Friday, October 10, 2008

And the scamble begins...

Now that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has announced that he will not defend the UMNO presidency in March, the scramble has began for the party's top posts. This is best summed-up by the frontpage headline of today's New Straits Times, Malaysia's oldest English daily which is linked to UMNO.  (See image above. For a larger view, click on it.)
(To be continued  shortly...)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Living Wall Features Me!

Yesterday I wrote a post titled: "M'sia PM: Guessing Game Over" following the announcement by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that he would not defend the UMNO Presidency in March 2009 and would step down as premier by then.

Today I received a comment on my post. It was from My Living Wall ( which greets its visitors with the tag line: "You are now looking at Malaysia's best blog spots, commentaries & cartoons."

My Living Wall's comment on my post read like this: "Excellent post, Mr Sikmading. Will feature your post in our website: and link our readers to your blog. All the best!"

Upon checking this site, I found that they reproduced my whole article under their Featured Post on their Home Page; except they changed the heading to : "Malaysia PM: Guessing game over, scrambling begins" and changed my photograph of Pak Lah and Najib to the image above. But of course, they credited my blog at the end of the article, as they said they would.

I mention this not to show off. It's more because for a blogger who has yet to earn a single cent from advertisement like me, this is the best consolation one can get. There is no greater satisfaction than knowing that there are people who actually appreciate or think highly of your blog or posts or writings to the extent that they feature it in their sites or blogs. That, I think, is even better than a few miserable dollars from the advertisements, no offence meant.

Infact, by rewriting or expanding the original title of my yesterday's post, My Living Wall just gave me an idea for the tile of my next post which I hope to write after posting this one if I won't fall asleep. Age is catching on with me. When your are in your fifties, you can't pretend that you are still in your 40s, let alone thirties.

Hope to meet you again shortly.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

M'sian PM: Guessing Game Over

The guessing game on whether Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (right in pix, seen with deputy Najib) will defend his presidency of UMNO, backbone of Malaysia's ruling coalition BN in March 2009, is finally over.

After weeks of speculation and intense speculations and lobbying by interested parties even right up to the last minute, Pak Lah (as he is fondly referred to) told the BN supreme council in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon that he had decided not to defend the post he first held in 2003 after taking over from Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister.

The UMNO president is normally also the Malaysian Prime Minister. Similarly, the deputy president is the deputy premier. This has been the tradition since Malaya gained Independence from Britain in 1957. Malaya teamed up with former British colonies Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore to form Malaysia in 1963. However, Singapore left the federation in 1965. No Sabahan or Sarawakian has ever been Prime Minister. UMNO is non-existent in Sarawak while the highest post in UMNO held by a Sabahan is that of Supreme Councillor, above whom you have the 3 Vice Presidents, Deputy President and President.

Dissident voices calling on Pak Lah to step down first surfaced soon after the premier led the BN to its worst disastrous election outing since 1969 in March 2008. In the March election, BN lost its control of two-thirds of the 222 parliamentary seats as well as five state governments, something unprecedented. But we are not even talking about calls from the Opposition here. We are talking about calls from within his own ruling coalition of BN and UMNO.

Among the earliest to call on Pak Lah to resign were former Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who has also made known his intention to contest he UMNO presidency. This would be Razaleigh's third attempt to wrest the presidency, after narrowly losing to then PM Dr Mahathir in 1987. That contest led to the creation of Team A and Team B in UMNO. Interstingly, Pak Lah was in Razaleigh's Team B, running for the vice-presidency. Both Razaleigh and his running-mate for the deputy presidency, Tun Musa Hitam, lost. Thus, Pak Lah was the highest party official from Team B to win. In the 2004 party election, Razaleigh again made known is intention to contest the presidency against Pak Lah but failed to get the minimum number of nominations required from UMNO divisions. But why would Razaleigh 'sabotage' his former B Team mate instead of supporting him?. An observer pointed out this was probably because Razaleigh was sore that Pak Lah, his former 'junior' in both Team B and the government, did not make good use of Razaleigh's vast experience and seniority by appointing him to a senior post in both the government and party, for example a minister in a senior portfolio. Razaleigh was also once Trade and Industry Minister, a senior portfolio.

Another dissident who openly called for Pak Lah's resignation after the March election was Jerlun Member of Parliament, Mukhriz Mahathir. Mukhriz is son of Dr Mahathir who was Malaysian PM for 22 years from 1981. But why would Mukhriz attack his father's chosen successor? The answer is simple. While the first year was 'honeymoon' period, Dr Mahathir started criticising his succssor openly starting the 2nd year of Pak Lah's reign. The former Premier accused Pak Lah, among other things, of deviating from established policies and cancelling major projects started by Mahathir. Matters came to a head when Mahathir left UMNO a few months ago, saying he would only return when Pak Lah was no longer president.

But while Razaleigh and Mukhriz's public outbursts were understandable as they had an axe to grind and nothing to lose, what raised eye brows was the subsequent calls by Muhyiddin Yassin. This is because apart from being one of the 3 UMNO vice-presidents, he is also a senior minister in Pak Lah's Cabinet. Infact, ever since his public outbursts, Malaysians had expected Pak Lah to remove Muhyiddin from the Cabinet while others expected Muhyiddin to resign. "In Western countries, when you disagree you disassociate," said an observer. But then again, this is Malaysia. Pak Lah, being the 'Mr Nice Guy' that he is, did not sack Muhyiddin and neither did the latter resign.

As if that was not enough, the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), a component part of BN, had on 18 June 2008 declared it had lost confidence on Pak Lah as PM and threathened to move a motion of no-confidence against the premier in Parliament. SAPP left the coaliton on 17 September 2008.

In July, Pak Lah announced a transition plan whereby he would hand over power to Najib by June 2010. He would in the meantime defend his UMNO presidency in December. But that did not stop the critics. Instead, criticisms intensified, saying that the transition period was too long and wanted Pak Lah to leave after the December party polls - meaning Pak Lah should not even defend his presidency.

Then last month, Pak Lah postponed the party polls to March 2009, saying that it had something to do with hastening the transition plan. Although he still did not say when he would go, his action was understood to mean that he would not defend the presidency in March and hand over to Najib by then. He said he would announce his decision by October 9, the day UMNO divisions begin nominating candidates for the party top posts including that of the presidency. He had one day before the September meeting handed over the important Finance portfolio which he has held since becoming PM to Najib, a move seen as pacifying dissidents.

With Pak Lah's long-awaited announcement today, Najib is almost certain to be the next PM and UMNO president come March. This is assuming that he would not be challenged for the presidency. So far, only Tengku Razaleigh has made known his intention to contest the post. "But even if Najib is challenged, he is expected to win hands down. After all, Razaleigh may not even get the mimumum nominations required to contest just like 3 years ago," said the observer.

Will UMNO under Najib be rejuvenated and will the Najib-led BN deliver a better showing in the next election, just like Pak Lah's good showing in 2004? Only time will tell. In the meantime, Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said his plans to seize power through defection of BN MPs is still on although no new date has been fixed. He missed his first dateline of 16 September 2008 by which time he said he would be the Prime Minister.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Tale of Two Photos

The above photo was e-mailed to me by a friend. It is the front cover or sleeve of the debut album of a band from Tamparuli called Papier Mache released in September.
Band from Tamparuli releasing an album? This was unheard of during my bandboy days between the late 1960s ad early 1970s.  Those days,  for a local band like  ours to go for  recording  at  RTM, Sabah's  radio and tv station, was already a big deal. Releasing an album would be beyond our wildest dream, among the reasons being lack of sponsors or opportunities and facilities.

Don't get me wrong. I am not jealous of Papier Mache. On the contrary, it is still a dream come true for me in the sense that at long last a band from my hometown has cut an album, or rather CD which was of course not yet invented during my time. Those days, it was still the black or vinyl record or 'piring hitam' in the Malay language.

But of course we are talking about a different generation here. Most, if not all, of the 7 members of Papier Mache were not even born or at most were toddlers when I was a bandboy. All the same, congratulations guys! You kept the flag flying. 

The best part of it is that two of Papier Mache's songs were even in English, which means they may even penetrate into the global market. You never know. Remember the story of the Korean (or was it Japanese?) guy who posted his song on YouTube and became famous worldwide? So to the Papier Mache, all the best!
For more infor on Papier Mache's debut album or to purchase their CD or cassette go to 
By the way, in view of the title of this post, you may wonder where is the other photo or what is it about. Here it is, below. This photo was taken in a studio (those days still black-and-white lah!) in Tamparuli in 1968. Name of the band? The Hornbill.

Why were we called the Hornbill when that is the national bird of our nighbouring State of Sarawak? Honestly, I don't know. The leader of the band said so and we just followed. Anyway, the Hornbill was my second band. My first band, in 1967, was called The Scorpions!
By the way, you must be wondering how come got two middle-aged men (seated left and right) in the photo. They were neither musicians nor singers. They were our Managers! Both of them have since passed away, so did the band leader cum lead guitarist. May their souls rest in peace. But of course, way back in1968, they would never dream that one day their faces would appear on the Internet which was of course unheard of those days.
Which one in the picture was me? No price for guessing.