KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 – On the eve of the prime minister’s first 100 days in office, Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said tonight that Malaysians should evaluate 1 Malaysia against issues like “the fact of constitutional failure in Perak” and “the stench of corruption” in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project.
Tengku Razaleigh, who made an unsuccessful bid to contest the Umno presidency, also asked Malaysians to consider the “cynical political plays on racial unity against assurances that national unity is the priority,” when judging the Barisan Nasional (BN) government elected into power last March.
The former finance minister also gave short shrift to the PM’s economic reforms, and argued for a “Malaysian New Deal” without race based considerations in order for the country to be talent-driven and competitive.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak marks 100 days in office as prime minister tomorrow. In that time he has put in place reforms in the capital markets and released a number of Internal Security Act detainees.
But he has also presided over a major crackdown on dissent while the Perak power grab saga continues to be played out.
In recent days, one of his most ardent backers Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also began to criticise the current government, particularly on the reversal of the policy to teach science and mathematics in English.
Speaking to public relations consultants at a dinner here tonight, Tengku Razaleigh pointed out that the current government was elected into power on March 8, 2008, and not 100 days ago.
He also argued that Najib had effectively been in power since last year when Tun Abdullah Badawi’s departure schedule had been announced.
“The issues before the present BN government are not transformed overnight with a change of the man at the top,” he said.
In a scathing criticism of the BN government, he cited the recommendations made in 2004 by the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operations and Management of the Police and pointed out that despite the allocation of RM9 billion as a result of the panel’s conclusion, “there has been no dent on our crime problem.”
“Security is about more than just catching criminals out there. It is also about the integrity of our own people and processes.
“It is above all about uprooting corruption and malpractice in government agencies, especially in law enforcement agencies,” he said.
The key recommendation of the panel, he pointed out, was the formation of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, but it had been shelved.
Citing another example, he said the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam video clip “might as well have not been conducted” because its findings had been completely ignored.
Tengku Razaleigh said that Malaysians should start trusting “less in personalities and more in policies.”
“Look less to politics and more to principles, less to rhetoric and more to tangible outcomes, less to the government of the day and more to enduring institutions,” he said.
In his speech, the former finance minister also spoke at length about the country’s affirmative action policies, the NEP and how he felt embarrassed that after 50 years of independence, “we are still talking about bringing Malaysians together.”
“Curiously, although the policy was formulated … for a finite period, in our political consciousness it has grown into an all encompassing and permanent framework that defines who we are.
“The NEP ended in 1991 when it was terminated and replaced by the New Development Policy, but eighteen years on, we are still in its hangover and speak confusingly about liberalising it.”
He said that it was a crushing indictment of the mediocrity of leadership that the NEP is considered sacrosanct and that departures from it are big strides.
“The NEP is over and we have not had the courage to tell people this.”
In a veiled attack against his own party, Tengku Razaleigh pointed out that the NEP had been systematically appropriated by a small political and business class to enrich itself and perpetuate power.
“We must break the stranglehold of communal politics and racial policy if we want to be a place where an economy driven by ideas and skills can flourish.
“We can do much better than cling to the bright ideas of 40 years ago as if they were dogma, and forget our duty to come up with the bright ideas for our own time.
“We need a Malaysian New Deal based on the same universal concerns on which the NEP was originally formulated, but designed for a new era.”
The Umno veteran also called for a fair and equitable political and economic order, founded on equal citizenship which he said was the only possible basis for a united Malaysia and a talent-driven economy.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
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