Dollah passionate in his convictions

4 Oct 1998

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Seated comfortably in a cream-coloured high-backed wing chair facing me, the soft spoken second Umno Vice President and Foreign Minister told me, choosing his words carefully, what he knew. (the political goings-on at home) followed by a more lengthy discussion over dinner.

He told me, smiling wanly: "Lah, Allah moves in a mysterious way - man proposes but He disposes."

As if to make sure I understood him unequivocally Badawi offered this explanation: "We may declare intentions, make plans, but it is the almighty Allah that decides whether they will be realised or not!"

I learnt from him about his resilience, hope, grit, determination and absolute loyalty to the Prime-Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

He said: "I am disappointed. I am saddened with what happened - the sacking of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for low morals."

With his eyes glued on me, he added: "We must take one day at a time. The survival of the bumiputra and other Malaysians is paramount; the government, the party and nation have always pulled together following a crisis. We will overcome this one too, I have no doubt whatsoever.,

"We need a leadership with high morals otherwise Umno, the people and Malaysia would be bartering their security and future,... we can't take that risk."

I did note as he spoke, there was no hint of joy, nor jubilation in his face. No open public exhibition of a rival's misfortune.

What I saw was just a smiling, a-not-too-reticent, poised upper echelon Umno politician who was rather pleased with himself.

There is a limit to what I (or anyone for that matter) can learn from body language, the tone and words a person uses but for every one, except for his closest political advisers and allies, that was all Badawi -gave me to work with for this article.

Badawi is my contemporary. I have known him since the 60s, knew his father and that of his wife's.

Both he and Datin Seri Endon come from respectable middle-class Malay homes.

He did not tell me what he thought I wanted to hear. But he did say something, I am sure, that in the end all will be right (or nearly correct).

He had a second political life in the early 90s when most of his contemporaries had faded from the national scene.

During most of his political life, Badawi has been widely popular and respected. This popularity spreads right outside politics. But he has never had a brighter personal prospect than which confronts him now.

However, there are two or three obstacles he has to overcome in the last 400m race of his life.

Unexpected events have presented Badawi and his credible rivals their last chance.

Who labours with diligence and intelligence, if proceeded from a sincere heart, solicitous of the nation's future, will triumph as many in the past had.

As Badawi forges on, it's work as usual. He, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and everyone else must help Mahathir make the capital controls a success, improve the living standards of all Malaysians, stimulate growth to create new jobs, prosperity and peace.

Badawi, like Najib, is dedicated to politics, Umno and passionate in his convictions.

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

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