Writing a memoir is a painful pleasure

21 June 1998

... continued from page 1

It was the first time the National Front, which then included PAS (whose president, Asri Haji Muda, became Minister of Land and Mines and Minister with Special Functions accompanying- Razak to religious council meetings as an adviser), fought the election with the "dacing " or Scale of Justice as symbol.

I polled the highest, percentage wise, among the 10 parliamentary candidates in Kelantan with - Asri a close second. It was a proud moment for me because I was deemed by friends and foes alike as a "novice" in elective politics since I had spent a good many years working behind the scene in Jalan Datol Onn.

I never worked so hard to achieve the distinction to prove my detractors wrong and give them notice by way of shocking them.

The nie-party coalition led by Razak won a massive mandate because never before had so many races or parties fought an election on a. common manifesto of "less politicking more development", pledging to build a strong, just and prosperous Malaysia for all Malaysians.

The fourth general election shall be remembered for all time as Razak's first and only election he contested as prime minister and also the first time he ever won without a contest.

The general election was held three months after he paid an official visit to the People's Republic of China, in the spring of 1974 which formalised the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

Razak's visit and his Picture shaking hands with Mao ZeDong at the latter's residence in Beijing on May 19th became a major theme in the polls in August. We stirred much zeal and enthusiasm for Sino-Malaysian friendship which brought much good for both peoples. That was Razak's first and last visit to China. I subsequently visited China again.

I am never weary of politics. I never become unduly upset with talk of scandals nor with gossips which go on all the time in Kuala Lumpur. Like any other capital, Kuala Lumpur's chief industry is government and with it comes every kind of wild allegation, and, somewhat to my dismay, the source of it all often comes from within the ruling cabal or those close to members of the competing cliques.

I received a surat-layang (poison letter) through my fax machine against Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on the last day of my stay in the federal capital during a visit there last week. How disenchanting Malaysian politics has become and how low it has sunk.

I served Parliament for two terms and covered the first Parliament (1959) as a reporter and attended it as a political secretary between 1963 and 1974. Most unexpectedly my attempt for a third term failed when all Umno's parliamentary and state candidates in Kelantan were wiped out by PAS and the Semangat 46 Coalition in the 1990 general elections.

During the last election held in 1995, Umno made few gains in Kelantan and I retired from active politics to go to New York, a city which I am beginning to like and enjoy.

People everywhere ask me about the chances of Umno Kelantan in the next election. I am mystified by all this great interest. Umno"s chances in Kelantan - as I perceive it - are as good as the republican Party winning the White House in the year 2000 or the Conservative Party ousting New Labour in the next few years.

Of course, this is subject to what might happen between now and election time and, more unimportantly, who will be spearheading the Umno election machinery in the state and who the candidates would be.

Sabah? A Sabahan lawyer said to me and confirmed by a tycoon with impeccable connections with Sabahan interests that even if the incumbents in Kota Kinabalu had their eyes, hearts and minds (and they do not) firmly fixed on the next election they would have a rough time facing their experienced opponents drawn from both Muslim and non-Muslim bumiputra..

While in Kuala Lumpur in late May and early this month, I heard a lot of talk, not so much about the economic slowdown, weak ringgit and financial troubles, but rather amusing debates about Viagra.

A Kelantanese friend deliberately mispronounced it as "Viakeras" and caused much laughter at a 'tahlil' (prayer for the dead) session. For a s long as we can laugh at ourselves, I suppose, everything will be all right. As my grandmother would always say, there is no better medicine than laughter.

Not everybody I know has financial problems but many acquaintances asked me for Viagra pills. I was rather embarrassed because first I don't need Viagra so I didn't carry any. Life goes on everywhere whatever happens with or without Viagra. We should be thankful. It could have been much worse!

One cheerful word for Viagra' "addicts". The US Food and Drug Administration has cleared Viagra manufacturer Pfizer in the deaths of more than a dozen men who were taking the so called love drug. Since the FDA approved Viagra in March, 16 men have died in America and many more elsewhere particularly in the Middle East and Southeast Asia after Viagra-aided sex!

However, since the news came out that Viagra is safe, Pfizer shares rose more than four points to US$112.5 (RM 450).

Viagra's safety label does warn of the danger of mixing the impotence drug with heart medications, like nitroglycerin, which could cause blood pressure to drop to fatal levels. So, please shun Viagra
however tempting - if you are taking nitrate based heart medications. I am told that more than 1.7 million Viagra prescriptions have been written for men over 50 since March.

Men above 50 have a far higher rate of heart attack than the general population, so, do be careful.

Sexually active people like my friends "Gung-ho", "Aim" "Bull", - "Smoky", "Lim Ping" and I have no need to resort to Viagra, I suppose. Some people have all the luck!

Dato' Abdullah Ahmad is Malaysia's Special Envoy to the United Nations

(This article has been reproduced with the kind permission of Sun )