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Call for an urgent Cabinet downsizing and reshuffle as the last hope to move the stalled Abdullah reforms in the past two years
Speech at the DAP forum on Parliamentary and State Assembly Reports
In the past two years, apart from rhetoric, Abdullah has very little to show in the delivery of his reform pledge and programme, which had been stalled on the ground even before it could achieve a take-off.
In some crucial aspects, there has begun a serious slippage of public confidence although in the beginning there had been euphoria and high expectations in Abdullah’s reform pledges, resulting in the unprecedented Barisan Nasional victory in the March 2004 general election winning an unprecedented 92% parliamentary majority, which former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had recently said as “too strong” and a threat to democracy and good governance.
Instead of being his strongest hand, the 92% parliamentary majority may turn out to be Abdullah’s most fatal weakness, for two reasons:
I will give just three examples to illustrate the slippage of public confidence in the ability of Abdullah to overcome his dilemma of “one man versus the system” to deliver his reform pledge and programme:
The comment by the Prime Minister whether the people would believe the police had it earlier revealed that the nationality of the woman victim in the police naked earsquat videoclip was a local Malay and not a Chinese national was a damning confirmation that public confidence in the police is even worse today than before the establishment of the Police Royal Commission two years ago.
There are many who had initially been euphoric about Abdullah’s reform pledges who have been so disenchanted by the paucity of action and results in the past two years as to have written off the Abdullah premiership altogether, believing that however well-meaning Abdullah is about his reform programme, he lacks the political will to ensure that he can triumph in the battle between “man vs system”.
I am myself disappointed by the lack of real results in the reform programme of Abdullah’s two-year premiership, as we do not want just a more open, tolerant and relaxed administration as compared to the Mahathir era.
I am not yet prepared however to completely write off all hopes that something solid and durable can still be achieved from Abdullah’s reform pledges, although time is running out as it is becoming more and more difficult to sustain such a belief.
But if anything is to be salvaged from Abdullah’s reform pledges, he must urgently downsize and reshuffle his Cabinet, which represent the last hope to move the stalled Abdullah reforms in the past two years.
Abdullah cannot continue to be one man versus the system. He must have a Cabinet which is as fully committed as him to reform and a clean and incorruptible government to begin to change the system.
He must remove all the deadwood in his Cabinet, who are proving to be the strongest impediment to his reform programme, as there are many other Isa Samads in the present Cabinet. This is why two years after being Prime Minister, Abdullah remains the lone voice in calling for integrity, eradication of the corruption culture and the upholding of accountability, transparency and efficiency.
Abdullah must have his own Cabinet, lean and reform-minded, with every Minister and Deputy Minister fully committed to be the strongest advocate and champion in the respective Ministries in the fight against corruption and uphold accountability and transparency, and not leave the Prime Minister to the lone voice against corruption and inefficiency.
A Cabinet downsizing and reshuffle is long overdue and should not be delayed any longer – as any further delay can on reflect adversely on Abdullah’s judgment and leadership qualities as Prime Minister.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman