Saturday, July 31, 2010

The ugly face of the Little Napoleon

Not too long ago, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak cautioned the nation that “we cannot have Little Napoleons who do not understand innovation”. His implied warning is that these pests would mess things up and stall the country's march to a brave world yonder. But who are these pesky officers who dare to throw the spanner into the wheels of development? The people have read and heard much about them and their haughty ways, but they seldom make it to the headlines. They work behind the desks in a fog of imperial authority which even their political bosses cannot fathom or discern. They are power centres themselves who call the shots.

Then recently, and at last, one of the bugs hits the newsstands: “We have exposed a Little Napoleon.” Who is he? He turned out to be a federal officer who is working in Penang, which is under the control of the opposition. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng tore the veil from him and showed him up to public scrutiny. How does he look? A typical government servant. What ensued was an ugly spat that raises a disturbing question: If a minion can treat a chief minister with contempt, who can protect the ordinary people from the likes of him? The people cannot remove him because he was not elected to represent them. So the little fellow can do as he pleases. In his warped mind, he arrogates power to himself and can dispense or withhold even government funding. Throw the Federal Constitution book at him and he will dump it in the dustbin.

The strange thing about this Napoleon affair is that once it is held up to light, it does not evoke the wrath of the federal government. Najib talked about these annoying underlings in the civil service but when a real one is caught, the prime minister did not promptly take out the screwdriver to adjust this recalcitrant cog in the machine. Instead, he and his like-minded mates threw a loving arm around the culprit and even sang his praises. Why? This is not hard to decipher. It's all about politics – and Little Napoleons are essential to serve a political purpose, especially when a state is ruled by an opposition party.

It is therefore all right to call a chief minister whatever derogatory names you care to plaster him:
biadap (rude), crude, pig-headed, stinking snob, a clod – all these and more as long as he is not one of us or politically correct. It is becoming painfully clear that Little Napoleons are the unelected representatives who are there to cause misery to the common people and more so to the opposition. If they can wreak havoc to the extent of crippling a state government, they are doing a fine service to the ruling party. Ours is an adversarial system of government: the enemies, even if they head a government, must be vilified and run to the ground. The solution is stark and clear: to defeat Little Napoleons, you must defeat them at Little Waterloos – small battles where they will be exposed to public ridicule and hounded out of their foxholes.


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