PAST & FUTURE LEADERS of Malaysia: UMNO was formed and led by Onn Jaafar. The party managed to get recognition by the British, but it was made clear that non-Malays too should be part and parcel of the new country as an independence deal. Thus, Onn Jaafar proposed to the Malays to admit the non-Malays as members, making it like the United Malayan National Organization. But that proposal was rejected by Malays. Therefore, out of frustration and as a matter of principle, he resigned as party President. The vacancy was filled by Tunku Abdul Rahman. After forming an alliance with the Chinese & Indians, Tunku managed to get Malaya for free in 1957. Educated in England, Tunku understood the psychology of the British leaders very well. By being a prince too, he was able to obtain confidence of the Malay Sultans to lead the new country.
The British colonial masters recognized Tunku’s ability to do this job. Such confidence enabled Tunku to enlarge the country from Malaya to become Malaysia in 1963. The British confidence and Sultan’s support have made Tunku as the best person to lead the country when the British left. Tunku retired from Premiership in 1970. He was very honest in holding and doing his job with no material and family interest. The vacancy was filled by Tun Razak in 1970 who worked until he passed away in 1976. That vacancy was then filled by Hussein Onn until his voluntary retirement in 1981. Thus, Tun Razak and Hussein Onn did not have much time to do wonders for the country. They initiated a few projects, but were unable to see the end results. Early leaders were very honest people.
The next leader was Mahathir Mohamed who became PM for 22 years. One of his contributions was to make Malaysia well-known to the world. Another great achievement was in making Malaysia as a Newly Industrialized Country (NIC) since the 1990’s. He ordered the construction of PETRONAS Twin-Tower, KL Tower, Malaysian car (Proton), and building up Putrajaya. Despite such great contributions, Mahathir left behind a few set-backs for the nation. E.g. his conflict with the former Chief of Justice and the circle of Top Judges resulted in the termination of their services. This was described as a capture of the country’s Institution of Justice. Economically, his leadership gave rise to many cronies and millionaires who had close links to himself. Most of the cronies were non-Malays, who helped to finance most of what UMNO wanted to do. Thus, authoritarian approach and crony capitalism was the hallmark of his leadership. Mahathir retired voluntarily in 2003, with Abdullah Badawi as the successor.
Abdullah created two records in history. He scored highest % in getting support of the people in GE-11 (of 2004). Later, he scored the least % support in GE-12 (of 2008). During his time, Abdullah initiated a number of corrections in the practice of government. E.g. the judges who were sacked during the time of Mahathir were compensated. Another example was the cancellation of the Crooked Bridge project between JB & Singapore, already approved by Mahathir. Abdullah also gave due justice to Anwar Ibrahim. This resulted in the latter being freed from jail that started during the time of Mahathir. All these cases appeared as though Abdullah was correcting political mistakes of Mahathir. The consequence was a heavy attack by Mahathir. Attempts to continue his mission were blocked by the poor result of GE-12, the opposition by Mahathir, and the fear of under-performance. Thus, Abdullah vacated his chair in 2009, to be filled by Najib Razak.
Najib took over the leadership of Malaysia with a mission to re-brand UMNO, to launch a few transformation programs, etc. He was determined to bring back 2-third majority in the Parliament. If GE-13 (in 2013) could not happen, then GE-14 (in 2018) will certainly do better. By far, the following projects of Najib are very attractive: – Pan-Borneo Highway (toll-free); Labuan-Sabah Bridge; KB-Bentung Highway (toll-free); ECRL; Exchange 106; Menara-PNB-118; LRT-MRT-Monorails; HSR & RTS; Forest City; Melaka Gateway; Modenized Port Klang; High-Income & Highly Industrialized Country; etc. These are beyond the thinking power of Mahathir, being too old right now.
Department of Statistics says that Malaysia has 69% Malay-Bumiputras now, while Pew Research Center (USA) predicted that by 2050, there will be 72.4% Muslims in Malaysia. But I personally prefer a rounded figure like 75% even before 2050. This should send shock waves to those people in DAP who want to slow down this process. It looks like DAP’s power in Malaysia will not last long. So they need PKR & PAN very badly. PPBM will die together with Mahathir pretty soon. I wish to hear some comments from the followers of DAP, Mahathir & Anwar on this issue. BTW, leaders of industrialized Malaya should continue to fully develop Southern Thailand (next). Later, they should continue to fully develop the area between Singapore and Jakarta, by linking them with higways and railways. Thus, there will be super highways & railways linking Jakarta to Bangkok.