[draft] Tectonic shift in M'sian politics (5) : Total Assessment

Some may interpret that the latest “cabinet reshuffle” by Najib was just a normal business and everything is “kao-tim” (settled) [see http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Columnists/Analy... ], or it’s just a reflection of weakness and may deepen the leadership crisis [see http://blog.limkitsiang.com/2015/08/02/najibs-desp... ], or some may simply said that this was just another PM’s successful defensive game, but sacking Muhyiddin out from the DPM was too much, the compromise might be needed since he has still had power as the UMNO deputy president. [see http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/malaysia-pm-s... ]

That depends on the background and based theory of each analysts. But together with the reshuffle came with such maneuvers as

  1. The raid at DPP’s office http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/08/02/M...
  2. An arrest of ex-MACC Tan Sri adviser and AGC officer http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/08/01/P...
  3. The announcement on ending of AG - Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail’s tenure http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article... , and
  4. The appointment of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed as deputy minister of home affairs.

Again some might compare this with the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim on Sept 1, 1998, but with the softer degree [see http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Columnists/One-M... ], while Dr Mahathir himself refused the similarity, claiming that Anwar had committed something wrong, hence justified his decision to drop Anwar out of the cabinet.

That decision although could secure Dr M’s position, but sending Anwar as the summit as the fiercest opponent force against both Dr M and UMNO, and has radically transformed the political landscape in Malaysia until nowadays.

Five years from that 1998 event, Dr M decided to step down and handed the premiership to his the then DPM, Abdullah Badawi.

Badawi had run the country for five years before facing criticizes from Dr M ranking from not getting 2/3 seats in the parliament to the problem of the “fourth floor boys” and the accusing on Badawi’s son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin.

After months of expelling campaign both from Dr M and from the opposition, very similar to recent Najib’s accusing, It was Muhyiddin to “gently asked” Badawi to step down, and handed the premiership to Najib.

Again, after running the country for 5 years, Dr M has started accusing Najib. But this time, different from Badawi, Najib has denied to step down and fights back.

The accuse has systematically shifted from 1MDB to the RM 2.6 B transferred directly into the personal account of Najib.

Although there is a talk that the constitution in UMNO provides trust account under president’s name [see http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/08/01/R... ], and even Najib himself agrees to unveil source of political funds if opposition does the same. [see http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article... ], while Dr M wrote on his Chedet denying that he never got donated money to his personal account and saying that the amount of money is so much and thus violate the rule on the election process [see http://chedet.cc/?p=1817 ].

I feel that just little amount of people is touching to the real issue, such as http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/07/29/malaysias-...

Neither Najib nor any of his current plausible replacements appear capable of reversing Malaysia’s decades-long decline. Herein lies perhaps Mahathir’s worst legacy of all. By forcing the three most capable politicians beside himself out of UMNO during their prime, Mahathir ensured that only relative lightweights would command leading positions in Malaysia’s most powerful political institution. If Malaysia is to exit this crisis on a path to restored health rather than steeper decline, the political and economic reforms first demanded in the reformasi movement of the late 1990s will finally need to put in place: either by a new generation of leadership within UMNO, or by Malaysia’s repressed but resilient political opposition.

The hard truth

According to the book, “Chinese Business in Malaysia: Accumulation, Ascendance, Accommodation” by Edmund Terence Gomez, I’m afraid that this links to “fundamental problem” in Malaysia. The political architecture that has deep rooted back since the merdeka, and then later has been overwhelming influenced by Dr M:

“Money politics involves, among other issues, favoritism, conflicts of interest and nepotism in the award of state concessions, securing votes or support during federal, state and party election by disbursing current or future material benefits usually due to direct and indirect interference by political parties or influential politicians in the corporate sector. This basis of money politics may be termed politicized or ‘political business”. The term “political business” has been used to refer to the various forms of political involvement in business, for example of how UMNO’s hegemony over the state has been abused to enable the accumulation of a vast amount of corporate assets ostensibly for the party.

By the mid-1980s, criticism of the party’s involvement in business no longer came only from outside, but also from within the party. This divided UMNO so badly that Mahathir had to move to have the party deregistered and create UMNO Baru (or “New Umno”) under his control in its place. In the process, most of the old party’s corporate assets were channeled into the hands of individual businessman, particularly Halim Saad, Tajudin Ramli and Samsudin Abu Hasan, all proteges of UMNO treasurer Daim.

The use of patronage to develop a strong coterie of politically-aligned businessmen and a large grassroots base, and the staggering use of money in party elections, was obvious during the 1993 UMNO party election when Anwar Ibrahim ousted Ghafar Baba as deputy president of the party. It was estimated that between RM200 million and RM300 million was spent for the campaign. During the 1984 UMNO election, when Razaleigh Hamza challenged Musa Hiram for the post of deputy president, it was believed that a sum of RM20 million was spent during the campaign period.”

- overstretch by the western standard

- combating over perception is not enough, committing to the more "open governance", or struggle out of Mahathirism or engage Malaysia 3.0 - defining the clear rule

- problem of the US during Woodrow Wilson (import Bureaucratic system from Europe, capital accumulation and corruption problem)

- the problem on western media

If no one touches to this fundamental, it means that they just use “half-truth” as weapons to eradicate their rival, and thus a political battle rather than a political reform. Hence if it’s political battle, we need different thinking to make such assessment on the outcome of the event.

Operasi Lalang and the anti-coup

The director of MACC made question the search of the office by the police as it was "baffling" that the deputy public prosecutor (DPP) was hauled up. [see http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/08/03/M... ] This may raise our eyebrow as a reminding of several maneuvers on MACC, AGC, and PAC or "Special Task Force" on 1MDB are similar to Operasi Lalang, a major crackdown carried out beginning 27 October 1987 by the Malaysian police, ostensibly to prevent the occurrence of racial riots in Malaysia. The operation saw the arrest of 106 persons –NGO activists, opposition politicians, intellectuals, students, artists, scientists and others–who were detained without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Some may even says that this is anti-coup maneuver.

Well, in my opinion, this is not exactly anti-coup for sure, but it has some matter similar to the coup & anti-coup maneuver in Thailand.


The hidden maneuver

But how can we really "evaluate" the development of the event in Malaysia? In order to do so, I think we can borrow the "evaluation process" on nuclear crisis during cold war era. In this "war", there was no real "hot" war, but the "cold" war, or fighting among the proxy states only. How could the superpowers manage to do that by avoiding the catastrophe on bombarding each other by nuclear warheads?

Many people may have well memory on the brink of nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union on the 13 days of "Cuban Missile Crises” in 1962. It was a counter tactic by Cuba to the failed coup d’état attempt supported by the CIA against Cuban government with the “Bay of Pigs Invasion” in 1961. Fidel Castro had played the brinkmanship to install the midrange nuclear warhead in Cuba. That nuclear warhead station had been detected by the US reconnaissance aircraft, U2. The Kennedy administration responded by making announcement of quarantine to making pressure for the Soviet to withdraw the nuclear missiles.

After a big debate at the UN, several behind-the-scene negotiations, and the secret offering from the US to withdraw the nuclear missiles out of Turkey, the agreement had been reached. The world was saved. Yet, John F Kennedy had been assassinated in 1963, (as well as his brother, Robert F Kennedy had also been assassinated in 1968,) despite the rumor that he could defuse the potential of the coup d’état from the hawk wing in the US military. While, Nikita Khrushchev had been discharged from the first secretary of the central committee of the communist party of the Soviet Union in 1964. Although, both the US and the Soviet could establish the hotline between Washington and Moscow to resolve the possible tension in the future.

With this kind of incident and just think about the détente between the US and Cuba nowadays.

Yet, the most terrifying one was actually the 1983 nuclear false alarm in the Soviet Union. Had the authority at the Soviet Air Defense Forces, Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov committed the protocol not to decide that it was the technical error, it might trigger the nuclear war for the US and the Soviet Union and the potential deaths of millions of people.

Apart of the most two dangerous incidents, as far as we know, the world is saved from the nuclear war until recently, despite beyond 15,000 nuclear weapons stockpile in the world. The cold-war was not turned into the “hot” nuclear war.

This is not coincidence. Actually, there is no coincidence in politics or in the war. (The war is merely the continuation of politics by other means, according to Carl von Clausewitz.)

The Yoda

The awareness on the US’ side on the potential of the full-scale of nuclear war had been full alerted after the successful development of Soviet atomic bomb project in 1949, by helps from the “atomic spy ring,” including the famous one like “Klaus Fuchs”. (The US had learned this from the “decryption”, counter-intelligence program, the Venona project by the US Army Signal Intelligence Service during 1943-1980.)

In the late 1960s, the man, Andrew Walter Marshall gave birth to the improvement of the US’ ability to craft better strategies in the analytic methodology known as “net assessment.” This idea has been flourished into an Office of Net Assessment (ONA), behind the door labeled “3A932,” on the third floor of the innermost (the “A” ring) of the Pentagon. Despite his “little-known” to the public, but he has been regarded as intellectual giant comparable to such nuclear strategists as Bernard Brodie, Herman Kahn, Henry Kissinger, James Schlesinger, and Albert Wohlstetter. These guys are the men insights influenced the decisions of US presidents, defense secretaries, and senior military leaders during the cold-wars and beyonds.Among of these, Marshall has been recognized as the most influential behind-the-scenes strategist among others.

“For Marshall net assessments were careful comparisons of US weapon systems, forces, operational doctrines and practices, training, logistics, design and acquisition approaches, resource allocation, strategies and likely force effectiveness with those of prospective and existing rivals.

The ultimate aim has been — and remains — to illuminate emerging problems and strategic opportunities far enough in advance for senior leaders to have time to make decisions that will either mitigate the former or exploit the latter.”

The nonagenarian, Marshall has nom de guerre as “Yoda”, since his assessment in early 1970s the Soviet defense budget as much as 12 - 14 percent of GDP, or double from CIA’s estimation, a suggestion that it would be difficult for the Soviet to sustain this level of effort over the long term, so time was on the US’ side.



Sometimes, I feel that Dr M and Anwar are like the bravado and willing to take risk to get rid of their rival to attain to the target, while Najib and Muhyiddin are like the "risk averse" or "calculated risk taker", tending to get enough information before making a move. The first type may be the de facto aggressive actor, while the latter may be the defensive actor, hence the latter may need the strategist to make a thorough assessment before committing critical movement.

Like World War II, the breaking of the enigma by Alan Turing was the decisive factor to win over the war.


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