Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling
Jaya on Thursday, 9th October 2008:
Abdullah - a decent human being but can he
redeem his premiership by instituting three fundamental reforms in last
five months in office?
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is a decent
He was always personable and very approachable until he was cut off from
the public by his gatekeepers whether fourth-storey or otherwise – and
the common complaint after his first two years as Prime Minister was
that he was more difficult to see than Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in the
latter’s 22 years as Prime Minister!
I had two meetings with Abdullah in his first two years as Prime
Minister which led to the establishment of parliamentary select
committees but since then I had stopped trying to meet him for it was
just impossible to get through his handlers.
I do not know whether it is possible to see Abdullah again in has last
five months as Prime Minister.
In his press statement yesterday, Abdullah said that he would complete
three reforms he had pledged when he became prime minister before
stepping down by tabling three bills in Parliament to establish the
Judicial Appointments Commission, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption and a
Special Complaints Commission.
The question is whether Abdullah can redeem and salvage his five years
of ineffective premiership by instituting three fundamental reforms in
last five months in office?
I am surprised to read a very objective and level-headed political
commentary in today’s New Straits Times, “In the end,he made a
sensible decision” by Zubaidah Abu Bakar, with the very telling
“THE pressure must have been enormous
on Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in the 48 hours leading to
“But in the end, wisdom trumped
Stating that Abdullah’s quit decision was to
prevent implosion in Umno which would result in the Barisan Nasional
ending up in opposition after the 13th general election, Zubaidah wrote:
“His ‘Work with Me, Not For Me’
campaign and commitment to fight corruption charmed the voters at the
March 2004 general election, granting BN the largest election victory in
the coalition's history. But his reform agenda ran counter to the
patronage-driven party culture in Umno.
“Now that the baton has been passed to Najib, will there be stability in
With Umno and BN patronage-driven party
culture, can Abdullah successfully and meaningfully carry out three
fundamental institutional reforms, in the next five months – with two
months spent on leave?
His mention of a Special Complaints
Commission (SCC) Bill is like a pail of cold water on Malaysians who
harbour hopes that Abdullah might still end his premiership with
uncharacteristically reformist fervour and success.
This is because the SCC Bill, first presented to the previous Parliament
last December just before dissolution, had already been rejected by the
civil society as a parody of the Independent Police Complaints and
Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), the most important recommendation of the
Royal Police Commission to transform the Malaysian Police into an
efficient, incorruptible, accountable, professional world-class police
service with the three core objectives to keep crime low, eradicate
corruption and uphold human rights.
Instead of an IPCMC “lion” with teeth and claws, a toothless and
clawless SCC mouse has been produced wasting five years of the Abdullah
premiership and making a total mockery of Abdullah’s pledge to reform
the police and the Royal Police Commission Report with its 125
In the past 10 months since the SCC Bill was withdrawn last December,
there had been indications particularly after the March 8 “political
tsunami”, that the IPCMC would be established.
If all that Abdullah can table when Parliament reconvenes next week is
the same toothless and clawless SCC Bill, then let it be said clearly
and definitively that it is completely unacceptable and a travesty of
his reform commitment in his last five months in office.
With this SCC Bill backdrop, there is great scepticism that the two
other bills on judicial reform and anti-corruption would not be mere
paper reforms without any meaningful institutional changes – especially
with Malaysia’s ranking on Transparency International’s Corruption
Perception Index plunging from No. 37 to No. 47 in the five years of
Abdullah premiership from 2003 to 2008 and the likely appointment of the
first Umno Chief Justice in the 51-year history of the nation, plunging
the country into a new era of judicial darkness and scandal.
As in the past, I am ever ready to meet Abdullah about these
institutional reforms but has he got such liberty to make his last five
months of premiership completely different from his past five years?
Kit Siang, DAP
Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor