I got a bit of time at the moment between my works.
So, I would like to entertain a commentator who wrote this in my last post,
First, let me thank Norick for the comment.
Actually, the answer to Norick's question is simple - Ghani has retired from politics.
That's about it.
But let me tell Norick and you all some more about the guy.
It should take a whole complete book to properly explain why I'm always so full of praise of TS Abdul Ghani Othman instead of just a blog post.
But, let me try my best here.
I think it's okay to write a bit more about the former Johor MB since he is now retired from politics and not a threat to anyone still in office.
Some of my friends actually thought that Ghani had given me something, either it be land, money, etc that I'm still writing nice things about him despite him already being retired.
The truth is, the only thing personal he had ever offered to assist me was to fund an acupuncture treatment for a boy with autism.
I really appreciate his kind gesture but declined the offer.
I'm being supportive of Ghani simply because he is a good man and a good leader.
Nothing more than that.
I believe that one of the main reasons why my blogging captain Rocky put this blog on his blogroll back then was because of that.
My political views were mostly neutral before I met Ghani in person for the first time in 2001.
Ghani is not a spectacular guy. He hardly gives fiery speeches or came out with statements which could drive the public into a frenzy.
I remember a Johor-based journalist once wrote that it's easier to squeeze water out of a rock than getting Ghani to say something bombastic.
But the guy is calm and collected. And he never tolerated much nonsense.
He believes that things must be done properly.
No hanky panky, no glamour.
On top of all that, the guy is very intelligent and with vision.
Any member of the Johor Civil Service who had worked closely with him can confirmed this assessment about Ghani.
I was impressed of him because of all that.
Ghani is also the only Umno leader up to this point who I can say with certainty of being incorruptible.
That's because I had been observing his leadership very closely for several years and found it hard to find faults with it.
I'm not saying that the guy is perfect but I found him as clean as a politician could be.
As with any other leader, Ghani has his detractors, but throughout his 18 years as Johor MB, the only real issue which could be pinned on his personal self is the sale of the Danga Bay land to businessman Lim Kang Ho during the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s. The rest that they tried to throw at him were just garbage.
To have a better understanding of what actually happened with that Danga Bay issue, please read this speech by Ghani on the 15th anniversary of Danga Bay which was posted on the now mothballed BIGCAT blog,
Under Ghani's leadership, Johor enjoyed a holistic approach to its development, which enabled a balanced priorities between the urban and rural areas.
Bear in mind that the rapid development as witnessed in Iskandar Malaysia till now was initiated during his leadership.
For that, please read this other post in the BIGCAT blog,
There are a lot more I wish I can write about Ghani's achievements here but as I said, if I do so, this blog post may turned into a book.
So, let me save those for other postings, okay.
On Norick's inquiry as to Ghani, being an ideal candidate for the PM's job, let me take you back to the Umno election in the year 2000.
It was the only time Ghani had shown interest to move higher up the Umno leadership when he contested the vice-president post.
Ghani was at that time riding high after leading Johor BN to a 100 per cent victory in the State during the general election the previous year.
That, despite significant losses of the coalition in other states because of the Reformasi movement, triggered by the sacking and jailing of DS Anwar Ibrahim.
Ghani received the second highest number of nominations behind DS Najib Razak among the nine candidates who contested for the three vice-president slots.
It was also the lowest point in his relationship with his Johor MB predecessor TS Muhyiddin Yassin, when he was accused of blocking his former school classmate's nomination in Johor.
Ghani had denied the allegation.
The turning point of that contest came at the very end of the nomination period when Najib, along with Muhyiddin and former Selangor MB TS Muhammad Mohd Taib received the nomination from the Kubang Pasu division, which was headed by then Umno president and PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The outcome of the Umno vice-president race 2000 was as reported by Utusan Malaysia here,
I still remember at that time that even Dr Mahathir was shocked when his own division nominated Muhyiddin and Muhammad for the post, which was deemed a signal to the Umno delegates that the duo, along with Najib were the Umno president's choice.
Almost every observers that I know at that time discreetly cited one reason for the outcome - money politics.
I believe that because of that reason, Ghani never tried to contest for that post again.
He was dead against the practice of money politics and due to that he must had concluded that he would never be able to win.
I'm of the opinion, Umno would not be as messed up as it is now if Ghani had won that vice-president post instead of Muhyiddin who has now set-up Parti Pribumi Bersatu and Muhammad who had defected to Pas and now to Amanah.
I also believe that another reason as to why Ghani never tried to move up in politics from his number one post in Johor was because of a story told to me by a close aide of him.
According to the story, Almarhum Sultan Iskandar Sultan Ismail had told Ghani that he wanted Ghani to remain as Johor MB as long as he was still alive.
I was told that Sultan Iskandar's exact words to Ghani were these,
"Ghani, engkau jangan nak berangan nak pergi mana-mana selagi aku masih hidup. Duduk diam-diam kat sini. Jaga Johor ni baik-baik."
Sultan Iskandar had actually blocked two serious attempts to replace Ghani as MB, that was in 2004 and 2008.
Ghani had declined all awards which were offered to him at the Federal level or by other states when he was MB and because of that he was only addressed as just a Datuk at that time.
He did so out of respect for Sultan Iskandar because his datukship was the Johor Darjah Kerabat 1, which was rarely conferred to a commoner.
If I'm not mistaken, there are only five commoners at the moment with that title. The others are Dr Mahathir, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Sarawak's Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud and former Bank Negara governor TS Zeti Akhtar Aziz.
To understand better the relationship between Ghani and Sultan Iskandar, please read yet another post in the BIGCAT blog,
Ghani only accepted his Tan Sri title after he retired from politics and relocated himself to KL.
Till today I find it difficult to call him Tan Sri.
So far, he doesn't seems to mind me calling him Datuk, as I always had.