Speech (3) by Lim Kit Siang at the Sabah DAP forum “Malaysia – Towards A New Era” at Kian Kok Middle School Hall, Kota Kinabalu on Tuesday, 16th September 2008: 

Zaid’s resignation “last nail in the coffin” of Abdullah’s repeat of reform pledges after March 8 “political tsunami”

Senator Datuk Zaid Ibrahim’s announcement this morning that his decision to resign as Minister in the Prime Minister’s DepAartment is final despite being advised by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to reconsider the move is the “last nail in the coffin” of Abdullah’s repeat of reform pledges after the March 8 “political tsunami”.

It is clear that the detentions of DAP MP for Seputeh and Selangor Senior Exco Teresa Kok and Raja Petra Kamaruddin under the nefarious and iniquitous Internal Security Act (ISA) were the last straw causing Zaid to submit his resignation after a six-month stint in the Cabinet, making him the only Minister in the nation’s history to resign on a matter of principle.

When Zaid was surprisingly appointed by Abdullah to be a Minister after the Barisan Nasional debacle in the March general election, it was clear that Zaid had a special agenda – to retrieve Abdullah’s credibility and legitimacy as a Reform Prime Minister by carrying out reforms in the important sectors of the judiciary, the police and anti-corruption.

Zaid’s resignation is an admission that Abdullah’s repeat pledge of the reform programme after the March political tsunami has come to the end of the road, that:

• there is not going to be any Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), the key recommendation of the Royal Police Commission to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class police service to keep crime low and protect human rights;

• there is not going to be any meaningful Judicial Appointments Commission to restore national and international confidence in the independence, impartiality, integrity and quality of the judiciary – and that for the first time in the 51-year history of the nation, an UMNO Chief Justice will be appointed next month, plunging the country into a new round of judicial crisis and darkness; and

• there is little hope that an all-out war against corruption would be launched to place Malaysia among the world’s least-corrupt nations

With the recent gross abuses of the ISA - the scandal of the 18-hour detention of Sin Chew senior reporter Tan Hoon Cheng and the arrests of MP Teresa Kok and blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin – the Abdullah administration has finally given up the ghost about its pretensions of being a reformist government.

When Zaid submitted his resignation on Monday, Abdullah asked Zaid to take two weeks’ leave to think it over, suggesting that Zaid was “exhausted”.

This was a most insensitive and irresponsible comment, prompting many to say that the person who should take two weeks’ leave to think over his role in government and contribution to Malaysian nation is none other than Abdullah himself.

The Prime Minister should take the opportunity to ponder why his popularity has plunged from 92% at the end of 2004 to 42 per cent in July this year, and if an opinion poll is conducted now, he will be struggling to keep his head above water to be above the dismal 25% approval rating.

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor