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A “soprano” Prime Minister, a keris-wielding Education Minister, “half-past six” Cabinet, “Little Napoleon” civil service and “stupid” politicians are not the recipe for greater international competitiveness and “first world” developed nation for Malaysia but sure decline and a third-world fate
(Parliament, Tuesday) : A “soprano” Prime Minister, keris-wielding Education Minister, “half-past six” Cabinet, “Little Napoleon” civil service and “stupid” politicians are not the recipe for greater international competitiveness and “first world” developed nation for Malaysia but sure decline and a third-world fate.
Bernama Chairman and the Prime Minister’s confidante, Datuk Annuar Zaini who attended the recent “National Seminar on Abdullah Ahmad Badawi: Three Years in Putrajaya: Tracking the Country’s Future”, has likened Abdullah to a “soprano who has to sing alone” in the area of corruption.
Former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is not the only one to say that corruption had worsened in the past three years.
In May 2005, Mahathir warned that “corruption was becoming a culture in Malaysia”, that it was almost at the “above the table” level, with a significant number being involved.
Even Transparency International agreed, as reflected from the plunge in the TI Corruption Perception Index from No. 37 in 2003 to 44th placing in 2006.
This is most ironic and must be very galling for Abdullah as his unprecedented general election victory in March 2004 winning 91 per cent of the parliamentary seats was predicated on his pledge to root out corruption and to make a difference from the corruption, cronyism and nepotism of the previous administration.
Today, the credibility, integrity and legitimacy of the Abdullah premiership is tainted by the very same allegations, with the former Prime Minister emerging as a leading critic.
Abdullah should take serious heed of my warning during my 2007 budget speech in Parliament on the Prime Minister’s Department on November 7, 2006 that his failure to give satisfactory responses to integrity allegations whether involving himself on the Iraq Food For Oil scam involving billions of ringgit, his son, Kamaluddin over Scomi government contracts or his son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin over ECM Libra share acquisitions by referring them to an independent public inquiry would be a stain on his premiership.
The Cabinet tomorrow, the first this year to be chaired by Abdullah, must prove that he has the political will to “walk the talk” of his many reform pledges and not just be a “soprano”.
Admitting yesterday that politicians can be stupid when “a cabinet…is not very knowledgeable all the time” resulting in the government signing toll concession agreements not in the interest of the people, Mahathir had called for renegotiations of the toll agreements especially when toll concession companies are doing well financially.
For a start, the Cabinet tomorrow should make public all the toll concession agreements and initiate the process for a review and renegotiations of all toll concessions and privatization contracts involving not just the Cabinet and government officers but a full public consultation with MPs and the civil society.
Secondly, Abdullah and the Cabinet should end three years of drift, resulting in the pathetic call by the Prime Minister yesterday to all civil servants “to dispel the public’s perception that the government’s delivery system is weak, inefficient and corrupt”.
As Prime Minister, he cannot operate as a “soprano” to sing alone, even without support from his Cabinet Ministers. He must demonstrate that he has the political will to make it very clear that he accepts full responsibility for the three years of government drift and slide into inefficiency and corruption, that “the bucks ends here” at his desk.
He must accept personal responsibility for his premiership and crack the whip in the Cabinet and government, as the Prime Minister is the commander-in-chief and not a cry-baby let alone a soprano.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman