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Abdullah’s three-year report card as Prime Minister fails to pass muster – is this why it was not presented in Parliament where it would be scrutinized and debated objectively and dispassionately by Opposition MPs?
(Parliament, Thursday) : Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi presented his three-year report card as the fifth Prime Minister in his third Umno presidential address yesterday – based on what he described as the 12 pillars to achieve excellence, glory and distinction for the nation outlined by him in his maiden speech in Parliament on November 3, 2003.
Abdullah should have presented a report card of his three-year premiership to Parliament – as I had suggested - especially as he had said in November 2003 that he had chosen to deliver his maiden official speech as Prime Minister in Parliament as a symbol of his respect for Parliament as the highest institution in the country.
Abdullah’s own three-year report card as Prime Minister fails to pass muster as it is unable to measure up to the required standard.
Is this why it was not presented in Parliament where it would be scrutinized and debated objectively and dispassionately by Opposition MPs?
Khairy Jamaluddin, Umno Youth deputy leader, the Prime Minister’s son-in-law and “the power-behind-the throne”, said Abdullah’s speech has answered all issues raised on his leadership, with “Every single question has been answered. Every doubt erased”.
Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s son, however dismissed Abdullah’s speech as “nothing new”.
Who is right. If there is a national opinion poll, I believe the overwhelming majority will agree with Mukriz rather than Khairy.
Abdullah’s speech is a mishmash of conflicting and contradictory messages – on the one hand, reiterating his commitment to the reform pledge and agenda of an open, clean, incorruptible, accountable, transparent and trustworthy government prepared to listen to the people and on the other hand revealing he has an iron fist in the velvet glove which he is prepared to wield to crack down on dissent and human rights to protect and consolidate his power position.
How, for instance, can Abdullah reconcile his principle to encourage constructive criticism and his position that “Differences of opinion should be viewed objectively and not necessarily be seen as being anti-government” with his authoritarian and intolerant pronouncement that “Questioning the methodology used by the Economic Planning Unit” on the computation of ethnic breakdown of corporate equity “is the same as accusing the government of lying”?
How can he square such a intolerant attitude with his earlier statement that the government has nothing to hide about the EPU methodology and is prepared to make public all EPU methodology and data in keeping with an information society, knowledge economy and the principles of good governance – but which the government had conspicuously failed to do in the past month despite more confusion caused by conflicting pronouncements by government ministers on the issue?
The New Economic Policy (NEP) is meant to have a time-frame of 20 years from 1970-1990 with the overriding objective of achieving national unity through the two-pronged strategies of eradicating poverty and restructuring society.
After 1990, the question whether the NEP has achieved its objective, whether there should be a process to phase it out and whether it is the proper strategy not only to achieve the overriding objective of national unity but to prepare Malays in particular and Malaysians in general to be internationally competitive to face the forbidding challenges of globalization should be less and less sensitive. Instead, the reverse has taken place – with the subject becoming more and more sensitive. Why is this so?
Now, Abdullah says that 20 years allocated to achieve the objectives of the NEP was too short a period. It is most shocking that such a statement should come from a Prime Minister 36 years after the launching of the NEP or 16 years after its intended end.
Does this mean that the NEP is indeed a “Never Ending Policy”? Is this the position of all the other Barisan Nasional component parties, or they don’t matter at all in such a policy decision-making?
Why is there no objective research and study as to why the real beneficiaries of the NEP are not the only ordinary Malays, Ibans, Kadazans, Orang Asli but the Umnoputras who are the class entitled to become NEP-putras”
The biggest disappointment of Abdullah’s speech is his section on corruption. It is sad and tragic that after three years as Prime Minister, with a resounding mandate in the last general election as to win 91% parliamentary seats, Abdullah should be pleading with Umno delegates that he could not succeed in his campaign against corruption without their support.
I said in Parliament last week that corruption and money politics in Umno is the root cause of the rampant corruption in the country, which has seen Malaysia’s ranking in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2006 plunge five places to an unprecedented low of 44th place.
In the past three years, Umno leaders and delegates have distinguished themselves by keeping conspicuously silent on the issue of wiping out the scourge of corruption and money politics – as testified by the fact that the subject of corruption was not touched on by anyone of the other top Umno leaders in the past three years in the Umno general assemblies, whether the Umno Deputy President or the leaders of Umno Youth, Wanita Umno or Puteri Umno.
In Parliament, no Umno or Barisan Nasional MP has stood up in the past three years to campaign for an all-out war against corruption.
Is Abdullah going to use his lack of support from Umno and Barisan Nasional leaders to justify the failure of his anti-corruption pledge, the centrepiece of his 2004 general election campaign?
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman