Malaysiakini Letter

Ahmad Zahid, the real ingrate

K Temoc  |  Published:  |  Modified:

I refer to your Malaysiakini article ‘Don't repeat ‘ingrates’ remarks, MIC tells Zahid’, in which Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam, a better minister than many others in the cabinet, chided Ahmad Zahid for categorising Chinese who voted DAP as 'ingrates' and advised him against using that remarks on Indians in Teluk Intan.

Dr Subramanian gave good reasons for Ahmad Zahid not to antagonise non-Malay voters in Teluk Intan which could jeopardise the BN candidate’s prospects in the by-election at the end of this month, just a mere one day away.

But Dr Subra has probably wasted his breath because it was likely Ahmad Zahid’s target audience for his patronising and insulting remarks about pro-DAP Chinese was not the Chinese.

For a start, Ahmad Zahid knows most of the Chinese in Teluk Intan will be voting for the DAP candidate, though admittedly there may a number of older Chinese who will vote for Gerakan’s Mah Siew Keong because of the BN candidate's family name and connections in the constituency.

Secondly, ‘gratitude’ in the way Umno people like Zahid mean it is a not word that is likely to find traction with today’s Chinese Malaysians. I am not just talking about the Chinese grievance against the Umno-led government’s alleged cronyism and favouritism.

Thus, we can gather that for Zahid to realise full benefit, to wit, his desired political outcome, of his accusation of pro-DAP Chinese as ‘ingrates’, his target audience would be those with an obligation towards a society, one in which they would feel compelled to owe allegiance to their ‘liege lord’ and consequentially, to harbour guilt in not being ‘grateful’ to their ‘liege lord’ if they had voted for someone other than those due their allegiance, namely the Umno government and its cohorts.

In a feudalistic world, the ‘liege lord’ hands out various forms of largesse to their vassals and serfs who should then be suitably ‘grateful’ for their master’s generosity, even though in the modern democratic world which Malaysia purported to belong to, the so-called lord’s generosity draws heavily on and completely from public taxpayers’ money.

Though Chinese were once among the most feudalistic societies in the world, I’m afraid today Chinese Malaysians like most of their overseas modern ethnic counterparts (with perhaps the sole exception of Thai Chinese) have stopped believing in feudalism some time ago. Thus the Chinese among the ethnic groups in Malaysia are probably the ones least likely to subscribe to the feudal concept of being ‘grateful’ to the authority.

Ahmad Zahid knows that, too.

But if so, why has he then made that seemingly worthless comment?

Intended for the Malay Heartland

We come back to my earlier suspicion he hadn’t intended the ‘ingrates’ remark for the Chinese, but rather the Malay Heartland where his pretend-anger (in campaigning for Mah) would have found resonance with some of his target audience, well at least among the more conservative factions, for if Yang Berhormat, Menteri Pertahanan Malaysia Dato’ Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has deemed Chinese as being ‘ungrateful’ for voting DAP instead of the BN government, the thought ‘what more for orang kita’ would probably have coursed through the Heartland.

Was he helping Mah then? I have my personal doubts as I suspect he had taken the occasion to buttress his own position within Umno, but which nonetheless has worried Dr Subra enough to issue his public ‘advice’ to Zahid.

Currently there are three Umno vice-president (VP) positions, occupied by Shafie Apdal, Hishammuddin Hussein and the most-belligerent and most ethnic-centric Zahid.

Today Ahmad Zahid has also become the post powerful Umno VP in a mere 15 years after he had had his wrist slapped for being naughty in 1998.

Let’s rewind back to then, when he was Umno Youth Chief, and was resoundingly trounced, nay, humiliated by then 74-year old Prime Minister (PM) Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Nearly two decades ago, Zahid was Deputy Anwar Ibrahim’s vanguard to oust Dr Mahathir out from the prime-minister position well ahead of schedule by voicing allegations of the PM’s cronyism and nepotism. On June 1998, The New York Times ( NYT ) reported in its World Business page:

In what was seen as a jab at Mr Mahathir’s 17-year leadership, the head of Umno’s youth wing, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, had called for an end to cronyism and nepotism during a speech to delegates.

“Why were big loans to big businessmen approved so easily when small guys had to wait so long to get a loan of RM50,000?” (US$12,500) Mr Ahmad Zahid asked.

Abdul Razak Hussein might have been the PM who launched the National Economic Policy but no other PM of Malaysia than Dr Mahathir had taken so much effort to ensure its real term benefit for bumiputeras, especially Umno-ites like Zahid.

Indeed, the NYT reported that the PM responded to Zahid’s allegation the next day by posting hundreds of names of people who have won government projects in recent years, a list which included his accuser, Zahid.

But in Dr Mahathir’s wily turning of the cronyism table against Zahid, he showed Zahid had benefited from his largesse as PM.

Ingrate to Dr M?

Didn't that make Zahid an ‘ingrate’ to Dr Mahathir?

Subsequently, Zahid’s superior survival skills [laughter] had him confessing that Anwar was the person who instructed him to attack Dr Mahathir with allegations of cronyism and nepotism.

The New Straits Times (June 19, 1999) informed us that Zahid finished his confessional by apologising to the then PM, and with a flamboyant flourish, acknowledged Dr Mahathir’s rebuke of him as a father-to-son advice.

I wonder whether Dr Mahathir was repulsed, revolted and repelled by Zahid’s smarmy volte-face, considering he was Anwar Ibrahim’s vanguard in that intra-party power manoeuvre. Hadn’t Zahid heard of the words ‘loyalty’, ‘principle’ and ‘honour’?

But didn’t that make Zahid an ‘ingrate’ to his party factional leader, Anwar Ibrahim?

Good lord, in a short span of time this man had assumed status of serial ‘ingratitude’ or in more straightforward parlance, ‘treachery’ to his Umno superiors. Oh, that fabled Malay loyalty!

But it has to be said he had the thick skin to be able to do what he did.

He knows he lacks Umno pedigrees like Najib Razak, Hishammuddin Hussein, Khairy Jamaluddin and Mukhriz Mahathir so it would seem his career strategy appears to be heavily invested in being the poster boy for the more conservative elements in Umno.

And it has been to his credit and also his 1998 thick skin that today he has become the most powerful Umno VP, a mere two heartbeats from the party president position and by default, becoming the PM of Malaysia .

He does this by assuming a hardline right wing stand (for the benefit of the Heartland) which included endorsing the police policy of ‘shoot to kill’ when arresting dangerous criminals, and of course insulting and admonishing the Chinese in patronising fashion at periodic intervals as he has just done to Chinese In Teluk Intan who had voted DAP.

Note also how Zahid played the role of the rampaging right wing bull in the ‘celaka’ china shop when Najib and Hishamuddin were both attempting to hose down the rightwing flame.

In late 2010 Zahid in Parliament stated in response to a question on the low number of Chinese and Indian recruits in the military, that it could be due to the Chinese and Indians being ‘not patriotic enough’, and this from a man who couldn’t even be loyal to his Umno superiors!

I have more to say about his insult to Chinese ‘patriotism’ soon.

As we are aware, Zahid has been observed to wear celoreng (military camouflage fatigues) complete with a paramilitary beret and a pompous tag on his dress to indicate he is a ‘menteri’, as if his military officers and men are clueless about his ministerial status. I hope he wasn’t insulting their intelligence.

Unauthorised wearing of camouflage fatigues?

I would not be surprised if he as a civilian had been the only Malaysian defence minister to have the nerve to cloth himself in battle fatigues as if he was a regular military man. In Malaysia’s earlier days of the Emergency he would have been thrown into prison under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for unauthorised wearing of military camouflage fatigues.

Ironically for a person who obviously likes combat uniform, he appears to be unaware that when he was in diapers and in his teens, there were already Chinese Malaysians who served valiantly in Malaysia's service and were awarded by His Majesty our nation's highest bravery award, the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa, brave policemen and soldiers like former Superintendent of Police Paul Kiong and former Deputy Superintendent of Police Sia Boon Chee.

Where or what was Zahid then?

In March last year I had also written a letter to Malaysiakini titled ‘Chinese M’sians too have died for one Malaysia’ in which I wrote that, apart from the above two Pahlawan Malaysia, three other Chinese police officers were also awarded the nation’s highest gallantry award, the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa, with two, sadly, posthumously. Yes, where was Zahid the smartly uniformed warrior with the tag on his chest telling the world he’s a ‘menteri’?

Then there were those like 2nd Lieutenant Fu Chee Ming of the 4th Ranger Battalion who was awarded the Pingat Gagah Berani (PGB) for leading his men in engaging the enemy for seven hours of heavy firefight in Zahid’s home state. Two RMAF officers, Choo Yeok Boo and Chan Tat Ming, who perished in their fight against the insurgents near the Malaysian-Thai border, were awarded the PGB posthumously. And where and what was Zahid then?

There were the incalculable services of former (belated) Perak police chief Khoo Chong Kong who during his service was assassinated by communist terrorist in 1975. He was replaced by Yuen Yuet Leng, the Perak-born Sarawak police commissioner (and also Rascom Special Branch Chief and Head of Joint Intelligence), who took over to win the insurgency war in Perak as he did in Rascom, Sarawak. Was Zahid anywhere?

Apart from the above who were awarded gallantry medals by His Majesty, there were many Chinese policemen and soldiers who were killed during operations. Pray tell me, where was Zahid?

Additionally, Zahid as a son of Perak, in questioning the patriotism of Chinese Malaysians, failed abysmally to recognise that Superintendent of Police Paul Kiong was also awarded his home state’s (Perak) highest bravery award in 1988 for three other operations. Mana dia, Zahid?

What is now obvious is that Zahid, in the full glory of his celerong and beret - and don’t forget that pompous ‘menteri’ tag, has been the real ingrate in not showing respect to the Chinese contributions in Malaysia’s war against its enemies.

And coupled with his ingratitude to both former PM and Umno party president, Dr Mahathir Mohammad and his own party mentor, former DPM and Umno deputy party president, Anwar Ibrahim,  Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has to be a serial ‘ingrate’.


K TEMOC is a Penangite who enjoys being an independent blogger and loves to share his opinion on Malaysian and world affairs without fear or favour, though currently is politically inclined towards DAP, only because the political party has thus far shown faithfulness to its promise of competency, accountability and transparency.

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