Abdullah’s warning against return of Mahathirism – Will Najib scotch talk of imminent ISA arrest of Anwar?

In his farewell Umno Presidential speech today, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi confirms his image as a basically decent and humble person who unfortunately could not translate his good instincts into government policy, measures and actions resulting in his being prematurely and ignominiously forced out by his own party and becoming the shortest-serving Prime Minister of the country.

Why is this so?

The fault cannot be borne by Abdullah alone, but must be on the shoulders of the rest of Umno and Barisan Nasional leaderships, for failing to give Abdullah the necessary support, and in many cases, for actively sabotaging him in the past five years to frustrate Abdullah from walking the talk of long overdue national reforms.

As a result, Abdullah could not even salvage and accomplish the minimalist legacy of reform he had hoped to leave behind before stepping down as Prime Minister – when the last of the trio of his final reform legislative programme, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) Bill, had to be again deferred although it was meant to be the “crown jewel” of Abdullah’s last parliamentary meeting lasting 22 days from Feb. 16 which ended yesterday.

Even the first two of the trio of his minimalist reform legislation – the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC) Act and the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Act – have proved to be great disappointments and letdowns, but Abdullah seemed to have abandoned whatever is left of his reformist zeal in his last three months in office.

There is no more eloquent testimony that Abdullah has given up the ghost in the fight to introduce reforms when he was not prepared to put his foot down to salvage the last of his trio of reform legislative programme, especially when it is meant to honour one of his earlier and most important pledges to implement the Royal Police Commission’s key recommendation to establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) so that Malaysia has a world-class police service to keep crime low, eradicate corruption and protect/promote human rights.

One of the most important parts of Abdullah’s farewell speech is his views about Umno “at the crossroads”, saying:

“ The path that we choose will determine whether we continue to remain relevant or whether we are reduced to a forgotten footnote in the pages of history.

“Sadly, there are still those who feel that we do not need to pursue reforms. They believe that Umno will regain its glory if we revert to the old ways — the old order, by restricting the freedom of our citizens and by silencing their criticism.

“They are of the view that Umno can continue to be in power if they safeguard the interests of certain individuals and give in to the demands of certain groups. There are those among us who gain comfort from these thoughts and are still lulled into a false sense of security.

“If we revert to the old path I believe we are choosing the wrong path; one that will take us to regression and decay. It is a path that I fear will hasten our demise. If we do not take courageous steps to reform in the face of this dynamic transformation of society and the radical global changes taking place, then we shall live to witness the end of our beloved Umno.”

This is a very subtle but unmistakable warning by Abdullah against the return of Mahathirism when Datuk Seri Najib Razak takes over as the sixth Prime Minister – although Najib has begun to talk the language of reform.

In Najib’s pre-100 days as Prime Minister, the country is already seeing increasing signs of the powers-that-be reverting to the “old ways” of restricting freedom and silencing criticism as illustrated by the sedition charge against DAP National Chairman and MP for Bukit Gelugor, Karpal Singh; police sedition investigation against Johore State Assembly Opposition Leader and Johore DAP Chairman, Dr. Boo Cheng Hau; one-year suspension of DAP MP for Puchong, Gobind Singh Deo without parliamentary pay and privileges; three-month suspension of Harakah and Suara Keadilan; prosecution of bloggers; indiscriminate and high-handed police action against Pakatan Rakyat gatherings and ceramahs; etc.

Najib should take a clear-cut stand in his acceptance speech as the new Umno president on Saturday, to set his face clearly and strongly against any return of Mahathirism in his premiership.

I will go even further and ask Najib to scotch growing talk of the imminent arrest of Parliamentary Opposition Leader and Parti Keadilan Rakyat leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim under the Internal Security Act as well as the possibility of another Operation Lalang mass arrests.

  1. #1 by k1980 on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 1:11 pm

    Umno at the crossroads? No, it’s Umno run over by a 10-tonne truck at the crossroads.

  2. #2 by monsterball on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 1:52 pm

    Yes..Dollah did sincerely try …..but the forces of evil in UMNO are much stronger.
    Imagine a CEO wants good work done..lay down all the rules..and all his Dept assistants ignore his command. What can he do?
    He has to resign..or toe the line…to survive..ignoring the shareholders…the voters.
    Bottom line…UMNO is beyond redemption.
    They must keep on fanning race issues…to survive.
    Abdullah Badawi is a decent and kind man…turned cunning and evil…..out of his own weaknesses.
    Asking for forgiveness and admitting he has faults…makes him a decent human being.
    But damages are all done.
    We can forgive….but cannot forget.
    Once bitten….twice shy.
    Change the government and lets move on to be united as Malaysians.
    New government…no good….change again…and again and again.
    People’s Power must control …not the other way round.

  3. #3 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 2:05 pm

    k1980, more like being stuck in your car at a railway level crossing, and a train is barrelling down…

  4. #4 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 2:12 pm

    /// I have held fast to an unflagging conviction that has prevented me from ever betraying Umno and has led me to steer clear from those who seek to destroy it. I have never denigrated Umno. I have never made offensive remarks about Umno. And certainly, I have never deserted Umno, even though there was a time when I was insulted by certain members of Umno. ///

    Hmmm, paragraph 3 of AAB’s last speech is very interesting. Wonder who he could be referring to???

  5. #5 by Godfather on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 3:15 pm

    He was a bumbling idiot from the kampung. What else could he be when he wrote “saya sokong” to multiple companies vying for the same project ? He couldn’t remember what he said in the morning when asked in the afternoon. He allowed the 4th floor to dictate the country’s agenda, which ultimately came to nought. He allowed his son and son-in-law (and his son-in-law’s mother) to be rent-seekers.

    I cry not for Badawi. He had his chance to put things right, but as a typical UMNO loyalist, he admits that he could not rock the boat with UMNO – when he should have been a PM to all, and not just to his party.

  6. #6 by Bobster on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 3:19 pm

    Ya ya, Najib can silence his local critics by sending one by one into ISA. So what, he cannot silent his international critics.

    Check what Tengku Razaleigh going to say about this shameless man in his blog.

    Yesterday I gave an interview to Sarah Stewart, the Bureau Chief of AFP in Malaysia. Among the questions she asked me was the unavoidable question about the international scandal linking Dato’ Seri Najib Razak with the murder of Altantuya Sharibuu and with the purchase of the Scorpene submarines.

    I told Sarah that in my long experience as a politician the only way to clear one’s name when a scandal has broken out around oneself is to meet it head on in the court of law. The BMF scandal of the 1980’s also had its share of lurid detail. There too a large sum of money and a murder was involved. An unseen hand had woven the threads of the story around me to destroy me politically. But when international newspapers alleged that I was involved in any wrongdoing, I took action against each and every one of them in their home jurisdictions.

    I sued The Telegraph and The Sunday Times of the UK, and The South China Morning Post of Hong Kong. I won all three cases, the newspapers published unreserved apologies and printed retractions covering half a broadsheet page each, and I came away with a tidy sum of money for my trouble.

    It is safe to say that in the international media, the incoming Umno President and the presumptive Prime Minister is being evaluated through the Altantuya scandal. The UK’s Sunday Times, the International Herald Tribune, the French daily, Libération, The Australian Financial Review, the Far Eastern Economic Review and the New York Times have all published stories raising questions about the link between the murdered young woman, Dato’ Seri Najib, and the gigantic commission paid out by the French company Armaris to a Malaysian company for the purchase of submarines. This is now an international story.

    And this story will not go away. With its dramatic details and the alleged involvement of elite Malaysian government operatives, it captures the journalistic imagination. But the story is now connected with an ongoing investigation into the dealings of a major French company. The story is also going to stick around because it is a handy looking-glass into Malaysia’s “increasingly dysfunctional political system.” It implicates our entire system of government, our judiciary, and our press, and it casts a shadow on our ability as a nation to face and tell the truth. Against this backdrop promises of reform ring hollow. The storyline of the New York Times article, for example, is that scandal-clouded succession reveals a once confident young country shaken to its foundations by institutional rot. I cannot say this is inaccurate.

    The scandal is bringing shame to the nation and damaging our international credibility. For the honour of the nation, for the honour of the office of prime minister, for the honour of the sovereign institutions expected to endorse, confirm and lend authority to him should he become prime minister according to Umno’s plans, Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak should finally face these suspicions and implied charges, submit himself to legal scrutiny, and come clean on them.

    Swearing on the Al-Quran is not the way out. Scoundrels have been known to do that. The truth, established through the rigorous and public scrutiny of the law, is the only remedy if an untrue story has gained currency not just internationally but at home among a large section of the people.

    Najib should voluntarily offer to testify at the trial of the two officers charged with killing Altantuya Sharibuu. He could also write to these newspapers and if necessary he should take legal action against them to clear his name and that of our country.

    Hey, blind supporters of corrupted party who are busy with the AGM at the moment, get out of your grand cocoon (PWTC) and check out what international community saying abt your distorted leaders. Malu loh. Wonder how is he going to carry out his duty with tons of garbage behind him.

  7. #7 by distantmalay on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 3:24 pm

    feeling a little sorry for AAB,
    in order to put thru any reforms, he has to get pass his adversaries within the party, so perhaps he was too soft for such a task.

    reforming the three branches of the government begins with reforming umno.

    perhaps it can be said that reforming Malaysia, requires reforming umno.

    and such reforms require umno to look upon all Malaysians with equal eyes.

    has it come too late….will it even kick off….

  8. #8 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 3:33 pm

    And so it has come to pass that Najib has been proclaimed Der Fuehrer (Leader).

    What is in store for the citizens?

  9. #9 by kevchua on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 3:52 pm

    There’s nothing in store for us. Projects that “benefit the people” will still go on – well, we might benefit a bit – but they make it look like they’ve done helluva lot for all races. Corruption, money politics, dirty politics will still exist. People don’t change overnight – not after 50 years of “enjoyment” – they won’t accept change now.

    ISA will still be around, and they’ll find reasons to ensure the camps don’t close. Don’t be surprised that DS Anwar, UMNO’s greatest “nemesis”, could be the first to be taken off the streets when Najib becomes the PM. Though many UMNO members still support Anwar, there’s nothing they could do. They’re merely towing the line because they’re not the authority.

  10. #10 by HJ Angus on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 4:17 pm

    “What is in store for the citizens?”

    Don’t expect changes for ordinary folks except when prices rise, we will be told to change our lifestyle.
    Najib has much to thank AAB for – giving up so graciously and also getting him that nice executive jet.

    To me I think it is good AAB has apologised but he should do so to all Malaysians and not just UMNO who essentially kicked him out.
    It is a humbling experience – getting so much power and then having to give up without completing one’s plan.


  11. #11 by ablastine on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 4:32 pm

    A lot of people has good intention and know what it takes to mend the country. Badawi was probably one of them who has a little inkling of what actually are the basic problems but he is not a born leader. There are no sign of ruthlessness, strategic planning, insidious scheming, helicopter view, intellectual capacity and fortitude that comes with a good leader. The best he could do was to listen to the 4th floor boys who have each their own agenda. As a Prime Minister I cannot believe he did not have the chance or power to eliminate one at a time his enemies in UMNO. He wasn’t ruthless enough and thought that placating them would be sufficient. The one reason the Mamak stayed so long in power was because he was ruthless. He just make sure all his enemies remained buried as long as he is around. The position of the Prime Minister is the most powerful position in the country and even more so after Mahathir and especially so after such a strong mandate from the people in the initial general election. Yes Badawi has wasted it all not because he wanted to but because he simply does not have what it takes to be the Prime Minister of Malaysia. I really fear for Malaysia now with a person like Najib coming into the pinnacle of power. What can he not do to make sure he stays in power forever? The answer is nothing.

  12. #12 by wanderer on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 5:38 pm

    It is pointless to predict what to expect when Mongolian prince take over. Sign are already there we are in for a rough ride ahead. It is better to be prepared to face the ungentlemanly tactics of this mean character head on, than feel sorry for doing nothing. The writings are on the wall, fight fire with fire or perish!
    History has shown us, People’s Power is much mightier than a group of rouges.

  13. #13 by AhPek on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 6:54 pm

    Besides slapping ISA on a number of opposition figures,we can expect recession to stay longer than it should and the country to be mired deeper and deeper into debt with the ringgit devaluating.
    Here’s what The Australian Review has to say of the minibudget:
    The minibudget will be as much about politics and patronage as boosting the economy.
    Infrastructure projects and government contracts will be distributed among political friends.There will be waste and white elephants (like building bridge to nowhere) as in the Malaysian way.It is not however sustainable.
    Malaysia has not got a budget surplus in a decade and now finds its public debt levels getting uncomfortably high.
    The ratio of debt to GDP is above 50% while the budget deficit this year will probably exceed 10% of GDP and go higher in 2010.For a commodity exporter
    which has enjoyed 5 years of record prices,these are appalling numbers.
    ‘They were lazy in the good times,’ says Fitch Ratings analyst james McCormack, from Hong Kong.’And now there is pressure on the public finances.’
    The first consequence of this pressure is likely the downgrade of Malaysia’s local currency debt after Najib releases his mini-budget next Tuesday.
    Analysts are expecting a stimulus package of 15 billion ringgit and 30 billion ringgit.This should be enough to push Malaysia’s credit rating down one notch to A- and raise the cost of borrowing.But more worrying is the longer term outlook.Fitch estimates that 40% of government revenue is derived from the oil and gas sector which means its public finances are unlikely to recover until the oil price does.No one is forecasting this in the short term whilst everyone is expecting the government to keep on spending.
    ‘This is ultimately unsustainable,’ says HSBC economist Robert Prior Wandesforde.”In the end the cost of borrowing will be too expensive.’
    As Najib has no popular support,his only real option is to buy himself some political capital by continuing to spend.
    He could,of course,boost growth and investment by opening the country’s highly insulated economy but this is not Najib’s style,having been schooled in the politics of protection and patronage.In a political career spanning 32 years,he has been associated with corruption scandals,accused of inciting racial violence and even linked to the murder of a Mongolian woman alleged to have been his mistress.
    It makes for messy reading,but in ordinary times Najib could expect to survive such scandal.
    But these are not ordinary times and therefore Najib is in trouble.
    Firstly the opposition led by Anwar Ibrahim has begun eroding the government’s once insurmountable grip on power.The internet has neutralised its hold over the mainstream media and subjected the likes of Najib to scrutiny.Therefore blunt vote buying won’t necessary work for Najib as it did for his predecessors,while the government tight fiscal position will make this evenharder
    Najib could therefore be an ’embattled’ PM from day one.

  14. #14 by KennyGan on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 9:13 pm

    A return to Mahathirism will not be successful without whipping up ethnic tension so that people accept authoritarianism as the lesser evil to ethnic violence. However this is hard to do as present day Malaysian society has changed so much from 1969. Attempts were made over the Ahmad Ismail affair and Teresa Kok mosque affair and Mahathir has played his racial card many times but they have all failed miserably. Malaysians will simply not succumb to racial fear mongering whatever the provocation.

    Among the reasons is the rise of the Malay middle class which has blunted the class divide between Chinese and Malays. The political divide has also been bridged with Malays found in both opposition and govt unlike 1969 where Malays supported the govt while Chinese supported the opposition.

    The 12th G.E. has broken the unholy relationship between Umno authoritarianism and the threat of ethnic violence. BN lost its 2/3 majority and control of 5 states but there was no ethnic tension.

    Umno has two choices – to institute real reforms and become democratically competitive like PR or to restore the Umno authoritarianism – ethnic violence relationship. The first is very difficult to implement, the second somewhat easier. Hence we will see Umno veer to the right and become ultra nationalist. However it may still fail to restore the relationship as Malaysian society has changed so much.

    And what of the role played by MCA, MIC and Gerakan as Umno becomes more rightist? They will continue to be abandoned by the minority communities until they have to depend heavily on the Malay vote to survive. Their status and standing in BN will erode until they become beggars at the Umno feast (if they aren’t already).

  15. #15 by KennyGan on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 9:23 pm

    Also it must be noted that Mahathir legitimized his authoritarian style with rapid economic progress. With the world economic crisis in full swing, Najib will not have this legitimacy to fall back on.

    Pak Lah said that a return to Mahathirism will hasten the demise of Umno. Without the twin pillars of ethnic tension and economic progress supporting authoritarianism, Pak Lah is right on this count.

  16. #16 by HJ Angus on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 9:42 pm

    I agree with KennyGan’s views.
    During May13, most of the Malays were quite poor and mostly the cars and nice houses were owned by others.
    After 35 odd years of the NEP, we have a much larger middle class of all races – just look at the nice houses and beautiful cars.
    Of course the super rich are mostly the cronies but we do have thousands of doctors, lawyers and engineers of all races and most people live in good harmony.
    So some politicians will try to raise the race issues but it will be the task of the others to keep the peace.

  17. #17 by AhPek on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 10:51 pm

    We certainly cannot have a mix of ethnic tension and economic progress for authoritarianism to survive.If the ethnic tension is tumultous enough,societal unrest will result even if we have economic well being.Authoritarianism can certainly exist if we have ethnic harmony and economic well-being present in the mix.A great is Singapore.

  18. #18 by AhPek on Thursday, 26 March 2009 - 10:56 pm

    Correction:A great example is Singapore

You must be logged in to post a comment.