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Reform pledge - Abdullah
failed in his 29-month mid-term report card
Speech (2) in Parliament on Royal Address Motion
The Royal Address on Monday is the third annual policy pronouncement of the government of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at each year’s official opening of Parliament since the March 2004 general election.
I had followed this third annual policy pronouncement with close interest, hoping that it would mark a new turning point of his administration – with the disclosure of concrete plans and strategies to deliver his reform pledge and programme for a clean, incorruptible, accountable, trustworthy, efficient and people-oriented administration.
There is however only disappointment. When Abdullah first became Prime Minister on October 31, 2003, there were high hopes that his premiership would usher in change and reform. But the people were told to wait until he had called a general election and won his own national mandate.
The March 2004 general election was a landslide victory for Abdullah, winning 92 per cent of the parliamentary seats – a result which had eluded the first four Prime Ministers.
Abdullah’s unprecedented mandate of the March 2004 general election, however, did not see delivery of his reform pledge and programme – the reverse in fact took place with the formation of a jumbo-sized Cabinet and the retention of the old-guard. The people were told to wait until the September 2004 UMNO party elections.
The UMNO party elections came and went but no reform pledge was delivered, on the ground that Abdullah had suffered setbacks in the UMNO party elections.
All waited for a Cabinet reshuffle for the long-delayed reforms. Nothing happened until some 17 months after the UMNO party elections, but there was no Cabinet reshuffle last month but only a Cabinet recycle.
I had hoped that the Royal Address yesterday – Abdullah’s third annual policy pronouncement in Parliament – will finally start the process of delivery of his reform pledge and programme, but there was absolutely nothing, not a single new initiative, a single new policy or a single new decision – such as the final announcement of the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, the key recommendation of the Royal Police Commission and which Abdullah had given his public commitment to set up but which is being stubbornly and relentless opposed by the Police.
When can Malaysians see Abdullah really “walk the talk” of his stalled reform pledge and programme – the Ninth Malaysia Plan which he is to present in Parliament on March 31?
We are at the mid-point of Abdullah’s first term of premiership, as nobody expects this Parliament to complete five years with Anwar Ibrahim regaining his civil rights to stand for elective office in a general election in April 2008.
This is a proper time for a mid-term assessment of Abdullah’s premiership, in particular on the delivery of his reform pledge and programme which had been responsible for his unprecedented landslide victory in the March 2004 general election.
I propose to be very frank. At the DAP Seputeh thousand-people dinner on Saturday, I had asked the crowd for their spontaneous response by show of hand to one of two propositions – whether Abdullah had passed or failed in a mid-term assessment of the delivery of his reform pledge and programme. Decisively and verwhelmingly, the sea of hands went up for the proposition that Abdullah had failed.
I believe that this reflects the general opinion of Malaysians today, people who hold no ill-will or malice towards Abdullah – who in fact are still prepared to support Abdullah personally as they want him to deliver his stalled reform pledge and programme.
Last Friday, the Prime Minister launched the Public Complaints Bureau’s (PCB) public opinion poll system. The PCB should be asked to conduct a poll to verify what I said – that the people regard Abdullah as having failed in his mid-term report card to deliver his reform pledge in the past 29 months, although they still support him as they want him to walk the talk and deliver his stalled reform pledge and programme.
Abdullah should not disappoint Malaysians who still vest their hopes and trust in him to deliver the reform programme for a clean, incorruptible, accountable, trustworthy, efficient and people-oriented administration.
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