Post Mortem of the MCOBA’s Election

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Post mortem is an analysis or discussion of an event held soon after it has occurred, especially in order to determine the why, how and what. Otherwise, post mortem also means an examination of a dead body to determine the cause of death. The event in this case is the Election of Office bearers of the Malay College Old Boys Association or MCOBA. The dead body could probably also be MCOBA and in this case, the death of the famed BROTHERHOOD.

This year is an election year for MCOBA and it happened at the Annual General Meeting on the 4th June 2016. MCOBA elects its office bearer every two years in accordance with the constitution of the august institution. Someone asked me to write something, everything or anything on the outcome of year’s MCOBA’s Election. Just a simple analysis but impactful…but then again it can even be sensitive or critical to those that lost. I had my reservation as I had been campaigning for myself and others had as well during the one week between the nomination day and the Election Day.

I have heard and seen that some people, both candidates and self-appointed campaign managers, campaigning for posts in the election that was slotted on 4th June 2016. Some have even been seen secretly huddling in groups at coffeehouses, clubhouses and mamak stalls discussing strategies and plan of actions. I have seen people write over the social media brandishing slogans and manifestos worthy of a General Election. Free ‘makan’, free drinks, all on the house. Chartered buses were seen ferrying in voters.

So, what the heck? Just write what I really feel. At times, campaigning can be creative and innovative. Healthy campaign is fine as it gives you an avenue to portray one self especially to voters especially when one is unknown to the maddening crowd. I have even seen creative use of the social media by candidates or by their self- appointed agents. Campaigning could be hateful and also spiteful as well arguments, disagreements were being traded around solidifying virtues and iniquities of candidates. There was many good, bad and ugly impressions abound. Right or wrong, it’s all instinctive anyway? No right or wrong, just perceptions, opinions and based on analysis of the results and as many statisticians say statistics never lie.

There were a total of 412 MCOBA members that registered and attended this AGM 2016. This is a marked increase from the previous AGM (with an election) in 2014 of about 233 MCOBA members. This is like almost double the figures in 2014. Maybe many came to vote for the redevelopment of MCOBA land and many came to vote for a change on the office bearers of MCOBA. As for the demographic of the AGM 2016, the average age of those registered was about 52.7 years old as compared to AGM 2014 at 57.6 years old. As such, there seems to be a marked presence of the younger generations at this year’s AGM.

If we were to classify the age groups according to the decades like the 50’s + 60’s as the Old Old Boys (OOB), the 70’s + 80’s as the Old Boys (OB), the 90′ + 00’s as the Young Old Boys (YOB) and the 01’s as the Fresh Old Boys (FOB), we shall see a trend that the OB and YOB are now the new ‘power brokers’. In AGM 2016, the total number of OOB was 99; OB was 185; YOB was 125 and FOB was 3. Compare that for AGM 2014, OOB was 87, OB was 94 and YOB was 32, it was the OB that held the trump card. Back then the FOB was not interested in AGM.

When it was time to vote, a total of 387 members exercised their right. Although 412 registered for the AGM, about 25 left before voting. Maybe they left since the matters on redevelopment took a long time to discuss and maybe, they had other priorities as well.

In the third corner fight for the presidency, the votes were divided with the incumbent receiving 144 (37.2%) votes, the winner receiving 238 (61.5%) votes and the other challenger receiving 14 (3.6%) votes. With 1 vote spoilt, the total number of votes for the presidency is about 387 votes. As for the one-on-one challenge for the Deputy President, the total no of votes casted were about 387, with the winner obtaining 253 (61.4%) votes against 134 (38.6%) votes. As for the two Vice President posts, the 2 top votes were almost equal with votes of 201 (51.9%) and 200 (51.7%) votes. As for the 10 ordinary JPM posts, the votes ranges from the top JPM at whopping 345 (89.7%) votes with the last one getting in with 188 (48.6%) votes. Interestingly to note that 3 representatives of the younger generations of MCOBA managed to receive more than 300 votes each with a top 5 position.

Now that the dust has settled after the scorching campaign was doused by the torrential storm, one can’t help into interesting things going around and trending based on the election results of the MCOBA election. That includes the election of office bearers or the ‘Jawatankuasa Pengurusan MCOBA’ (JPM) at the Annual General meeting AGM. There have been 4 elections that were held using the new constitution of MCOBA that detailed out the numbers of JPM and the election procedures of electing the JPM. This was done in 2010, 2012, 2014 & 2016.

As we look at the profile of those elected in those years, the average age of the JPM members elected showed an interesting pattern. In 2010, the average age was 54.14 years old; in 2012, it hovered around 54.36 years old; it went up in 2014 at 55.43 years old and it drastically fell in 2016 at 48.64 years old. This showed that the composition of JPM members is skew towards a younger set of MCOBs which is encouraging as it sets the tone for the future of MCOBA. Bottom line, the younger MCOBs has spoken their views. As to the average batches represented for all those years from 2010 to 2016, it starts from batch of 1972, 1975, 1975 to now at 1984.

This shows that the fulcrum of the composition has shifted from the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s. It is also interesting to note that for MCOBs that were elected to JPM, the turnout of his respective batch-mates spiked up considerably to give the numbers of support in the voting. Maybe there were one or two exception but the trend is that in order to win, support from batch-mates is vital. The other winning factor is the popularity of a candidate who is well known for his contributions to MCOBA and who has worked endlessly in committees and subcommittees through the years. Another interesting trivia to note on the composition of the new JPM is that the sixers (homecoming classes X6) have a good representative each starting from C66 to C06 in election 2016.

Going through any election for office bearers, be it in the General Election, a local community association, a recreational club or a NGO, there would always be a tinge of politics involved. Anyway, some attest that politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies which is not far off what happened in this year’s Election.

Politics? Sure, why not?…though there is a little bit of over-dosage these days with just concluded Sarawak State election and the ongoing Sg. Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections. Winning an election is the prime prize for all politician and much so aspirant candidates.

I proudly carry in my wallet a membership card embossed with the word ‘MCOBA’. The registered members of MCOBA, based on various membership studies of numerous alumni all over the countries by my ignorant-self intellectually guesstimate, should be around 25 percent at most. As per the 2015 Annual report of MCOBA, there is about 2803 registered member of MCOBA out of the total possible of 12,000 of MCOBs that has left the Alma Mater. Statistically, there would be on about 75 percent on the other side of the divide. The don’t care and indifferent majority, the 75 percentagers. Shame on them!

Out of that 25 of those who became members, only about 10 percent ever bother to come to the Annual General meeting to vote. This year’s attendance numbered to about 412 which are about 15%. In 2014, the year when the last election took place, about 213 members of MCOBA members out of a possible 2600 registered members came to vote which is about 8%. So this year’s attendance did not conform to the theory. This year’s attendance was an exception. Maybe many came to listen because of their concern of the redevelopment of MCOBA’s land or maybe many came just to vote as numbers count in any elections.

I for one like many others was given the opportunity to contribute to this most famous alumni association with members consisting of who’s who throughout the nation. I have served as a JPM member under 2 different presidents with their own unique style of leadership. This time round I was again elected into the JPM under my 3rd President.

By virtue of being a self-proclaimed semi-retired, semi-expert armchair cyber ‘Hulubalangs’ political observer with a FB, Tweeter and Instagram accounts, I would like to offer some perspective to this year’s election and the profiling of the office bearers of MCOBA in the land also this election in comparison with the last one in 2014. After all, with 13 general elections in the Malaysian bag, we should have learnt some valuable lessons or of the do’s or don’ts and the want’s and the won’t. MCOBA is pretty much underdeveloped in this sense though it had many more elections than the nation’s GE.

Except for the elections in 2016, 2014 and 2012, the rest of previous elections were pretty much like the PAS of the old days, pushing each other to the front and nearly zero campaigning. Those days, elections were simple and quick. You only need 3 members to win the election. One to nominate that the existing committee members to be re-elected and another member to second the motion and yet another member to suggest that the nomination be closed, and you can get elected again and again. And we, the so self proclaim elites of society, called them elections? Election sans the thrills, spills and action? We were contented with the ancient ways when, about 30 members would attended the AGM, and almost all are co opted as committee members.

Those were the days when, the aspiring President seeks an appointment with the sitting president and over a cup of tea, asked him whether he still wants to continue as President, which if he says no, asks permission that he takes over.

Then too, at the AGM, the sitting President will propose the candidate for president, and no other member will contest the post, hence, the position is uncontested, unanimously. Simple, quick and friendly. Time has indeed changed since then and as a good MCOB friend noticed that they is a prevailing wind of change.

Nowadays, election of office bearers of MCOBA is a real, serious, positive/negative campaigning that can put to shame the ruling parties of Malaysia. This is an election of the famous MCOBA! We are now in the same league as ANSARA, STAROBA or Persatuan Alumni Sekolah Menengah Temenggong Kati (PASMTK).

To say the least, campaign for seats in the MCOBA JPM has been vigorous and the run-up to the AGM was exciting this year. To start with, the aspired presidency candidates bunched together with similarly aspired candidates for lesser positions, do a serious profiling analysis, and spurt out an incredible Chai (list). The Chai list is a list of aspiring candidates in a particular camp which entails into voting them en bloc. Sometimes a few of those unknowingly put on the chai list of an group, who would have be voted in based on merits, found themselves to be out when en-bloc voting takes place.

Even PAS was doing this in its last election during the Muktamar Pas Pusat in Kuala Selangor. Chai is an imperative and necessary tool. In this year’s MCOBA election, the chai list was made viral with different probabilities of line-ups. The Chai will allow lesser mortals to have fair chances of winning without relying on their own credentials. It’s about time for the lesser mortals to enjoy also the sweet and sour or the ‘tiga rasa’ taste of winning. And they are generally good in following orders.

After all, it’s your shirt-tail that they are hanging on. Profiling analysis provided you the personalities of ‘toeing the line’ in the team. In general, corporate personalities were not team players and they leave meetings early as they always have things to do elsewhere. Their big egos need constant massaging…oops messaging. Their ego was big enough for everybody. Titled pensioners also are not good candidates. They tire easily, grumble all the time and think MCOBA orbits around them like the sun, moon and the stars.

Now, we are getting into the nitty gritty of campaigning. From the day of nomination, everyone tried to disqualify candidates on technicalities. Everyone want an easy win cause an unchallenged win means you do not have to the next stage of campaigning. We are now quite accustomed to smear campaigns to discredit our political foes. Negative campaigning has been around since the dawn of UMNO’s registration…oops sorry I mean since the dawn human civilization. And these dirty campaigns have grown exponentially due to the rise of internet-savvy millennium X, Y and Z generations. My batch, as the last batch of the baby boomers, is an exception.

We were caught in between the evolution of the dinosaurs and the tech savvies. We belong to the generation that only awoke from the disco days into the dawn of IT when Fortran and Cobol were new languages which were difficult to comprehend. What more of my super-duper seniors, the dinosaurs of the Jurassic age. The hopeful candidates from the opposing side should be subjected to thorough background checks for any skeletons in their past that can be used against them.

A smear campaign involving sexual or financial misconduct is highly effective as proven in the high politics of our beloved career-politicians. Whatever our state and national leaders did in their high politics in the context of sexual misconducts, financial misgivings or missing donations, we can do better. However, in this year’s MCOBA election, there was not much character assassination but probably limited to just one or two. For that, the members did not follow the national trend or rather not yet.

After all, we are the crème de la crème of the nation. Please refrain from using the word ‘jambu’ in this context. It is too close for comfort for too many members. We still have our limits and lines that cannot be crossed. As we were always told during those game matches of our school days, “Behind the line”.

When you don’t have much positive attributes or good policies to push down the throats of the voting members, you should embark on the vituperative innovation on your opponents, or what the Clifford boys called ‘mudslinging’, abusive or smearing your opponents. The word of wisdom here is that you can stand taller by stepping on the kneeling opponents.

The gist of political campaign is mudslinging for votes. I mean, who cares about manifesto? Who cares about policies and future activities? What other new things you want to do with MCOBA? Premier 7s, Annual Dinners, treasure hunts, futsal tournaments, golf challenges and few courtesy visits here and there should be plentiful already.

In short, there need not be new manifesto or new policies and activities. Members are busy people. Sometimes, less is more. Less is more is a good maxim. I continue to be drawn to clarity and simplicity. ‘Less is more’ remains my mantra, more or less. Catchy enough for campaign slogan, I think. But mine was just Less Talk, Just Work. Talking about issues, this year’s election dwelt on personalities, humility, brotherhood, youth, non-communication, redevelopment of assets, contributions to MCKK and MCOBA and getting the right team that can work as a team for the future of MCOBA.

There are many dirty tricks like phantom voters, illegal voters, ballot tampering, indelible ink, breaking off the pencil tips, kidnapping of the campaign managers, blacks out during vote counting, and…I have about fifty other tricks in my black magic book of political campaigning. Except for black-outs during vote counting, they may not be that applicable for this year’s MCOBA election. In politics, black can be white even if you don’t use Dr Vida Que Putih products.

The only thing left, and most probably the most valid, is to tap into the latent and incipient market of members who never ever bother to vote before. There were one or two chartered buses ferrying these people from various state chapters and I I’m not sure they know who is paying for those free transportation, boarding plus the ‘nasi bungkus’ and mineral water drinks. Maybe as a last minute campaign, someone would have visited them at their boarding places, give an inspiring pep talk, smear a bit and there, passed the chai list…and maybe some Ang Pau packets as bonuses.

For me, I would rather look at it (minus the Ang Pau packets and free food) in a more positive light – that it had managed to trigger the interest of a few who have never participated or even attended a MCOBA AGM before, more so from the various chapters. It is hoped that this will be the trend of the future with more MCOBs participating in MCOBA events and involving themselves in the decision makings of important issues being brought up at AGMs/EGMs for the betterment of MCOBA!

Maybe it’s time to look at the 75 percentagers. Don’t treat them like the Banglas because in elections numbers count. They are also your customers cum stakeholders who never bother (yet) to register. Maybe it’s time to coddle and coax them as they may register and become future voters once all these brouhahas about 1MDB, 2.6B donation, GST, weak ringgit, low oil prices, TPPA, foreign levy, BRIM, TH, MARA, FELDA, AG, IGP, the courtship of PAS, AMANAH and UMNO, and that Pontian MP with the many jobs which includes as the new Darth Vader to the cyber storm troopers, finally reach their zeniths.

A really successful dirty politics will definitely appeal to the inner-Malay of these 75 percentagers to register as members of MCOBA in droves before the elections. Or get some ‘Budak Klipot’ to impersonate as Budak Koleq and register them as member of MCOBA and of course pay for their membership. You can entice them with maybe, free membership at Kowloon Massage and Spa Club. It’s known, dirty politics and the Malays are inseparable like sex and beauty. I am not saying ugly people don’t have sex. Nor that the Malay loves sex. It’s just a…proverbs and perceptions. Well, you get what I mean.

Upon your winning but how could you possibly lose after all those efforts, only then you may start wizard-hunting, bad-mouthing the losing candidates, flip-flopping to other positions or being in a meditative state in your run-down MCOBA office whilst enjoying the view of the traffic jam below along Syed Putra, a view of the Kelang River and the panoramic view of Brickfields. In short, this is the time for self-manifestation after incubating your true desire during the short and vigorous period of campaigning.

Who can blame you? They will understand that such a heavy handed campaigning is only necessary to camouflage the less than capable candidacy. But then again, MCOBs are known to have big egos and this ‘lawan tetap lawan’ (go on fighting ) attitude. These do or die slogan uttered by one famous then infamous MCOB. Everybody thinks they are the best candidates for whatever reasons.

Based on my experiences in MCOBA elections, as a candidate and an election scrutiniser, let me share some tips to aspiring candidates: The rule of thumb; don’t ever overstay. MCOBA is not about the past of ‘when I was’, nor it is about the present, it’s about the future of the organization; about the continuity of the youth and future generations. Don’t alienate the younger generations of MCOBs, embrace them in as MCOBA is not about a bunch of old batches but the whole spectrum of Old boys since its existence.

MCOBA is already more than 87 years (even longer than the independent nation), survived a World War, an Emergency and a May Civil Unrest and we should not stop at that age. Life in MCOBA goes on and let us not starts our own wars. If you feel you are not up to it, take a rest for 2 years and be just a non JPM member cause you see better on the outside. Make a comeback at an appropriate time. Build up your own credentials as people judged you on what you had done and contributed for the betterment of MCOBA.

I, for one, fail to understand the frantic self-promotion to be a candidate. Don’t get me wrong, I would highlight the Presidency of MCOBA prominently in my resume, if I were one. That fact alone proves that I am not qualified to be one. The President (or any top executives) is reserved only for the one who doesn’t need to highlight such position in his resume, for the simple reason that he doesn’t need the position to be a stepping stone to anything. This type of President will run MCOBA by peer consensus as much as possible, rather than by dictation.

If Malaysia isn’t run by a feudal king (it’s only seemingly so), the Prime Minister isn’t a feudal king, as alleged by some, simply because we still have proper governance of check and balance through the independent judiciary and independent democratic institutions like Attorney General office, MACC, office of IGP and other agencies. All the heads of these democratic institutions, even though appointed and accountable to the Prime Minister rather than Parliament, remain incredibly independence.

This was confirmed to me personally by one of UMNO’s Division Heads, who is also an esteemed member of parliament who graduated locally with a CGPA of 3.85. (It’s only seemingly so. Get it?), what more would be MCOBA? Or is it, much less would be MCOBA? (See, the more or less thingy again?) I mean, a social organization with intellectual members like MCOBA would be less suited for autocratic leadership style. MCOBA’s functionaries are volunteerism at its best, because no position in MCOBA is self-serving but selfless service to the members.

However there is a prevailing wind of change blowing in the face of MCOBA. This wind of change slowly blew about four years or so ago when someone started the unfavourable campaign tactics that created a tsunami of sorts. The advent of social media has allowed members to play a role, rightly or wrongly, in criticising the sitting committee, in the course of doing their voluntary work. This trend, has in a way allowed some members, to take the opportunity to table their platform for a complete takeover.

Right or wrong, it is the way of world and how the game is being played today and perhaps, we may learn or live of its effect, sooner or later. Eventually, it’s not the team with the best players that wins but it’s the players with the best team that wins.

At the end of the day, what is winning and losing among fellow brothers. Just shake each other’s clammy hands, handover the duties over a cuppa of ‘teh tarik’ or ‘Cappuccino’ ensure open line of communications or reunification for anything that may crop out in the future, smiles and that’s it. You don’t have to enrol into MILES Leadership Development programme to know that. MCOBA’s election should not be like political parties. It should be more like PERKASA, very smooth election with Ibrahim Ali remaining as President forever. With all the shenanigans going around, one is tempted to stage an adaptation for a parody of the calamity of the MCOBA’ election in this year’s annual Dinner Concert show.

Competition is good but I sincerely hope that the effect of this competitive mode will not destroy the one hundred eleven years of bonding, pride, passion, traditions, and assets that was built with the adage of Fiat Sapientia Virtus (FSV).

Let us believe and scrutinise, let us remember the bonds of brotherhood and let us reach out to one another. Let us realise that those past committees and members before us that have paved the way for today.

MCOBA’s election has been traditionally pretty dull and clean affair. Maybe we should keep it that way. After all, MCOBA is just a social alumni club, not a corporation or a political party. Just leave politics to others who need them as part of their livelihood. We have already an overdose of it of late. Lay out your mudslinging shoes at the doorsteps. We do not want future activities to be clouded by prejudice, intolerance and camps of indifference. As the crowd (of critical minds) gets bigger, one’s influence or victory will be more meaningful, satisfying and distinct.

As opinionated by the Chairman of the MCOBA Northern, Mahar Affendi in a posting, true-blue MCOBs are those with balls to push forward or openly support a leader or a cause they believe in BUT quick to recoup/reunite and ready to move forward as ‘ONE’ once a consensus is reached AMONGST BROTHERS.

But please don’t take this post mortem too seriously though. It’s just a cynical take of things as I see it. Maybe it’s just my blurred observation of less than 20/20 vision but there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right which I did. During the campaign period, a batchmate of mine queried about my AGENDA for going for the VP post. He got suspicious when someone campaigned that hard without saying much of what I plan to do if elected.

I told him that long ago, campaigning was just by word of mouth. I was involved in MCOBA continuously since 2001 as JPM or non-JPM, and so it’s been a home to me ever since. I had volunteered my services throughout those years in all capacities like at the MCOBA Annual Dinner and Concerts, Editorial Board of Berita MCOBA, MCKK 100 years, Prep School 100 years celebration, Old Boys’ Weekend, etc. with 8 years in JPM under 2 great Presidents and has always strive to give my best, InsyaaAllah, because I was taught to always give my best, way back then in MCKK. My contributions to MCOBA and MCKK speak for itself. I have always successfully delivered on every tasks and responsibilities given to me.

It has become a commitment, with Allah’s will, to contribute my best, working together with others who share the same principles. Things about MCKK, MCOB and MCOBA are always special, and in no particular order. Through the Alma Mater, MCKK we become MCOBs, we found solace and we work together to achieve things in MCOBA for MCOBs and give back to MCKK.

Been there, done that, wrote books and would want to be there again, to do more with people whom I know through the years and will get to know other younger generations of MCOBS to be involve and keep the traditions on. To me, MCOBA is not about the past but the future. The shared experiences and common denominator makes MCOBA great. The challenges are great, but moving forward means you have somewhere to go, that’s the beauty of it!

Sometimes we are blinded by the bad to see the good and at times we are bedazzled by good to see the bad. In situation like this, things get ugly. To see the beauty again is my dream. However, if we have to follow the trend of today, and if we must make our choice, make the best one, the one that will save our beloved MCOBS from the fire of destruction, and if we can sooner or later put it out completely.

This is voluntarily work but I cherish every moment of it and that makes MCOBA works. A split MCOBA makes it spent force. I believe in the unity of all MCOBs irrespective of batches, age or team. To me it’s work as usual, less talk, just work for the betterment of MCOBA. There has never a personal agenda but mine is to mind the gap and bridge the gap.

Some say you shouldn’t wash dirty laundry in public. “Kenapa?..tak percaya ah? Ada terasa pedas ke?” (Why? Do you not believe? Or are you feeling hot?). But when you go to a self service launderette, you are actually washing your dirty laundry in public. I for one am OK with the ideology behind launderette, which seems to say that cleaning is a dirty work and that time spent cleaning is wasted. But as long as you can find someone else to waste this time for you, you’re doing all right.

For me, the pleasures of the launderette go beyond social interaction – they also include the delinquent pleasure of wasting time, perhaps reading a book, or writing this rambling while you wait, not to mention the satisfaction of the wash or the spin itself. But it doesn’t really matter, though. What the heck! I am now a Vice President of MCOBA for session 2016-2018. With this, comes responsibility and commitment. The aspirations of the members are to have a better MCOBA for the sake of the brotherhood. Or what’s left of it after the fervent campaign.

I end this post mortem take with a interlude verse from Earth, Wind & Fire’s “After the love has gone” as something to ponder.

“…Something happened along the way,
what used to be happy was sad,
Something happened along the way,
and yesterday was all we had,
And oh after the love has gone,
how could you lead me on,
and not let me stay around,
Oh oh oh after the love has gone,
what used to be right is wrong,
Can love that’s lost be found…”

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