Sunday, July 17, 2016

MEMORIES OF PRIME MINISTERS

THE PRIME MINISTERS OF MALAYSIA

TUN DR. MAHATHIR MOHAMAD

1. Besides Tun Dr. Mahathir, I am one of the last Mohiccans, who are still alive, who had been in UMNO since 13th October, 1963, and out of UMNO when I studied overseas, but a member of the Alliance Club when in London, and back to UMNO to contest the 1974 General Election as a Barisan National candidate.

2. Although Tun Dr. Mahathir would not be able to remember this incident but he was known to me when I first met him as a patient with cough when I was 11+ years old in Langkawi. He was then bearded and Langkawi was his first posting after he completed his housemanship to be a doctor.

3. My parents moved to Langkawi and lived in Kampung Didik just behind Kim Sun Talkies which was the only cinema hall on the island, along the main road in Kuah town. At that time the only tarred road out of Kuah was the 5+ miles stretch to Sungai Raya Estate built by Loh Boon Siew. There was only a motor-cycle, bicycle and foot path between Kuah and Padang Matsirat. My father drove the lorries owned by Taukeh Teik and transported earths which were poured along the foot-paths to improve and widen the route for bigger vehicles.   

4. I had known Tun Dr. Mahathir again, when I was 20+ years old, when I was a lone Malay member of an all Chinese youth club in Seremban, affiliated to The Malaysian Association of Youth Clubs (MAYC) which was a multiracial parent youth organization, with Tun Dr. Mahathir as one of its earlier Vice Presidents. I attended MAYC functions where he was present with an MAYC training officer Encik Nasir.

5. As advised by my father before he died, when I was 12, I studied short-hand and type-writing, at a commercial private school in front of the Kuala Kangsar hospital, while studying at Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK). My father, born in Aceh to the Tiro and Beurawe families, studied in an Islamic College in Padang, Sumatera was aware that a knowledge of short-hand would be useful for taking notes when attending classes where the teachers just rattle on knowledge only to be forgotten immediately after the classes are over as the lectures are always too fast for notes to be taken with ordinary writing speed.

6. My ability in taking notes by Pitman's shorthand method and using all fingers by touch typing, in addition to my experience, as a bank employee, in book-keeping, were the reasons for me being  appointed, at 22+ years old, by Dato' Jaafar Talib to be the Honorary Secretary of The Negeri Sembilan Malay Chamber of Commerce at a time when Tun Dr. Mahathir was the Vice President of The Malaysian Malay Chamber of Commerce under the leadership of Tan Sri Hanafiah Hussain as its President, in the early 1960s.


7. While being the Honorary Secretary of the Malay chamber of commerce I was simultaneously the Hon. Secretary of UMNO Seremban Timor Youth Division after having graduated from being the Hon. Secretary of UMNO Seremban Bandar Youth Branch whose leader was Majid Baba, an office boy working for me at the bank. I later became the Honorary Secretary cum Information Officer of the UMNO Seremban Timor Division under the chairmanship of Dato' Hj. Ahmad Ujang, the son-in-law of the much revered Haji Said the ex-Mufti of Negeri Sembilan. Ahmad Ujang was the brother in law of Haji Redza bin Haji Said who was then the Member of Parliament for Rembau-Tampin constituency and later became an exco member of Negeri Sembilan.

8. I attended the first National UMNO Youth Convention in Morib in 1965 and listened to many UMNO leaders delivering their speeches and presenting their papers. Among the paper presenters was Tun Dr. Mahathir. The UMNO Youth leader at that time was Tan Sri Dato' Senu bin Abdul Rahman. 

9. I also represented the Negeri Sembilan Malay Chamber of Commerce in the first Kongres Ekonomi Bumiputra held in 1965 at Dewan Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Kuala Lumpur. It was then that I got to know Dato' Syed Ali Al Attas, the current President of the Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia; he was then representing the Johore Malay Chamber of Commerce. Both of us were present when the Chartered Accountant Mohd Raslan, of Hanafiah, Raslan, Ong, Mohamad and Partners presented a paper for the formation of Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Berhad.

10. I remembered vividly the verbal clash between Dato' Syed Ali Al Attas and Tun Ismail Ali, Governor of Bank Negara, who objected to the idea of forming Bank Bumiputra. Tun Abdul Razak saved the day and supported the formation of the bank. Tun Ismail Ali in one of his interview before retirement confessed that the only regret he had as a governor of the central bank was his objection to the formation of Bank Bumiputra.

TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN AL HAJ 

11. Tunku Abdul Rahman was known to me as I saw him visiting my grand-uncle, Haji Nyak Gam Nyak Abdullah, in Yan Besar, Kedah as my house was just across the road opposite Haji Nyak Gam's house. Haji Nyak Gam was the founder head of Yan UMNO division. My mother was an active member of Kaum Ibu UMNO Yan. She had fond memories of Khadijah Sidek who was Ketua Kaum Ibu UMNO during her time.
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12. I was in Form 1 at Malay College Kuala Kangsar and watched Tunku delivering his Merdeka speech as the first Prime Minister Malaysia. 

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13. Although a member of the Alliance Club in London I was also close to the socialist boys, particularly Ehsan, the younger brother of Dato' Ahmad Fathan, a hotelier in Alor Star, whom I met with his future wife at Baker Street mosque. Ehsan's white girlfriend attended the Friday round-table gathering of so called fundamentalists at the mosque as she was sympathetic with the cause of the Palestinians; Ehsan was there to accompany his girl-friend whom he eventually married.
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14. One very cold winter day Ehsan invited me to join the socialist boys to demonstrate at Heathrow's airport upon the arrival of Tunku Abdul Rahman. We were outside the fence with a big banner with the words, 'TUNKU GO HOME'.
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15. To our surprise Tunku requested his chauffer to stop the car just near the fence where we were standing and Tunku called Ehsan, our leader and the eldest among us, to approach him. Upon knowing that there were 12 of us Tunku took out his purse and handed over 12 pieces of GBP50 notes with the advice, 'You can go with this money and enjoy the gray-hound race which will start in time if you go now.' He continued, 'Don't worry, I will go home, as your banner suggested, when my business is done.' We were shocked and taken by surprise. That was in mid winter 1969.


16. Upon my return from an overseas study tour I was posted to The Chartered Bank Jalan Raja, Kuala Lumpur. I was then in touch with Tunku Abdul Rahman again as he was one of our bank customers. I still remember an incident when I managed to detect a forgery of his cheque by one of his drivers and I was excited to report to him in the hope that I would get a letter of commendation from him for being able to detect the forgery. It would have boosted my stature with the bank's headquarters in London.

17. When I rang Tunku up about the forgery he just asked me the amount involved as he knew he had very little credit left in his account. Upon knowing that the forger was his own driver and the amount was RM300.00 he replied, 'You may pay him the cash as I am sure he is terribly short of money and too ashamed to borrow from me ..... so he stole. Its OK.' Such a tolerant man was the Tunku. I was very disappointed but I detected the humanity in Tunku and I know that, even as a Prince and a Prime Minister his only income was his salary. 

18. As the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Countries Tunku introduced me to Ahmad An Najjar who was the founder of the first Islamic bank which he established in Mit Gmr, Egypt in 1951. The bank was so popular and successful that it was closed by President Gamel Abdul Nasr after hardly a year of operation. Bro. Ahmad An Najjar came to Malaysia and handed me a working paper for the establishment of an Islamic bank in Malaysia. Bro. Ahmad mentioned to me, 'Tunku Abdul asked me to see you. He did not give any letter of introduction as he said you are a good man and I only need to mention his name.' I was flattered with this remark. I handed over the paper on Islamic Banking to the Implementation and Coordination Unit (ICU) of the Prime Minister's department and nothing happened to it as the first Islamic bank in Malaysia was only formed when Tun Dr. Mahathir became the Prime Minister.

19. The second person introduced to me by Tunku Abdul Rahman was Bro. Hussein Najadi who came from Bahrain to establish an Islamic Bank. I introduced Hussein to Syed Hizam Al Baity who was my senior at MCKK who was working for a Chartered Accountant firm Azman, Wong and Partners. A paper was prepared for the formation of Arab Malaysia Islamic Bank. Unfortunately, I was informed that, when the approval for the formation of the bank was received from Bank Negara for the formation of the bank Hussein Najadi was spending his time in Bahrain prison where Islamic banking was at that time not looked at favorably in the Muslim monarchies in the Middle East. We are lucky that Tan Sri Azman Hashim of Azman Wong and Partners was entrepreneurial enough to make a success of Arab Malaysia Bank in the absence of Hussein Najadi.

20. Politically, I had two memorable chances of interacting with Tunku Abdul Rahman over the following four issues, which are (a) the Merdeka Football Stadium, (b) the National Mosque or Masjid Negara and (c) Subang International Airport.

21. These above three projects were fiercely criticized by lecturers from the University of Malaya with the following questions:

(a) Why should the Tunku even think of having an expensive football stadium when the football players in the padi fields of Kedah did not even know how to put their boots on?

(b) Why should Masjid Negara be built near the railway station as those in prayers will be interrupted and disturbed by the arrival of the morning trains into the station?

(c) Why did the Tunku built Subang International Airport when our need could be satisfied by the Sungei Besi Airport.

22. The Tunku brushed aside the UMNO Youth's questions by the following explanation:

22 (a). The Merdeka Football Stadium was built in memory of the Arsenal Football Stadium in London where Tunku used to visit whenever he was tired of looking into his law books which he said was rather boring. He felt relaxed each time he entered the stadium when the matches were not on. His dwelling house was quite near to the stadium.

22 (b). The Tunku explained that the people from Kedah, where he came from, likes to listen to the Quran recitals during the Quran reading competition. They listened through the radios. It is an opportunity for them to come to Kuala Lumpur. When they arrive in Kuala Lumpur by the early morning train, they needed a mosque nearby where they can have their bath and their ablution after which they could sleep and have their rest. It would be difficult for them had the mosque been built away from the railway station in the outskirt of Kuala Lumpur where it would be difficult for them to do shopping before the night when the Quran reading competition took place. 

22 (c). Sungei Besi airport, where he took off and landed as he went on overseas business, is a pathetic airport compared to the airports in other countries such as Kuwait. Upon the Tunku's return he was always received by waving squatters who lined up the long fence of the airport. "So, I built the airport and I don't have to see the squatters again."

23. All the three answers were unsatisfactory to the UMNO youths.

24. Many years later, while on retirement, a few years before he died, Tunku invited me to his house. He said, 'I remember that you are one of the youths in those days who asked me three questions which I can never forget ....'

25. The Tunku proceeded by asking me the following questions:

25 (a). Have you asked Mahathir (referring to Tun Dr. Mahathir) as to why he built the Bukit Jalil stadium as you asked me on the Merdeka Stadium.

25 (b). If my idea in building the National Morque was so difficult to understand why is Mahathir building the Islamic Center and the Islamic Museum near the mosque. Is it not because it is a strategic place?

25 (c) Have you also asked Mahathir as to why he is building the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) when you so vehemently complained my building the Subang Internatioal Airport. We need the tourists to come to our country and we must impressed the businessmen in order to get them to invest in our country.

26. When I asked the Tunku as to why he did not explain to the UMNO youth the whole idea of building the projects as he was then explaining, the Tunku replied, 'You were too young to understand your smart Prime Minister.' And he laughed aloud with the satisfaction of having told me off as the representative of the young who were critical of him during his premiership.

27. The Tunku was also the head of PERKIM, an organization which is famous for educating those who are newly converted to Islam. I believe that the Tunku, not known to be very religious, in his own way, have converted more non-Muslims to Islam than all the religious scholars in Malaysia have ever done.

28. On one occasion in Penang I asked him of this achievement. He said, 'You can convert the Indians by marrying them to Muslim women. That was how all the Hindu Malay Sultans of South East Asia were converted. Maharaja Derba II of Kedah, Parameswara, Sultan Majapahit ... to name a few. The Chinese are different. They like me. I drink, I dance and go racing with them. When I ask them whether they would like to remain as my friends after death they agreed. The only way for this to happen is for them to become Muslims. I cannot become one of them as I cannot reverse the process of circumcision. My Chinese friends believe that I am loved by Tien and that's the reason I am born a member of the royal family, I became a Prime Minister and live to a very old age ...'

TUN ABDUL RAZAK HUSSEIN
 
29. As a member of UMNO I studied Tunku's style of leadership and compared with the ways of Tun Abdul Razak, during whose period I became a Member of Parliament cum bank manager up to 1978 after having contested the General Election of 1974. It was the first General Election after the 13th May 1969 tragedy.

CREDIT GUARANTEE CORPORATION
 
(Loans for Padi Farmers, Trishaw Pullers and Coconut smallholders)

30. It was possible for me to become a Member of Parliament as well Manager of Rural and Bumiputra Loans Division of The Chartered Bank after an understanding was reached whereby I was retained by the bank to continue with managing loans for 25,000 padi planters in the northern states of Perlis, Kedah and Province Wellesley in addition to lending for the coconut smallholders of the coastal areas of Selangor while at the same time providing thousands of loans to trishaw pullers in Kota Bharu, Pasir Mas and Pasir Putih in Kelantan.

31. The padi farmers, who were paying exorbitant interest rates for loans from the rice millers (80%) and middlemen were enjoying the benefits of lower interest rates (10%) from our bank under the Credit Guarantee Corporation guarantee scheme which was just introduced at that time.

32. As I was the initiator of the scheme in The Chartered Bank, and it was much appreciated by Bank Negara Malaysia, with the recommendation of the Governor, Tun Ismail Ali, the Prime Minister's office agreed with the management of the bank for me to remain as a bank executive while being a Member of Parliament. It lasted for one term from 1974 to 1978. 

33. Tun Abdul Razak appointed me to the National Savings Bank Board, the board of Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) and The Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) before I was invited to contest the 1974 General Election. 

34. At the National Savings Bank I was introduced to Dato' Kama Jaya Syed Nahar Shahabuddin who later became the Menteri Besar of Kedah. I could then see the difference between a commercial bank and a savings bank.

35. Knowing that my relative was the first General Manager of FELDA, Tan Sri Hanafiah Hussain, an ex-UMNO Treasurer, who was also the first Malaysian Chartered Accountant, and realizing that I have worked as a child laborer during school holidays at the first FELDA scheme in Lembah Bilut, Pahang, while visiting my other uncle who was a settler, Tun Abdul Razak appointed me to sit on the board of FELDA.

36. The only time Tun Razak was unhappy with me was when he received a cutting of a newspaper report on my speech in Jakarta to the Ex-Servicemen Association of Indonesia on the subject of 'The Role of the Army in Economic Development of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan'.

37. It all started with Pak Samad Ismail inviting me to write every week for Berita Minggu on any subject of my choice. One of the article was on the role of the army in the economic development of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur was attracted to this article and the Ambassador had sent a cutting of the news from Berita Minggu to the Indonesian Army.

38. As a result I was invited to address the Indonesian Ex-Servicemen on the subject.  It was reported in Kompas, the Indonesian newspaper. This event was reported by the Malaysian Embassy to the Malaysian Foreign Ministry and the Kompas newspaper cutting eventually landed on Tun Abdul Razak's desk.

39. Tun Abdul Razak was surprised that the article in Berita Minggu was not brought to his attention. Upon reading the report in the Indonesian newspaper he requested me to write a two pages summary of what I had in mind. A few months after receipt of this summary I was told that I was invited to sit on the board of the Armed Forces Fund Board (LETAT) to put my ideas into action.

40. Tan Sri Samad (not Pak Samad the New Strairs Times Chief Editor) was the first Chairman of LETAT. One of our action after accumulating enough monthly subscriptions from the armed forces was to buy the company which deals with Volvo cars as the army used a lot of Volvo vehicles. When a Pakistani owned bank was for sale I suggested that LETAT buy, and we bought Habib Bank Berhad and turned it into Perwira Habib Bank. Now it is called Affin Bank Berhad.  I resigned from the board after being appointed as Deputy Minister subsequent to the 1978 General Election.

41. I noted that whenever Tun Abdul Razak visited the rural areas he was always with a walking stick. I once asked him the reason for the use of a walking stick and he smilingly replied, 'The people like politicians to appear hard-working despite the handicap.' Tun Abdul Razak was a humble man and greatly down to earth.

42. Tun Abdul Razak used to invite me for coffee and 'pulut hitam' at his official residence just before the Wednesday cabinet meetings. He was interested to know about the Malaysian Association of Youth Clubs (MAYC) of which I was the President, Malaysian Islamic Youth Organization (ABIM) of which I was one of the founders, FELDA, National Savings Bank, The Armed Forces Fund Board, banking in general and Rural Banking in particular. He was always asking about the padi pllanters in the north, the trishaw pullers in Kelantan and the coconut smallholders in the coastal areas of Selangor.

43. Under the Implementation and Coordination Unit (ICU) of the Prime Minister's Department there was a committee coordinating the development and growth of government or Bumiputera owned or controlled chain-stores. There were representatives from SENAMA (owned by MARA), PERNAS EDAR (owned by PERNAS), NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institute businesse entity owned by the armed forces which was later taken over by PERNAMA on 07.07.2015 owned by the Armed Forces Fund Board - LETAT), representatives of the State Owned wholesale outlets under the State Development companies (with the exception of Johor state which refused to operate a wholesale unit). I was the only non government representative from SHAMELIN, a Bumiputra consumer retail cooperative with about 30 nationwide retail outlets at that time.

44. After Tun Abdul Razak's return from Sweden where he visited the retail supermarkets of Koperativa Forbundet he was so impressed with the cooperative movement in Sweden that, at the subsequent Farmers Day celebration he praised SHAMELIN and announced, in his speech, a loan of RM3 million (quite a sum at that time) for SHAMELIN to expand its operation.

45. Tun Abdul Razak informed me in confidence that the committee on chain stores was set up to ensure that should anything untoward happens during the General Election in 1974, based on the experience of the 1969 General Election which resulted in racial riots, the committee would be responsible for ensuring adequate distribution of food should the Chinese retailers close up their shops.

46. As an MP, while simultaneously working for the bank, I was also a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) with the late Richard Ho as its Chairman. Richard was an MCA Member of Parliament. Tun Razak asked a lot of questions on what happens at the PAC meetings when I had pulut hitam whenever I met him before his cabinet meetings.

47. As a former civil servant Tun Razak relies a great deal on the civil servants and any project that was undertaken would have gone through meticulous scrutiny and preparation before its launching. There is no surprises in his leadership style and he was transparent throughout his premiership. Although I was not even a Parliamentary Secretary during Tun Razak's period the time I spent with him in his office or at his house was as much, if not more, than other heads of departments and even Ministers.

48. I did not know any of Tun Abd. Razak's children before Dato' Seri Najib entered politics after his untimely death. I could not understand the reason Tun Abd. Razak once told me that among his children the only one who could be in politics is Johari, until I saw Johari appeared with him in the film "Tanda Putra" which narrated the May 13th, 1969 tragedy.

TUN HUSSEIN ONN

49. I knew Tun Hussein Onn by name as he was attached to the reputable legal firm Skrine & Co. whose account was also at our bank. Under the 3rd Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, I was appointed as a Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Land and Regional Development after which I served in The Ministry of Home Affairs. He was known to be a humble man of moderate means, very meticulous and careful in all his action and ways of doing thing.

50. I was once called by Tun Ismail Ali to explain to Tun Hussein as the Finance Minister the reason for Bank Negara Malaysia to ease on credit in order to solve the problem of stagflation. Tun Ismail told me that I might be able to explain in a way that Tun Hussein would understand as Tun Hussein's trust of the governor did not include signing away official documents on policy matters without first understanding them.

51. As it was my habit to visit the Deputy Prime Minister's and the Prime Minister's houses just before the official time for Hari Raya Aidil Fitri in order I could parade my 7 children in front of them in order to pay respect without the interference of the bigger crowd when the door to the open house was opened. 

52. After more than one hour of question and answer session I ended up by saying that, 'If Tun does not release the credit then citizens of Malaysia, as fish is in water, will die due to shortage of water, as is shortage of credit available in the economy due to stagflation.' Tun Hussein thanked me for the explanation and he signed the document prepared by the governor and while signed he murmured, 'Why didn't they tell me that the fishes would die due to water shortage ...'

53. On the first Hari Raya day after Tun Hussein's appointment as Prime Minister I was shocked to discover that he did not know me despite having chosen me to be a Deputy Minister. Upon arrival, before the official opening time for Hari Raya Open House Tun Hussein asked me for my name and the state from where I came. It was when I answered his question as to my profession he was then embarrassed that he did not recognize me and knew my name. I was later informed that his choice of me as a Deputy Minister was in the 'little book' that Tun Razak left behind, in which my name was slotted as a potential Deputy Minister at a cabinet reshuffle which Tun Razak planned before he passed away.

54. The following year I visited Tun Mahathir's house first before I visited Tun Hussein's house. When I told Tun Dr. Mahathir that I would next be visiting Tun Hussein, he asked me to thank Tun Hussein for his decision to refuse a request by President Soeharto for my extradition to Indonesia to be charged for 'treason' because of my involvement with GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka) an organization led by my uncle, Teungku Hasan Di Tiro, fighting for the independence of Aceh from Indonesia.   

55. According to Tun Dr. Mahathir, Tun Hussein told President Soeharto that I am a Malaysian citizen and that he would not entertain Soeharto's request without further evidence of my involvement.

56. While this incident necessitates another write-up suffice it to say that in my subsequent 72 minutes meeting with President Soeharto in his office in Jakarta the issue was resolved amicably. You may read related subject in my blog entries entitled WAR CRIMINAL CONFERENCE on 17th October, 2009 and A BOOK I HAVE NOT READ on 20th November, 2013
 
57. When Tun Dr. Mahathir became the 4th Prime Minister I was promoted to a full Minister status in the newly reformed Ministry of National and Rural Development and subsequently in the Ministry of Agriculture. The Ministry of National and Rural Development was abolished during the premiership of Tun Hussein Onn.

58. If you read the book by Tun Dr. Mahathir entitled 'DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE' you will find that despite having served him for many years I was mentioned only once and it was significant to note that I was made a minister not because of any special relationship to any prominent person or dynasty, by blood or through marriages, but because of my previous activities and services. 

59. I went back to Kedah as the Menteri Besar after a controversial delay of one year after the 1994 General Election. I won the subsequent General Election in 1999 with more than two third majority but decided to step down voluntarily after the General Election. I stayed on as a State Assemblyman till 2004 after 30 years as an elected representative since the 1974 General Election.

60. I was given a cheque for RM3 million as expenses for the whole state election. Despite the small amount I managed to get a 2/3 majority.  

TWO GREAT MENTORS
 
61. Although I was a Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Land and Regional Development under the Minister Tan Sri Abd. Kadir Yusof who was also the Attorney General, I also had the opportunity of serving under Tun Ghazali Shafie as my Minister in the Ministry of Home Affairs, I was the Acting Minister of the two ministries whenever the Ministers were either on holiday, sick leave or overseas.

62. While my Minister in the Ministry of Land and Regional Development was busy helping the Prime Minister in his other portfolio, it was in the Home Ministry that I was the Acting Minister for many months in each year.  

63. Under these two Ministers I had the best experience in apprenticeship into practical politics and government as Tan Sri Kadir Yusof was a brilliant lawyer and Tun Ghazali Shafiee was a brilliant member of the Malaysian Civil and Diplomatic Services, besides his colourful pats as a member of the British Intelligence Force 136 who was among those dropped into Padang Terap by the British during the Japanese Occupation of Malaysia.  

PRIME MINISTERS THAT I DIDN'T WORK FOR

64. I have never worked under the 5th and the 6th Prime Minister though I knew them as Ministers and in the case of Dato' Seri Najib also as a Menteri Besar. I knew Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi since his days as the Director of Youths in the Ministry of Youth and Sports while I was at that time busy with managing MAYC, as its President.The Secretary General of the Ministry of Youth was at that time Dato' Jamaluddin who's son is the present Minister of Youth and a son in law of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

65. While being the President of MAYC I was also busy building up the Islamic Youth Movement or Angkatan Belia Islam (ABIM) as its founder Vice President.Its first President was Prof. Ghazali Nawawi.

66. Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim came later into ABIM as our Secretary General as he needed a platform to remain as The President of The Malaysian Youth Council a post he won in his capacity as The President of Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar-Pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM). To remain President of Majlis Belia Malaysia he needed the ABIM platform. 

MY FIRST TASTE OF REAL-POLITICS.

67. Since 1974 when I had my first experience in an election, despite winning unopposed, because the candidate who submitted his incomplete nomination form was disqualified, I had been through 7 General Elections.

68. The disqualified candidate who stood against me, during my first election, was not from PAS but he was an elderly man called Bung Isa and I was informed later that he came from Penang and was a former ISA detainee during the Indonesian Confrontation as he was the Secretary General of Persatuan Melayu Semenanjung (Peninsular Malay Party) or PMS, which was a banned organization, under the leadership of Bung Kahar.

69. PMS had a plan to assassinate Tun Abdul Razak, Lee Kuan Yew and other leaders of the newly formed Malaysian Federation which was opposed by Soekarno.

70. As a Rural Banker, while being simultaneously, from 1974 to 1978, a Member of Parliament, lending money to 25,000 padi farmers in the Northern States of Perlis, Kedah and Province Wellesley, a few hundreds of coconut small-holders in the coastal areas of Selangor, and thousands of trishaw pullers, or 'penggatih teksi', in Kota Bharu, Pasir Mas and Pasir Putih in Kelantan, I was always in touch with the grassroots not necessarily for being a Member of Parliament.

71. Besides serving my constituents with rural loans, I also appointed an assistant from among the UMNO divisional committee members, who was a Penghulu, to be my personal representative in the constituency. When I returned to my constituency each fortnight I was told by this personal assistant that all the constituents were happy with me and that he had been entertaining all applications for projects under the provision provided to me, as an MP, by the government. I just signed off the list of projects and conveyed my salam to the constituents.  

72. At the subsequent UMNO Divisional Annual General Meeting, held just before the forthcoming General Election of 1978 I was challenged as a Deputy Divisional Head by my very own assistant and I loss my post by obtaining hardly 20 % of the delegates' votes. Upon inquiry made by the police special branch I was informed that I lost because I did not entertain applications for projects made by my constituents and that the projects approved were with the iniative of my assistant on his own. That was my first lesson on betrayal by a person I trusted. 

73. When the time for General Election came the UMNO division submitted 4 names for the top party bosses to consider. I was one of them. According to intelligence report I was among the most popular with the padi farmers and the majority of voters in the constituency. Even though PAS had left Barisan Nasisonal many PAS padi farmers, who borrowed money under the Rural Loans Programme of the bank I worked with, prayed for me to contest the election in the same constituency as, after all, no UMNO candidate could ever win against me as there was not enough UMNO members to win an election even if every UMNO member voted for a BN candidate. 

74. The UMNO members who did not vote for me during the last UMNO election regretted for not doing so, when they became aware that my former assistant had claimed credit for all the projects that I approved, and entrusted to him for implementation, and follow up.

75. Trusting my assistant, and abiding by his advise, I did not reply to the correspondences received from my voters and party members. I assumed, with my assistant's concurrence, that having the projects approved was sufficient acknowledgement of my having entertained their requests. It was easy for my assistant to convince my constituents that he was the one approving the projects as he was a senior Penghulu in the district of Yan, Kedah.

76. Then came the news that I had to contest in Jerlun-Langkawi constituency instead of in my Jerai constituency of which I have served in my first term as a member of Parliament for Barisan Nasional. The reason offered, for my transfer of constituency, was that I was behind the rejection, by The District Development Committee,  of the idea of building a Chinese Temple on a piece of land along Jalan Jeniang in Guar Chempedak.

77. I did not know of this decision to reject the application to build a temple as my assistant represented me at the District Development Committee meeting. He could have objected it on my behalf, without my knowing it.

78. I was informed later that the District Development Committee rejected the temple application because it was to be built on a piece of Malay Reserve Land.  I was not responsible but with the UMNO-MCA minor conspiracy I became a victim and was moved to contest in the Jerlun-Lankawi Constituency.

79. Langkawi has a strong UMNO base but Jerlun was one of PAS  stronghold in Malaysia with one of PAS Vice Presidents Dato' Bakar Omar having it as his state constituency.

80. The Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn and his Deputy Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir were afraid that I would loose. I was informed later that I was made to contest in the Jerlun-Langkawi constituency as some state Umno leaders would like me to lose. 

81. I was lucky that  the candidate from PAS, against me, was also an outsider from the constituency and I had at least 3 thousand padi farmers from PAS who were customers of the bank that I worked for. As most of the PAS Election Posts were controlled by my Rural Loan borrowers I visited all PAS's Voting Sheds giving them free cigarettes and drinks. That was the action I took to befriend PAS  which resulted with PAS giving the fatwa that UMNO is un-Islamic and a contact with me by PAS members were pronounced as haram.  

82. I did not then enter PAS Election Posts but instead threw into their compound packets of cigarettes and left tins of biscuits outside the compound surrounding the election post each time I visited their stations.  I won the 1978 election with a big majority.

83. Knowing my relationship with the Rural Loan borrowers PAS chose my representative for the Rural Loan programme, who later became the Secretary General of PAS, to contest against me in the 1982 General Election for the Jerlun-Langkawi constituency. As Haji Halim Arshad was a friend of mine I decided to 'donate' a few thousand dollars, not billions, from my personal savings, for his expenditure in his effort to oust me from being the constituency's representative.

84. I have never subscribed to the idea that political differences should interfere with friendships.

85. Halim lost the election. He had expected the result as he knew of my close relationship with my Rural Loans customers.

ADVISE FOR BUDDING POLITICIANS

86. I was earlier advised by my elders in Kampung Aceh, Yan Kedah that should I be in politics I should not be acquasitive in attitude, with the intention of getting rich, but should be creative and innovative in helping the rakyat. Should I wish to be rich then I should go into business as did my parents and grand-parents with the risk of facing bankruptcy.

87. I was also told not to be a play boy, going after women to satisfy my lust.

88. My father also reminded me to look for work and not for position, as there is no competition if one looks for work to do as humans normally do not like to work if they can avoid it; but if one looks for position then one will have many rivals as most humans have a tendency of wanting to occupy positions but not really liking the work that goes with it. 

89. I have been adhering to all these advises all my political life although I began to understand the advice as I grew older.

90. Having been in many ministries for many years I could have enriched myself with all the opportunities that came my way, and power is aphrodisiac and even not so good looking politicians can get away with many beautiful women if they so wish, and I could see that the struggle for positions at the various stages in UMNO are some times unethical. 

91. But the competition in UMNO in those days was to give as much service to the people as possible.

92. Some UMNO politicians, though without much education in economics, were very motivational as they could deliver very meaningful speeches. Among them, who were national figures, which I can still remember were Tan Sri Syed Jaafar Albar, Tan Sri Abd. Samad Idris, Dato' Othman Abdullah, Hj. Sulaiman Palestine. Tun Abd. Razak, Tan Sri Khir Johari, Tan Sri Senu Abd. Rahman, Dato' Harun Idris and many others.  Some were not inspirational by the way they spoke but by what they said or the messages they deliver.

93. Many leaders who are not inspirational are popular for their hard work, sacrifices, and commitment to help their constituents. 

94. Most Parliamentarians and State Assemblymen in those days were poor or comparatively not well off, or just manageable in their finances. 

95. In fact the UMNO leadership itself depends for funding, for a while, from non-Malays when facing an election. 

96. But everything changed with the advancement of the New Economic Policy.

97. The above are glimpses of the experiences that I remember as I type off this piece of article. Other memories come along from time to time and, as I have written of these glimpses in the past, I will continue writing in the future.

MEMORIES FOR THE FUTURE

98. Below is a rough sketch of the 'bombshell' for future generation to ponder. It is an unfolding tragedy which is just beginning. 
 
I LOVE PM

99. The above has been a slogan introduced as soon as Dato' Seri Najib was installed as the Prime Minister. It is said that Dato' Seri Najib's strategy was to promote himself as the winning factor in the forthcoming 13th General Election in 2013 as UMNO has become a very unpopular party by then as even young school children has learnt the new word ABU (Asal Bukan UMNO) which means 'As Long As It Is Not UMNO.  

100. An entry into Tun Dr. Mahathir's blog on 9th  June, 2015 entitled "HOW 1MDB MONEY WAS INVESTED".

1. I am intrigued by the ability of 1MDB to invest 42 billion Ringgit in so many businesses. Really I should be fully satisfied with how 1MDB expended the huge loan that it borrowed.

2. But unfortunately I am not. I am not, because the information came from the current CEO , Arul Kanda Kandasamy. And Arul has been caught lying quite a number of times.

3. Almost as soon as he took over management of 1MDB he announced that the money from Cayman's Island has been returned. He said clearly and openly that he saw the cash i.e. one billion dollars in cash. Then he said it was statements. What are the statements? Anyway in the end the bank said no cash and only documents were deposited in it and the documents carried false signatures.

4. He must have told the Prime Minister about this fantastic pile of dollar notes so the Prime Minister answered the question in Parliament that the cash is in the bank in Singapore. It cannot be brought back because Bank Negara asks too many questions. The Finance Minister must approve or disapprove all Bank Negara strictures or approvals.

5. Then the banks denied that the cash is in the bank. Embarrassing. The vision has disappeared. No. It is not cash. It is documents. No, it is units. What units? Dunno. Which bank? Not clear. The mystery deepens.

6. So when Arul announced the investments of 42 billion Ringgit, could it be something else that he saw which was not there. And do people use borrowed money to pay tax? What tax? No profit was declared but tax was paid. How much? Cost of managing 1MDB run into billions!

7. In any case, many names which are known to have received money from 1MDB are not mentioned. Lots of money went to Hong Kong companies with funny names.

8. Has nothing been paid to Petro Saudi, to Jho Low, to Brazen Sky and others. Jho Low denies but why has he not proven that he did not receive US$260 million (RM988 million) from 1MDB to buy a bank.

9. Arul had lied before. It is not inconceivable that on the 42 billion Ringgit Arul may be lying again. Where a chunk of the 42 billion ringgit went is still questionable.

10. I don't think we can resolve the problem of where the 1MDB money has gone through four-eyed meetings. Najib can resolve through proving beyond reasonable doubt that no money has disappeared from the 42 billion borrowed.

11. The intention of 1MDB I presume is to make money for the Government. Show how much profit the government has made since 2009. Why do you have to borrow money to pay interest on the debts?

12. Why cannot the power plant shares be listed?

13. Why did 1MDB pay only 60 - 90 Ringgit for Government land which it now wants to sell at 2000 - 4000 Ringgit psf? And now the land bought by Tabung Haji has been sold to some Indonesians at a loss. The loss will be borne by the pilgrims.

14. Actually there are many questions that the Prime Minister can answer not to me, but to the public. The money does not belong to me alone. Neither to the Prime Minister or Finance Minister. From the question asked by so many people they want to know where their money is.

15. The money belongs to the people. It is the duty of the police, the anti-corruption agency to investigate the complaints and the reports that has been made - including by Bank Negara. But the agencies have not investigated.

16. There is a climate of fear which restrains them from investigating. For as long as the Prime Minister is the Prime Minister, investigating things involving him is not going to be really possible. It is necessary that the Prime Minister relinquish his position and authority if the Auditor General, the Public Accounts Committee or even a Royal Commission is to reveal the truth.

17. I went to the "Nothing to Hide" forum hoping to hear explanations from Dato' Seri Najib and to ask questions. But it was cancelled because of security reasons.

18. I watched a video clip of what happened. There was no threat to security except for Ali Tinju making a lot of noise. It was obvious he wanted the meeting to be cancelled. We know who he is in favour of. It is a pity. Najib could have explained everything and people like me would be silenced.

First published on 26th March, 2016 at 11.29 am.

Second republication on 17th July, 2016 at 07.30 am

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Faridina is writing..

Assalamualaikum Tan Sri,

It took me 2 days to read this posting because I just can't stop reading and reading..

Knew a lot of the unknown from your memories with the 1st to 4th PM.

What matter most you are very close to the father of the present PM and Tun Razak note see you appointed to the cabinet via Tun Hussein and surprisingly Najib was not even his father's choice to enter politics!

Yes keep writing Sir, really enjoy all this from one of the last Mohiccans. :)

Wasalam Tan Sri.

MOKHTAR said...

Salam Tan Sri,

Back to the old days.. always admire all the mohiccans,, you all truly bred politicians, for the people, for the country and for the Agama.. May Allah bless you all..Amin..

Asbi abbas said...

Salam Tan Sri..

Going through this memoir is like going through the history of Malaya/Malaysia. It has been a great write-up and thank you Sir for the loads of historical facts and events..

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the knowledge Dato Sri

Anonymous said...

Salam Tan Sri..very inspiring, refreshing & igniting...hahaha

Raja Shunmugam said...

Thank you, Tan Sri, for this comprehensive tour of your life and your involvement in the growth of this country. You have been witness to her many momentous moments and our future generations will be able to have a good understanding our beginnings. I look forward to reading more of your recollections.

Maria Kareem said...

Assalamualaikum Tan Sri,
Satu coretan sejarah bila saya membacanya.Kisah pejuangan Tan Sri dalam politik tanah air bersama 4 Perdana menteri..
Moga Tan Sri diberikan kesihatan yg baik oleh Allah...

Saheme bin Hashim said...

Assalamualaiku Tan Seri

Satu coretan kisah hidup Tan Seri yg penuh berliku dn boleh di jadikan iktibar oleh generasi akan baru.nampak jelas hubungan Tan Seri dan Tun yg cukup rapat sejak diusia 11 thn


Tahniah dan semuga dan seri diberi kekuatan dan kesihatan yg baik oleh Allah Swt

Captain Sepolbuskers said...

Salam Tan Sri,
May Allah bless you.
I love this kind of memoirs.
I had my own idolic public figure which i look up very much. I hope he will also develop his own blog and shares his own much waited memoirs.

#YbgTanSriDatukDrHjMustaphaKamalMKLandHoldings

Heritage Cycle said...

Assalamualaikum Tan Sri,
Excellent piece..... pls continue to write & enlighted us (y)