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Five critical tests to evaluate success or failure of Abdullah premiership – corruption, IPCMC, judicial crisis 1988, the quality of human capital with first-class mentality and “towering” Malaysian nation-building
(Kuala Lumpur, Wednesday) : There are five critical tests to evaluate the success or failure of the Abdullah premiership.
Firstly, the fight against corruption. The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had told me in his first year of premiership that he wanted the clean-up of corruption to be the legacy of his premiership.
Nearly three years as the fifth Prime Minister, Abdullah has virtually lost the war against corruption. The 18 “high-profile big fishes” which were supposed to be nabbed and brought to justice at the beginning of his administration have been allowed to escape scot-free into the “South China Sea”.
Malaysia’s ranking in the Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) had plunged from No. 23 in 1995 to No. 37 in 2003 when Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad stepped down as Prime Minister, but the decline continued in 2004 and 2005, falling to No. 39 in both years.
Last month, World Bank released its latest Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) 2006 report, and Malaysia fared worse as compared to 10 years ago in five of the six good governance indicators.
On the indicator on “control of corruption”, Malaysia saw a grave deterioration, losing out to 12 countries which had been behind Malaysia in the TI CPI 2005, including Thailand.
If the World Bank’s WGI findings on “control of corruption” is reflected in the new Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2006 to be released soon, then Malaysia’s ranking will plunge from 39th to 52nd placing!
The first thing Abdullah must now do is to nab the 18 “high-profile big fishes in the South China Sea” and bring them to justice if his campaign against corruption is not to end up as a joke and an indictment of his premiership.
Secondly, the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC). Recently, the Prime Minister paid tribute to Tan Sri Mohd Bakri who had just retired as Inspector-General Police when he should have been admonished for obstructing and sabotaging the key recommendation of Royal Police Commission to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class police service to reduce crime and uphold human rights.
Finally the blame for the failure to establish the IPCMC must lie with Abdullah both as the Prime Minister and Internal Security Minister/previously Home Minister in charge of the police portfolio for the past seven years since 1999.
Thirdly, the 1988 judicial crisis which ushered the country into the darkest chapter of an independent judiciary from which Malaysia has not fully recovered.
Abdullah has the opportunity to undo the great damage to the justice system which had undermined national and international confidence in a truly independent judiciary and a just rule of law to right the wrongs and injustices perpetrated in the 1988 judicial crisis, i.e., the arbitrary and unconstitutional sacking of Tun Salleh Abas as Lord President and the late Tan Sri Wan Suleiman and Datuk George Seah as Supreme Court judges.
Can Abdullah rise to this historic challenge by re-opening a full inquiry into the 1988 judicial crisis?
Fourthly, the quality of human capital with “first-class mentality” which suffered two major blows in the past few days:
· the dismal international ranking of Malaysian universities with the nation’s erstwhile premier university for four decades ignominiously toppled from the pedestal and struggling to keep within the last few places of the world’s Best 200 Universities in Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) World University Ranking 2006; and
· the disgraceful ASLI episode where scholarship, academic excellence and intellectual honesty were compromised and violated by unashamed political arm-twisting, resulting in the retraction of ASLI’s Centre of Public Policy Studies (CPPS) report on bumiputra equity ownership in Corporate Malaysia and the resignation of Prof. Dr. Lim Teck Ghee as CPPS director.
Fifthly, “towering” Malaysia nation-building especially with Malaysia celebrating the half-century of nationhood next year. Unfortunately, both racial and religious polarization have become even more aggravated in the past three years caused by:
· Deviation from the 1957 Constitution and Merdeka “social contract” among the major communities that we are a secular and multi-religious nation, with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State.
· Galloping Islamisation not only with Islam Hadhari becoming the directive principle of the Ninth Malaysia Plan and 15-year National Mission towards Vision 2020 but with the recent developments like the statement by the Prime Minister that the Malaysian national education system is Islamic and the exhortation by the head of syariah department of a major local insurance corporation that it is unIslamic for Muslims to wish Hindu Malaysians “Happy Deepavali”.
· Abdullah has been talking about “towering Malays” but he has not once spoken about “towering Malaysians” – raising the question whether the government is committed to the building of a “towering” Malaysia comprising towering Malays, towering Chinese, towering Indians, towering Kadazans and towering Ibans to enhance our international competitiveness to face the challenges of globalization in the international arena.
If Abdullah is unable to pass these five critical tests in the one year or so left before the next general election, which is most probably next year, I do not see him capable of redeeming himself in his second term to deliver his reform pledges whatever parliamentary majority he could secure in the 12th national polls.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman