It is such an irony that leader who brought Malaysia into the bleakest five and a half years period in post Merdeka times, written a book to tell his side of the story.
Riong Kali’s newsportal story:
If I listened to Mahathir, Malaysia would be bankrupt, says Abdullah
AUGUST 06, 2013
LATEST UPDATE: AUGUST 06, 2013 09:17 PM
Malaysia’s 4th and 5th prime ministers – Mahathir Mohamad (left) and Abdullah Badawi – in happier times. The Malaysian Insider pic, August 6, 2013.If Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had succumbed to the pressure applied by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to spend without a care and continue with some of his pet mega-projects, Malaysia would be bankrupt by now.
This frank assessment was offered by Abdullah in a book covering his years as the prime minister of Malaysia.
Titled, “Awakening: The Abdullah Badawi Years In Malaysia”, it was scheduled to come out earlier but there were some concerns in Putrajaya that the fifth prime minister’s comments and observations could spark a war of words between Abdullah and Mahathir and split Umno before the May 5 general election.
Putrajaya need not have worried. Abdullah lobbed a few barbs here and there, and threw a few zingers in the direction of his chief critic but did not reveal state secrets or offer juicy and humiliating anecdotes about the country’s longest-serving PM.
And he could have, he said. Referring to the constant attacks against him by Mahathir and other critics when he was in office, he recalled that some people asked why he did not clarify in detail the role of his young advisers, his son’s involvement in business and the influence of son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin.
“Perhaps I should have been more vehement in defending and explaining these issues. I could have retaliated by exposing Mahathir. But what good would have come out of this for the government and party?” he said.
He noted that Mahathir is very set in his ways and believed that his is the only way. And this fact is why Abdullah believes he has been on the receiving end of vitriol from mid-2006 till today.
After all the layers of biting comments from Mahathir are peeled away, it boiled down to just one thing: Mahathir’s inability to accept any other view except his own.
For example, Abdullah remembered that he went to see Mahathir and explain that he had to postpone several projects, including the double-tracking rail system that the latter had initiated because of the bulging budget deficit.
“He, however, disagreed with me as he felt the government should continue to spend. But how do we do it when the deficit was at such critical levels? It would be highly irresponsible for me to continue spending.
“So we had no choice but to reduce the deficit by postponing some of the mega-projects like double tracking and this made Mahathir furious. I suppose he viewed them as his pet projects.
“Can you imagine, if I had succumbed to Mahathir’s continued pressure to spend when the deficit was already so high, how could Malaysia have weathered the oil and financial crisis which subsequently came in 2008?
“The deficit which we brought down to 3.2 percent crept up again due to subsidies for oil and essentials and hovered again at the 5 percent level. If we had not been prudent then, continued to spend, I can tell you we would be bankrupt by now.”
In the book, edited by Bridget Welsh and James Chin, Abdullah also said that when he left office in 2009, he was determined not to be like Mahathir. He wanted Datuk Seri Najib Razak to establish himself as the prime minister.
“That is why I have remained silent all this time. I believe that once you retire, you are retired. You should not interfere with your successor. If there is anything you are unhappy with, you can always offer your views privately. Why bring it up in public and make life difficult for him?
Abdullah earned the biggest mandate from the electorate in 2004 but squandered the historic opportunity to reform the country and carry through many of his election pledges. As a result, in 2008 he led Barisan Nasional to a poor showing, losing its customary two-thirds control of Parliament.
In the book, he accepted blame for not meeting the expectations of the voters but said that Mahathir could not walk away from the 2008 results unscathed.
“When we did well in 2004, he said such a strong mandate was not good for the country. When we did not do so well in 2008, he heaped all the blame on me.
“He is doing it even today… Mahathir cannot deny that he contributed to the erosion of Barisan Nasional’s support in the 2008 elections through his open and unwarranted criticisms and attacks, calling my administration, which included a majority of people from his own Cabinet, as a ‘half-past six government’ and accusing us of corruption and all sorts of things,” said Abdullah. – August 6, 2013.
The fact is that, the point of this book which is set to hit the newstand at the end of the month is hazy and so ambigous. What PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah Ahmad Badawi did in his tenure as the Fifth Prime Minister is almost politically and systemically disastrous, if not unspeakable.
The double-track railway system that runs from Johor all the way to Perlis along the existing railway line was designed to as a catalyst to the economy. Just like when the PLUS North-South Highway was built.
People and goods moved seamlessly. The economic cost benefit is termendous. The RM 14.5 billion was for the entire stretch. That include a by-pass system that circumvent Kuala Lumpur.
When Prime Minister Dato’ Srì Mohd. Najib Tun Razak took over in April 2009, the project was reinstated. It is because Prime Minister Najib saw the strategic benefit.
Unfortunately, the reinstatement cost much more money as compared to when it was halted in late 2003. Today, the Kuala Lumpur northbound to Megat Dewa cost RM 21 billion.
Prime Minister Najib actually continued Fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s economic and strategic plans, such as ‘Vision 2020’ where Malaysia is targetted to be a developed nation status by 2020. The policy was reactivated and the nation is steamed ahead as part of the Economic Transformation Plan, where as PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah ignored it.
It is wrong if not sinister to state that “If we had not been prudent then, continued to spend, I can tell you we would be bankrupt by now”.
The fact is that when Tun Dr. Mahathir retired and hand over to PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah on 31 October 2003, the position of the Federal Government’s finances was very strong and sound. EPF had over RM 250 billion in reserves and the balance of payment was above six months of import.
During PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah’s five years tenure, Federal Government aggregated income from Petronas was RM 260 billion and actually RM 90 billion more than the entire 22 years under Tun Dr. Mahathir’s administration, which only recorded RM 170 billion. And yet no tangible physical development could be felt for the kind of money the Federal Government had.
Most of the so-called ‘Mega Projects’ developed during Tun Dr. Mahathir’s leadership were self reliant and/or paid of through operations. Such as the North-South Highway, Klang North Port, KLIA and Petronas Twin Towers.
However, it cannot be said for PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah’s babies such as the Moonsoon Cup and Taman Islam Hadhari. The roof of the stadium in Seberang Takir, Kuala Terengganu collapse. Amongst the five economic corridors planned by the ‘Level Four Boys’ and launched during PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah’s time, only Iskandar Malaysia proven to gain some progress. Even that is with the participation and concessions given to Singapore corporations, which include Temasek.
The abuse of power was blatant. Malaysians would not easily forget the corporate scandals planned and executed by the notorious ‘Level Four Boys’ and PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah’s closest friends. The hiving off MOF Inc.’s controlled Avenue Capital to ECM Libra engineered and executed Kalimullah “Riong Kali” Hassan and son-inl-law Khairy Jamaluddin in May 2006 is still fresh in so many people’s mind. So is the sale of Pantai Holdings to the Singaporeans and later the Khazanah buy back.
Other PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah half-baked policy on civilisation such as ‘Islam Hadhari’ died down of natural cause; poor understanding and unclear definition.
It is irony that PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah titled the book “Awakening” since he was very known for dozing off and falling asleep on the job. Even live on national TV and in the presence of His Majesty Seri Paduka Yang DiPertuan Agong in official functions and events.
PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah explained in the book that he suffered from a serious medical condition called ‘Sleep Apnea’. The interesting irony is that he should have had the sleep disorder fixed with the necessary ENT surgeries and treat nightly sleep with CPAP devices, so that his brain is not deprived of much needed oxygen.
This condition is believed to be one of the major factor that PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah had not have his eyes on the ball. As such, a new system known as ‘Level Four’ was created and his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin as the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Prime Minister’s Office and his comrade-in-arms (who happens to be PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah’s aides) took over the roles previously played by agencies under Prime Minister’s Department such as EPU, ICU and MAMPU and Treasury in vetting and awarding of contracts, concessions and privatization projects.
This systematically dysfunctionalised the heart of the civil service and shot the pulse of administration into erratic rhythm. At the same time it provided a lot of opportunities for corrupt practices and nepotism.
One of the glaring example of this was the unprecedented overnight increase in retail price of petrol by 78 sen to RM 2.70, in June 2008. That shocked the whole nation.
Evidently, PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah reckless franchised-to-Level Four and weak leadership caused Barisan Nasional (BN) the largest majority desparity within one Parliamentary term. As the BN Chairman, he lost 58 seats in the Dewan Rakyat and 2/3 majority from the 198 seats for 11GE in April 2004 to 140 seats for 12GE in March 2008. That is not withstanding losing Selangor, Perak, Pulau Pinang and Kedah State Governments.
Dubbed ‘Political Tsunami’, it was the worst and most humiliating political backlash and in a nutshell, BN still has not recovered even after a full five years Parliamentary term. Component parties such as MCA, Gerakan and SUPP in fact slide further downwards.
The book was edited by American academician Bridget Welsh. Singapore-based Welsh is very pro-Anwar Ibrahim and attended almost all Opposition party conventions. She was a fellow of DAP think-thank Penang Institute. She is also very close PAS strategists Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
Her role is centred towards the use of her intellectual-academic prowess and extensive network, in the media influence and Western propaganda for the fall of BN in Malaysia and being replaced by a pro-Neo Con Jewish coalition parties.
The other co-editor is Prof James Chin who believed that if the Opposition comes in as the Federal Government, there would not be any cronyism practices and good governance. Just like the Opposition, Chin echoes the fallacy that the electoral role “Is not clean and one million of the registered voters cannot be traced”.
The book has a sinister agenda clearly written in bold on the front page.
The glaring fact is that no notable and charismatic Malaysians were chosen to be editors of the book is a demonstration that it has a dangerous political motive, trying to manipulate half-truths. Just like in the times when Riong Kali was at the helm of NST, Annuar Zaini in Bernama and Kamaruzaman in TV3.
In reality, what the book is trying to achieve is not about propping up PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah’s image or dismantling the low Malaysian public perception towards him. It is about connivingly using the man as an excuse for the Opposition to have added points to go against Prime Minister Najib. And conveniently take potshots against Tun Dr. Mahathir, whilst at it.
The timing to make public about this book is really interesting. It is ‘convenient’ few weeks before 20,000 plus UMNO branches hold their annual meeting and do their party post nominations.
Another irony is that Tun Dr. Mahathir had gone to meet up with PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah about his ’20 points complain’, the exact end of Ramadan seven years ago. Until present day, many Malaysians still strongly speak of the exact points that Tun Dr. Mahathir told PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah off in that two hours late afternoon meeting in Seri Perdana.
It is doubtful that this book would make them “awakened” and change their perspective on the man they fondly call, ‘The Slumberjack’.
*Updated 7 August 2100hrs
Please read Another Brick in the Wall’s detailed analysis of the Electrification Double Tracking Project which PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah cancelled a few weeks after taking over from Tun Dr. Mahathir as Prime Minister.
*Updated 8 August 0001hrs
PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah’s close network with the Opposition via Singapore elements such as Bridget Welsh is very clear. It has announced that PKR Vice President and Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar will launch the book in Singapore on 30 August 2013.
Nurul Izzah to launch Pak Lah’s book in Singapore
PETALING JAYA (Aug 7, 2013): Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar will launch former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s book “Awakening, the Abdullah Badawi years in Malaysia” in Singapore later this month.
She said she has accepted an invitation to launch the book on Aug 30.
“I believe the Malaysian launch will be presided over by Abdullah himself and (former deputy prime minister) Tun Musa Hitam,” she told theSun.
In Abdullah’s tell-all book, which will contain more than 35 essays, he defends his tenure as prime minister and accusations that he slept on the job by revealing that he had been suffering from sleep apnea.
During that time, photos were circulated ridiculing him, and even his predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had criticised him.
However, in an excerpt from the book, Abdullah claimed Mahathir had known about his condition all along.
“I did tell Mahathir of my condition so for him to say I doze off because I am not interested in the job is most unkind.
“He knew the problem and yet he chose to say all these things,” he said.
He has since undergone surgery and no longer suffers from the condition.
Abdullah, 73, was prime minister from 2003 to 2009. He resigned from his post as Umno president and as prime minister after the BN’s lacklustre performance in the 2008 election.
The book with contain manipulated half truths and lies is designed to hit at Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s administration, which is following through some of the policies and strategic economic plans formed and started to be executed during Fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership.
To demonise the latter should be seen as indirectly attacking the Federal Government and party policies.
Expect Malaysians would now question PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah’s nationalism and patriotism.