For ten days between the Christmas National Open House 2013 in Penang on December 25 and the 2014 New Year monthly morning assembly of civil servants in the Prime Minister’s Department this morning, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak disappeared from the public view.
Apart from the 2014 New Year Message on New Year’s Eve, which would have been drafted by his coterie of highly-paid consultants well in advance, there was not a word from the country’s Prime Minister although the country had never swirled and whirled with more disturbing developments and events which included:
• The deepening economic crisis caused by a series of price hikes and looming avalanche of more price hikes in the coming weeks and months culminating in the introduction of the GST at six per cent in April 2015;
• Crisis of deteriorating national educational standards for the past decade, with the country heading further south with the results of TIMSS 2011 and PISA 2012, and the Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin making himself “scarce” from public to avoid having to “square the circle” of how Malaysian students can perform several educational miracles under the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025 to catapult to top-third of TIMSS and PISA international educational assessments when Malaysian students have continued to plunge in international educational standards;
• Crisis on the corruption front, despite the biggest budgets in past few years for the anti-corruption agency, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. In the last 19 years when Transparency International maintained its Corruption Perception Index, Malaysia achieved the dubious distinction as one of the countries which had been downgraded both in TI CPI ranking and score, as well as losing out to several countries which had lower CPI ranking and score in 1995.
Now, we are at the risk in the near future of being overtaken by countries including China and Indonesia which had been behind Malaysia and at the bottom of TI CPI in 1995.
• Crisis of security and safety for citizens, investors and tourists. The police had failed to achieve the objective and implement the recommendations of the Dzaiddin Police Royal Commission of Inquiry eight years ago in 2005 to transform itself into an efficient, independent and professional world-class police service committed to “democratic policing” and not just “regime-protection”, resulting in the recent waste of over 2,000 police manhours over some 2,000 frivolous and fictitious police reports about “fairy tale” plots of a conspiracy to “topple government” at Dataran Merdeka on New Year’s Eve.
• Crisis of nation-building and national unity highlighted by the worst racial and religious polarisation in the nation’s history, which had been further aggravated by two events in the first few days of the new year, (i) the illegal and unconstitutional raid by Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) of the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) and confiscation of Malay and Iban Bibles; and (ii) the insensitive, racist and unMalaysian responses of UMNO leaders like Muhyiddin who forfeit the right to be 1Malaysia role models for Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region.
It is sad and regrettable that the Prime Minister has nothing to say on these five national crisis in the past 10 days, except for his New Year Message whose themes of tolerance, moderation and national unity were immediately repudiated by UMNO/Barisan Nasional leaders headed by none other than DPM Muhyiddin.
Wherever Najib might have gone in the past ten days with the executive jet at his command, it is inconceivable that in this era of instant communications, he has no word of advice or directive in the past ten days to tamp down the various fires scorching the country by these five national crisis.
It is most disappointing that despite his ten-day disappearance when the leadership and statesmanship of a Prime Minister is most needed, Najib has nothing much to say or offer in his first pronouncement today – despite the promise in his New Year Message that “as the year unfolds”, Malaysians will hear more of the government’s plans to ensure “a stronger economy and a more unified nation”.
The five national crisis affecting the economy, education, corruption, security of citizens and finally nation-building and national unity, are clearly tasks and challenges beyond the capability of the Umno/Barisan Nasional leaders to comprehend, let alone to address and resolve single-handedly.
For this reason, Najib should seek Cabinet approval on Wednesday for a National Reconciliation Summit of Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat leaders where these five national crisis scorching the country are the top items on the agenda.
Najib should respond to this overture and take the initiative to convene the National Reconciliation Summit of BN and PR leaders to rebuild national unity and resilience in the country.
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