Monday, August 20, 2007

What has Oxford done?

The Prince and The Toad. Bakri Musa, the Malaysian-born surgeon-blogger residing in the US, has just mailed me a piece, which he co-authored with Din Marican, that compares two Malaysian Oxford grads, Raja Nazrin of Perak and the Prime Minister's son-in-law.
I have decided to republish here the first 3 paras of the article What has Oxford done?. For the rest, wait for it at Bakri Musa's blog here.

What Has Oxford Done?

M. Bakri Musa and Din Merican

Both are graduates of Oxford, but what a difference between the two! What separates them is that elusive quality: class. One has it; the other does not. When you have class, Oxford will bring out the best in you. When you do not, not even esteemed Oxford can do much for you.

One is a crown prince, a sultan-to-be whose recent wedding warmed the hearts of Malaysians for its elegant simplicity and regal restraint. His eloquent speeches inspire the young and old alike; they enthusiastically embrace his enlightened vision of Malaysia. He appeals to their idealism and decency, and they in turn respond in kind. His understated passion and cool rationality resonate with the citizens. He elevates the tone of our civil discourse. In short, Raja Nazrin is “Yang Teramat Mulia” (“The Most Esteemed”) personified.

The other is a neophyte political operative, with grand pretensions of being the next Prime Minister. For now however, he is till struggling just to have the title (but not the qualities) of a “Yang Berhormat” (“The Honorable”) that goes with being a Member of Parliament. His obscenely ostentatious wedding a few years back dragged on for days, with multiple ceremonies. Its extravagance easily outmatched the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, minus of course the royal elegance. Today he is again indulging in excesses; this time hurling insults at Malaysians and assaulting their sense of decency.

(udpate: Ok, Ok! I might as well publish the whole article. - Rocky's Bru)

In his speeches to his followers in UMNO Youth, he instigates and brings out their dark side. To him, the Mat Rempits, those midnight marauders of unemployable youths who terrorize our streets, represent the best of our community. He champions them. Like them, his trade in stock is taunting and provoking, with undisguised racist undertone. Lately he resorts to simian references; no surprise as he is surrounded daily by the opportunist monkeys in the jungle that is UMNO. This fraud of a leader coarsens our public debates, dragging them to his barnyard level.

We humbly apologize to Raja Nazrin for this jarring juxtaposition of images. We are comforted by the fact that a Prince Charming beside a toad will never lose his regal bearing. A toad beside a prince however, will make its warts all the more revolting to behold, and its croaking unbearably grating.

While the constant croaking of a toad may be harsh on the ears, the repeated racist rhetoric of a leader, genuine or fake, can have devastating consequences. We would have thought that this would be obvious; we need not remind ourselves of the ghastly tragedy of May 1969.

This wet-behind-the-ears pseudo-leader is oblivious of these dangers. Born years after those horrific days in 1969, he did not live through the calamity that nearly ripped our nation apart. It would be unlikely for him to have learned that part of our history at Oxford. It is also painfully obvious that no senior leaders in his party have taken him aside to apprise this uncouth young man of that blemish in our history. This glaring omission speaks volumes of the caliber of UMNO’s current leadership.

Elusive Quality of Class

While “class” is an elusive quality and thus difficult to define, nonetheless we know it when we see it, to borrow the phrase of an American jurist. We would definitely know it when it is not there, hence the dismissive, “No class!”

Equally revealing is what a particular culture considers to be a class act or whom that society views as “classy.” Rest assured that a “class act” by a mafia don is anything but in a civilized society.

Nelson Mandela has class; his nemesis the buffoon P. W. Botha did not. Many attribute “class” to breeding. If by that they mean genetic endowment, we demur, as that would imply that the attribute is not teachable. It also implies the acceptance of a certain degree of fatalism: either one is lucky to be born with the attribute, or one is not.

If the term “breeding” refers to upbringing, then we are in agreement. This does not mean that those in the upper crust of society would automatically have “class.” We have many uncouth presidents and leaders. Then there was the lowly born Mahatma Gandhi whose class act of non-violence shamed the crusty British establishment.

We would have thought that being the son of a career diplomat would ensure good upbringing. After all the profession of diplomacy itself is the epitome of class, as encapsulated in the expression, “being diplomatic.” We also would have expected some of the father’s classiness to rub off on the son. That it did not forces us to look for other explanations.

The Malay expression Kurang Ajar (or Kurang ‘Jar, K ‘J) is the idiomatic translation of the phrase “No class.” Literally it means, “Not adequately taught,” as by the parents and other elders in the village. Stated another way: uncouth.

In Malay culture however, that phrase means much more: it is the most damning insult. In the words of Usman Awang in his poem Kurang Ajar, it is sebuah perkataan yang paling ditakuti untok bangsa kita yang pemalu) (the most feared phrase by our race.)

That aside, the literal translation is quite meaningful as it points out possible ways of remedying the deficiency. Thus, “Teach your children well!” as the song advises, is one useful way. There is no advantage in being born to a diplomat’s family if your parents have not provided you the necessary tutelage. Or, as is increasingly becoming common among Malaysians, they delegate this important parental responsibility to maids.

Malaysia imports thousands of these maids annually. As only the affluent could afford these “servants,” as they are referred to in Malaysian homes, we are now seeing a generation of the elite that has grown up kurang ajar. Many are jockeying for leadership of the nation. We shudder to think of the social and political implications.

Toxic Combination of Greed and Kurang Ajar

As obnoxious as this kurang ‘jar (K ‘J) young pseudo-leader is, the situation is worse. He is also aggressively ambitious, barely concealing his greed for money and lust for power. He fancies himself an “investment banker,” but his primary indulgence is stripping off valuable assets from government-linked companies. ECM Libra’s (the company he is associated with) well documented plundering of GLCs is a ready example. He also grandly aspires to be Prime Minister by age 40! It is this combination of greed and kurang ajar that is highly toxic.

This K ‘J pseudo-leader’s political career in UMNO is consumed with endless Machiavellian maneuverings in the blind pursuit of his ambition. None of his tricks are original of course; they are primarily the familiar “sucking up to your superiors,” or variations thereof, including the most extreme form: marrying the boss’s daughter.

If perchance the particular leader this K ‘J character is backing suddenly stumbles, he shrewdly shifts his target. His tactics and underlying strategies however, remain the same. After all, innovative imagination is not his forte!

Thus now that Anwar Ibrahim is out of power, this K ‘J character readily heaps scorn upon him. Earlier when he thought that Anwar might dramatically resurrect himself upon his release from prison, this K ‘J was the first to greet Anwar at his home on the pretext of expediting his passport application. Had Anwar remained the Deputy Prime Minister, this K ‘J would probably go after Anwar’s daughter instead!

Meanwhile supplicating supporters of this K ‘J are busy groveling to him; like leader, like followers. One particularly sycophantic subordinate went so far and without any trace of modesty referred to this K ‘J character as UMNO’s Beckham! This sycophant missed the salient fact that Beckham’s talent excites the crowd; K ‘J’s is to incite them.

Along the same vein, a tabloid columnist gushes in quoting an “anonymous” UMNO insider who likens this K ‘J to a young Mahathir. Laughable! Her groveling piece reveals more about herself than her subject: a drooling lapdog ready to lick her master at the snap of the finger.

We are heartened that some are beginning to see through the fraud of this K ’J. Zahar Hashim, head of Petaling Jaya Selatan UMNO, likened this K ‘J to the devil haunting UMNO Youth. Zahar is a retired army officer; meaning he has guts to go with his self-discipline. It would be tough to borak (hoodwink) your way through this former soldier.

The most effective way to teach these K ‘J types a lesson is to land them a tight slap on their face. Many we presume would like to do just that, especially Zahar. While we cannot do so literally, we are metaphorically slapping his face with our piece.

We have unequivocally declared here that Raja Nazrin is a class act, while this other K ‘J character is just that: kurang ‘jar. In so clearly drawing the line, we are also explicitly stating our values of what we consider worthy of praise and emulation versus what we should condemn and discourage.

(Din Merican is a senior research fellow with the Cambodian Institute of Cooperation and Peace. He was recently named an adjunct professor of global business strategy and a board member of the newly formed University of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. Din Merican had worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bank Negara Malaysia and Sime Darby.) He can be reached at:

M. Bakri Musa (


  1. Degree or no degree
    Ivy leagues universities
    A person makes it
    A person doesn’t know how to use
    The intelligence dwells within
    The compassion of valuing people
    Interests, worries, smile and laughter

    Skills learn through interaction
    Know the ways of humbleness
    Learn the simple truths
    Simplicity makes the person

    People judge by what you say
    Open your intelligence in the masses
    Know the values of a true leader
    You don’t born into it
    You have to learn to win it

    The scouting motto is ‘Be prepared’
    So when one aspires to be a leader
    Lay the ground rules with aroma of spices
    Let it smells good in every corner

    Telling lies and half truths
    Saying words without compassion
    Building castles in the air for the masses
    With greed hiding in the pockets
    This type of leader
    It is better to nail on the big fat tree
    Let the sun rays skin the layers away slowly
    Let the leader feels
    Dishonesty and greed never pay
    Degree or no degree
    Ivy leagues universities
    Or non at all in one’s journey

  2. Anonymous11:00 am


    Personalities coming from this party were never encouraged and spurred on by morality or integrity.

    They were dead set by GREED - monies honies and power.

    That is just one of their many bad mottoes ...

    Never mind what they once were, but once they embrace it the only thing they can ever do is to kiss asses and bootlicking.

    Isnt it obvious already ....

    ** sighs ***


  3. Anonymous11:24 am

    Salaam, Pak!

    May I digress a little to alert you to a commentary by Hishamuddin Hussein Onn (yup, the man himself!) in the Review page of the Singapore Straits Times ( today, Aug 20.

    The title of his commentary is (I kid you not!) "Building a stronger Malaysia". The Straits Times, with a fine sense of irony, has added the sub-heading "Success story based on diversity".

    Before you fall about laughing, perhaps you could check out what the good Hishamuddin wrote for a Singapore newspaper.

    It will be interesting to see if Hishamuddin's commentary will be re-published in any of Malaysia's mainstream newspapers - English, Malay, Chinese or Tamil.

    Let me quote a few paragraphs from his commentary to whet your appetite:

    "We have chosen a path to national identity that explicitly recognises distinct races and communities and, more importantly, we have always refrained from the temptation to forcefully assimilate minorities into a dominant culture"

    (pause here to stifle an anticipatory sense of disbelief)

    "In the competitive environment we live in, diverse cultures are really also diverse resources. They are the basis upon which we will be building future economic growth.

    "And as the Education Minister, it is my task to strengthen these core resources and make them commercially attractive to industry...

    "...We cannot afford tension or conflict between the races. If diversity is to remain our strength, communities must be brought together, not driven apart by unscrupulous politicking.

    "I know that this was a core concern for my late father, former prime minister Tun Hussein Onn, during his time in office over 30 years ago. He recognised that instilling a sense of national pride and responsibility would require all the races to be at peace with each other.

    "I am fully aware of the responsibility I bear, given my late father's legacy. Peace and racial harmony are critical for development and I carry his legacy - the commitment to national unity - with pride and humility...."

    And he concludes thus:

    "Time will tell if we can overcome these internal and external challenges to get to the next rung of the development ladder. For one day in August though, let us Malaysians take the nostalgic walk down memory lane whilst basking in the glory of how far we have come in 50 years".

    (Drum roll. Thunderous applause. Exit stage left)

  4. KJ....KJ...KJ

    Let me share a story with u.

    There was once a smart young lad who had tons of ambition. He married UP, thinking he could become better. But alas, everytime he opened his mouth, people could still see the pariah that he is.

    The character potrayed bears no resemblence to anyone alive or dead.

  5. Anonymous11:36 am

    a toad kissed by bodowi's princess and see what it became...

    a foul-mouth flag burning street-hooligan racist mat-rempit.

  6. Anonymous12:15 pm

    one is a prince but more so he is the peoples' prince. He doesn't need a royal title to earn our respect but with his wisdom and leadership, he has won all our hearts. Daulat Tuanku!

    the other is an ambitious young ciku, who will do anything for power including coming up with racist and stupid remarks. This kind of people are dangerous, they will do anything for self gain.On top if that he is so arrogant. He thinks he is god send to us.

    And compare the leadership and example set by both, even the prince acts like a commoner while this ciku acts like a royalty..kononnya First Family.

    The toad is really the appropriate name here, more so than monkey cos monkeys are intelligent afterall.

  7. Anonymous2:01 pm

    Oye! Oye! Oye! I second rocky's statement: A toad then shall it be for KJ!

    By the way, has anyone ever asked a toad if this proposal is an insult to the toad species? - Amir

  8. We cannot compare like this. Both belongs to different "faction".

    To be fair to that monkey KJ, it is the desire to climb the party ladder that makes him behave in such a way.
    The root of the problem lies with UMNO.

    A good example here is Anwar Ibrahim.

  9. Anonymous2:32 pm

    eloquently said.
    a toad is a toad in whichever way you look at it.

  10. Anonymous4:22 pm

    For a contrarian view, please see Gahesh Sahathevan's Aug 16 posting "I wish I could believe Raja Nazrin.....but cannot" (

  11. Sdr Rocky's Bru,

    Sebuah pantun lama untuk renungan:-

    Pergi memburu di padang datar
    Dapat rusa belang kaki
    Kalau berguru kepalang ajar
    Ibarat bunga kembang tak jadi.

    Terima kasih.

  12. trouble is when can we get him out of our sight ? before we become shit ourselves ?

  13. Anonymous5:11 pm

    guys off topic.. something good to read... visit tokasid blog... this gov really corrupt! really sad!

  14. Anonymous5:13 pm

    guys.. pls read this gov really corrupt!

  15. banyak susah mahu baca. boleh besarkan lagi ?

  16. Anonymous5:58 pm

    Mr Jagjit S,

    Can enlarge by simultaneously pressing Ctr and +/= keys if you're on Mozilla.

  17. Anonymous6:05 pm


    Do you ever wonder why Raja Nazrin and some Sultans are today taking up social and civil society issues openly and publicly?
    Are they planning to take over the country or because they too are desperate with the current elegent silence government?
    I think the latter is the case. They notice the sufferings of the people and the dangerous direction politics is taking; economic stagnation, crime, racism, extremism, corruption and so on.
    Daulat Tuanku.

  18. Anonymous8:31 pm


    Kindly review this article from

    interesting article on


  19. This is one toad no princess is gonna kiss.

    Btw is there such a thing as 'a toady looking fella'?

    Or the type that goes around saying "Wart's up, dude?"


    Kermit's a frog and KJ's not his cousin.

    A toad and it's sticky tongue shall never part.

    The toad is for the hills.

    A toad in the gonna give you a yucky feeling (you'd thought it was worth two in the gutter, didn't you).

    One for you, toad for me (UMNO's new motto).

    I shall end this with "Jeremiah was a bullfrog...." (wasn't there a song with the same title?).

    Toad jokes, anybody?

    P.S. See what happens when one does not do a blog posting for more than ten days.

  20. Anonymous12:07 am

    While the Malays, royalty or commoner are busy fighting each other with the other batu api instigating them, the Chinese are championing 'their rights' and demanding this and that..bila lah orang Melayu nak berhenti dengki mendengki..pergi Oxford salah tak pergi salah. Jodoh dengan anak orang kaya salah dengan anak orang miskin pun salah, tak ade yang positif. Asyik nak cari salah orang, yang baik tak nampak. Dengki sebenarnya pada KJ, bukan apa hasad yang membakar diri sendiri..tapi alang alang terbakar sendiri biarlah orang lain pun terbakar sama. Nanti kalau semua dah terbakar tak de apa lah nak di bising bisingkan lagi..bangsa lain yang untung..

  21. As a non-malay Malaysian citizen, the feeling would be like recently:

    When KJ makes racist remarks and talks rubbish (i.e champion mat rempit), no teguran from big boys means consent. I feel diowned by the government.

    But when Raja Nazrin speaks, I listen. I obey and I wish I can contribute and be the Malaysian that only exist in his Utopia (for now).

    I must not lost hope.

  22. As a non-malay Malaysian citizen, the feeling would be like recently:

    When KJ makes racist remarks and talks rubbish (i.e champion mat rempit), no teguran from big boys means consent. I feel diowned by the government.

    But when Raja Nazrin speaks, I listen. I obey and I wish I can contribute and be the Malaysian that only exist in his Utopia (for now).

    I must not lost hope.

  23. Anonymous1:49 am

    M'sia's status quo politics are in disarray. Dominant UMNO has lost its centre of gravity whilst its leaderships are helplessly grappling with credibility crisis of the worst kind. That old order is rapidly disintegrating from within. The current regime's much touted Social Contract needs serious rethinking if social stability in the country's plural society is to be maintained. And mostly, civil society, the Malay Rulers and middle class M'sia need to take the cue and empower themselves for that almost imminent New M'sian Order (a very antithesis of Western hegemonistic New Global Order).

  24. a toady is also a lackey. so the other non-prince oxford guy is definitely not a toady. he only leads the way and the rest of the toadies will follow his ass.

    y follow him?

    sebab dia beeessstttt.....

  25. Let's start referring to KJ as Kurang Jar'

    And when KJ proudly displays his name tag with the words "KJ", we all can nod and say, "yes u are"

    I think even Mahatma Gandhi* would have shown his middle finger to KJ.

    [no disrespect to the great mahatma]

  26. Anonymous7:56 am

    Its like comparing a piece of rare diamond (the Prince) and a piece of wet dog shit (the politician)

  27. Anonymous9:33 am

    Salam saudara

    Satu pantun moden :

    Membaca akbar aku yang pilih
    Penulis berita tersengeh sengeh
    Kata paku dulang yang serpih
    Mengata orang aku yang lebih

  28. Anonymous9:36 am

    Somehow I agree with Anonymous 12.07.

    The comparison between RN and KJ smacks of Malay biases and prejudices.

    How can you compare the discourse/personality of a Crown Prince with that of the Deputy Head of UMNO Youth?

    While their tertiary education was similarly elitist, their experiences and agendas are worlds apart! The Prince can remain elegant and elitist because that is his station and role. The Pauper is addressing UMNO grassroots whom he must arouse to a crescendo, especially now that the elections are imminent.

    There lies the rub Rocky, Bakri Musa and Din Marican.

  29. Anonymous10:08 am


    Ms Zainah Anwar, Executive Director, Sisters in Islam, will be the Guest Speaker at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (part of the National University of Spore) 3rd Anniversary Public Lecture this Wednesday, Aug 22.

    The subject of her lecture - "Islam & Public Policy".

    The lecture will be chaired by Kishore Mahbubani, a former top Spore diplomat, and now Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

    Ms Zainah has an impressive resume: educated at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Boston University and the MARA Institute of Technology.

    The audience at public lectures at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy normally comprise Spore ministers, politicians, foreign diplomats, business people and foreign journalists.

    I wonder if this will be reported in the Malaysian mainstream media.

    And isn't this the same Ms Zainah Anwar who was severely criticised by certain Islamic quarters not so long ago?

    Syabas, Ms Zainah!

  30. Anonymous10:33 am

    KJ ain't no pauper. He is nursing and perpuating 'protect the malay rights' way-of-life while simultaneously milking the cows dry, and inciting racism ( neo-apartheidism?) with his every public performance. On meeting non-UMNO youths, he offers smiles and handshakes and comforting words which are mere shams and without good faith. He is a dangerous man indeed, dangerous for a peaceful, rich, harmonious and healthy Malaysia. His is a personal agenda of selfish and greedy intentions. He has 'lean and hungry look' yet he is no pauper!!

  31. Aye. An apt word for somebody without class but mere pretense is PERASAN. KJ is PERASAN personified.

  32. Anonymous12:20 pm

    A wily schemer he is, this SIL. First he got the platform from the FIL, then made himself filthy rich through unscrupulous means. Now he turns rabble-rouser, fannig up the emotions of the impressionable masses and claiming himself to be their messiah. He is now the bane of the country.The racial divide has got deeper since he came on to the political arena.

    If the big fish in BN, or more appropriately Umno, cannot see his modus oprandi and reign him in; then let us do it ourselves with all the means at our disposal. Let us email this insightful piece of Din Merican and Bakri Musa to all our friends so that they get to know this schemer and stay alert of him. Let us turn the heat on him and keep his ambitions in check!

  33. Anonymous5:24 pm

    Dear Rocky,
    Thanks for posting the entire article - It helps me start my day right knowing that there are more of us who want to 'slap' this badly-brought-up-classless moron.

    May I suggest that you do more to remind us bloggers that it is crucial we register to vote this coming GE.

    It is all fun and well when we are able to bash these 'monkeys' through blogs, but what if KJ's dream of being PM does come through? Should we all not to be blamed for not coming out to vote? Recall a recent report that almost 5 million eligible Malaysians are not registered.

    We need to vote!

  34. I hope we are not living in fairyland. I sincerely hope because then we have to kiss lots and lots of toads before we find our prince. To kiss the first is already so difficult.

  35. Anonymous6:42 pm

    Hm..... The Author and Readers of this blog seem as low-brow as the subject they condemn. There are other ways to get Khairy. This approach is tasteless and as low class as it gets.

  36. Bro,
    In my lifetime, I have met many graduates of Oxford University -- male and female.
    The article you posted highlight two individuals. They are both men - one young and the other, older.

    Let me just draw your attention to another Oxonian but the person happens to be female -- Raja Zarith Sofiah Idris, consort of the Tunku Mahkota Johor.

    thank you.

  37. Anonymous9:06 pm

    Certainly a lady of class, Raja Zarith Sofiah. Right u are Nuraina, for highlighting her.

    See, the most exalted of education can't buy u wisdom, n KJ is demonstrating that amply.

    It is sad to observe that he's from NS...Buek malu orang nogori...ngabih boreh yo.

  38. Anonymous2:35 pm

    hi rocky

    tumpang jln sikit... this is for shar101:

    yes, there's a song abt bullfrog... it's called Joy to the World and sang by 3 Dog Nights.

  39. Saya tidak menjangka Oxford menjanjikan graduannya benar-benar matang, berhemah dan bersifat negarawan.

    Tempat belajar sekadar menyediakan bilik, kerusi dan meja, dan beberapa pensyarah untuk mengajar. Ada kelas untuk diikuti, ada assignment untuk dihantar, dan ada exam untuk diduduki. Itu sajalah. Kelulusan tidak pernah memberi gambaran mutlak tentang kematangan, sifat hemah dan sifat negarawan.

    Barangkali KJ hanya melaksanakan game plan beliau apabila terjun ke kancah politik. Yang bercita-cita tinggi selalunya tidak hanyut tanpa tujuan.

    Dia mungkin dilihat keterlaluan dalam beberapa perkara. Tetapi dalam kerangka cita-cita dan politik, langkah beliau adalah terarah dan menjurus.

    Mungkin ramai tidak selesa. Tetapi politik dan cita-cita berada dalam circumference tidak bertepi.

    Kalau langkahnya terlalu sumbang, dan banyak kepala yang dipijak, lambat laun kesannya akan dirasai, sebagaimana yang sering kita lihat dalam sejarah politik negara.