Sunday, May 28, 2006

Old While Gold Must Still Yield To The New.

If you're wondering in what context the title is meant, it's nothing new. Just the same old story of political succession and reluctance to yield power. While this may be a universal phenomenon, given man's inherent greed and instinct to amass and gather,(a hangover from our primitive days), I'm looking at it from a strictly Malaysian perspective.

The Barisan Nasional is a classic example of permanent job security. Of course *conditions apply. Just make sure that you clinch the presidency of a component party, hold on to it stubbornly and you'll be minister or chief minister in perpetuation until God or fate has had enough.

Anything new will be attractive and work well. As time passes and strength begins to wane, so does the sheen and the efficiency of the now old. Politicians are no exception to this rule, but along the way they have learnt to turn that logic on its head and some still remain unrivalled leaders. The expiry date has long passed but they don't seem to care. Even the best and most expensive medicines are discarded after expiration for fear of not only loss of its efficacy but that it may actually do more harm. Alas, there are no pharmacists in our Cabinet to enlighten them.

A current example of this 'overstaying' culture is the Chief Minister of Sarawak, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud aka Pehin Taib. (Detractors call him a 'pehin' in the a***). The present thinking is that the opposition got nine seats in the recent state elections because of his unpopularity due to his reluctance to hand over to a new man. However, true to form, the powers that be have not learnt from this and the same old faces resembling the same old state cabinet has been formed much to the chagrin of the general public.

The same thing happened in Terengganu a few years ago when the much 'over-expired' Mentri Besar Tan Sri Wan Mokhtar Ahmad could not or did not want to see the writing on the wall, went ahead and stood, only to be swept away by popular revulsion - '25 years is more than enough' they probably thought.

At the federal level there are a couple of very powerful dinosaurs, jealously guarding their turf lest some young or not so young turk makes a bid. To shore up their raison d'etre for still persisting in their positions of power they have in place several hundred cronies, who as if on cue will howl out like professionally trained dogs the virtues of their master and I'm sure are later adequately rewarded. ("good puppy, good boy, here's a biscuit, a contract, a briefcase filled with legal tender" imagination tends to run wild at times!). Every time the issue of retirement is broached the veteran leaders will say 'I won't stay a minute more than is necessary' or 'the people want me to stay and finish my uncompleted struggle'! To them words like - succession, renewal and dispensable are vulgar profanities not to be mentioned in their presence; not good apparently for hypertensives and heart patients.

If the setback in Sarawak is not to be repeated in future elections there and elsewhere, then slowly ease out the old and usher in the new. If the old still persist in clinging on to power then perhaps the PM should pull out some old ACA and police files marked NFA (no further action) and see what transpires!


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