Who is the boss in Cabinet –
Najib or Abdullah?
by Lim Kit Siang
I commend the Prime Minister,
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for countermanding the decision of his
deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Razak to bypass the Cabinet and defer
consideration of the Lingam Tape scandal, in particular the findings of
the three-man Haidar Panel.
Yesterday morning, Najib indicated that the Cabinet would be by-passed
when he told reporters after opening the 35th ASEAN Chemical Industries
Council Conference (ACIC) that the Government will assess in a matter of
days the Haidar Panel Report on the authenticity of the Lingam Tape.
Najib said: “Yes (we have received it). I don't have time to look at the
report yet (but) I would assess the report in a matter of days and I would
discuss with the PM (Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) on
what to do.”
Najib’s announcement had come as a shock for it meant at least two things:
• That the top Barisan Nasional
leadership in government are living in a world of their own, without any
sense of urgency and completely cut off from the primary concerns of
thinking Malaysians, in this case over the worsening crisis of confidence
in the independence and integrity of the judiciary which had been rocking
the country for nearly two months with the explosive allegations of the
perversion of the course of justice contained in the Lingam Tape;
• That the Cabinet is not only “half-past six” but completely expendable.
It was not consulted when the decision to establish the so-called Haidar
Independent Panel to probe into the authenticity of the Lingam Tape was
made – when what should be set up should be a Royal Commission of Inquiry
– and the Cabinet is again utterly irrelevant in the decision-making as to
the next step to be taken after the submission of the Haidar Report.
If the Cabinet is by-passed on
the Haidar Panel Report today, because Najib was too busy to read the
report (it must be the thinnest and briefest inquiry report in Malaysian
history), then the entire Cabinet should be censured for its
irresponsibility and irrelevance.
This is why the announcement by the Prime Minister in Kuching last night
that the Cabinet today will discuss the findings of the Haidar Panel on
the Lingam Tape and countermanding Najib’s earlier statement is most
welcome – as the Haidar Panel Report cannot wait a single day if the
Cabinet is serious about Malaysia’s reputation and international
competitiveness which is inextricably linked to the independence and
integrity of judiciary and a just rule of law.
It has been reported that Najib will not be present for today’s Cabinet
meeting but the more important question is who is the boss in the Cabinet
- Najib or Abdullah.
The Cabinet will be seriously remiss in its national responsibilities if
it evades or procrastinates in making a decision – and the least it could
do is to immediately make public the Haidar Report as well as set up a
Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Tape allegations and the whole
issue of the independence, integrity and quality of the judiciary.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman