Saturday, May 18, 2013

Why Anwar Ibrahim is not Prime Minister Material – Part 1

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar will attest that there are two people who have been consistent about Anwar Ibrahim since his days in UMNO; a chap in USM Penang and myself. I have since the first time I heard him speak found him to be a person who delivers grandiose entertaining lectures with little meaning. I found his speeches lack depth. (Unfortunately, we can find many of these folks in the training and development business too).

I am not saying that Anwar has no outstanding talent. On the contrary he has some really outstanding competencies which I will elaborate in part 2 of this article. However, his strength does not match the capacity and skills needed for general management. This is especially for the number one position of a CEO or PM. As early as 1990, I predicted that he was unlikely to become Malaysia’s Prime Minister – and if he did, he will not last for long. Events over the last two decades have proven me correct.

If you are an Anwar fan, or from Pakatan, or a supporter of the political coalition, before you go into conniption, spewing angry words, accusations, and going mad with this article, kindly note that I would have written this article even if Anwar Ibrahim is still in UMNO. I suggest you lend me your ear, and listen to my rationale. Thank you.

For a start, let me explain with three simple examples.

1)    When he was the Minister of Education he introduced Bahasa Baku – a more difficult way to pronounce words where we were told to pronounce BM words as they are spelt. For example ‘teknologi’ is pronounced as technolo-‘ghee’ and ‘universiti’ is pronounced as ‘oo’-niversity – articulating the ‘u’ as per the pronunciation of the first syllable for oolong (tea). Historically, language especially the spoken variety does not evolve that way. You cannot force it on the population. In fact spoken words evolved from the more difficult to pronounce to one that is easier to vocalize. For example, in the English language we have the silent ‘k’ in knife, know, knight etc.

These are remnants of Old English, and wasn't silent at all but was pronounced along with the 'n'. This change is believed to have transpired sometime around the 16th to 17th centuries. Basically, "kn" was considered to be difficult to pronounce and it is much easier and comfortable to follow the "new" pronunciation "n”. (Others: gn, hn, hl, hr, hw -to know more please Google phonotactics constraints). In modern day Indonesia when one says, “Ori”, it is understood it means ‘Original” as the language has evolved to make words simpler.

While we do not expect Anwar to know this as he is not a graduate of linguistic studies but top management must be equipped with the ability to ask the right questions to get to the right answers in order not to end up with such blunders.

2)    During his budget speech as the Finance Minister, analysts were made to pay attention to language rather than economics, the Dewan Bahasa Dictionary rather than to the calculator. That was Anwar’s biggest contribution to the budget speech. Big Bahasa Malaysia words. Unfortunately, bombastic words cannot make an economy fly let alone help us out of the 1997 Financial Crisis.

As a young man I was rather worried when most Malaysians were debating the meaning of BM words rather than the budget allocation and plan. I felt that perhaps as Anwar is not that confident with economics, he focuses on showing off language instead. It ended with Anwar not truly explaining the budget and the nation not really understanding his speech. Sigh!

3)    A more recent example is the push to abolish the PTPTN. Accordingly, the loan scheme was approved during Anwar’s time. Some say it was him who approved it too. Events today made it obvious that Anwar did not really understand the economics of the loan then when he sanctioned it. I am convinced that he has no idea on the repercussions of abolishing it in favor of free education for all. Loan schemes like PTPTN are not just good noble platform to help people; but rather it is also good economics and therefore good for business. Let me explain.

The purpose of business is to create customers.

Only when a business creates customers, do they add value to society. When a business creates a customer, it sets a chain reaction of interconnected, interrelated, and correlated businesses from raw materials to end products coupled with service needs like distribution and communications that is required for delivery and information. IN SHORT, BY CREATING CUSTOMERS, BUSINESSES CREATE JOBS. As such each time a business sells to one customer they touch the lives of thousands if not millions of people.

Any smart and pro-business government policy must help the creation of customers. Basically there are four main ways for businesses to create customers. Innovation, Advertising and Promotions, Selling and Credit.

For example, the INNOVATION of the hand phones has created jobs we never knew could exist. ADVERTISING and PROMOTION draws us to product and service offerings that we are not aware of – like waking up on a Saturday and discovering there is a furniture sale at Fella Design and making a trip to the store and get that nice easy chair you have always wanted. As for SELLING, sales people help us understand product features and benefits better thus helping us decide what, when, where, and whom to buy from.

Last but perhaps one of the most powerful components of customer creation is CREDIT. Credit can create customers almost out of NOTHING AT ALL simply because we humans have learned to trust each other with ‘a promise to pay back at a later date’ system. Can you imagine if we do not have credit facility to purchase houses, cars, and start a business? There would be a total collapse of the world economy and the loss of millions of jobs.

PTPTN is a credit facility. PTPTN has created customers not only by way of students but all other interconnected, interrelated, and correlated businesses from construction, teaching and administration, transportation, food and beverage, retail, entertainment, etc in an endless chain reaction that made not only the world a better place by giving needy people an education but by making our economy more viable, jobs aplenty, and profit for taxes.

It was PTPTN that helped spur and catalyst our education industry like the mushrooming of colleges and universities in the Sunway area. Not only we attracted students from Malaysia but also from all over the world who did not benefit from PTPTN but contributed to society and our well-being.

Let me put it simply. If we take away PTPTN, not only the lecturers, administrators and rich owners of the colleges and universities will lose their jobs and money but that poor Makcik selling nasi lemak in front of the institute of learning will need to close shop because there would be not enough customers buying her products.

End of part 1

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do Sir? “
 – John Maynard Keynes

Anas Zubedy
Kuala Lumpur



kampong lad said...

kenapa anwar tak boleh jadi pm? sebab allah masih sayang negara ni. tapi tidak bermakna pemerintah sekarang adil, bersih, cekap & amanah. period!

Anonymous said...

Not one of your better pieces Anas. Too much 'waffling' such that you lost the plot getting to the plot. Akin to AI playing around with fancy words instead of delivering content. Hence your message is lost in the sea of words.
Although I tend to agree with you that AI lacks substance, your rationale is somewhat lacking in its justification.

Anonymous said...

good one, but you must remember, pm job is a collective management put all together.

i think you must maintain your trend of being up to date and not to be so dwelling on the past issues. History is nice to read but it does not give us anything... (it is a waste of time actually)

dsai becomes a pm or not... not because of what u have said... it is rakyat and the party who choose.

if PR wins the election and dsai becomes PM... how to justify your says.

Anonymous said...

During the Asian Financial Crisis, when he was the finance minister, the BLR was raised non-stop till 12.3% and I have to pay 15% for my housing loan. Could you imagine that how the people struggle to pay the loan with 15% interest rate????. Luckily Dr M steps in and reduce it. In fact this method is being use worldwide now like the Feds, Europe and Japan. In crisis, reduce the burden on the people's pocket.
During that time our ringgit fluctuate daily to a low of RM4.90 to 1 US$. People doing business was struggling and all price quotations will last for 3 days or less as the ringgit was very volatile at that time. It was crazy then and basically dont know how to handle the situation.
Some the of current young generation are not aware of this but we all know the shit in there.

motro said...

When the education is free, they have more money to spend at Makcik's warong nasi lemak... and so on up to the chain. We need quality education (qualty in ALL aspect of the system and supporting organ), and quality comes with cost.hope you will touch this aspect particularly the cost of failure, where we can see immoral activities by girls and man get caught and student card in their wallet.they are part of contributor who "merancakkan" (pls tell me the right word in english) education industry and the social impact given by this's freaky.
We need quality ppl... not mass... 4 qualty young man from liverpool have generated billion of dollars to million of ppl for almost 5 decade all over the world.

Anonymous said...


saya tak pecaya dia ni sejak 1993.
yang lain tak payah cerita dah jadi sejarah.


IT.Sheiss said...


Thanks for this, which you've said would be on its way for some months now.

With regards the PTPTN loan, would not its abolishment, establishment of free education for ALL and expansion of the number of public universities have had the same economic spill over effects?

I was an overseas student in the UK in the 1970s and while overseas students did not qualify for it, all home students qualified for a government grant for their university education, while we overseas students paid a subsidised fee.

It was only after Thatcher and her Tories came in in 1979 that student fees for overseas students were raised dramatically and student loans were introduced for home students.

The neo-liberal policies introduced by Thatcher and continued under New "Labour" Tony Blair have resulted in escalating prices of everything in the UK, especially of housing, education, cost of living, destruction of Britain's manufacturing industry and general misery of the population, especially from the Midlands northwards.

Whilst many polytechnics and technical colleges in the U.K. were conferred university status, government grants to them were cut and they were expected to earn money through more commercial ways and the result today is the decline in the quality of British degrees.

Academics and university staff at university, The University of Salford, told me that life was no more the joy it was before and my physics lecturer told me in 1999, that the quality of students with A Levels had dropped since the 1970s, and that students who had completed their first year of university in the 1990s would be on par with students entering the first year with A Levels in the 1970s.

Also, do you think that even with the mushrooming of all these private colleges in Malaysia that the quality of our university graduates has improved?

We often hear, especially in relation to graduates in information technology from local universities, that about 80% of them are not fit for employment by the IT industry, so have to undergo retraining.

There is a report ICT Human Capital Framework - final report 28 Oct 2010 by the National ICT Human Resources Taskforce which mentions this deficiency in quality of Malaysia's ICT students in detail, and one of the reasons cited was the lower standard of ICT courses and lack of their standardisation in private colleges and universities.

It also rather subtly cites the reduction the lengtht of ICT courses in Malaysia from four to three years in the late 1990s.

What the report did not say was that that reduction took place during the time when DS Najib Tun Razak was Education Minister, supposedly to speed up the production of university graduates in IT for the Multimedia Super Corridor initiative.

As it turned out, yes, there are IT graduates everywhere but very few who are "fit to drink"

I am very anti-neoliberal and support government funded free education FOR ALL through college and university.

The rise of neo-liberalism since the 1970s is a move by the monopoly capitalist class to shift the burden of the crisis of the capitalist system onto the backs of the working class.

wordstodevour said...

Well conveyed. Kudos.

Anonymous said...

Why Anwar Ibrahim is not Prime Minister Material...

... he wasn't, isn't and won't ever be Prime Minister Material.

He is just a trouble-maker... of the worst kind!


Betronist said...

Good one Anas, I'm not a big fan of DSAI (neither a hater, but I dont agree with all of your points.

1) In relation to Bahasa Baku, I see it as a non-issue. I was still in primary school back then I don't see any problem being trained that way. In fact, as a Sabahan, we always proud of speaking Bahasa Baku very commonly, compared to West Malaysians who normally don't.

2) I've got no comment on this as I'm not aware with his budget speech (still a kiddo back then). Which year you are referring to? Would love to read if you have any source.

3) On PTPTN, I couldn't disagree more with you as you are arguing on a very commercial context, where education should be a social-economic matter. I doubt that people will lose their job merely due to the abolishing of PTPTN.

When you are talking about "customer", I think abolishing PTPTN doesn't mean of wiping out the customers base, instead the government will take over as the sole-customer of the education industry. With the wealthiest "customer" in the country paying the school fees for everyone, there's no need of credit facility. In fact, people are arguing how this "customer" can afford all the school fees, not the pros-and-cons of abolishing PTPTN.

PTPTN is a terrible scheme. It is the world's most uncollectable loan scheme, badly managed, and it actually serves as a transfer pricing vehicle within the departments of the government. Even if I have to debate on a commercial context, PTPTN is a terrible business for Malaysian government.

I'm sure abolishing PTPTN is not an idea solely from DSAI. Pakatan has many capable individuals who I believe have done a lot of homework before coming out with such proposal. Relating DSAI's qualification to be PM with abolishing PTPTN doesn't sound corrrect to me.

Before I end, just a reminder - I'm not a big fan of DSAI.

Mustapha Ong said...

I would like to agree to what you have said about Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar is a prime minister material but he didn't know how to play politics with Tun Mahathir. He had failed to see the true color of Tun Mahathir that had caused his dismissal from the administration and UMNO, not that he was not up to the mark, but because he had underestimate the Gi Gong of Tun Mahathir.

Anwar's biggest political blunder was that he caved into Mahathir at the time when Mahathir too was not at his strongest position in UMNO. The scenario today would have been totally different had Anwar steadfastly remain in UMNO in the late 1990s despite the political pressure within the party.

Anwar's position was much stronger than KuLi when he left UMNO and went on to form his Semangat 46 party which had failed to propel him to political stardom.The rest is history and KuLi could have been the 5th PM if had thrown in the tower. Pak Lah was not in the picture as he sat between Najib, Anwar and KuLi. Unfortunately for Najib, Mahathir had chosen Pak Lah and that was also Mahathir's political mistake at that point of time.

This was proven right when Pak Lah decided to release Anwar from Sungai Puloh and the rest is history. The political scenario in UMNO and leadership change could have been different today, if Najib was appointed as the 5th PM instead pf Pak Lah after Mahathir.

I believe UMNO/BN could have emerged stronger given the situation back in late 1990s. Then perhaps, DAP and PKR could not be as strong as they are today, as PAS was a lamed dog too with not much political options due to their internal problems.

theprofessor said...

You are a 1000 times smarter than this Anwar Ibrahim.

Fadzli Fuzi said...


Yes, PTPTN helps with education funding and at the same time creates that 'multiplier effect' in the economy. "Everything free" is actually very socialist in nature. Just look at free highway like our Federal Highway. That's how our higher education system is going to look like if we take the "free" route.

Countries with socialist system will eventually fail, easy example is USSR. Because of the "free system",socialism discourages free market economics and innovations. Eventually a socialist country will run out of money or they will meet with hyper-inflation, normally as a result of printing too much money to meet their free for all country. A good current example is Venezuela.

Why am I talking about socialism? Well, that's my humble interpretation on PR's manifesto. You don't have to call yourself a socialist to be a socialist. Even North Korea call themselves as "Democratic Republic". I can't see anywhere in their manifesto on their detailed plan for the economy.

Will wait for the 2nd part.

Fadzli Fuzi
Brain Teasers

Anonymous said...

Likewise, I have never been impressed with Anwar. He has given talks to my college when he was Edn Minister, but it was more oratory rather than communication. He was speaking in a voice too loud for the room; but left little impact and soon forgotten.

Anonymous said...

There Goes "Non Partisan" Anas....

Upholding his and Chandra's Form of Justice.

Buddha says those with Opinions can only spend their time bothering other people.

Rizwan said...

why you need to go in two-parts-essay to prove that anwar ibrahim is not capable of being a pm?

you really don't need to do this, it is plain for everybody to see. but i guess it is easy for mortal like me to have a glance at him and know straight away he's not PM material. (sidek baba took some 20years to finally leave anwar).

this country was at peace, whenever anwar ibrahim was chained voluntarily or involuntarily. that was between 1981 to 1998 when he was in the government and during 1999 to 2004 when he was PM of sungai buloh prison.

this country was in shambles and disaster, whenever he was free and against the government, i.e. the 70's, 1998-1999 and 2004 until now.

he contributed nothing but disaster to this country. nothing, whatsoever.

Snuze said...

You hit the nail on the head with all points here, Anas. Thanks for sharing.


Anonymous said...

Where is Part 2?

Unknown said...

You give your comments and let be commented

Unknown said...

Are you good in maths?

Verlene said...

This is cool!