Can Abdullah save Umno and the BN?

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I have been wondering about Zaid’s remarks on the 1988 Judicial Crisis. Has he really turned over a new leaf compared to the immediate aftermath of the 1988 crisis, especially in the light of his statements that he has apologised?

This report from The Star:

Zaid: I never endorsed Lord President Salleh Abas’ dismissal
By SHAHANAAZ HABIB

KUALA LUMPUR: Minister-in-charge of law Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has denied ever supporting the sacking of Lord President Tun Salleh Abas in 1988.

“In fact, I say to you today that it was not right,” he said.

However, as the Muslim Lawyers Association president then, he had said that it was legal, according to the Constitution, for Tun Hamid Omar, Salleh’s number two, to chair the tribunal set up to try Salleh.

But while Hamid’s appointment was legal, it was morally wrong and a conflict of interest for Hamid to have accepted the tribunal chairman post as he had stood to gain from Salleh’s dismissal, said Zaid.

“Whether he used that position to benefit from it only God knows,” he said yesterday at a press conference.

In 1988, Salleh as Lord President wrote to the King on behalf of all judges expressing disappointment over the then prime minister (Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s accusations against the judiciary.

Salleh was then suspended and sacked by a tribunal chaired by Hamid who later became Lord President.

Zaid said yesterday that he had opposed the Bar Council’s boycott of Hamid as Lord President then but stressed it would be wrong for anyone to construe that as his endorsement of Salleh’s dismissal.

“I don’t recollect ever having said that the grounds of dismissal were fair or just.”

A friend of mine said Zaid’s comments reminds him of Bill Clinton’s response to whether he smoked marijuana when he was young: he said he took puffs of it but did not inhale!

Okay, he has apologised – but Zaid is being a bit disingenuous here. He should have known that Hamid would benefit from his position on the tribunal then. Any independent observer would say that Hamid had to know that if Salleh was sacked, he (Hamid) would take over as Lord President. It was as simple as that. And Mahathir – along with the challenge to his position within Umno – was instrumental in triggering the whole crisis, no doubt about that. Anyway, let’s wait and see what Zaid has in store for the judiciary.

A political analyst friend of mine wrote a response to my recent Asia Times piece, which I have adapted into an interview format:

Q: Should we rely on Zaid to reform the judiciary?

Analyst: People can change, and that’s good. But it does appear that too many have forgotten Zaid’s early incarnation as the Muslim lawyers association president. It was then a breakaway faction from the Bar Council, constituted on racial-religious lines. And I don’t think it an accident that Sulaiman Abdullah has welcomed his remarks most warmly, including the remark of his intending to stay around for a long time to see through the reforms — that’s a comment left by Sulaiman on the Bar’s website carrying the report on Zaid.

I think we should call for the tribunal proceedings to be released in full. That would be a start.

What do you think of the proposed regional economic corridors? Are they a more effective alternative to Mahathir’s model of development and all his mega projects?

The Corridors — they are the ultimate in patronage/corruption. We think Mahathir’s mega-projects were bad? They are nothing compared to these Corridors. Don’t know about SJER and NCER, but there wasn’t even a proper study done for Score (the Sarawak one); it just came out of the blue. ECER was done by Petronas in-house, by someone who really isn’t equipped to do the necessary background work.

And we are committing RM1.2 trillion to them! The strange thing about the Corridors is that I’ve been trying to find out who the consultants were — heck, they call in consultants for smaller things — and it seems no one knows. Also been rummaging around to get hold of the background technical reports; again, no luck. So maybe they just don’t exist.

What are the chances of Abdullah pushing through meaningful reforms to improve his – and Umno/BN’s – present dismal position?

Come on — if he didn’t, or couldn’t do it, when he was riding high with that huge mandate, there’s no way he can do it now. Look at Mahathir, who was a much more tough-minded character — after he was weakened by the Anwar affair, he was a lame duck, biding time. All the earlier moves towards dismantling NEP restrictions came to a screeching halt.

Is Abdullah more open to press freedom than Mahathir?

…what i heard was that (during Abdullah’s tenure) there were more instructions to the editorial rooms on coverage of stories than ever before. In Mahathir’s time, it wasn’t so much instructions, as that either people had been removed — serving as examples — or else there was just all this second-guessing and of course the closure (of more independent-minded newspapers) in 1987 to serve as instruction.

What do you think of Anwar forcing a by-election after his ban on politics expires in April?

I think we should say no to anyone stepping down to force a by-election. These things are costly affairs. Let him bide his time, spend it providing the leadership to pull together the state governments, setting the overall tone. Then next round he can go in, or if there’s a necessary by-election.

How was it those in the BN were unaware that they were heading for a major setback? Didn’t they know?

(I) just heard from someone (who chatted with someone close to the ruling elite just before polling day that)… (those close to the top felt that there) was no way they would lose the two-thirds (majority). They knew Kelantan was gone, but that was it.

… the content of that conversation bore out my earlier fears that this was a dry run for Umno going it alone. They thought they had the Malay vote — somehow they couldn’t read it — and (there was this view held by certain quarters) that in ten years time, the Chinese would only be (a much smaller minority) of the population.

… perhaps that shows up their incompetence — but it’s indicative that they were calculating that even without the Chinese vote, they could do it. Their calculation was that they would have 40 per cent of the Indian vote — and it appears they weren’t far off overall — and 40 per cent of the Chinese vote — on which they were optimistic. They figured the top MIC guys would go, but figured the MCA and Gerakan guys would pull through.

Problem of course is that global percentages are useless in elections, as each seat is fought on its own. So they probably got 60 per cent of the Indian vote in Johor and possibly in Malacca and Negri Sembilan, but in the seats in the rebel states, where Indian votes played a big role, they generally got less than 40 per cent.

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I do not wish to bad-mouth UMNO as their glorious history had proven that they had played a major role in the development of Malays in this country. But I agreed with hassan ibrahim, rakyat, especially the Malays had lost faith is ABDULLAH. Rakyat gave him an astounding mandate in 2004, winning 91% of parliament seats and what did he do…? Since winning that election, he had been using the mandate that people gave him to (allegedly) enrich his kaum-kerabat especially his son-in-law, Khairy. I voted for the opposition in the last election, and will continue to do so until… Read more »

hassan ibrahim

Regarding Tun Salleh Abas issue, it was Dr Mahathir who did all the tricks and he should undo it. No one else. As a Muslim he must apologise to Tun Salleh. If you read, ‘May Day for Justice” you will find a lot of truth. “Having regard to the nature of things, it is my submission that the allegations for the removal of a judge under Article 125 (3) need not be established beyond reasonable doubt. It suffices for the judge’s mis behaviour to be established by a fair preponderance of evidence.” –The Attorney-general, Malaysia. Note: The A.G. today is… Read more »

novice101

Malaysians who love to see the rebirth of democracy in Malaysia are right to celebrate the formation of PR but the equally important equation for this formula to work must not be forgotten. Malaysians who want to see the emergence of the 2-party parliamentary system, which was given its birth on March 8, must speak out against the unrelenting stream of attacks aimed at UMNO. The reason is, two parties of equal strength and standing are needed for this system to work. After 50 years of dreaming, wishing, praying, fighting and , finally, voting for it, it must not be… Read more »

Amarit Singh Sekhon

“If indeed one day..all of Malaysia is Malay” artchan wrote this. Well,, everybody born in Malaya before 1964, are Malays. After 1964 we all became Malaysians. When you are born in a country that was called Malaya, how would we address the citizen, A Malay. Than, when the country became Malaysia, the citizens will be called Malaysians. 26 Million Malaysians make up Malaysia so, why the bleakness of creating partition of people, are we leading to a Apartheid Nation. Will we need somebody like Nelson Mandella or Late Steve Biko to, make us realise that this nation, was economically build… Read more »

Joe Awk

Mahatir in Penang today to talk to UMNO people. He is asking UMNO Penang to ditch Pak Lah. That is how bad this old ***** **** can be.

This old ***** **** cum ultra racist screwed up Malaysia and now continue to play the race thing….

Maznah

Hi Anil, On Zaid’s “playing just” today: He does not realise that many of us were around in 1988 when he stood on the other-side-of-the-fence over the Salleh Abbas issue. I was one of the attendees at one such meetings in Penang where Zaid was one of the speakers. He was a lone voice then — I remember vividly that the whole room was in utter disgust over the sacking issue and there was Zaid emphatically and pathetically (at least that was how I had rated his performance then)trying to defend the government action. He can try to give the… Read more »

artchan

UMNO must be b***** stupid to think that even if 90 percent is Malay..they think they will get the malay vote. It was the arrogance of UMNO leaders that lost the election. UMNO started to believe the UMNO is malay..they were dead wrong. UMNO needs the Malays..the Malays don’t need UMNO. If indeed one day..all of Malaysia is Malay…can UMNO still play the race card? Can the mad man still wave the kris and scream about Malay rights? 50 years on..I think Malays have gotten smarter and see through the shallowness of BN wakil rakyat with tunnel vision, sexists and… Read more »

Andrew

Anwar says he just ignores Mahathir. The rakyat should as well. The iron man is now the plastic man. What would the former iron lady Thatcher think of all these u turns? Could Aliran please reprint their articles on the judicial crisis of 1988? I remember one of the instances alleging judicial misconduct by Salleh happening on a public holiday. Similar to the building that wasn’t there when Anwar was supposed to have done a naughty thing.

christina anne

sorry it was not an UMNO meet but “Not only has Umno been destroyed, but also MCA, MIC, Gerakan and even BN,” Mahathir said in his speech when officiating at the Persatuan Melayu Tanjung (Permata) annual general meeting in a hotel here today.”…..from 2day’s Sun.

christina anne

well dr M is in penang today having a meeting with UMNO…….let’s see what other interesting stuff comes out of this meet.

Margeemar

Just when we thought we had just gotten over from that Damm Brown movie ‘DaVinci Code’, then comes another piece of crap from oxymoron Geert Wilders with his mentally challenged movie ‘Fitna’ Why can’t people like Wilders and Brown leave religion alone. Why not poke fun at Bush or Bin Laden. These so called creative artist would consider fantasizing having sex with their grandmother as creative thinking. These idiots don’t care about the repercussions of their actions as they will be raking in millions while Bin Laden & Co. will convince misguided Muslims to agitate with loss of lives and… Read more »

raj raman

Comment: EVERY FOREIGN MINISTER HAVE THE SKILL TO TALK SOMEhOW GOOD OR BAD.FOR ABDULLAH,WE TRUSTED HIM BY IS FAmOUS WORD “WORK WITH ME NOT FOR ME”.ITS THE VERY CHARMING WORD FOR EVERY CITIZEN.HE ALWAYS SAY,HE LISTEN.YES HE DO LISTEN BUT WITH NO ACTION.UNDER HIM MORE LITTLE NAPOLEON AND BIG CAME ALONG MORE OPENLY.BODY SNATCHING IN NAME OF GOD,KRISMUDDDIN WITH HIS BOLD STATEMENT OF RACISIST.END THE DAY HINDRAF BORN.STIL HE LISTEN AND Paid THE PRICE BECOME A BORN LOSER…. STILL TODAY SABAH AND SARAWAK WHO DELIVER THE VOTE,NOT GIVEN (ENOUGH) FEDERAL LEVEL POST.THEY ALSO BUMIPUTERA.UMNO IS A (RACIAL) PARTY WITH MALAY… Read more »

Mr Smith

I can faintly recall that Zahid stand then was with the government on Salleh’s sacking.
He NEVER spoke up for Sallleh.
He NEVER made any statement sympathizing with Salleh nor did he condemn Haidar or Hamid or the then AG for their role in this despicable act.
If you didn’t condemn their actions meant you condoned them, Zahid.

raj raman

FOR THE RECORD;ABDULLAH SAID HE LISTEN BUT WHERE IS THE PROOF.THE SABAHAN AND SARAWAKIAN DELIVERED THE MOST VOTE.WHERE ARE THEY?STILL ALL THE CABINET POST WENT TO UMNO OF PENISULAR.PITTY THE BUMIPUTERA SABAH AND SARAWAK PEOPLE.OR ARE THEY STILL NOT CAPABLE AS THE INDIAN IN PENISULAR MALAYSIA …just wondering mr.anil.