by Ahmad Mustapha Hassan
The Ant Daily
OUTSPOKEN: It is quite normal for anyone to ask this question: Where are we going and where are you taking us? Since you took over the reins of government, we seem to be moving neither here nor there. Most people are baffled because you seem to enjoy life while the country is facing innumerable critical problems.
Even as these problems are left unattended, more problems are being added. Your words have no meaning whatsoever as your cabinet ministers have been acting to dismantle what you had promised the people before you were given the mandate to run the country.
Your father was so different. Tun Abdul Razak’s words were meant as instructions to all, ministers, civil servants and the people. No member of his cabinet would go against what he desired for the people. All worked towards achieving that aim.
He was very prudent and would not spend people’s money unnecessarily. He limited his overseas travel to no more than twice a year. He would cut out all non-essential expenses. He did not believe in creating unwanted and expensive icons.
He was interested in uplifting the economic situation of the whole nation, not just creating a few wealthy and self-centred individuals. He believed that he should not waste the rakyat’s money by bringing those who did not matter on his overseas trips.
That was how astute and concerned Tun Razak was about the welfare of the people and the country.
You appear to be away from the country most of the time and it had been reported that so far your travels had cost the country RM44 million. That is a very huge amount even for a prime minister.
Your father depended on advice from local experts, and he placed trusted people in positions, in the knowledge that their contribution would see to the success of projects. He started Mara to take over the role carried out by Rida (Rural and Industrial Development Authority) before and placed capable officers to man the various divisions in Mara. He had the late Mansor Osman (later MB of Negeri Sembilan) placed in the division to offer scholarships and aid to needy rural students.
He trusted Tan Sri Arshad Ayub to steer the Mara College towards developing more Bumiputera professionals. He placed people where he knew they would be able to assist his goal in uplifting the professional capabilities of those who had been neglected before.
He placed an able and dedicated civil servant Tan Sri Thong Yaw Hong in a position to assist him realise the objectives of his rural development programme.
He recognised and trusted those civil servants whom he knew personally and appointed them to positions of trust, like Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam , Tan Sri Tunku Shahriman, Dr Agoes Salim, Raja Alias and Tan Sri Rama Iyer in planning and development units in the Prime Minister’s Department.
To him, all were Malaysians and he overrode any racial or religious sentimentality. He was a man of the people of all shades and religious beliefs.
He had only one goal in mind and that was the welfare of the people and to him it would take all Malaysians to achieve this. He was also not distracted by petty and hollow sloganeering.
None would dare to approach him and shout “Ketuanan Melayu” or any such nonsense. The government would help all the people towards achieving a better life.
Government involvement in religion, to him, should also be at a minimum scale. Religion was a faith adhered to by individuals and that should be about all there was to it.
He did not encourage the religious department to expand its jurisdiction whereby it could pose a threat to national harmony.
But unfortunately, at present, things seem to have gone out of hand. Ministers contradict what the prime minister had promised. Voices of disharmony were allowed free reign. Acts that harm the sensitivities of those not of the Muslim faith are on the rise.
And yet you champion 1Malaysia. It was there all along but subsequent leaders, especially those from Umno Baru, had dismantled that by allowing anti-national elements from the cabinet itself to “flourish” uncontrollably.
You told the Sabah and Sarawak people of the freedom in practising their religion and then a ban was imposed on their newsletter. Sarawak and Sabah together with Malaya then had formed Malaysia, and there was no need to tell them that they are part of Malaysia. They definitely were and are part and parcel of Malaysia.
One very important factor was that Tun Razak walked the talk.
The Malay paper Utusan Melayu with national calibre editors like Yusof Ishak and Said Zahari had been vocal in fighting for the truth and even when it was taken over by Umno, it still remained as a national paper that was very much respected.
But once Umno Baru took over the country, the paper has become the party’s organ and has been allowed to become a national trash. The TV channels have also become the mouthpiece of the party. They have miserably failed to play a positive role in fostering national unity.
Every single effort should be coordinated like during Tun Razak’s time to achieve the national goal of equality, prosperity and happiness for all.
Pray! Tell us! Are you taking us towards disaster!
Ahmad Mustapha Hassan is a former press secretary to second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and the writer of the book, “The Unmaking of Malaysia”.