Over the weekend, in his speech to the state-sponsored NGO gathering “Himpunan Barisan 1Malaysia” at the Putra World Trade Centre, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said:
“Why fix it (the government) if it’s not broken? It’s not broken, far from it. Our country is the envy of many other nations.”
Both at the thousand-people Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat dinner in Kota Kinabalu on Saturday night and the People’s Green Assembly at Dataran Merdeka this morning at the conclusion of the historic 14-day 300-km Kuantan-Kuala Lumpur trek, I had posed the same question whether the “Malaysian government is broken and needs to be fixed?”, and the answer is a thunderous, powerful and united affirmative!
Fortunately, the Malaysian government has not broken down completely, all the more why it must be “fixed” immediately before it reaches a point of no return.
There is a long list why the Malaysian government is “broken” after 55 years of UMNO/BN rule and needs to be “fixed”, but I will only refer to the following instances:
1. Truly independent judiciary and just rule of law.
Malaysia has yet to regain its international reputation as a land where there is truly independent judiciary and just rule of law.
Twenty-four years after the initial and most heinous assault on the judiciary in 1988, resulting in the sacking of the Lord President Tun Salleh Abas and two Supreme Court judges, Tan Sri Wan Sulaiman and Datuk George Seah and the cowing of more than a generation of judges, public confidence in the professionalism, independence, impartiality and integrity of Malaysian judiciary has yet to be restored.
2. Subordination/subversion of key national institutions.
A major example of a “broken” government that needs to be “fixed” is the subordination/subversion of the independence, impartiality and professionalism of key national institutions, whether the public service, Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Police, the Election Commission or the Anti-Corruption Commission.
3. World’s best education system.
Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is now talking about having the world’s best education system. But this was promised by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak 17 years ago when he was Education Minister and introduced the Education Act 1996 to replace the Education Act 1961.
The Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 has however admitted the failure of the Education Act 1996 to ensure that Malaysia has the world’s best education system, with the growing gap between Malaysia’s education system with those of other countries in student performance and attainments.
When Malaysia first participated in Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 1999, its average student score was higher than the international average in both Mathematics and Science. By 2007, the last published cycle of results, the Malaysian system’s performance had slipped to below the international average in both Mathematics and Science with a commensurate drop in ranking. Critically, 18% and 20% of Malaysia’s students failed to meet the minimum proficiency levels in Mathematics and Science in 2007, a two to fourfold increase from 7% and 5% respectively in 2003.
The results of Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009+ were also discouraging, with Malaysia ranking in the bottom third of 74 participating countries, below the international and OECD average.
A comparison of scores shows that 15-year-olds in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Shanghai are performing as though they have had three or more years of schooling than 15-year-olds in Malaysia.
4. Among World’s top universities.
In the sixties, University of Malaya was recognised as one of the world’s top universities. Today, we are struggling to get at least one Malaysian university accorded recognition as one of the world’s top universities to rectify the perception and reality that “the best education is only available abroad”.
5. Economic Performance and Competitiveness
Malaysia fell four places from 21st to 25th spot out of 144 countries in the latest Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 of the World Economic Forum. But even more ominous is the country’s losing out to more and more countries although the country was the most developed in Asia after Japan when we achieved independence in 1957, ahead of others like South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong but now at risk of being overtaken by other countries like Thailand, Vietnam and even Indonesia.
6. Worsening crime and Safety of Person and Property
Despite claims that Malaysia is the safest country in the region and that the fear of crime is a problem of public perception, the fact is that the increasing incidence of crime, the lack of personal safety and security of property have become major problems affecting not only Malaysians but also investors and tourists.
As a result, crime and the fear of crime have become major problems in the country which have yet to be seriously addressed by the authorities.
7. Worst corruption problem than under any previous Prime Minister
Despite the GTP and NKRA priority to fight corruption, corruption today under Datuk Seri Najib Razak is in a worse condition than under any previous Prime Minister, as testified by the 17 annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index since 1995.
Malaysia was ranked No. 23 out of 41 countries in 1995, but it has fallen to the worst 60th placing out of 183 countries in 2011 with the lowest-ever score of 4.3 – in sharp contrast both to improved rankings and scores of other countries whether in South-East Asia, Asia-Pacific or other Islamic countries in Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).
8. Flight of two million of the best and brightest Malaysians abroad in the past four decades.
“Chronic and sustained human flight” is one of the indices of a “failed state”. There will be a renewed exodus of the best and brightest Malaysians abroad if Malaysians prove to be incapable of “fixing” a “broken” government in the 13GE.
9. Respect for human rights and environmental/ecological heritage.
The refusal of the Prime Minister or anyone of the Barisan Nasional Ministers and MPs to engage with Himpunan Hijau at the People’s Assembly at Dataran Merdeka this morning at the conclusion of the 14-day 300-km Kuantan-Kuala Lumpur trek to oppose Lynas, affirm sustainable development and halt/review hazardous projects like the gold mine in Bukit Koman, Pahang, the high-tension electrical tower in Rawang, Selangor, refinery and petrochemical integrated development project (RAPID) in Pengerang, Johore is powerful proof that the government is “broken” and needs to be “fixed”.
10. Clean, free and fair elections.
Are the Umno/BN leaders prepared to foreswear conducting the dirtiest election campaign in the forthcoming 13GE?
Najib said Malaysia is the “envy of many other nations”!
What is there for Malaysia to be proud that we are the “envy” of nationals in “failed states” like Somalia, Congo, Sudan, Chad, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan or Haiti.
Malaysians can only hold their heads high if they are the “envy” of successful developed nations like Scandinavian countries, the advanced European countries or others like Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada.
Najib said that a change of government is not necessary for the country as the ruling BN government is ready to change.
Let Najib prove that the Umno/BN government is still capable of “big change” by meeting three challenges in his UMNO presidential speech later this week, to set forth the case that the government is not so “broken” that it needs to be “fixed”, viz:
• Firstly, declare that corruption is the No. 1 problem in UMNO and the country and introduce an Automatic Enforcement System (AEA) to fight grand corruption with unaccountable and extraordinary wealth of political leaders deemed in law as corruption with the ill-gotten wealth to be confiscated by the state unless the accused could prove their lawful origins in a court of law;
• Secondly, establish the Prime Minister’s sincerity in his 1Malaysia concept and slogan where every Malaysian regards himself as Malaysian first and race, religion, socio-economic status or region second by declaring that Ketuanan Rakyat Malaysia is the overarching UMNO objective and not Ketuanan Melayu; and
• Thirdly, demonstrate full democratic credentials and loyalty to the objective to make Malaysia “world’s best democracy” by declaring UMNO’s respect of the right of voters to choose the government they want and full commitment to transfer power peacefully to Pakatan Rakyat if this is the voters’ verdict in the 13th General Elections.