Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nobody is a 2nd-class citizen:

PUTRAJAYA: No Malaysian should consider himself a second-class citizen nor feel sidelined or left behind in the nation’s progress, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

He said under his “1Malaysia” concept, every member of the public who was eligible, in need of help and aid, would be rendered assistance.

“Let it be known that all citizens of this country have their rights and responsibilities as outlined in the Federal Constitution. Citizenship is not only about one’s rights but also about responsibility towards the nation.

“No parties should be overly zealous in demanding their rights and forget their responsibilities as citizens of Malaysia,” Najib told some 5,000 civil servants Tuesday in his first meeting with them since being appointed Prime Minister on April 3.

In explaining his “1Malaysia -- People First; Performance Now” concept, the Prime Minister said Malaysia is a plural society and this was a reality that needed to be accepted by all.

Under this concept, it would be ensured that no Malaysian would be sidelined from getting the Government’s attention.

“As far as the Government is concerned, meritocracy does not mean equality that is awarded blindly. It means placing something at its rightful place.

“A child from an unpoverished family, whether from the city or a rural area, irrespective his ethic background, but has potential, also has the right to be assisted by the Government compared with his peers from well-to-do families who obviously have better education opportunities,” he said.

Najib however reminded everyone that while a fair playing field could be provided to all, the outcome depended highly on one’s desire, needs and desire to succeed in life.

The Prime Minister said the country was now facing two monumental challenges -- the short term challenge of facing the impact of the global financial and economic meltdown; and the long term challenge of reforming the economy based on a new model that emphasised creativity and innovation.

“It is hoped that the new economic model will act as a catalyst for Malaysia to boost its status from an upper middle income nation to one that is of high income in the near future,” he said.

Najib also threw a challenge to the younger generation, known to be critical of the civil service -- to be a part of it so that “improvements could be made from within.”

“While the monetary renumeration offered by the private sector cannot be matched, those who join the civil service sector can be assured of a high sense of satisfaction that is derived from serving the people and the country,” he said.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The X-factor in government

By JOCELINE TAN, THE STAR
TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad is back in the loop.

The invitations are flowing in again, his remarks are widely reported and a staggering 18 million visitors have been to his blog which he started only last May.

He caused a stir when he insisted that Umno should contest the Penanti by-election.

On Thursday, his view that a couple of politicians were not fit to be in the Cabinet was the talk of the town.

His remark about “friends of the foreign media” was another ouch! moment for those implicated. Those who had bitten the chilli felt the heat and complained that Dr Mahathir was at it again.

Actually, he is not at it again because he had never stopped. But for quite a while, what he said did not make it into the mainstream media, so it seemed as though he had been quiet.

Talking, as he had once said tongue-in-cheek, is his stock in trade.

The adulation that greeted his surprise appearance at Umno general assembly marked his return to the political mainstream. He was still a non-Umno member at that point yet he was feted like a returning hero.

“To me, he is one in a trillion. Now the party is complete,” said Tanjong Malay Association president Fadzil Shuib who had asked Dr Mahathir to speak at his AGM when people were still shying away.

There is a huge crowd out there who loves him and there are also those who love to hate him.

All this has led to talk of the return of Mahathirism which, for some, harks back to a more controlled style of politics and administration, or what political scientists know as guided democracy.

Dr Mahathir’s 22 years in power gave rise to a definite political culture and mode of governance. Some hanker for it, others are glad to have moved on.

But said Mahathir admirer Zakhir Mohamed: “People who treat Mahathirism as some sort of bogey are talking rubbish. To me, Mahathirism was about policies like Look East, Vision 2020, privatisation and Malaysia Inc. It was about big ideas and projects, bold decision-making, and the public and private sectors working to achieve economic growth.”

It is quite ridiculous to think that Najib would even think of trying to replicate Dr Mahathir’s political style.

Najib has been in politics 33 years and his first month in office has shown that he does not wish to repeat the mistakes of his predecessors nor will he ignore the good that has come out of their administration.

Dr Mahathir has said that he would not mind dispensing advice if invited. He knows that unsolicited advice can be taken as well as disregarded.

But the aura of the man is such that even if he is merely expressing his personal views in his blog, it is seen as no less than advice.

But he does not envisage a formal role and has said he is not interested in becoming Senior Minister or Minister Mentor as in the case of Singapore. He is shrewd enough to know that Malaysian politics is much more real and fluid than in Singapore and that it would not be accepted here.

There is a certain dynamics between the two men. They are not exactly friends, their age gap is too wide for that. Nor do they fall neatly into the mentor and mentee category.

However, there is genuine mutual regard and feeling for each other, maybe more so on the part of the younger man given that he is just starting out in a post that the elder man had been so unparalleled at.

Dr Mahathir had flown back from London so that he would be there to see Najib take his oath of office before the Agong. He sat stoney-faced through the formal ceremony but once the formalities were over, he beamed like a proud father. Some joked it was only then that the ever sceptical Dr Mahathir was convinced the power transition had happened.

Dr Mahathir’s sense of pride at Najib’s elevation was best demonstrated the next day when the former Premier, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali and their three sons and spouses arrived at the Prime Minister’s residence for brunch.

That was Significant Gesture No. 1 – Dr Mahathir was calling on the new Prime Minister. It was his way of saying that Najib had his blessing. Najib was waiting on the porch to greet Dr Mahathir. They shook hands, then Najib, taller by half a head, bent down to kiss Dr Mahathir on the cheek.

Then, to everyone’s amazement, Dr Mahathir held Najib’s head with one hand and kissed him back on the cheek.

These were not air kisses but lip-to-cheek contact. That was Significant Gesture No. 2 because as everyone knows, Dr Mahathir is not touchy-feely when it comes to non-family members. When he was Premier, he was notorious for pulling back his hand when politicians tried to kiss it.

The two families had a leisurely brunch, then Najib showed Dr Mahathir around the grounds. The highlight of the get-together was, of course, Dr Mahathir rejoining Umno. That he chose to hand in his application form the day after Najib became Prime Minister was Significant Gesture No. 3.

It was also a form of closure for Dr Mahathir after battling Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the key personalities around him the last four years.

There was also a poignancy to the moment. Dr Mahathir had left Umno twice. The first time he was expelled and, the second, in protest against Abdullah. Back then, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein had brought him back to Umno and now it was Razak’s son. These are bonds which cannot be underestimated.

Najib, said a political insider, is aware that Dr Mahathir supports him but, like a father figure, will not always praise him. Credit will come when it is due.

“I don’t think Tun expects Datuk Seri Najib to follow everything he says. He would want Najib to be his own man,” said the insider.

He did not hesitate to defend Najib recently when he slammed what he perceived as an orchestrated demonisation of Najib in the foreign media.

Prior to the Umno leadership transition being brought forward, Dr Mahathir had been frustrated and angry over Najib’s refusal to push Abdullah off the stage and had called him names to that effect.

But Najib did not lash back unlike some Umno politicians who were jumping on the bandwagon to criticise the elder man.

“He sees Dr Mahathir as an asset. His experience and world view is something money cannot buy and the PM would want to tap into that when needed. Even if there is disagreement, I can see the PM disagreeing without being rude or making Tun Mahathir feel hurt or sidelined,” said the political insider.

Najib’s deft touch in navigating the touchy ties between the two Tuns was evident in his winding-up speech at the Umno general assembly.

He paid a heartfelt tribute to the outgoing Prime Minister as the former Premier watched on from the gallery seat above. Then glancing up at Dr Mahathir, he said he was confident that Dr Mahathir in his heart of hearts had never really left Umno.

He said he aspired to stand alongside the two statesman but admitted with a smile that any meeting of hearts between the two men would take a while.

“I don’t see Datuk Seri Najib walking in anyone’s shadow. Tun Mahathir will give his views but the PM will not swallow everything and he will not be kurang ajar because he has too much respect for Tun,” said Juhaidi Yean Abdullah, a former ministerial aide and now a full-time restaurateur.

Dr Mahathir will remain a big factor to the new administration not because of the shadow of Mahathirism but simply because when he speaks, people listen. He is still a powerful voice.

The former Premier’s problems with Dr Mahathir had partly to do with the people surrounding him. Najib’s boon is that a large number of the people and staff around him are partial to Dr Mahathir.

This buffer group will help ensure that relations with the country’s No. 1 political icon stay as smooth as possible.

But the bottom line is that Najib is a polished politician and that will dictate his relationships with party elders like Dr Mahathir.

Roh questioned over corruption

SEOUL - FORMER South Korean president Roh Moo-Hyun will be questioned by state prosecutors this week in a corruption probe, a report said on Sunday.

Mr Roh has been summoned to appear in the Supreme Prosecutor's Office at 1.30 pm (12.30 pm Singapore time) on April 30, Yonhap news agency quoted Roh's attorney and former aide, Moon Jae-In, as saying.

The prosecution, which on Wednesday sent Mr Roh a questionnaire to help him to prepare for the interview, declined to comment.

Mr Roh, elected partly on an anti-corruption platform to serve from 2003 to 2008, has apologised for his family's links to the case, but denied his own involvement.

Jung Sang-Moon, a close aide to Mr Roh, has been arrested for alleged corruption. Prosecutors have also questioned Mr Roh's wife and son as well as the husband of one of Mr Roh's nieces.

Jung is suspected of taking millions of dollars from a wealthy shoe manufacturer, who has been arrested, and from other local businessmen for the benefit of Mr Roh's family.

Mr Roh complained last week that his retirement home on the southwest coast had been turned into 'a prison' after reporters probing the scandal besieged the property. -- AFP

In Perak crisis, frustration describes public sentiment

KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 — Tommy Thomas and Datuk Shafee Abdullah, two of Malaysia’s most prominent lawyers, turned a Bar Council forum on the Perak constitutional crisis into a courtroom today, debating fine legal points.

But it was Subramaniam Pillay, an unknown economist with social pressure group Aliran, who probably articulated public frustration over the power grab by Barisan Nasional (BN) which has plunged Perak into chaotic battle for control with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) that is being played out in various courts.

“I've absolutely lost hope in our current judiciary,” said the Teluk Intan native.

Subramaniam was referring to recent court rulings which appears to have ignored the doctrine of separation of powers and also constitutional provisions which say the judiciary cannot rule on proceedings of legislative assemblies.

“Give everybody a chance so everything is aired and then we come to a decision, whichever way it goes then the public will understand why the decisions were made and were not simply arbitrary decisions,” he said in commenting about the swiftness in which various legal disputes are being disposed.

“This is the perception of not just me but many Malaysians. We’ve lost faith in the courts. That’s bad because it has severe consequences to the economy.

“All this is bad for the economy of a country because it will deter foreign investments,” said the economics lecturer, adding it reduced the public’s overall respect for the law at a crucial time when the country needed to create a climate of stability.

However, Subramaniam also pointed out the Perak crisis was a “blessing in disguise” as it would ultimately benefit the public, especially Perakians, even though they may have lost the government they had voted in at last year’s general elections.

He noted a greater public awareness of their rights, which would force the political parties to buck up and become more service-oriented or face the voters’ displeasure.

He called for an overhaul of public institutions such as the Election Commission and the recently-created Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) and raised the idea of creating an Anti-Hopping law, to ensure voters get the last say in who represents them in parliament.

Of the three speakers, Subramaniam received the loudest applause from the audience.

This was despite the presence of the two stars in Thomas, a constitutional law expert who represented Perak Speaker V. Sivakumar in court recently and Shafee, a veteran lawyer who had previously acted for BN.

Thomas offered the forum an insightful view from the Speaker’s perspective.

He questioned the federal court’s haste in wrapping up the legal wrangling between the two political rivals without carefully considering the consequences of its decisions.

“In constitutional law, there is no doctrine of automatic dissolution,” said Thomas, pointing to a lack of description for such under Article 36 of the Perak Constitution.

He attacked the idea put up by BN on the need to resolve the legal dispute before May 7, its self-imposed deadline to avoid an automatic dissolution of the state legislature.

Shafee presented arguments from BN’s perspective.

He argued that the “crisis” proper began right after the general elections on March 8 last year, when DAP, PKR and Pas formed a “loose federation” to persuade the Sultan of Perak to allow them to govern the state even though BN had the majority votes in the Assembly as a “solid federation”.

He explained the present “crisis” arose only because PR refused to admit defeat despite the alliance having realistically lost its majority.

Shafee defended the court’s apparent hasty rulings as a “sarcastic” attempt to follow the new Chief Justice’s directive to improve the delivery of justice as many court cases had piled up over the years.

Idris feels Hishammuddin can resolve Terengganu crisis

KUALA TERENGGANU, April 25 — The appointment of Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein as the new Terengganu Umno liaison committee chief is good to resolve the crisis of confidence in Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said.

Former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said the appointment would also resolve the matter of appointing a Barisan Nasional state assemblyman as the co-ordinator for BN state assemblymen.

Idris, the Jertih state assemblyman, said this would also resolve the appointment of village development and security committee (JKKK) members that had been denied to state assemblymen by the mentri besar.

"I believe the party's administration would be better and organised," he said in a SMS note to Bernama today.

He was commenting on the appointment of Hishammuddin, who is also Home Minister, as the Terengganu Umno liaison committee chief by Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday.

On April 14, 10 BN state assemblymen refused to attend the state assembly sitting, citing threats to their safety.

Their actions were linked to threatening SMSs received by three BN state assemblymen of Permaisuri (Abdul Halim Jusoh), Paka (Zakaria Abdullah) and Ajil (Datuk Rosol Wahid) on April 13 relating to the political crisis in the state.

The issue is believed to have come about after the mentri besar made a statement that he would sack any BN state assemblyman who tabled a motion of no confidence against him. — Bernama

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Norza’s corruption case for mention on May 14

TEMERLOH: The Sessions Court here Wednesday fixed May 14 for remention of the corruption case of Federal Territory Umno Youth chief Datuk Mohamad Norza Zakaria.

Judge Azhar Che Yusof fixed the date pending the Attorney-General’s decison on the representation made by the defence.

Mohamad Norza, 43, faces two counts of offering bribes to two individuals to buy votes in the Umno elections last month.

On the first count, he is alleged to have offered Khadri Musa, through Halimi Kamaruzzaman, RM1,500 to be distributed to the delegates to vote for him for an Umno supreme council seat.

He is also charged with offering RM1,900 to Mohammad Anuar Yunus, also through Halimi Kamaruzzaman, for the same purpose.

Both offences were allegedly at Pinggiran Tasik, Taman Bandar Temerloh, at 6.30pm on Jan 20.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in jail and fine of not less than five times the amount of graft involved or RM10,000, whichever is higher, on each charge under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act. -- Bernama

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shouting spree after motion on Melaka CM rejected

MELAKA, April 21 - The Melaka state legislative assembly turned into a shouting match when an attempt by the opposition to call for an emergency motion, aimed to debate a vote of no confidence against Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam was rejected by speaker Datuk Othman Muhamad.

Goh Leong San (DAP-Kesidang) had submitted a notice to Othman last night calling for an emergency motion to discuss Mohd Ali's "tainted image" "lack of integrity" and "loss of confidence in the chief minister by the people", during the three-day sitting.

However, Othman said he decided to reject the motion because it did not fulfill all three criteria for it to be debated, although it did meet the first criteria, that of being a specific issue.

"There is no great urgency to table the motion because it is not a natural disaster - it is also not of public interest as the case had been settled by Umno," he said.

Goh meanwhile, said he was entitled under the House rules to at least read out the contents of his emergency motion.

He added that the motion was based on the perception of Mohd Ali's integrity and the loss of trust in his leadership by the people.

"This is because of his involvement in money politics in the recent Umno election which has affected his credibility as a leader, resulting in a loss of confidence by the people," he said.

This caused several Barisan Nasional (BN) backbenchers to voice their dissatisfaction, drawing a response from Opposition assemblyman that resulted in a 20-minute shouting match.

Othman later reminded the Opposition assemblymen that he had already made a ruling on the motion and requested the House to continue with the proceedings.

On March 17, the Umno Disciplinary Board headed by Tengku Tan Sri Ahmad Rithaudeen found Mohd Ali guilty of breaking the party Code of Ethics and barred him from contesting the deputy president's post during the Umno election.

The action was in accordance with Article 10.1 of the Umno Code of Ethics.

Meanwhile, Mohd Ali said he had told the Board that he was not involved in money politics but they (Board) had deemed him guilty and he had accepted the decision made by the party.

"This is an attempt by DAP to seek cheap publicity," he said. - Bernama

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Raja Nazrin defends monarchy against ridicule

KUALA KANGSAR, April 19 – The Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah today said he would take on the primary responsibility of implementing all efforts to ensure that the institution of royalty which was core to the system of governance and nationhood in the country would continue to be protected.

“An offspring will not allow the dignity and sovereignty of a ruler to be ridiculed. As such the people must be conscious not to be hasty to throw the lamp away, as daylight too will end. “Let it not be that as night falls, people grope about directionless, blanketed in darkness without a lamp,” he said at the pledging of loyalty and awards ceremony in conjunction with the 81st birthday of the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah at Istana Iskandariah here today.

He said the Malay rulers were not just symbols in the country but that the Malay Sultanate had an important role as the centre of strength for the people.

Raja Nazrin said the administrative system with Malay Sultanate as its core had been in place for more than 600 years and had succeeded in developing a great culture and civilization.

He said the wisdom of royalty aided the developmental process of intellectuality and from the palace emanated great works of art in writings.

“The Malay rulers are the symbols of sovereignty – the symbols of citizens’ strength – the umbrella for the country’s crown. The Malay rulers give identity to the nation. “People who understand the culture of monarchy, will understand the philosophy of royal administration, the role of rulers, especially the role and responsibility of holding up national identity,” he said.

He said the continuity of a race and the face of a nation depended on factors that gave it identity from the aspects of institutions, religion, culture and language.

“Actions of insulting institutions, ridiculing institutions, fermenting hatred towards institutions are early steps in the movement towards abolishing the institutions – therefore abolishing the original identity of the country’s race.

“During the Cold War, such steps came from groups who held on to left-wing political doctrine and were categorised as subversives.

“In the name of the Cultural Revolution in China and communist indoctrination in Cambodia and Vietnam, children were incited to extreme levels, hating and making enemies of their own parents; religious leaders were criticised and places of worship destroyed; some places of worship turned into places to breed animals; leading to anarchy that had to be paid with lives and blood; and the social fabric destroyed,” he said.

Raja Nazrin said the world now faced waves of globalisation – waves that hit all borders – to break down cultural walls and possibly drowning national history.

He said the younger generation which was being hit by the globalisation waves should be wise to balance claims of tradition and demands of modernity.

He said there were some who believed that to progress, focus must be on a progressive culture and they said that traditions and history would cause backwardness in a static culture.

“Globalisation actually brings waves of new colonialism to drown the traditions of a country, wiping out original identity.

“People must be aware that not all that is traditional hinders progress as tradition that is interpreted wisely and intelligently can function to bring progress.

“The cultural elements that have been factors of unity till this day are priceless social capital that should be defended,” he said.

Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and three others headed the the list of 800 recipients of awards and medals in conjunction with Sultan Azlan Shah’s 81st birthday. – Bernama

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Numbers not important, effectiveness is

KUCHING: Barisan Nasional component parties should not be harping on whether they were well represented in Cabinet but should be more concerned about the effectiveness of the ministers appointed.

Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) deputy president Datuk Abang Johari Tun Abang Openg said although his party was disappointed that it only has one full minister in the new Cabinet line-up, it respected the decision of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“We had expected more but what is important is the effectiveness of the ministers.

“If you put ministers there who cannot work, there’s no point,” he told reporters after presenting offer letters to recipients of houses under the Rumah Rakyat Mesra programme at Wisma Sultan Tengah here Tuesday.

Barisan component parties unhappy with their representation in Cabinet should realise that the appointment of ministers and deputy ministers is the Prime Minister’s prerogative, he added.

PBB is represented by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah, Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim, Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Abdul Taib and Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Fadillah Yusof.

Abang Johari also said it was important for the Cabinet to ensure an efficient delivery system of projects and policies to benefit the people.

“As the Prime Minister said, it’s about putting the people first and not about making us ministers,” he said.

He added that Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal’s appointment as Rural and Regional Development Minister would be advantageous to Sabah and Sarawak as he knew the needs of the two states.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dr M backs new PM

TAIPING - TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad has openly given his approval to new Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, saying that the current government was for the people.

The former prime minister said his confidence in Mr Najib grew following his willingness to get up close and personal with the people by meeting the masses on his second day as Prime Minister.

'I have full confidence that Datuk Seri Najib can address the problems in the country. I am also confident that he will take Malaysia to new heights benefiting all the races in the country,' he told a crowd of thousands at Dataran PPP near here on Monday.

Speaking to reporters after attending a luncheon with civil servants and the business community here, Dr Mahathir said he would not accept any position in the Cabinet, including as Senior Minister, if offered.

'No, no, no. No position in Cabinet. No position at all,' he said, adding that he would just be sharing his experiences of running the government with the new leadership.

Dr Mahathir also hit out at critics who labelled Mr Najib's leadership as a return to Mahathirism. 'What is wrong with Mahathirism? The country developed in its 22 years under Mahathirism,' he said.

Asked if he would continue to be critical of the Government, he said he would only do so if the Government under performs. 'In the past, when the Government did not perform, I criticised. I also criticised myself. That's my habit,' he said.

Dr Mahathir was also asked if his son Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin should be in the Cabinet. 'I'm biased towards my son, so it is wrong to ask me,' he said.

He also hoped that Umno members who had left the party would return to the fold.

'Times has changed. The Government today is truly for the people. So I am urging those who had left Umno, please come back,' he said, adding that the present administration was taking steps to address the people's unhappiness. -- THE STAR/ANN

Friday, April 3, 2009

A story of countless missed opportunities

“Thank You, Pak Lah” is the title of The NST Supplement (April 2, 2009) to mark the end of another era in the history of our country. Badawi leaves office on April 3 and hands over the premiership to Najib Tun Razak. The government controlled daily published articles by individuals who are favorably disposed towards the former premier.

These articles are in general complimentary, bordering on sentimentality, romanticism, and sycophancy. Talk about foreign policy, for example, when we know he has no policy at all. Just ask those who have served him in Wisma Putra when he was Foreign Minister, and they will tell you that he spent most of his time holding court for his political supporters, not on building our relations with the rest of the world.

I have been very critical of the man, his politics and so-called policies, not so much because I am a member and a keen supporter of Anwar Ibrahim’s Parti KeADILan Rakyat and Pakatan Rakyat that he leads. My disenchantment with Prime Minister Badawi is because he lost a unique opportunity to make a difference to our country. His is a story of countless missed opportunities.

In March 2004 (on nomination day), I went to Jitra in Kubang Pasu Parliamentary constituency to support Johari Baharum of UMNO- Barisan Nasional against a PAS candidate, because I was taken up by Badawi’s Election Manifesto. Because of his election promises, I said to myself that he deserved my support. Most Malaysians agreed with me and Badawi won a resounding mandate and decimated the Opposition, even outperforming his predecessor, Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, in terms of voter popularity.

Over the years since that historic victory, Badawi showed us that he lacked the leadership qualities and resolve or grit needed to carry out his election promises and in 2008, his political fortune took a nose dive and UMNO-Barisan Nasional was hit by a political tsunami, losing 5 states and the 2/3rd majority in Parliament. Badawi lost all credibility and goodwill he had. Eventually, he succumbed to pressure from UMNO to step down.

Malaysians, without any prompting from Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, saw that Badawi was ”long on talk and short on action”. He came in with bang and is now leaving with a whimper, probably remembered in our historical annals as the Prime Minister who blew the opportunity to bring about reforms he promised the nation.

On April 3, he hands over the fate and future of our country to a successor who is surrounded by scandals and allegations of corruption and abuses of power. Najib Tun Razak is very unpopular and most people believe that the new Prime Minister will likely resort to political repression and suppression of all political opposition to maintain his legitimacy.

In 1969, when I was a graduate student in Washington D.C. I remember that when President Lyndon Baines Johnson, the most unpopular President of that period (because of the Vietnam War) handed over his job to President Richard Nixon, I saw billboards in the Washington Beltway with “Thank You, Mr. President and May God Bless You”.

In keeping with that spirit, I say to Badawi, “Thank You, Mr. Prime Minister”. For all his errors of commission and omission, Badawi truly deserves our respect as our elected Prime Minister, at least for “trying his best” (!). God bless you, Mr. Prime Minister and Datuk Seri Utama Jeanne Abdullah!

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Din Merican, a former central banker, diplomat, regional director for Sime Darby Group, member of Anwar Ibrahim’s KeADILan’s back room team, and now a prominent Malaysian DJ blogger.