need more attention. (Regarding the Hindraf issues) UMNO is not only at fault. MIC have to do their job too. And also MCA. We seriously have to sit down with MIC and talk.”
But not putting the cart before the horse, Mukhriz says it is UMNO that is weakest now. ‘For now we must focus on strengthening UMNO’.

Asked how UMNO and BN can win back the 2/3 majority and the five States lost in 2008 Mukhriz says that “UMNO must revert to the original struggle. That has never changed. UMNO is commited to the people and country (bangsa dan negara). The UMNO issues also represent the issues of the many.”

“There needs to be change. We are not believable unless we have integrity. The general perception is that we are lacking integrity. Looking at Barrack Obama, being black was no barrier, in the end it was his image that counts. He projects integrity, family values and intelligence. If Obama can do it, why not UMNO ?

Grassroots Must Come First

“We are not focused anymore on uplifting the livelihood of the people. We are elitist. We have become an exclusive club and worse – with unbecoming practices especially corruption and abuse of power being the order of the day. The grassroots are the most important. The interests of the people must come first.”

“When the grassroots say something, we ignore it. Then the General Elections captured the feelings of the grassroots. In Johor there were over 100,000 spoilt votes. They were not willing to vote for the Opposition but they wanted to send a message to UMNO. We did not listen to them.”

Asked about his famous quip that the party President Abdullah Badawi’s UMNO speech had ‘nothing new’ Mukhriz says “Everyone was making snide remarks about the President’s speech. But after the speech they all got up and “kissy-kissy” the President. So what is the impression of the people watching the speech? This culture must change. The Perwakilan and the Ministers are all full of praise. What is wrong with a contrarian view? Just to show that there are those in UMNO who can think.”

On the Opposition

The Opposition is still behaving like an Opposition even in the five States that they have won. Often they just say things without maturity and without thinking of the consequences. Yes they should keep the ruling party on its toes but not try to score points at every turn. To them everything becomes a super hot, blown out of proportion issue. And they are making it very difficult to work with them.

It is the job of the Opposition to awaken consciousness. But not ‘at all costs’ – meaning not continuously stirring up controversy and over dramatizing issues. The Sept 16 scare did cost the country a lot of flight capital. Many investors turned jittery and exited the Stock Market because of the uncertainties thrown up by September 16th.
Their Anwar Ibrahim is also a bad joke.

On Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak

Going by the way Dato Najib handled the special stimulus budget he shows promise. He can immerse himself into his job well. A lot rides on Najib. He articulates issues well. Dato Najib has his own way. Najib will be his own man.

On the New Economic Policy

The NEP cannot be past its time because its objectives are not met yet. As long as the objectives are not met, there will be a need for such a policy. The NEP itself is not to be faulted. We have to find a balance between effective Affirmative Action and avoid the subsidy mentality.
Non Malays harp on the negative aspects of the NEP. That the Malays have not graduated. But there are large successes of the NEP like the creation of a large Malay middle class. This has created the basics for political stability. This has come about because of the NEP.
If not for NEP there would not be any meaningful bumiputra entrepreneurship at all. There was no market big enough in Malaysia – the market is too small. The bumiputras would not have been involved in the market. The NEP has provided them access. So the NEP is not past its time. Its implementation can be improved. But there is a lack of political will to make these improvements.

Also we must note that the 30% equity policy was stated in the original NEP. But since 1990 the NEP has been replaced by the National Development Policy which does not explicitly mention the 30%. This is something we have to look into.

Our idea should not be to just create elites. The buying and selling of APs became an industry. The big guys got it big and they kept it to themselves. We need to revamp these aspects of the NEP. The bumi equity programs are a failure. We are targeted to be an industrial nation by 2020 yet we have no bumiputra industrialists. If we can tweak the NEP to compete on a global scale then we can go far.

On Reinventing UMNO Party Elections

Asked if he can support a motion that the tenure of the party president or Prime Minister be restricted to two terms only Mukhriz says “We must understand the need for renewal. Each renewal must be for the good. If a (leader) is good he should stay longer. If he is not the party should replace him. There is no need to restrict his or her tenure”.

But he says UMNO could consider the suggestion that all party members vote to elect the party president. “It is wrong to say that grassroots don’t know better. That only the Perwakilan know better about who should be the leader. We have to give the grassroots a louder voice in UMNO and not wait to hear from them at the General Elections. If all members vote, it will also be a major step to eradicate money politics. Cant bribe 3.2 milllion members.”

On Money Politics and The Nominations for UMNO Youth

Mukhriz is grateful and happy that he received 74 nominations – making him the frontrunner for the Youth Head position. He crossed the line (to qualify) in just three days. “This is reassuring. All is not lost. There is hope for UMNO”. Meaning that a candidate can still have a chance minus money politics. “We need to cut the legs off money politics”.

And Mukhriz is encouraged by the fact that he secured landslide majorities when the ballots were secret. In some Bahagian, even by show of hands he still managed landslide majorities. Obviosuly the grassroots want change.

Is There Such A Thing As Mahathirisim?

No. It is just a ploy. To create a negative label to diminish what has been achieved in this country. My father followed through from Dato Onn, Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Razak. Throughout the past 52 years we have been building up the momentum. It’s a follow through. Each Prime Minister added his own ideas, they fine tuned the direction. We speeded up the momentum to industrialise and we introduced technology. Basically we opened up to the whole world. Our leaders have been following their predecessors. And we have had achievements like 10 years of 8% economic growth. Political stability, economic growth, prosperity for everyone was good for the country. Phrases like ‘Mahathirism’ are just negative labeling to distract people from all these achievements.

The Role of UMNO Youth

We have to uplift the intellectual thinking and capacity in UMNO Youth. In Permatang Pauh (by elections) we acted like we ruled the place - the ‘storm trooper’ tactics. We should have shown more humility to plead for the votes.

The Youth complain that we do not provide enough training which they can use to reply the Opposition. They feel bad that they are left to their own devices. They want good information, facts, figures and statistics. There is a desperate need to inject new spirit in Pemuda. We have to rehabilitate and upgrade the Pemuda. They are very capable and should be handled as such. Presently it is more superficial. When Hindraf demonstrated – we did not know how to confront the issue intellectually.

“The Hindraf said that UMNO is enemy, that there is ethnic cleansing and so on. Totally bizarre. But no one told us about this group. Even the MIC was taken by surprise”.


Well Mukhriz has received the highest number of nominations for the UMNO Youth post. But will he win the vote? There are five long months to go. Many things are happening on the ground. Mukhriz needs to keep his ears close to the ground over the next five months.
Some observers say that Mukhriz is playing ‘nicey, nicey’ but unfortunately nice guys always finish last. He is not soiling his hands in money politics. Another observer and macho Blogger says, ‘Perhaps he should play dirty too’.

Stay the course Dato Mukhriz. The fact that he received landslide majorities with or without secret balloting is telling. It seems most likely that his ‘nicey, nicey’ image will indeed carry the vote. Time has come for change. To change back to the ideals, the vision and the hard work which was the formula for 49 years of success (53 minus 4).



BeraniBerubah: TERIMA KASIH kepada Tuan Syed Akbar Ali (syedsoutsidethebox) ... MyKMUtara mohon gunapakai artikel Tuan yang complete dan lengkap ini bagi memberi penjelasan kepada pembaca mengenai DMM!. TQ! Kepada para pembaca, bolehlah melayari : milik Tuan Syed.


AloQStaQBlog: Terima Kasih kepada & Tn.Syed Akbar!

6 komen:

Tukang Dok Peghati November 17, 2008 at 3:47 PM  


Mengikut sumber risikkan aku, banyak gila orang nak peDAJAI Datuk Mukhriz semasa pemilihan kali ini..

Harap Datuk Mukhriz dapat kenal sapa kawan, sapa lawan terutamanya 'SAHABAT-SAHABAT' kita dalam satu 'FORUM' tuh.. HE!HE!HE!

Jemput masuk Blog chek..


AloQStaQ November 17, 2008 at 4:52 PM  

tenkiu tenkiu sahabatku Tukang!

Chek dah pun buat link ke blog sahabat tu ... cun dan baguih penulisannya! ... Bravo sahabatku! Tolong DMM untuk Tolong UMNO!

hans November 18, 2008 at 7:44 PM  

Ini blog pro-mukhriz mahathir ke?

saya bertanya sebab saya memang sokong dia...

dan yang penting dan paling bermakna dia bakal jadi ketua pemuda UMNO dan dia memang layak untuk jawatan itu

AloQStaQ November 19, 2008 at 12:57 PM  

Yep, ni blog untuk pro Mukhriz, UMNO dan lain-lain pemimpin yang landasannya adalah tepat dan tidak melencong dari landasan yang Ayahanda kita TUN Dr.M bina sejak lama ...

Jadi, Hans, tolong bantu calon-calon kita yang akan berjuang membetulkan semula UMNO yang telah dirosakkan oleh tangan Abdolah dan anak menantunya .... Bantu Mukhriz n Muhyiddin dan pastinya NAJIB untuk membetulkan UMNO! ...


kedah youngster November 20, 2008 at 6:34 PM  

Artikel yang sangat-sangat baik untuk Dato' Mukhriz. Gua respect dengan lu punya semangat kepada Dato' Mukhriz.

AloQStaQ November 23, 2008 at 3:20 PM  

Thanxs sahabatku Kedah Youngster! Aiii lama tak hantaq SMS, sibok ka bro? hehehe ... apapun, kita sama-sama bantu Dato' Mukhriz. Beliau tengah bertarung dengan 2 gergasi yang banyak strategi ... ada yang pakai strategi baik, ada yang pakai strategi jahat! ... Bantu DMM untuk membantu UMNO! ....

Bila nak balik mai Tanah Besaq sahabatku? ... hehehe ...

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