Wednesday): The United States Secretary of State Colin Powell is to be
commended for raising the issue of human rights, the jailing of former deputy
prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar
Ibrahim and the Reformasi Six detained for over a year under the Internal
Security Act in his meetings with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir
Mohamad, Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Foreign
Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.
Powell’s reiteration that the United States government
maintained its position that the Anwar trial was flawed, as well as the
nation-wide disenchantment with the failure of the Federal Court decision on 10th
July, 2002 to redress the injustices done to Anwar, igniting anew a crisis of
confidence in the judiciary, should be a priority concern of the Prime Minister.
In his last 15 months as the fourth
Prime Minister, which would cover 22
years and 3 months if he steps down from the office in October next year,
Mahathir should give a completely different focus to his duties from his
earlier 21 years as Prime Minister.
Regaining electoral support for UMNO and Barisan Nasional
should not be his No. 1 priority – and this UMNO and Barisan Nasional agenda
should be left to his
successor-designate, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
His top priority in his final 15 months as Prime Minister
should be the national agenda to
clean up the ugly side of his over-two-decade long administration.
As Prime Minister, Mahathir has done great good but also great ill. In the next 15 months, his greatest challenge and responsibility should be to undo the harm he had done to Malaysian body politic, democracy and national unity and repair the deep wounds to the soul of the Malaysian nation in the past 21 years of his rule, to start the process of national reconciliation to return the country to normalcy and seriously embark on the road to build a nation founded on justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
Mahathir should take the first step in his last challenge as Prime Minister with the statesmanlike act of releasing Anwar from jail as so long as Anwar is in jail, Malaysia cannot return to normalcy or seriously embark on the road to build a nation founded on justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.