It's our birthday today and it will be celebrated with a quiet dinner with our other half. At the ripe old age of "35" ... sorry for the switch-up, 53, we do not need noisy parties.
However, we can't have our dinner till we get this off our chest. It's a real dilemma occupying the cavity in our ears and head. The dilemma hardly compares with Tun Dr Mahathir's observation in The Malay Dilemma but it is irritating.
It does not matter what many pengampu academician said, but The Malay Dilemma was not a scholarly work. However, we've heard our American professors complimenting Tun's astute observations. It was the premise for his policies for 22 years as Prime Minister.
Our dilemma is The Mamak Dilemma variant. And, it relates to the appointment of Dato Azeez Abdul Rahim as Chairman of Lembaga Tabung Haji (LTH).
Many would comment that it is a clear cut issue, thus there is no dilemma.
True, there is no dilemma and we should agree. We will not dispute the concern of this circulating SMS disputing Azeez's appointment:
..... Bolehkah xxx terima seorang wakil rakyat yang menipu kelayakan akademiknya dan PM Najib tanpa berasa malu telah melantik beliau memegang sebuah Institusi terbesar orang Melayu. Itu bab akademik, ada banyak lagi cerita yang tak enak didengar berkenaan misi misi bantuan kemanusiaan yang beliau kendalikan terutama sekali Misi kemanusiaan Somalia yang mengorbankan nyawa wartawan Bernama. Saya telah terlibat dengan NGO kemanusiaan selama hampir 12 tahun, banyak cerita berkenaan Azeez Putra. What is Najib trying to proof? Its look like he is destroying UMNO n our country. Ikhlas xxx
Not only did we agree that his MBA degree was from a dubious then American University, we were one of the first to take potshots at him during the golden era of Pak Lah and the group of young mamak hypnotising Pak Lah to restful bliss.
However we will refrain from calling him a cheat and give him the benefit of proving that he had undergone the required coursework and thesis and also the necessary accredition.
If we are chorusing concern to raise issues on candidate choices, cabinet appointments, GLC CEOs with "Dr" Emir Mavani" of Felda Global Venture Berhad being the latest raised and now an ongoing series on Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, we cannot keep quiet on our "now a friend" Azeez.
Is the dilemma because he is "a friend"....?
There was an argument put forward that Dato Anwar Ibrahim himself appointed his inadequately qualified father as Chairman of IOI. It is not a sufficient reply but just returning back the question with another question. [Read MyMassa here.]
It could mean if Anwar is immoral, what is wrong for us to be immoral too. Mampus negara like that.
Someone tossed back PAS's Dato Mahfuz Omar's statement against Azeez by saying that he should be grateful for Azeez's appointment. One day, if PAS ever ruled Malaysia, under-qualified Mahfuz can also be LTH Chairman.
Furthermore, who is PAS to talk when they have the likes of Dato Husam Musa aspiring to be President? Dato Nik Aziz himself was caught helping himself and his wife of land in Gua Musang.
Still not answering. Are we to stoop as low as the oppositions?
Remember that the first Chairman of LTH was Royal Professor Ungku Aziz. There was a high benchmark already set and the position was never filled by politicians. Dato Najib wanted 1MDB to be benchmark of excellence in corporate governance by not having politicians on its Board of Directors.He has to be consistent.
One blogger friend argued that Azeez has the experience from running his own family property business and being on the Board of LTH subsidiaries. Sorry bro, not strong enough an argument. [Read MIK here.]
We have to be honest to ourself. Having Azeez, LTH will not be seen seriously by the investment community. LTH is managing RM34 billion worth of assets by millions of depositers saving up to go to the holy land.
This is a sacred trust and depositors confidence is essential. The burden is more than having those with the capability and impeccable integrity but also those "seen to be clean."
MIK rebuted by saying that there is process and governance in LTH. Azeez cannot just enter the office and ask any staff to issue a cheque to his or proxy's name. Mahfuz should better answer for Tabung Memali. [Read here]
That we admit is fair comment from MIK. It could also be a debate clincher but it is only us that is not convinced. It is like evading Azeez reputation or negative perception, which ever we view it as.
He has a past and today's Azeez seemed different.
On the unpleasant words of his global humanitarian work, we admit that Azeez did do a wee bit of showboating.
Some say he does not need to bring so many media people and end up having Bernama's Noramfarizul killed in Somalia. Others had done more meaningful humanitarian work and much earlier than KP1M without seeking publicity.
The response could be why not the publicity.
Our media's coverage could help to highlight the plight of the people in these assisted areas. Media people that went to Somalia understood the risk and their company should also be at fault for not taking the necessary precautions in war zone areas.
Azeez could have saved the cost of transporting mineral water using a Charlie to Lahad Datu and instead transport it by land from Kota Kinabalu. But that is a relatively petty and rather nitpicking.
What matters is he had extended the hands of Malaysians and touched many hearts of the downtrodden and unfortunate people of the world [Do read MIK here and Azeez's latest humanitarian work in the Rakhine, Myanmar in Duke of UMNO here]
Azeez was conferred the Honorary Ambassador of Palestine for his humanitarian work.
Mahfuz and many opposition leaders can talk cock in Parliament but how much humanitarian work have they done other than being pulled by the nose by Anwar to participate in street demonstrations?
Now what are we to say?
Azeez may have done his PR well with the media, bloggers, politicians and even some opposition leaders and supoorters. So there is few attack on him but there are still the vociferous ones.
On the question of his qualification, it is not fair to attack Azeez personally because it is not his fault for being under qualified. He did not choose to be born poor and have one of his parent left his family.
Azeez led a tough life. While still in school, he was already working washing dishes at roadside stalls to help his family and pay for his schooling. We can't expect kids in that kind of predicament to be focus on their education.
He started making a living early in life. It is almost common knowledge that he was once a car repossessor, among his many professions.
We are aware that his first big break involved a company in Kg Baru, near the old Bank Bumiputera office at the four-corner junction. One of our old social buddy worked there too.
A former Minister helped him and placed him under his wing. If we are to question the morality in the nature of business of the company, what about the late business of the late Lim Goh Tong and Dr Stanley Ho? Question also the morality of the suave Abdul Razak Baginda's expertise in matters of defense?
Prior to gaining prominence during Pak Lah's era, he was in the used car business. Then he gained political spotlight for his role in "Khairy" era Pemuda UMNO and winning a place in UMNO's Supreme Council.
With his street smart ability to do things, speak and say what listener wants to hear, convincing others, executing errands given to him, solving problems, etc, he gained the confidence of many and no less than Dato Najib and some say his wife also.
Even that someone like Azeez, whose done a lot and not to mention helped other fellow politicians in their work, still face obstacles to rise further.
Rumour has it that his name had been rejected from running for the Baling parliamentary seat for something like three times by Dato Najib. Reports after reports does not give him a chance to win in PAS stronghold Baling.
In 2008, he had a disastrous outing. We were in Kedah to witness Azeez in his elements. Every political trick and act up his sleave, including escaping an assasination attempt, did not materialise into the right number of votes to win. Dato Najib have every reason to feel Baling is Azeez's black area ... no pun intended.
He persevered and shared his plans to convince Dato Najib that he is worth the risk. Candidate Azeez 2013 will be different from candidate Azeez 2008.
No more adversarial politics with PAS. He instructed his campaign workers that if they see any fallen PAS flags or posters, raise it back. No sabotage and no boo boys. Keep the campaign respectable.
On top of that, Azeez had been "servicing" the area for five years in more way than he serviced Gaza, Rakhine, and many other places of the world. The Azeez Rempit, that later became Azeez Putra and now Azeez Gaza, created upset to win Baling.
Witness told us the overwhelming reception of voters in Baling to him. Tun Mahathir lent a hand to campaign for him. He had said the wrong thing to the man in the past but after so many meetings for his humanitarian missions, he must have already seek forgiveness.
But is that enough for us to support his appointment for Chairman of LTH? Not enough ... why must it be Azeez?
For Azeez to be Chairman, he must be absolutely above board in his actions, be it humanitarian or welfare or business/investment. The next 6 months he will be closely followed and analysed for every move of his and LTH.
Cousin Dato Ismee Haji Ismail will also feel the same heat. The decision to buy a London property, 151, Buckingham Palace SW1, London must be explained to the public.
Azeez, Ismee and LTH will be taken to task for a rumour going around that a crony of Dato Kalimullah and Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop by the name of Sheikh Akmal was acting as go between and cavorting with Kuwaitis to skim off from deals to sell properties to Malaysian institutions.
The property purchases in London by our investment institutions, which PM proudly showed off to the British, worry us. European economy is looking soft.
If true and prices softened, we have been pundek by these mamak. [Read Bigdotcom rather Azeez focused posting here.]. One cautionary word from us is that we do not dare to say that Azeez is cavorting with these mamak although he is one.
Not when Datin Seri Rosmah fired Dato Mumtaz Khan from her household.
LTH is involved in many deals and Azeez cannot be seen to be involved as dealmaker. There are very forensic eyes and ears out there to comb through everything. In this Internet age, there are many voices ready to squell to the media, especially bloggers who are unafraid.
Azeez have served the Board of Directors of LTH for two terms without any controversy. So he knows how things work and the public expectation in LTH. Thus, he must refrain from being "seen as not clean." If possible, Azeez must clean the board from questionable dealmakers like Mrs Zarinah, Dato Azizan.
Our concern is go-getters like Azeez will find it hard to stay away from controversy and more so, with dedicated people finding fault, it will result in the public losing confidence on LTH.
There is also the concern in his ability to manage crisis and complex problems. Will he cope?
Are these cautionary words sufficient for us to have confidence in Azeez?
Still not ...
When we went for Haj in 2011, we had to make an application to enable us be a mahram for the missus and her sister. While awaiting for our application, we approached LTH's Public Relation for the idea to blog on the Haj. Still it is subject too getting picked to go.
We were not going to pull any strings, neither family or friend. The last we wanted was to deny other more deserving case. Somehow or rather, a friend got wind and spoke to Azeez. It was not our first time to meet Azeez because we've met before to solve certain problem/s.
Luck has it there was such public relation plan and we fit in. Azeez helped to smoothen our application or that was what we were made to believe. He was helping to get a list of old people to go and he said some were even PAS voters.
One thing we insisted to pay for our Haj trip and stay with the marhaen. No special room for media at Iskandariah but together to join the sardine packed tent at Mina.
We managed to be selected in time at the last minute and two days before our missus scheduled flight, we expressed our appreciation to Azeez. His only words were "Ini bahagian abang."
He only asked for us to prayin front of Kaaba for him to achieve his ambition. However, we did not but instead pray for something more than that. Our prayers was for Allah to grant him what is most appropriate for him.
Now these are the dilemma.
We have prayed to leave it to Allah to determine his fate and now an opportunity befalls on him. It is not his fault that he be offered such position. It could be Dato Dr Jamil Khir's recommendation or Dato Najib's request but above all, it is Allah's wishes. Are we to deny him when we had prayed for him and now his chance has come?
Our heart and mind still insist he is the most inappropriate person. The offer is already there but it is now up to Azeez. If he fails or something got exposed with his hands in some cookie jar, he has to ponder the implication to his party. It is a heavy responsibility this young man has to bear.
For someone who regularly visits the holy land to do ibadah, should we give him the benefit of the doubt? Maybe Azeez has turned really for the better and has some sincere plans for LTH. We are still talking maybe because we dare not take that risk.
It seemed he had approached an elderly and respectable person to ask for his opinion of the offer. The elder said take it. Perhaps the elder was being polite but in his nothern accent, he actually never meant it that way.
This is where Azeez was said to have worked his charm. He replied, "But sir, I will only accept it if you accept to become my adviser."
The elder agreed. What are we to say now?
Kasi kita dilemma saja mamak ni ...