Pak Lah’s Legacy

By Tunku Aziz

As the prime minister begins the process of winding down his stewardship of this country that he inherited from his now much despised predecessor, he would have been less than human if he did not reflect upon the highlights and the low points of his stewardship that in turn cheered and depressed him.

He must wonder why, after such a promising start, fate should have intervened to deal him such a cruel hand. The humiliation of being forced to get on the bicycle and ride off alone into the political sunset prematurely has been, he must admit, largely self-inflicted.

He must sometimes wonder why he was so incredibly naïve as to swallow the proverbial hook, line and sinker, the assurances and protestations of complete and undying loyalty so glibly and convincingly uttered by his closest associates.

I personally would not myself touch them with a long barge pole, but then I suppose I am of a suspicious nature.

When Abdullah Badawi took over the reigns of government, I was among those invited by the media to comment on what his legacy might be. We were swept and overwhelmed by the euphoria of the moment, the dawn of a blessed new era and the end of a morally degrading and debilitating regime.

Anyone after Mahathir Mohamad was a welcome change, and the country was happy to give him and the party he led the biggest ever electoral victory in the history of our country.

Abdullah responded by urging us, his countrymen and women to “work with me and not for me.”

This catchphrase symbolising inclusiveness went down well in the beginning, but when people began to see through this as another clever spin-doctoring exercise, it went down like a ton of bricks.

Abdullah was suave. He could at times be glibly persuasive especially when outlining his agenda against corruption.

As president of Transparency International Malaysia, I was literally “over the moon.” I was, like millions of other Malaysians, completely taken in by all this rhetoric and mock determination to slay the dragon.

Corruption, since his tenure of office, has continued to savage the integrity of this country and much else.

True, he has put in place all the visible symbolic institutions associated with fighting corruption, but sadly they remain nothing more than just weak, ineffectual structures constructed on shifting sand with sub-standard materials.

We do not have to look farther than the Malaysian Institute of Integrity and the recently morphed Anti-Corruption Agency to realise the futility of it all.

Brick and mortar alone cannot sustain our war against national corruption. Abdullah knew that but given the culture of political corruption in his United Malay National Organisation, what could the poor man have done?

My comment in 2003 to the media response on Abdullah was that he would leave an important legacy if he was satisfied with one term during which time he could bring about such changes as were clearly necessary to make a difference to Malaysia in social, economic and political terms.

All he had to do to come out smelling like a million roses was to do the opposite of what Mahathir did during his 22 years of ethically and morally very questionable governance.

As a one term prime minister, Abdullah would not have to be looking over his shoulder constantly. He did try in his usual perfunctory manner to do something, but as many of us have come to realise, it was a case of too little, too late.

I hope history will not be too harsh when evaluating his premiership because he did try after all. He will certainly be remembered as a decent human being which I suppose is more than can be said of many of us.

He will be leaving behind a bloated and lumbering civil service that has been seriously politicised, abandoning any pretence at “neutrality” in discharging its duties and responsibilities, and a police force that lurches from one crisis of confidence to another with regular monotony.

If press reports are to be believed, a major police brutality scandal has already surfaced, and this, in addition to other reported cases of death in custody must surely merit some serious thinking on the part of the authorities about policing in a democratic society.

The manner in which police detainee A. Kugan met his death while under the care and protection of the Royal Malaysia Police has shaken public confidence in our police as never before.

There are no bad policemen, only bad officers and the Inspector General of Police may wish to do the honourable thing; take responsibility and resign.

It is in situations such as this that those of us concerned with effective and ethical policing wonder why the most important of the 125 recommendations of the Royal Commission inquiring into the police service, namely an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission has yet to be set up four years on.

Has the government the political will to implement this vital recommendation immediately?

The police I know object to this, but it is the people, through their government, who should be wagging the tail, not the other way round.

The IPCMC is intended to protect the people against unethical policing as well as to protect the police against themselves.

  1. #1 by k1980 on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 1:35 pm

    Let me put it this way:- Were he to be a PM in the West, he would had been thrown out into the gutter years ago, with his son-in-law landing after him. What’s the use of giving promises after promises with no intention of carrying them out?

  2. #2 by frankyapp on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 3:20 pm

    Well,aab’s work with me,ended up just the opposite,that’s his legacy.AAB’s weakness is his dependency of his son in law who’s actions were all rhetoric in particular to depend the malays and non malays right.The realilty was scandals after scandals being exposed during his first term and immediately after the 12th general election when he won with a slim majority.All these scandals showed it only benefited the Umnoputras and some bn’s cronies.The most recent issues are the formation and appointment of the JAC and MACC.These two institutions are quickly formed only just to investigate the opposition and to clear Umno’dirty name for example clearing umno of all money politic.The speed the Macc carried out it’s investigation and come to a final decision in favour of Umno/BN is really amazing which also included the Jac action against the opposition in the current perak state political drama.Malaysains are at loss as to where the real and just demoncratic system is being carried out by the Umno/BN government.

  3. #3 by frankyapp on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 3:23 pm

    sorry it should read ” defence “.

  4. #4 by boh-liao on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 3:41 pm

    Well, AAB’s reign is best remembered for his extraordinary ‘bikin tak serupa cakap’ and ‘governing while sleeping’.

    Of course, he will also be best remembered as the PM most ridiculed and cursed by the previous PM who hand-picked him to succeed him.

    Truly a pathetic and disastrous way to end one’s political career.

    At least he will be remembered as the PM who lost his wife but got married again while in office. Pity he did not stay long enough to be the PM who are both grandfather and father to newborns while in office.

  5. #5 by despin on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 3:44 pm

    Try this quiz: In 30 seconds, name 5 good things that Badawi has done for our country?

    I have yet to come across anyone who has passed this simple quiz.

  6. #6 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 4:37 pm

    His legacy was to galvanise collective disappointment arising from disconnect/disjunction between expectations he generated and gratification he denied that in turn accelerated the political tsunamy of 308 which set in motion the ruling coalition’s unravelling.

  7. #7 by limkamput on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 5:01 pm

    Don’t be too sure. If you want IPCMC, they will give you IPCMC. Just like MACC, what difference is it going to make?

    Our wrongs are too wide and deep already. Kugan’s case is more than abuse of power, collusion, bribery or conspiracy within the police force. It is the way we are as manifested though our inbuilt racism, lack of professionalism and no sense of fairness and decency. There are sayings in the scripture that even an evil person knows the pain of injustice inflicted on others. For us as a nation, I think we are more than evil.

    If the first autopsy report is indeed proven wrong, I want all the high and mighty doctors in MMC and hospital directors to touch their heart and say something. Otherwise, what difference does it make? We are all whores in three piece suits.

  8. #8 by boh-liao on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 5:06 pm

    Perhaps, tomorrow, 8 March 2009, PR may wish to have a public rally to thank AAB – without his style and practice of PMship, PR would not have achieved what they achieved last 8 March. The rakyat would not have voted for PR candidates to such an extent that PR became the surprised ruling party of a number of states.

    The curtain is coming down on AAB. Will NR give PR and rakyat similar opportunity to vote the BN out at the state and federal levels?

  9. #9 by limkamput on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 5:19 pm

    It is the crumbling of a racist corrupted regime, not so much as ABB alone. The ghost of Mamathir is still everywhere and that could be a reason why ABB was not able to do much. With ABB gone, Mahathirism would probably come back in full force. That is good. I wish Mamathir will live long enough to see what he has done to this country. Nobody could touch him because he has corrupted everyone of substance.

  10. #10 by taiking on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 5:38 pm

    If limkamput’s wish came true then zak the englishman would have to pack up and leave the country. Well at least he still has that as his final choice. But do we care? Not a wee bit.

  11. #11 by fairvoice on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 6:59 pm

    AAB you have one more last attempt to redeem yourself, and the the people will never forget you being the PM who saved the country from havoc in the nick of time.
    Here is your chance….Use all your PM power like what the former PM Mahathir Kutty did to DSAI. Exercise you emergency power since you are the defence minister and arrest your DPM.
    There are ample criminal cses against him that warrants for immediate arrest. You have the people support and they are 100% behind you in this present situation.
    Collobrate with your your SIL and PKR leaders.
    By doing this your SIL will capture the people heart and I can tell you his future will be bright. The rest use you common sense.
    Do it before its too late.
    Some one is just waiting to destroy this country what it took half a centuary to build.
    Leave a legend behind and not people curses………..
    May God bless you and give you all the divine power to save our country from havoc…….

  12. #12 by fairvoice on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 7:37 pm

    Khairy, this is the time to use your Oxford degree skill and help your FI wisely to save this country and not the otherway round.
    Do something to convince your FI to save this country.
    Use your intelligence wisely and prove you can do it.
    We still have some hope in you and your FI.
    No body else can do it now, only the PM and help from you.
    This is also your last chance and hope.
    Money is not everthing. You had enough from childhood.
    Contribute something patriotic for your the nation and people.
    Create history and people will never forget. Just do it………

  13. #13 by Onlooker Politics on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 7:40 pm

    “Exercise you emergency power since you are the defence minister and arrest your DPM.” (fairvoice)

    That must be a joke! Don’t you know that if he dares to give any hints about his slight intent to sabotage the DPM, then he will be C4-ed?

    Just be ready to live in a tyrannical rule in the name of Parliamentary Democracy for the next four years before Pakatan Rakyat has taken over the control of the Parliament!

    Four years’ later, only God knows what will Malaysia be turned into by the C4 King! As far as I know, this is what the Umnoputras want — a totalitarian rule in the name of “Ketuanan Melayu” using the mighty power of C4 in the hands of Special Squad led by fatty Rosie the General-Chief-of-Staff!

    The timid coward will start to murmur, “You’d better keep quiet now and stay out of the trouble of ISA Arrest!” Mahathirism will soon revive!

    May God bless all Malaysians in years to come!

  14. #14 by Ramesh Laxman on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 7:58 pm

    You should have remained in TI and continued your work from there.

  15. #15 by malayan on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 8:42 pm

    If anyone want to know about how the Federation of Malaya Constitutional prepared.

    Want to know your rights you must download the 2 books. (Get one for your children and family)

    Here is the Malaya Constitutional books link.




  16. #16 by KennyGan on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 9:47 pm

    Badawi will be remembered as the PM who led his party to the BEST and the WORSE election result in Malaysian history.

    Not an easy feat at all!

  17. #17 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 10:52 pm

    Pak Lah’s legacy is identified to awakening for the first time in over 50 years an otherwise indolent lot of Malaysians and galvanising them to vote for change, as evinced by the 308 GE results, generated by their sheer collective disappointment caused in turn by the disconnect and disjunction between talk and walking it, words and deeds, pledges and their realisation, high expectations and lack of their gratification…. :)

  18. #18 by waterfrontcoolie on Sunday, 8 March 2009 - 12:30 am

    This country can only go one way: ZIMBABWE’s way!!

  19. #19 by ekans on Sunday, 8 March 2009 - 1:40 am

    Can Pak Lah’s legacy be described by the Malay proverb ‘Hangat-hangat tahi ayam’?

  20. #20 by juno on Sunday, 8 March 2009 - 11:26 am

    So much to learn from least developed countries . We have the funds , but our Leaders have selfish and greedy ends to everything they do .

  21. #21 by juno on Sunday, 8 March 2009 - 11:28 am

    So much to learn from least developed countries . We have the funds , but our Leaders have selfish and greedy ends to everything they do.

  22. #22 by cheng on on Sunday, 8 March 2009 - 1:52 pm

    Neighbours may will start to ask for favours/concessions 25 days from now???

  23. #23 by blablowbla on Sunday, 8 March 2009 - 3:56 pm

    Paklah quoted:we are not in the business of cheating Rakyat!

    something out of topic,but i still need to alert the Rakyat,there are so many issues that the federal govt. is cheating us,from the earlier bumi equity achievement to the number of govt. servants in malaysia.

    i challenge the federal govt. to reveal the actual figures of total govt.servants into details,not just mentioning 1.2 or 1.3 million,a stupid guy will believe it is such a small figure,i have mentioned a couple of times,it’s actually 2.5 million!

    you see,from the newspaper yesterday,merely teachers has already a whopping 370,000!

    nurse n dr:250,000
    putrajaya staff:50,000
    dbkl and all PBTs:250,000
    kementerian pelajaran,kesihatan,mahkamah,jakim,ikan,alam sekitar,tenaga/air dan komunikasi,dalam negeri,luar negeri,budaya,wanita,sukan,income tax,immigration,custom,blablabla all over
    the country,how many do you guess?plus the unnamed jabatan-2 and kementerian-2,easily 1 million,so total up:2.5 million!

    my goodness,i havent take into account the Suruhanjaya,like the SPR,SC,member of parliaments n their assistance n staff,embassies n their staff outside malaysia…………

    so,it is actually 3 million,but the sleeping head is all the whle telling us 1.2 million,why not we ask hm to pay the salaries of the 1.8 million himself?

    if we enjoy a good services,many would not mind,but,their number is huge,services are terrible!

    i hope the PR will make this a big issue,pressure them to announce the actual figures into breakdowns and reduce unnecessary departments,save the Rakyat’s money!

  24. #24 by blablowbla on Sunday, 8 March 2009 - 4:13 pm

    JPJ,JKR,university staff n management,dewan bahasa,pustaka,muzium,JPN,EPF,SOCSO,FElda………………….

    royal families,staff n management(about 25,000),imam,uztaz,ketua kampong,religion teachers,sportsmen n women………………


  25. #25 by zak_hammaad on Sunday, 8 March 2009 - 6:39 pm

    Pak Lah has made blunder after blunder. Even the so-called changes in the judiciary and forming the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) are not achievements to b proud of.

    His policies have bred intolerance and heightened racial tensions. A good man he may be, a good leader he certainly is NOT!

    For the opposition however, he was a Godsend because his incompetence directly contributed to Pakatan’s win in last years election.

  26. #26 by grace on Sunday, 8 March 2009 - 7:34 pm

    Pak lah is the father of Half Baked Policy.
    Look at macc, it is half baked jusy renamed.
    Lingam inquiry- started well but ended empty handed.
    IPCMC ????? zzzzzz!!
    Nothing solid he has achieved.
    Goodbye Pak Lah. You definitely won’t be missed by me!!!
    Do lots of sould searching in your retirement!!!

  27. #27 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 8 March 2009 - 9:06 pm

    Pak Lah’s legacy?? What legacy?

  28. #28 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 8 March 2009 - 9:15 pm

    What we are missing in this case is the fact that a quiet coup within UMNO was hatched the day he was appointed to succeed Mahathir. Forces within the party led by vested interests worked on day one to derail his administration and deralied they did.

    This man was a dead man walking from the very day he took office.

  29. #29 by Ramesh Laxman on Monday, 9 March 2009 - 9:39 am

    Let us never forget Pak Lah’s Legacy- You and I will not be able to express ourselves as we are doing now if not for Pak Lah’s legacy.

  30. #30 by undergrad2 on Tuesday, 10 March 2009 - 6:26 am

    You mean Pak Lah has yet to send you to Kamunting and therefore we should all be ever grateful to the man?? Don’t you think you’re placing the bar rather low?

  31. #31 by Loh on Tuesday, 10 March 2009 - 2:13 pm

    AAB cannot be considered a competent leader, but he is not as bad as his successor. AAB did not interfere in the formation of Perak state government immediately after the election. On his way out, AAB could not stop his successor staging coup d’etat in Perak.

    AAB does not have a view about the teaching in primary schools of mathematics and science in English, and he asked for guidance from his Minister of Education. His Minister said that the Cabinet would decide in due time, when AAB is no longer around.

    AAB had his primary school education in Malay, and secondary school education in English in Bukit Mertajam High School. If he had used his experience he would have been convinced that it was not too late to start English for mathematics and science in secondary school. It might be true that he was not particularly proud of his achievement in school, but he was admitted to the only university then, though perhaps on a lower entry requirement, but he did graduate without the practice then of bonus marks. One cannot fault his command of English language even though he did not study mathematics or science in English in primary school. It is true that he did not have statistics to qualify entry into economic faculty, but his inability to do statistics has nothing to do with his command of English. Teaching mathematics and science in English in primary school would not guarantee a pass in statistics at university level. Based on AAB’s records, there could not have been any benefit for him if he had studied mathematics or science in English in primary school. Why did he not stop the change in the medium of instruction to English as decided by TDM based not on research findings but on his imagination? It is a sin to carry out a nation wide experiment for 6 years, and the Minister of Education had the nerve to say that the decision on the switch will have to be based on examination results, and that he is still not ready. He should have conducted a study based on a random sample when he took over as Minister of Education in 2004 to decide whether the decision by TDM based on his imagination was in the interest of the nation. He has wasted 5 years, and he dared to tell off AAB that he was not ready. Indeed he is not fit to be the Minister of Education however long he might be holding the post.

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