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years after the euphoria over Abdullah’s pledge of reform and integrity,
public disillusionment is widespread as the political rot is setting in
We have past the
half-way point for the current 11th Parliament elected in the
March 2004 general election with unprecedented landslide
I had warned
in my first speech in this Parliament during the debate on the Royal Address
on 20th May 2004 that this unprecedented nine-tenth parliamentary
I had cautioned that with such
a weak Opposition in Parliament, comprising less than ten per cent
parliamentary representation which could be no real check to
I said: “The only saving grace
is the full realization by the Prime Minister and the Barisan Nasional
leaders of their great responsibility to fulfill their election pledge of
What I had warned in May 2004
that with such unprecedented nine-tenth parliamentary majority, that “things
can go wrong, very quickly, dangerously, catastrophically
How else explain the following catalogue of scandals:
The Zakaria Mat Deros
scandal – showing utter contempt for the Sultan of Selangor, public opinion
and the Prime Minister’s reform and integrity agenda,
The sweeping under the
carpet of the APs scandal, arousing the ire of even the former Prime
Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who had “turned the
Abdullah’s failure to give
satisfactory responses to integrity allegations whether involving himself
on the Iraq Food For Oil scam involving billions of ringgit,
riposte to Tun Mahathir in their “four eyes only” meeting before the Hari
Raya holidays that the children of the former Prime Minister
The poor and dismal record
in the last three years in the battle against corruption. In the
recently-released World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators
The shocking assertion
by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz
last Thursday claiming that Umno members are immune from
In his three years as Prime Minister, Abdullah has failed to “walked the talk” of his reform pledges and agenda, as well as his many beautifully-crafted calls and admonitions.
Although the Prime Minister
is the most powerful office in the country, his words are now being treated
like “water off a duck’s back” by all and sundry in the country
In mid-April, the Prime
Minister chided the “Little Napoleons” in the public service, ticking off
heads of departments and officials who delayed giving approvals or who sat
He said the few who caused delays because they wanted to throw their weight around would only tarnish the Government’s name.
"There's no need to show how powerful you are by delaying ... I don't
agree with that. Don't show power by holding back the file. Instead, show
how powerful you are by quickly implementing and facilitating. Please
"There are 'little Napoleons' all over the place who like to show power
by delaying things.
"These people do this because they think they should teach other people
a lesson for making noise (raising complaints or issues). Instead, find
out what the problems are. There must be a reason."
Has the “Little Napoleon” mentality and culture been rooted out of the public service? Has any “Little Napoleon” been disciplined in the past six months since Abdullah’s “Little Napoleon” speech? Are there statistics? Or are there now even more “Little Napoleons” in the public service than six months ago?
Three years after the euphoria over Abdullah’s pledge of reform and integrity, public disillusionment is widespread as the political rot is setting in deep and fast.
It would appear that Abdullah’s writs, whether as Prime Minister now or formerly as Deputy Prime Minister, never ran very far.
In August 2003, less than three months from taking over the highest political office in the land, after chairing the 51st meeting of the National Council for Local Councils, Abdullah directed all State authorities immediately to gazette open spaces for recreational purposes and place them under the supervision of the respective State Secretariats.
Abdullah said there have been numerous cases of such areas being developed by unscrupulous developers as the actual status of the land was shrouded in
confusion. This happened because the land was not gazetted and no one knew the actual status of the land. May be the approving party (local councils)
failed to conduct proper checks or had insufficient information on the
status of such land. Thus, approval was granted for development.
Abdullah said the ruling was necessary as such land had been dubiously
developed, depriving residents of the facilities.
This was well and good. But how many open spaces had been gazetted after Abdullah’s directive – or was this another case of “water off the duck’s back”?
And what has Abdullah done as Prime Minister in the past three years to protect open spaces and preserve recreational grounds?
I was in Tawau last Friday together with the DAP MP for Seputeh, Teresa Kok and DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng. Over 500 people gathered at a local hotel during a midday three-hour meeting, forgoing lunch, to protest against the deprivation of five pieces of open spaces in the Sabindo area, which was a clear defiance of the directive by Abdullah in 2003 to preserve open spaces and protect recreational lands from profiteering by developers.
I find the Sabindo development in Tawau most scandalous, for the five pieces of open spaces in the developed Sabindo area provided 300 car parks and are now being redeveloped to build 54 four-storey shopping units, without any provision for car parks when under the by-laws such development would require the building of some 300 car parking lots or their equivalent monetary compensation.
Tawau is already choked with traffic in the Sabindo area which urgently needs another 300 carpark lots to ease the congestion. Now 300 existing car park lots in five open spaces are being eliminated for commercial development, which must be accompanied with provision of space for 300 car parks but which had been exempted without any need for monetary compensation, creating even worse congestion by trebling the shortfall of car parks from 300 to 900!
The Sabah state cabinet had issued a directive in September last year for an immediate halt of the development project of open spaces within an already developed area in Sabindo, but this was defied by the developer which had entered into a joint venture agreement with the Tawau Municipal Council in 1996 and started work after its development plan was approved in May 2005.
It is a measure of the public indignation in Tawau that over 500 people were prepared to forgo lunch in a three-hour mid-day meeting last Friday to vent their outrage, anger and frustration, adopting a five-point resolution, where they unanimously resolved to:
1) Condemn the blatant disregard for the basic principles of municipal good governance, especially in condoning deprivation of the fundamental rights of the Tawau ratepayers to open spaces;
2) Call on Tawau Municipal Council President and Councilors to protect recreational lands, to preserve open spaces in Tawau and to stop development projects in Sabindo, or to resign collectively;
3) Call on the Tawau MP and ADUNs to effectively, diligently and conscientiously to defend and protect the basic rights of Tawau people to open spaces or to resign and return their seats to the people;
4) Call on the Sabah Chief Minister and the entire Sabah cabinet to enforce their decision to stop all development projects depriving the people of their open spaces or to resign collectively for their irresponsibility and impotence;
5) Fully support the campaign to protect recreational lands and preserve open spaces in Tawau as what is at stake is the larger issue as to whether Malaysia is a nation of laws and not of men, and to form a committee to launch the campaign in Sabah and Malaysia.
I want to ask Abdullah what he is doing to address the open defiance and challenge to his directive to the State governments and local authorities to protect and preserve open spaces and recreational grounds, particularly in the scandalous Tawau case where open spaces in a developed township are being systematically developed by another developer for profit, creating infernal traffic congestions, depriving the people of basic civic facilities of open spaces and recreational grounds and showing utter disregard for the law.
I call on the Prime Minister to give his personal attention to the scandalous case of Tawan redevelopment of open spaces of a developed township as such utter disregard for the civic and environmental rights of ratepayers must never be allowed to be a precedent in urban development for other towns and states in Malaysia.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman