NEWS ANALYSIS BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
January 14, 2014
It happens all the time. Whenever someone writes or talks about the golden generation of Malaysian leaders, it is a bittersweet experience for citizens of this blessed country.
There is pride that individuals such as Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan Siew Sin, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman once charted the fortunes of Malaysia.
And there is deep longing for such men of integrity, principle and fairness.
Yet, there is also numbing sadness that such men no longer exists in government, replaced long time ago by inept individuals with a ravenous appetite for self.
Make no mistake, Razak and friends were flawed men, at times drive by political interests of their parties. But they loved this land above everything else. Above enriching their family members. Above nurturing crony capitalism.
On this day 38 years ago, Razak died in London.
His youngest son, Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, penned an opinion piece on the legacy of the second prime minister and it offers a road map for anyone interested in pulling back this country from the brink of implosion and a permanent place among the mediocre.
One cannot imagine Tan Siew Sin or Tun Dr Ismail allowing any of these blatant cost overruns or turning a blind eye to any form of thievery.
Here are some lessons for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and others who have designs on occupying the top position in Putrajaya.
1) Every ringgit you spend belongs to the rakyat.
Therefore, there is no justification to spend millions renovating Sri Perdana every time there is a new PM.
There is no justification to have a cavalier attitude towards ballooning costs of privatisation projects.
For example, the klia2 project will cost taxpayers RM5 billion, more than double what it was expected to cost. Is Najib concerned? No. Is there likely to be a serious probe on the fiasco? No.
The high speed train will cost taxpayers RM30 billion at least. One cannot imagine Tan Siew Sin or Tun Dr Ismail allowing any of these blatant cost overruns or turning a blind eye to any form of thievery.
2) Limit the involvement of family in the business of running the country.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim stood up proudly in Parliament and defended Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s use of the government jet to attend some function in the Middle East.
He said she was an asset to Malaysia. Guess what? Malaysia has a fully-staffed foreign ministry and a travel-happy foreign minister for the purpose of furthering the country’s interest.
The involvement of family and friends in policy or business decisions often leads to skewed policies and decisions about contracts and projects.
Worse yet, it often leads to classified and sensitive information being passed to individuals who have no business having such information.
Just think about the number of spouses, siblings and children of ministers who have become extremely rich on the back of privatisation contracts handed out by the ministers.
To be fair, it was also a disease when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi were prime ministers.
3) Commitment to building a nation where every single citizen could find a place under the Malaysian sun.
Now there is a commitment to clinging on to power even if it means putting the country on the fast track to destruction.
Conventional thinking in Umno is that Malaysia is going through this unstable period in race relations because Abdullah Badawi allowed too much debate on sensitive subjects. That is a half-truth.
With the dawn of the Internet era, Abdullah had little choice but to loosen controls. What followed was robust exchanges on everything from the lifestyle of the rich to too much information on sex bloggers.
But the sense of drift in this country has little to do with a better flow of information but the unwillingness by national leaders to defend the commitment that Malaysia belongs to all, even supporters of the opposition.
If as Nazir writes that “inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic tensions” are reaching worrying levels, it is because national leaders have withdrawn from the main stage and allowed peripheral politicians to dictate government thinking on race and religion.
The bottom line is this: the Umno politician still believes that everybody else does not own a part of this country. That is why he or she still tells Chinese or Indians to go balik India or when the latter complain about policies or decisions of the government.
Nazir must have thought long and hard about writing this piece about his father’s legacy, knowing that it would lead people to conclude that he was giving a tutorial to his brother on how to save this country.
His critics may assail for saying too little too late and pro-Umno bloggers may jump on him with their usual gibberish and threats.
Perhaps in this article is a lesson for all Malaysians: the time for staying on the fence has long gone by. It is time to come to the fore to protect and pull this country back from the brink. – January 14, 2014.