Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Getting a Whiff of Fear, Desperation and Hypocrisy

Getting a Whiff of Fear, Desperation and Hypocrisy

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s speech at the 2012 UMNO General Assembly was touted as the most powerful to be delivered by the Prime Minister and President of UMNO.  It was designed to rouse the members into action and to win over fence-sitters in the forthcoming 13th General Elections.  However, strip off the bravado and you can get a whiff of the unmistakable overpowering smell of fear, desperation and hypocrisy that waft through the speech.  The full text of the speech as reported by Bernama can be read in Bahasa Malaysia by clicking this link http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v6/bm/newsindex.php?id=712458 and in English by clicking this link http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v6/newspolitic.php?id=712554.


The smell of fear is real.  Scientists have proven that a person in fear releases pheromones which people can unconsciously detect.  Once the sound and fury of Najib’s delivery and the pretentious swagger of false courage is removed, one can smell in his speech at least three of Najib’s fears.


Najib exposed his fear that UMNO has lost the peoples’ support when he referred to the “very bitter experience” and “most painful in the political history of UMNO and the Barisan Nasional” in the March 2008 12th General Elections.[1]  He acknowledged it was a clear signal to UMNO and Barisan Nasional to change.[2]  By imploring UMNO members to persevere in convincing the people[3] to the extent of knocking on the door of every heart and opening every gateway of hope[4], Najib admits, UMNO has to date failed to change. With less than 20 weeks before Parliament dissolves on April 28th, 2013, this may be too little too late.

Najib glaringly exposed a second fear that UMNO is beset with internal dissent and indiscipline by beseeching members to learn from the consequences of indiscipline in the Battles of Badr and Uhud[5].  He reprised this fear in his closing speech. It is an open secret that Najib is having problems with UMNO warlords in the selection of candidates and fears sabotage within its ranks.[6]   Najib announced on October 20, 2012 that the UMNO Supreme Council had set up a committee to monitor members who may sabotage and betray the party in the coming general elections.

It is ironic that Najib has used the Battles of Badr and Uhud as the example on the need for discipline.  This is because I am informed, Muslim scholars have taught that the victory of the Muslim forces that were outnumbered in the Battle of Badr and the defeat in the Battle of Uhud where the forces were equal (but the archers had deserted their post in the quest for booty), show that one can win against all the odds only when one has faith and follow Allah’s guidance.  Failure to do so simply results in calamity and losses.[7]  The lesson of the Battles of Badr and Uhud is that whatever happens, whether there is a miracle or not, all help proceeds from Allah.  Man should not be so arrogant as to suppose that his own resources will change the current of Allah’s world plan. This seems to have escaped Najib.

I am informed by my Muslim friends that Najib would have done better by referring to Verse (8:53 and 13:11) that “…Allah never changes the condition of any people until they first change that which is in their hearts…”. Before UMNO can change, their members must first do so. Najib failed to show this in his speech.


Najib’s third fear is that UMNO cannot rely on past achievements to win the forthcoming general elections. The majority of the people are born after Malaysia Day, with 70% living in the urban areas, 40% of those aged 17 – 23 pursue various levels of education, one fifth of the 13.1 million voters are new and therefore UMNO cannot rely on pre-independence achievements and have to face a better informed and critical electorate.[8]  He said that since over 95% of Malaysians are born after UMNO’s formation they will not base their votes on UMNO’s past. However, UMNO’s future is not encouraging with his exhortation that without organizational discipline, UMNO will go down and will be defeated.[9] UMNO’s continued harping and spin on race, religion and royalty in the past 4 years have not endeared them to the better informed and critical thinking voters.    


Like the smell of fear, people can also detect the smell of desperation. Many a parent will attest to the fact that when he or she is desperate in trying to stop the baby from crying, the baby becomes more upset in sensing the parent’s desperation. The desperation emanated by Najib must have been huge since not just babies but grown men and women cried. This could be one explanation for UMNO members weeping openly as he spoke. Najib in keeping to his motto that desperate times call for desperate measures, made at least 3 desperate measures in his speech.


In a frantic attempt to report his accomplishments, Najib exaggerated and gave a misleading impression of his achievements.  Najib said that he had succeeded in shielding Malaysia from the global economic crisis, placed it back on the part of sustainable growth and got us out of the middle income country trap.[10]

Although the economy has seen the reduction of exports being offset by a high domestic consumption, Najib has not been able to shield those actually affected by the global financial crisis.  RHB Research Institute reported on October 12, 2012 that due to the global economic slowdown, manufacturers retrenched 4,609 workers in August and warned that manufacturers would retrench more workers if the economic situation deteriorates. The Edge in its 30th November 2012 edition reported that the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (“FMM”) in its survey found 77% of the respondents indicated that “things will get worse in Europe” and more that 50% believe the economic conditions in the US, China and India will have a negative impact on Malaysian manufacturers and exports. The business community, exporters, manufacturers, the workers and their family and friends certainly do not agree with Najib’s claim.  

Najib in claiming that the nation is out of the middle income trap has forgotten that his own Performance Management and Delivery Unit (“Pemandu”) has said that in order to achieve high-income status it will require the Gross National Income (“GNI”) to grow at an annual real growth rate of 6% from 2011 to 2020. The Ministry of Finance in the Economic Report 2012/2013 stated that the economy is only expected to expand between 4.5% and 5% in 2012 and the forecast for GDP growth in 2013 is also between 4.5% and 5.5%.[11]  Since we have not met the 6% GNI growth, we are still well and truly stuck in the middle income trap. Our low level income is daily proof that Najib’s claim is made out of political desperation. 


Najib finding himself in dire straits to show one-upmanship over his nemesis attacked Pakatan Rakyat’s Reform Programme in the Orange Book and Anwar Ibrahim’s performance as Finance Minister during the Asian Financial Crisis.[12]   

Najib’s desperate attempt is most unfortunate for him because in drawing the people’s attention to their respective performances, the people will find Najib is far behind Anwar. A simple comparison of the economic growth under Anwar Ibrahim and Najib Tun Razak clearly shows that Anwar is a much better Finance Minister and exposes Najib’s desperation. 

Economic Growth during the period of Anwar Ibrahim as Finance Minister
Growth %

Economic Growth during the period of Najib Tun Razak as Finance Minister
Growth %

Comparison of Surplus/Deficit Budget and Total National Debt
Surplus/Deficit (%)
Total National Debt (RM billion)

Surplus/Deficit (%)
Total National Debt (RM billion)

Surplus/Deficit (%)
Total National Debt (RM billion)

Surplus/Deficit (%)
Total National Debt (RM billion)

The record shows that Anwar Ibrahim accomplished surplus budgets for each of the years he was Finance Minister whereas there have been 14 consecutive years of budget deficit since his removal. The substantial increase of the National Debt from RM306 billion in 2008 to RM456 billion in 2011 shows Najib’s inability to rein in a galloping expenditure. It resulted in the government debt hitting 53.7% of GDP, just a whisker away from the ceiling for Government borrowing. These deficit budgets were on top of an annual dividend of RM30 billion from Petronas compared to only RM3.1 billion during Anwar’s tenure.  


Najib’s third desperate argument is the attempt to scare the people into believing that the nation will be bankrupt in 3 years if Pakatan Rakyat is to form the Government[13] and implements the programmes in the Orange Book.  He called on the people not to gamble on the future of the nation and their families[14] and to choose UMNO on the basis that UMNO can change.[15]

Najib’s rhetoric, sorry to say, is not that of a newly appointed Prime Minister, where the electorate can only judge him on his promises and not performance. The people have had 4 years to evaluate his performance. His much vaunted 1Malaysia Transformation Programme stalled unashamedly after objections by Tun Mahathir and Perkasa. Najib’s much used “national bankruptcy” bogey for Pakatan Rakyat proposals pales in comparison to the warnings by Standard & Poor, Fitch Ratings and IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, that Najib cannot delay the critical structural and economic reforms the nation so badly needs. Najib in the past 4 years has proven that neither he nor UMNO can change.


Nothing reeks stronger that the smell of hypocrisy and this abounds in Najib’s speech.

His assurances that UMNO is committed to Article 11 of the Federal Constitution on the freedom of religion rings hollow in the light of the cow-head stomping, church burning, banning of the Catholic newspaper “The Herald” and prohibition on the use of the word “Allah” by non- Muslims.[16] The difficulties encountered in obtaining approvals for non-Muslim places of worship by the previous Barisan National state governments and the destruction of Hindu temples are still fresh in the minds of Malaysians.

Najib’s contention that UMNO will continue to champion the Malay and bumiputra agenda[17] while in the same breath saying that UMNO have never been complacent in defending the rights and being fair to all races[18] is the height of mendacity. This is because this was said while Sharizat’s words that there will be another May 13 if UMNO loses, was still reverberating in the halls of the UMNO General Assembly. At least Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy UMNO President, Muhyiddin Yassin, had the gumption to dismiss Sharizat’s remark that racial clashes might be repeated if UMNO is weak.  There was however, not a squeak from Najib in his opening and closing speeches on this and by his silence he put paid to his argument that UMNO champions racial fairness.        

Further, Najib’s failure to address revelations made outside the Putra World Trade Center by putting on a mask of nonchalance also undermined his credibility. He ought to have answered the revelations by his wife’s erstwhile friend, Deepak Jaikishan, of the plot in getting PI Bala to recant his first statutory declaration. He should have also answered the ex-IGP, Musa Hassan’s exposes of political interference in police affairs. Finally, the refusal to allow the French lawyers to brief the MPs in Parliament, the lack of cooperation by Malaysian authorities to the French investigations on the Scorpene affair (which according to SUARAM’s lawyers, Apoline Cagnat, Najib and Razak Baginda are priority witnesses) and the persecution of SUARAM by various enforcement agencies and authorities which is seen as an evidence to shut out SUARAM from proceeding with the French proceedings, all served to cast Najib’s speech in an insidious Machiavellian light. 


Far from inspiring his troops and the fence-sitters, Najib’s speech exposed UMNO’s fractiousness, inability to change and that the people is better off, to paraphrase Tun Mahathir’s famous words in choosing Pakatan Rakyat, the angel they may not know than UMNO, the devil they know. 

William Leong Jee Keen
3rd December 2012

[1] Paragraph 9 of the Speech:  Nevertheless, while we fan the fire of the fighting spirit, let’s not forget the past.  Remember, the 12th General Election in March 2008 was a very bitter experience, most painful, in the political history of UMNO and the Barisan Nasional.
[2] Paragraph 11 of the Speech:  For a political party that has buttressed the Federal Government for more than half a century, the bitter episode should serve as a lesson for us all.  In fact, it was a clear signal of the Malaysian people to UMNO and its partners in the Barisan Nasional to change, according to the tastes, aspirations and expectations of the people.
[3] Paragraph 34 of the Speech:  … we must be courageous in working hard, we must continue to persevere to convince the people that we are the leading choice of leadership, that only we can bring a better future to them and their children and grandchildren.
[4] Paragraphs after 149 at page 13 of the Speech:  We will use everything within our means to win over the hearts and minds of the people in the democratic arena.  We will compete for every vote; we will try to convince every Malaysian.  We will also knock on the door of every heart and open every gateway of hope. 
[5] Paragraph 37 of the Speech:  Whereas in the Battle of Uhud, the Muslim army was defeated despite being as strong as the enemy.  It was written that the defeat in the Battle of Uhud was due to weakness in the chain of control and administration of the forces and the negligence of the archers in obeying orders, compared to the Battle of Badr.
[6] http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=42775:sabotage--betrayal-umno-sets-up-committee-to-check-on-disloyal-bn-candidates&Itemid=2
[7] http://www.astudyofquran.org/web/index.php?id=0,6,0,0,1,0.  Mohammed Abdul Malek is a Qur'anic Scholar and a prolific writer on Islam, based in SURREY, England
[8] Paragraphs 19, 20, 22, 23, 24 and 30 of the Speech
[9] Paragraph 38 of the Speech
[10] Paragraph 16 of the Speech
[11] The Economic Transformation Programme announced by PEMANDU and Economic Report 2012/2013 page 3;
[12] Paragraphs 67, 68, 69, 70 and 71 of the Speech
[13] Paragraphs 61, 62, 63, 64, 65 and 66 of the Speech
[14] Paragraph 49 of the Speech
[15] Paragraph 47 of the Speech
[16] Paragraph 92 of the Speech: At this gathering we wish to state unequivocally again that we are against, vehemently opposed to those who support liberalism or pluralism. Paragraph 93 of the Speech: UMNO’s commitment in this is in accordance with the provisions of Clause 1 and Clause 4 of Article 11 of the federal Constitution which is the supreme law of the land. Clause 1 of Article 11 guarantees freedom of religion in this country, even though Clause1 of Article 3 states that Islam is the religion of the federation.
[17] Paragraph 115  of the Speech
[18] Paragraph 124 of the Speech

No comments:

Post a Comment