Archive for August 5th, 2008

2-Year power transition – “headless government” in Malaysia?

A jumble of thoughts. A mish-mash of questions.

These describe my feelings when I sat in the cavernous plenary hall of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre for the official opening of the 54th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference this morning.

I made a special point to be punctual as the official invitation card asked all guests to arrive by 9.40 am, with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi scheduled to arrive at 9.50 am to officiate the opening ceremony.

But Abdullah did not turn up. It was Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak who appeared instead.

Najib did apologise on behalf of the Prime Minister for being unable to attend the function but he did not explain what was the urgent business of state which had prevented Abdullah from fulfilling his long-standing engagement which would have been finalized well in advance with the Prime Minister’s Office.

One thought I could not push away at the KLCC this morning was whether we are witnessing a “headless” government in Malaysia – and whether this was the result of the two-year “power transition” plan announced by Abdullah on July 10 that he would hand over the offices of Umno President and Prime Minister to Najib in June 2010. Read the rest of this entry »


Mr. Bean, Death, and Taxes

by G. Krishnan

I can’t help it, but on more than one occasion, it’s been difficult not to have the image of the Rowan Atkinson character, Mr. Bean, come to mind while watching, listening or reading some of the comments of Abdullah Badawi. The most recent instance of this seemed to be during his address to the Malaysian Student Leaders Summit. Apparently, he wasn’t even in tune with the title of his speech! Beyond that, the hollowness of his comments in response to the students’ questions seemed to reflect contempt for the intelligence of the students. (see Malaysiakini)

I will admit, it’s difficult for me to decide if the Badawi I am watching or listening to is the real Badawi or if he’s simply putting on an act. Either way, it’s a rather disturbing and unsettling thought. Could our prime minister really be serious about some of the public pronouncements he makes? And does he really expect that the public is so gullible as to take it all in?

He comments – with seeming naivety – on an on-going police ‘investigation’ of an alleged sodomy case and prejudices the case with bizarre public pronouncements. And despite the nakedly transparent political motivation for this pursuit of Anwar, the prime minister, with a Mr. Bean like persona of artlessness and innocence, in a not so tacit fashion gives his blessings to this seemingly legitimate police investigation. How, in the name of justice can we expect such an investigation, where the political establishment doesn’t even attempt to disguise its prejudice about the matter, to have any ounce of credibility to it? But yet the prime minster, in a Mr. Bean like haze and stupor, seemingly finds noting problematic about the process. Read the rest of this entry »