For Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who in March will become the shortest serving Prime Minister in Malaysia's history, five years and four months is good enough. The fact that he has to step down because he has lost support, is a different matter. Whatever it is, his name is going down the annals of history as Malaysia's fifth Prime Minister. And that is quite an achievement.
Unlike his predecessor, Abdullah was dependent on his advisers. And these advisers, all with their own agenda to make money or advance their own political interests, were the actual cause of his downfall.
One of Abdullah's closest adviser is Datuk Seri Kalimullah Maseerul Hassan, the Deputy Chairman of The New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd. I first came to know Kalimullah when I joined the PETS Training in NST in 1987. I was then just 20 years old. Having quit from The Star, he had just joined NST as a senior reporter, but wasn't much of a journalist. Lagged far behind the likes of Sabri Sharif, Fabian Dawson, R Nadeswaran, etc. He never made it to an editor in any of the Malaysian newspapers.
I now believe that Kalimullah had no interest in journalism at all. Journalism was just a stepping stone to bigger things. His interest is only in making money, huge profits, like he is making now.
Abdullah's advisers, including Kalimullah, only told him what he wanted to hear. They hid the truth. They deliberately did not tell him about his dwindling support. They wanted him to remain in power so they can "make hay while the sun shines". They had no qualms about Abdullah being ridiculed and laughed at. They just wanted him to stay in power for as long as he could. They knew that it wouldn't be long. So in the last five years, they did what they could to amass wealth and push their political careers to dizzying heights.
It will be impossible for me to list all the projects that Abdullah's relatives and friends, including Kalimullah had secured over the last five years. My aging computer. I think, does not have enough capacity to carry such a long list.
And yet, Kalimullah, in his column in the NST today (10 October 2008), had the audacity to tell Prime Minister-in-waiting Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak not to give projects to his cronies.
I know Najib. And I know he is not as gullible as his "soon-to-be" predecessor. Najib deserves a chance to undo all the wrongs that Abdullah and his cronies did. Najib needs time to rehabilitate Barisan Nasional in time for the 13th general election in or before 2013. The people should refrain from making wild accusations against him because someone somewhere started it for his own interest.
I can't speak on behalf of Najib. If I could, I would have this to say to Kalimullah: TAKE YOUR ADVICE AND SHOVE IT!
My name is Mohd Ashraf Abdullah. I was born and raised in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan. I am a journalist at heart. I served the New Straits Times as a journalist for 17 years, beginning as a cadet reporter in 1988. I was trained to be a political writer. I served the NST in various capacities including as Staff Correspondent of the Kuantan Bureau and London Correspondent. I resigned as News Editor in 2004 to join Golden Hope Plantations Berhad as Deputy General Manager, Group Corporate Affairs. Two years later I was made General Manager, Group Corporate Affairs. When Golden Hope and Kumpulan Guthrie Berhad were merged with Sime Darby Berhad in November 2007, I chose not to accept the offer of employment by the merged entity. I was a scholar of the British Government and possess a Masters Degree in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. I am also a Jefferson's Fellow of the East West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.