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  Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 19th March 2008: 

Five tests whether the second Abdullah Cabinet is a “reform Cabinet” or just pseudo-reform Cabinet

New Stratis Times hailed the second Abdullah Cabinet unveiled yesterday as “REFORM Cabinet”, describing it as “the Cabinet and government the Barisan Nasional should have had four years ago”.

I would have been the first to welcome a “Reform Cabinet” although it is four years and two months late. Although there are signs that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi seems prepared to begin to “hear the truth from the people” although more than four years late on the pledges he first made when became Prime Minister in October 2003, like the surprise appointment of Zaid Ibrahim as Minister in charge of legal and judicial reforms, there are also signs to the contrary.

It is no exaggeration to say that the appointment of UMNO Information chief Muhammad Muhammad Taib as Minister for Rural and Regional Development has stained the second Abdullah Cabinet right from the start and raised questions about Abdullah’s commitment and political will to the new politics of accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance.

Having lost four years and two months to deliver his reform pledges and punished severely in the political tsunami of the March 8, 2008 general election, resulting in the deprivation of Barisan Nasional’s hitherto unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority and loss of five state governments, there can be no honeymoon for the second Abdullah Cabinet and Ministers.

There are at least five tests whether the second Abdullah Cabinet is a “reform Cabinet” or just a pseudo-reform Cabinet and Malaysians, in their March 8, 2008 election verdict, want immediate answers, viz:

• First-World Parliament – whether Abdullah is prepared to give full support to the wide-ranging parliamentary reforms which I had proposed in the first meeting of Parliament in May 2004, embracing a full Select Committee system headed by Parliamentarians where every Ministry is shadowed by a Select Committee and an Opposition MP to head the Public Accounts Committee.

• Restoration of national and international confidence in the independence, integrity and quality of the judiciary with the establishment of a Judicial Appointments Commission and a Royal Commission into the two decades of judicial crises starting with the arbitrary and unconstitutional sacking of Tun Salleh Abas as Lord President and Datuk George Seah and the late Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh as Supreme Court judges in 1988.

• Full implementation of the 125 recommendations of the Royal Police Commission to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class police service to reduce crime, eradicate corruption and uphold human rights, particularly the establishment of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

• Immediate and unconditional release of the five Hindraf leaders, P. Uthayakumar, DAP Selangor State Assemblyman M. Manoharan, V. Ganabatirau, R. Kenghadharan and T. Vasantha Kumar from Internal Security Act (ISA) detention.

• Public inquiry into the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) bailout scandal, the biggest financial scandal in the Abdullah administration which is even bigger than the first mega financial scandal of the 22-year Mahathir premiership – the RM2.5 billion Bumiputra Finance Malaysia (BMF) financial scandal.

Malaysians expect clear indications of the position of the second Abdullah Cabinet on these five tests as to whether it is a Reform Cabinet or a pseudo-reform Cabinet in its first two working Cabinet meetings in the next fortnight.

* Lim Kit Siang, MP for Ipoh Timor & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman


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