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Monday, July 30, 2012

When moving forward means moving sideways


Onn Jaafar, as an example, left Umno because Umno would not accept non-Malays into the party. He wanted Umno to abandon its Malay agenda and transform itself into a Malaysian party. But Umno could not agree to that. So, since Umno did not share his ideals of a non-race-based party, he left. Since he could not change Umno and since he was not prepared to change his stand just to toe the party line, he quit to form his own non-race-based party.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Resignation part and parcel of politics - Shafie Apdal
(Bernama) -- Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal has described Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin's decision to resign as an Umno Supreme Council member, Beaufort Umno division chief and Beaufort Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman as part and parcel of politics.
Although defection in Umno and the BN is not something new, he said Lajim and Pertubuhan Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Bersatu (Upko) deputy president Datuk Wilfred Bumburing's decision to leave the BN should not be taken lightly.
Mohd Shafie, who is also rural and regional development minister, said in Umno's history, even the party's founder Dato Onn Jaafar quit the party.
"We need to strengthen the BN and Umno in Sabah. We should never let our guard down and the people should choose wisely," Mohd Shafie told reporters after closing the Siputeh Umno division delegates' meeting here today.
He said Lajim and Bumburing would not necessarily win their seats in the next general election as they won theirs on BN tickets.
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Sometimes, especially in the corporate world, to move forward (or up) you need to move sideways. There comes a point in your career when you reach a ‘glass ceiling’ and it is no longer possible for you to see a career progression. Hence you need to move sideways to move forward. So you leave the company to go work for another company. It could even be your competitor’s company.
After some time in the same company the routine may have made your life quite boring. You could do your job with both eyes closed and one arm tied behind your back. There is no longer any challenge in your life. Hence you now want a career change so that you can try your hand at something new. It is a risk, no doubt, but that is what you are looking for, a new challenge.
It could also be after 20 years of working for someone and helping that person make money you now have enough contacts and experience to break out on your own. Your customers are loyal to you, not to your company, and you are confident that if you set up your own business most of your customers will follow you and shift their business to your company. It is you, after all, who has been serving them for the last 20 years and they are very happy with your service and quite confident that they will continue to receive the same service.
It could also be that others below you have been promoted above you. You helped train these people and now these people are your boss. It could be that these younger people are better qualified than you. It could be that these people were promoted above you because they are of the ‘right’ race. It could even be that you are too outspoken and always speak your mind, which your boss does not like, while the others are better at playing thebodek game (apple polishing) and your boss likes ‘yes-men’.
There are many reasons why others get ahead and you do not -- some your fault and some not -- and there are also many reasons why you leave -- some out of frustration and some just to seek a better life/future. We must not discount the possibility that it could just mean you are seeking a new environment (for reasons of boredom, needing a new challenge, etc.) or that your priorities in life have changed (you no longer enjoy ‘walking the streets’ selling products but now prefer planning marketing strategies).
There are probably many other reasons why you would want to change jobs, which I have not mentioned above. Nevertheless, there would always be a reason or reasons why you have decided to go for a career or job change. But how would this apply to a career in politics?
Politics is a bit different from the scenario above. You work because you need money -- at least that is why most people work. If your uncle died and left you RM65 million in cash and assets you would probably not need to work any longer. Of if your father died and left you his very lucrative business you may be forced to work because you now have to run that business, aided, of course, by professional managers. Most times, however, you work because you need money.
In politics, sometimes it is also about money. Career politicians -- which would be what most Malaysian politicians are -- are in it for the money. If politicians are not paid any salary or allowance and, say, wakil rakyat, instead of receiving a salary/allowance, need to pay for the ‘honour’ of being a wakil rakyat, how many would want to become a wakil rakyat?
For example, the First Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, took six months no-pay leave to campaign in the general election (he handed the administration of the country to his deputy, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein). He also sold a lot of his personal property to finance Umno. When the Tunku retired he was almost broke and could not even afford to pay his income tax. So the government froze his gratuity.
How many politicians would do what the Tunku did?
The Tunku, understandably, was very sad. After being ousted and forced out of office on allegations that he was a ‘Chinese lover’ and that he is to blame for the 13th May 1969 race riots due to his excessive ‘compromises’ with the Chinese, he is whacked with a huge income tax bill and his gratuity is frozen.
The Tunku who did so much for the country and sacrificed his personal wealth for the sake of the country is made into a pariah and suffers persecution. That turned him into a bitter old man and when the old Umno was wound up and the new Umno (Umno Baru) was formed he refused to become a member. In fact, he worked with Semangat 46 to oppose Umno Baru. And when he died he died outside Umno.
The Third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, also opposed Umno Baru and, just like the Tunku, died outside Umno. He too did not like what Umno had become. His aspirations never changed. Neither did the Tunku’s. But Umno had changed. And both these gentlemen did not like what they saw in the new Umno that rose from the ashes of the old Umno.
Of course, to people like Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tun Ghafar Baba, Anwar Ibrahim, etc. -- those who gave birth to Umno Baru -- those like Tunku Rahman, Tunku Razaleigh Hamzah, Hussein Onn, Harun Idris, etc., who refused to join Umno Baru and instead opposed Umno Baru are traitors and turncoats.
Are they traitors and turncoats? Were they bribed or paid money to oppose Tun Dr Mahathir’s, Tun Ghafar’s and Anwar’s Umno Baru? Or are they actually patriots and nationalists who felt that Umno Baru had betrayed the people?
Some people start as activists with a cause and eventually migrate to becoming politicians. Many now in PKR come to mind when we talk about this. Others start as politicians and migrate to becoming activists to further the cause. Lee Lam Thye is one such example.
The trouble with activists becoming politicians is that the cause needs to play second fiddle to toeing the party line. You cannot join a party and become one of its leaders and then move in the opposite direction to the party even if the party appears to have gone in what you perceive as the ‘wrong’ direction. That is the downside of an activist turned politician.
The second downside would be: what happens if the party has transformed or mutated into something that you do not believe in? Do you call it a day and move on or do you bite the bullet and stifle your dissent? Dissent would be considered as rebellion in a political party. Demonstrating dissent would weaken the party as it gives an impression that the party is divided, or worse, disintegrating.
Hence you need to demonstrate party solidarity. But doing so goes against what you believe in. So what do you do? Do you speak out and risk being seen as not toeing the party line or do you leave and be called a traitor or turncoat? Not an easy decision, especially for someone who has attained a high profile status in the party.
I am not trying to turn this issue into a religious debate but allow me to quote the history of the Qur’an as an example of what I am arguing. Students of the Qur’an will know that there is a difference in tone and focus between the Mekah and Medina verses. The Mekah verses are more compromising while the Medina verses are more hard line and strict.
For example, the Qur’an starts by saying that there is good and there is bad in liquor but there is more bad than good. Hence this verse can be taken as an advice about the ills of liquor but not quite a prohibition from drinking.
Then the Qur’an says you must not drink before your prayers. This is a prohibition but a prohibition only when you are going to pray. In other words you can still drink as long as you are not about to pray.
Finally, the Qur’an prohibits liquor altogether.
Now, the Qur’an is supposed to be the word of God but sent to us through the Prophet Muhammad. So why can’t God (or Muhammad) make up His mind? Why the ‘U-turn’? Why like this one day and like that another day? Why not be consistent?
Students of the Qur’an can tell you that in the early days of Islam when the pagans of Mekah were not yet ready to fully abandon their old customs and traditions, Muhammad (or God, if you embrace the belief that the Qur’an is God’s word) had to be more compromising and less hard line. However, after more than a decade, after Islam had become well entrenched in Medinan society, Muhammad was able to be more intolerant and less compromising on what was considered unIslamic.
So Muhammad (or God, the Muslims would believe) was not wishy-washy and indecisive. Muhammad was not doing U-turns. He was not acting like a turncoat. As situations change priorities change. In the beginning it was about gaining converts. Towards the end it was about strengthening Islam. Hence the first decade and the final decade would see a difference in tone and focus.
Umno, in the early years, had a different agenda to the Umno of, say, 40 years later. In 1946, Umno sought independence. Hence whatever it did was done with that priority in mind. By 1986, it was about power. Hence what we saw was a power struggle between ‘Team A’ and ‘Team B’ that saw Umno disintegrate two years later in 1988.
So, there were those who agreed with what Umno stood for in 1946 but then these same people no longer could agree with what Umno stood for 40 years later in 1986, especially the ‘money politics’ and the anti-Monarchy stance. So they ‘left’ Umno by refusing to join Umno Baru.
But are these people traitors and turncoats? Or are they true to the cause? Did they change or did Umno change? Have these people become monsters or did Umno instead turn into a monster?
Yes, to assess a certain situation or event we need to do a more thorough analysis and understand not only what happened but also the ideals -- or lack of it as the case may be -- of the various personalities involved. Mohd Shafie Apdal said that defections in Umno and the BN is not something new and is part and parcel of politics. He also said that in Umno's history even the party's founder, Dato Onn Jaafar, quit the party.
True, people have left Umno-BN and people have crossed over from the opposition to join Umno-BN. But different people have done so for different reasons.
Onn Jaafar, as an example, left Umno because Umno would not accept non-Malays into the party. He wanted Umno to abandon its Malay agenda and transform itself into a Malaysian party. But Umno could not agree to that. So, since Umno did not share his ideals of a non-race-based party, he left. Since he could not change Umno and since he was not prepared to change his stand just to toe the party line, he quit to form his own non-race-based party.
Was Onn Jaafar a traitor or a true Malaysian patriot? It depends on who you are. Different people would place different labels to Onn Jaafar.
And what about Lajim Ukin's and Wilfred Bumburing's decision to leave Barisan Nasional to join Pakatan Rakyat? Are these traitors, turncoats, frogs, etc? Should we condemn these two as politicians with no principles? Can we also say that Pakatan Rakyat has no principles for accepting traitors, turncoats, frogs, etc? And since Pakatan Rakyat has no principles should we continue supporting it?
Yes, if this were Zaid Ibrahim, Tunku Aziz Ibrahim, Zahrain Hashim, Zulkifli Nordin, Ibrahim Ali, Hasan Ali, Wee Choo Keong, Nasarudin Hashim, Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi, Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu, Hee Yit Foong, etc., who crossed over then they would be called traitors, turncoats, frogs, etc. But what do we call Lajim Ukin and Wilfred Bumburing? Patriots?

5 comments:

  1. Tunku Abdul Rahman was a true leader. We need more like him.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Which one is better? Umno lama or Umno baru?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mungkin tindakkan Lajim keluar ini akan menjejaskan lagi sokongan kepada beliau. Sama macam Jeffrey Kitingan.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yang saya dengar lagi.. Ini antara rancangan Datuk Anwar untuk menjerat pemimpin BN dan menyertai PR dan menjanjikan pelbagai perkara jika menang.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anwar hnya ingin menang beberapa kerusi di Sabah bagi memastikan rancangannya untuk menuju Putrajaya trcapai. dia tidak peduli pun pasal sabah.

      Delete

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