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MGG: The Daim Mystery Becomes Curiouser And Curiouser
By M.G.G. Pillai
21/6/2001 3:30 am Thu
[Cara Daim dipinggirkan lebih kurang sama dengan cara Anwar
disisihkan. Mengapa semua surat layang tertuju kepada Daim seorang?
Ini menunjukkan segala-galanya sudah dirancang. Ini termasuklah
menukar orang kanan di media tempatan serta menghalang wartawan
tempatan dari membuat liputan walaupun mereka mempunyai permit
yang disahkan. Inilah acuan demokrasi Mahathir - dia amat takut
kepada pendedahan dan keaiban.
Sudah tentu Daim mempunyai beberapa rahsia yang boleh mencekik
Mahathir. Dengan mengirim helikopter di waktu malam dan beberapa
lagi surat yang melayang di hari perhimpunan, Daim tentunya tidak
akan terlawan walaupun mempunyai banyak bom rahsia di tangan.
Mahathir seperti sudah menang dengan media dan helikopter yang
melayang. Sekarang cengkaman agar kroni Daim membayar hutang turut
membuat Daim tertekan. Mengapa semua nasib buruk menimpa Daim sekarang
jika tidak ia sudah lama dirancang? Ini semua bertujuan agar
Mahathir dianggap pembersih Umno yang terbilang sedangkan dia
sendiri sebenarnya telah bersekongkol kerana membiarkan Daim
meletak jawatan tanpa pembentangan lapuran. Kalau ya pun dia
sepatutnya menangguhkan dulu sehingga perhimpunan agung selesai
barulah menerima peletakkan jawatan Daim.
20 June 01
The Daim Mystery Becomes Curiouser And Curiouser
He disappeared from sight as rumours swirled around him.
He would be detained under the Internal Security Act. He is
prevented from travelling overseas. He has handlers following
him. And other fanciful rumours chased his shadow. The deputy
prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was sure he was arrested
on the day he was asked about it, but could not predict if he
would on the morrow.
Reporters chase every rumour to file reports that fill
newspaper pages but not to make sense of this faked crisis.
This is what we are reduced to when major political
confrontations loom. We saw it when the prime minister differed
with his then deputy over when he should retire. We have it now,
when UMNO wants details of party investments which Daim
Zainuddin, rather than provide it, goest first on leave and then
resigns all his positions.
Shifting the blame
What caused the breach? We do not know. Not in 1987, when
Tengku Razaleigh challenged Dr Mahathir and lost. Not in 1998
when Anwar Ibrahim was sacked, jailed and battered. Not in 2001
when Daim Zainuddin resigns, or is forced to, his positions.
The UMNO General Assembly tomorrow would have had some intriguing
questions of its president without it. He shifts the blame to
the party treasurer's handling of its finances. But the one
thread running it all is he wants to stay on come hell or high
The old fox has done it again. He diverts attention to one,
even a comrade-in-arms, he throws to the UMNO wolves. With his
control of the media and those ranged against him disorganised,
he has had a remarkable run of power. In the 21 years, he
fashioned Malaysia and UMNO into his own liking. His word was
law, his orders the force of law. He was an autocrat in the best
traditions of Malay feudalism.
But for this to endure, he must retain the support of the
Malay community. The right to rule in Malaysia, as elsewhere, is
governed by an oral tradition stepped in the people's unconscious
psyche. So long as he follows it, he could rule as long as he
liked. Breach it, and the people look for a new leader. When he
defined, in 1998, an old Malay feudal belief that a leader may
destroy a defiant deputy but must never ever humiliate him, his
decline began. The Malay cultural ground is not with him since.
In November last year, an UMNO extraordinary general meeting
would not amend the constition to remove changes he had had
inserted to ensure he would not be challenged in office. UMNO is
less enamoured of him now than ever. He fights to retain the
public adulation he once had. He cannot address UMNO or Malay
gatherings with confidence. He stays in power with legal armoury
not public support.
Honest accounting and corporate profligacy
Into this steps Daim Zainuddin. One the face of it, he is
godsent for Dr Mahathir. But is he? How could he allow the
party treasurer to resign a month before the UMNO General
Assembly? Is it to prevent an honest accounting of the party
finance? Is Daim paying for the sins of his corporate
UMNO Baru convinced the courts it succeeded the court-banned
UMNO when Semangat '46 also bid for its assets. UMNO corporate
assets were in a company called Hatibudi. This was divested,
under Daim Zainuddin as treasurer, to various companies which we
now know are linked to him. The understanding then was that
these companies would be run for UMNO's benefit.
That it now appears was a pipe dream. On paper, the
investments are still there, run for its benefit. But when the
underlying corporate empire collapses under the weight of its
debt, how could UMNO's share escape unscathed? Under an
autocratic leader, supreme council members would not challenge
the treasurer's statement that all was well. They are not so
trusting. They demanded an account of its shares, warts and all.
Rumours and grounded planes
Daim took two months leave, and eventually resigned three
weeks ahead of the UMNO General Assembly. But he could not leave
quietly. Dr Mahathir says they did not meet, when rumours were
they did, but spoke on the telephone. The Department of Civil
Aviation has ordered that the airplanes and helicopters of his
cronies are grounded.
The passports of some of them are seized. Anticorruption
and commercial crime officials have called on those closest to
him, including his wives. The Securities Commission is rumoured
to have a list of corporate tycoons, as they once were, for acts
of ommission and commission. Most, it need not be said, are
aligned to him.
There is nothing unusual in this. When Tengku Razaleigh
Hamzah challenged Dr Mahathir for the UMNO presidency, and left
UMNO to form Semangat '46, his corporate supporters were ordered
to repay the bank loans they took, and reduced to the twilight of
the corporate world. As Anwar Ibrahim's supporters were when he
was sidelined. And Daim Zainuddin's would be and are.
We are told Daim knows where the skeletons are hidden, and
would reveal them if he is damned. So, it was said of Tengku
Razaleigh and Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar did file police reports about
corruption and profligacy in high places. Nothing happened.
The reports gather dust in forgotten police and anti-corruption
agency files. Besides, in Malay culture, a deputy who squeals is
as reprehensible a leader as one who humiliates him.
Too high a cost
Dr Mahathir would deflect this challenge to his authority
this week but at too high a cost. When the UMNO elections is
moved from 2003 to 2004, because national elections intrude, it
is also to prevent a new UMNO divisional heads who would not be
as friendly to him as the present lot. Having to throw Daim to
the UMNO wolves is a sign of nervousness. He cannot afford to
alienate Daim but he had to.
He wants UMNO to return to its past glories. He does not
want to be known as one who destroyed UMNO twice. He takes steps
to come to terms with Anwar, however much this is denied. Anwar
insists he is downed by a conspiracy whose members are now in
deep straits, his position in the Malay, if not UMNO, mind is
higher than any one else's.
His predicament and Dr Mahathir as president threatens to
consign UMNO to history. Daim is in difficulty now because he is
the most important, in Anwar's view, of the conspirators. The
others have all fallen by the wayside. So, this UMNO gathering
is not to reaffirm the leadership so much as to show that the
leader can be wrong. The body language would show how seriously.
Daim, unlike Tengku Razaleigh and Anwar, would, when all is said
and done, a footnote.