Belated genuine reforms or just sloganeering?

It is almost two months since the March 8 political tsunami of the 2008 general election which saw the end of Barisan Nasional’s unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority and the loss of state government in five states – Penang, Perak, Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan.

More than two weeks after the March 8 political tsunami, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi admitted that the result of the elections was a strong message that he “had not moved fast enough in pushing through with the reforms that he had promised to undertake’ when he was given an unprecedented mandate in the 2004 general election winning 91% of the parliamentary seats.

Abdullah said: “I thank the Malaysian people for the message. Point made and point taken.”

It was a sign of the Prime Minister grappling with the serious problem of denial but it was not assuring enough as he had missed the whole point of the March 8 electoral verdict – not that he “had not moved fast enough” in reforms he had pledged more than four years ago, but that he had hardly moved at all apart from reform sloganeering and periodically paying lip service to them.

Have Abdullah and his Cabinet now got the full message of Malaysians in the March 8 political tsunami?

This was my first parliamentary question to the Prime Minister last Wednesday asking him “to outline the top ten priority reform measures which his government will implement in the next 12 months to demonstrate that he has heard the voices of the people in the March 8, 2008 ‘political tsunami’”

This is the Prime Minister’s written answer:

Seperti yang telah saya nyatakan sebelum ini, pihak Kerajaan menghormati keputusan rakyat sebagaimana yang telah dizahirkan dalam Pilihanraya Umum ke-12 baru-baru ini, dan kita menerima keputusan tersebut dengan hati yang terbuka. Pada masa yang sama, kita juga akan memastikan agar mandat yang telah diberi oleh rakyat, untuk terus mentadbir Negara ke arah (kejayaan dan kegemilangan tidak akan disia-siakan.

Kerajaan yang saya pimpin adalah kerajaan yang berpengalaman; kerajaan yang terbukti. Namun saya percaya bahawa Kerajaan yang saya pimpin ini tidaklah bersifat jumud. Saya yakin bahawa Kerajaan pimpinan saya akan terus bersedia untuk menjiwai hasrat rakyat, serta menangani isu-isu yang menjadi bebanan serta menimbulkan kegusaran rakyat.

Atas dasar itu lah, maka saya telah mengumumkan sebuah agenda pembaharuan bagi memenuhi hasrat rakyat. Butiran agenda tersebut adalah seperti berikut:

• Pertama: menangani impak kenaikan harga barang, terutamanya makanan, akibat arus pasaran global;

• Kedua: mengkaji semula pelaksanaan pelan-pelan ekonomi negara bagi memastikan agar faedah pembangunan negara akan dinikmati oleh setiap rakyat;

• Ketiga: mengurangkan jurang pendapatan dikalangan dan diantara golongan etnik, di samping memastikan kesaksamaan untuk semua rakyat Malaysia;

• Keempat: mengurangkan kadar jenayah;

• Kelima: meneruskan usaha kearah memerangi rasuah dan meningkatkan budaya integriti;

• Keenam: menyokong pembaharuan serta meningkatkan keyakinan rakyat terhadap institusi kehakiman dan

• Ketujuh: menangani isu sensitive berhubung agama termasuk pembinaan dan pemindahan rumah ibadat.

Setakat ini, saya telahpun membuat beberapa pengumuman berkaitan dengan agenda yang telah saya gariskan dan ianya telah diterima baik oleh rakyat. Pembaharuan-pembaharuan ini adalah tambahan kepada agenda pembangunan nasional seperti yang digariskan dalam Misi Nasional dan Wawasan 2020. Saya yakin bahawa agenda besar Kerajaan ini akan dapat menambah baik kualiti kehidupan rakyat, dan saya percaya rakyat akan terus memberikan sokongan kepada Kerajaan dalam usaha untuk melaksanakan pelbagai langkah bagi membawa Malaysia kearah era yang lebih gemilang.

I am shocked that after almost two months of the March 8 political tsunami and more than four years of failure to deliver the reforms he had promised in the 2004 general election,, the Prime Minister could not name ten areas for priority reform but had to make do with seven.

What about the immediate and unconditional release of the five Hindraf leaders, P. Uthayakumar, DAP Selangor State Assemblyman M. Manoharan, V. Ganabatirau, R. Kenghadharan, T. Vasantha Kumar and all the other detainees under the Internal Security Act, totally over 60 persons with some inc arcerated for over six years?

What about the repeal of all draconian and repressive laws like the Internal Security Act, the Police Act, the Official Secrets Act, the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act?

What about the full implementation of the 125 recommendations of the Royal Police commission to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class police service to reduce crime, eradicate corruption and uphold human rights, particularly the establishment of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC)?

What about mass media reforms to allow free and responsible press to flourish in Malaysia?

What about parliamentary reforms and modernization to create a first-world Parliament ?

What about the full commitment to enhance Malaysia’s international competitiveness to enable the country to successfully face the challenges of globalization – sending out the single-minded message that the future well-being, progress and prosperity of the nation hinges on the ability of Malaysians to compete with the rest of the world and not Malays versus non-Malays?

And most important of all – what about nation-building reforms as the most important message of the March 8 political tsunami is marginalization and alienation of Malaysians, regardless of ethnicity, religion, geography and even political affiliation by the nation-building process.

The Barisan Nasional government had spent RM100 million to celebrate the 50th Merdeka anniversary, and we are still in the midst of this celebration which is meant to be a year-long affair from August 31 last year.

Money had been squandered on meaningless fanfare, ceremonies and fireworks which had no meaning for the people or nation in pointing the future towards a more united, harmonious, just, progressive and prosperous Malaysia in the next 50 years.

In fact, the months leading up to the major 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations on August 31st last year and its ensuing months were most divisive ones, as they saw racial, religious and political polarization at their worst.

Ironically, the most important and meaningful event in the 50th Merdeka anniversary is none other than the March 8 “political tsunami’ in the 2008 general election which, by sweeping away the two-thirds parliamentary majority of Umno and Barisan Nasional and power in five states, should be taken as a wake-up call to all Malaysians that something is very wrong with the 50-year Malaysian nation-building process.

Two days after the 2008 general election result, an op-ed article appeared in the Asian Wall Street Journal (March 11) in the name of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, entitled “Malaysia will heal her divisions”, where the Prime Minister pledged:

“As there has been much speculation about the implications of our election results, I wish to offer clarity on three critically important points:

“First, we have heard the voice of our citizens, and I will dedicate myself, in this second term, to healing the divisions which became evident during the campaign. That will mean developing new and concrete initiatives, not just rhetoric, that bring our people together and ensure that no one is left behind as Malaysia prospers, whether they are ethnic Malays, Chinese or Indians.”

Are Barisan Nasional MPs and backbenchers prepared to speak up for the immediate and unconditional release of the five Hindraf leaders and all the other ISA detainees in the present session of Parliament?

(Speech [2] in Parliament on the Royal Address on Tuesday, 6th May 2008)

  1. #1 by ktteokt on Wednesday, 7 May 2008 - 9:54 pm

    AAB is just trying to cover up his shame for the loss of the 12th GE and 2/3 majority in parliament. Is he at all sincere about all the reforms he has proposed? Let time tell and all Malaysians will have their eyes focused on AAB and all his actions. Will AAB live up to all his “empty promises”????

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 7 May 2008 - 10:32 pm

    I don’t think PL is sincere in reforms at this point in time. He knows that if he pleases one party by engaging in reforms, he is bound to offend the other party. He is probably weighing which one of the two (i.e reform and “stay unchanged”) would benefit him most. Apparently “stay unchanged” would benefit him most in the short term, as that will enable him to garner handsome support from UMNO members in the year end UMNO presidential election.

    PL is probably banking on the fact that the next general election is 4 years away; should he be re-elected as UMNO president at year end, he still has 3 solid years to carry out reforms to please the rakyat and that will help him to win the next general election.

  3. #3 by hiro on Wednesday, 7 May 2008 - 11:46 pm

    I’m skeptical, and I think I’m going to be right. Whatever reform mentioned, it’s all hot air. Time for PR takeover, whatever scruples we have about cross overs.

  4. #4 by lovemalaysiaforever on Thursday, 8 May 2008 - 3:20 am

    He is not like Mahathir. To him (PL) , segalanya is in God’s hand, probably all he can advice is that we should pray more…

    PR must take over before the rakyat could afford to suffer more!

    Everything in the market, PRICE INCREASE LIKE HELL!

  5. #5 by lakilompat on Thursday, 8 May 2008 - 8:46 am

    Pak Lah cabinet:-

    berpengalaman – Experience in below
    Corruptions, Manipulation, Detaining using ISA, Constraints, Making full use of Police and Act e.g. Sedition Act

    kerajaan yang terbukti – Proven in below
    Experience in Corruptions – mega projects to son & inlaw, PGCC, PKFZ, Oil royalty.

    “Bungkus pls!” Kayu (1 of the branch nearby Komtar) in Penang oledi bungkus becos no chinese wanted to eat their filthy nasi kandar also their boss participate the street protest at Komtar.

  6. #6 by lakilompat on Thursday, 8 May 2008 - 8:48 am

    In Penang, many chinese already stop eating Nasi Kandar, becos the filthy boss of these franchise are supporting UMNO.

  7. #7 by Godfather on Thursday, 8 May 2008 - 11:46 am

    Incompetence begets incompetence. Four years of sloganeering (the most famous of which must be “Cemerlang, Gemilang, Temberang”) has gotten him nowhere, and the 4th floor boys have belatedly decided that slogans don’t work anymore, particularly as the rakyat takes the opposite meaning of whatever that Badawi pronounces.

    “We are not in the business of cheating the people.” 2005

  8. #8 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 8 May 2008 - 3:32 pm

    Its not sloganeering, its just mediocre talent. It takes real talent to get something like this done in any country and the man and his team are political in-breds handicapped DNA wise…

  9. #9 by badak on Thursday, 8 May 2008 - 3:56 pm

    Like i always said, The rakyat can see corruption in everything that the Umno led goverment does. Even local council meeting minutes are stamp Sulit.
    Do you thing that now the UMNO led BN goverment will come clean.Come election time in december for UMNO. This LEADERS need alot of money to buy their votes.

    The other reason is they know that come the next General Election they will even lose the federal goverment to the opposition.If before they were corrupted . Now it will be even worse.

  10. #10 by lakilompat on Friday, 9 May 2008 - 11:34 am

    They already lost the confidence from the ppl. becos nowadays many poor ppl. have to become criminals to survive.

    Everything is so expensive, the basic essential foods, now the poor ppl. can’t afford education, the young Malaysian have to become prostitutes or work as operator becos they don’t have a certificate or degree to get better paid job.

  11. #11 by lakilompat on Friday, 9 May 2008 - 11:43 am

    The number of prostitutes brothels in Penang has increased, becos the cost of living is getting so high, till their parents can’t afford education & food for them. There will be many dirty hawkers centre everywhere, beside the Queensbay Mall, all these illegal hawkers dirty the Penang landscape, becos they wanted to make a living amid these rising cost of living.

    I love my country, becos of high inflation cost, they tarnish our image, we can no longer live in a clean and good standard of living country.

  12. #12 by Fernz on Saturday, 10 May 2008 - 10:24 pm

    Anwar makes it sound easy to get the BN MPs in Sabah and Sarawak to join him enbloc in PKR. He didn’t mention the Pakatan Rakyat.

    Strategically, it would be a big mistake for these MPs to join PKR. Hence, they are not likely to join him except perhaps for the Malay MPs. Still, without the support of the other MPs, the Malay MPs of Borneo would be dead.

    Instead, the Borneo MPs should form a united front to support the Opposition Alliance as a minority government in Parliament.

    Forming a coalition with the Opposition Alliance should hinge on the new Federal Government of Pakatan Rakyat:

    (1) returning the autonomy of Sabah and Sarawak;
    (2) sharing the Federal Government in an equitable way including allowing the five deputy Prime Ministers to choose the Prime Minister from among themselves;
    (3) returning the CM’s post in Sabah and Sarawak to the KDM and Dayak communities respectively; and
    (4) rotating the TYT’s post among all communities.

    This is a historical opportunity for Sabah and Sarawak to get back their autonomy and work for real changes in Malaysia and Borneo.

    The united front of BN MPs in Borneo can be composed of only Dayak and KDM MPs if the Malay and Chinese MPs in the region don’t agree with some of the aims of the united front. The Chinese MPs are likely to go along with the Dayak and KDM MPs.

You must be logged in to post a comment.