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The attrition, belligerence, confusion and drift in Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s administration is now complete with the sudden decision by Dr Rais Yatim’s decision not to contest the post of Commonwealth secretary-general without informing the Foreign Ministry


Press Statement  

by Lim Guan Eng



(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The attrition, belligerence, confusion and drift in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s administration is now complete with the sudden decision by Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Dr Rais Yatim not to contest the post of Commonwealth secretary-general without informing the Foreign Ministry or his cabinet colleague Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Syed Albar.  

Clearly upset, Syed Hamid expressed surprise and puzzlement at Rais’ decision to withdraw and the manner of announcement which should come from the Government and not from Rais personally. Syed Hamid was not ashamed to say that he only came to know of the withdrawal from Rais’ media statement. Such confusion is shocking and has only embarrassed the Malaysian government in the eyes of the world as neither serious nor committed to its international role and obligations(main-main).  

Rais’ decision may have wide political consequences because if Rais had succeeded in winning the Commonwealth Secretary-General post, he would have to retire from politics and give up his parliamentary seat in Negeri Sembilan. Many political observers that this was a face-saving tactic for Rais to allow UMNO Youth Deputy President Khairy Jamaluddin to take over Rais parliamentary seat. By refusing the Commonwealth Secretary-General post, such succession planning for Khairy is in total disarray. 

Abdullah’s close advisors led by his son-in-law Khairy, have been criticized by UMNO former President Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as controlling the Prime Minister until Abdullah is a mere puppet who reigns but does not rules. Such attrition warfare has continued unabated after the 2004 general elections that only came out in the open in 2006. 

The attrition is not limited to faction leaders within UMNO but also between UMNO and Gerakan bidding to take over the Penang Chief Minister’s post. UMNO Youth members shamed Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon by unfurling insulting banners in a public demonstration against Koh in front of the Prime Minister. No action was taken and Koh meekly submitted to such public humiliation by UMNO Youth. 

The belligerence between senior members of the administration is highlighted by tit-for-tat investigations between Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Johari Baharom and Inspector-General of Police for alleged corruption as well as the public spat between Works Minister Datuk S. Samy Vellu and Health Minister of who was at fault for the faulty and flawed designs of government hospitals.  

Samy Vellu even squabbled furiously with Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon in front of the Prime Minister. Such open and public squabbling displays the sad failure of the conductor in Abdullah to manage the orchestra of his Cabinet and administration to get their act together to work in concert as a cohesive unit. 

No wonder Mahathir has levelled the harshest attacks by labeling himself as a prime minister of Malaysia, unlike Pah Lah who is the ‘PM of his own family’. Pak Lah’s inability to counter Mahathir’s allegations or to dispel growing perceptions that his immediate family or coterie of advisors have unduly benefited from government largesse are therefore all the more painful. 

The greatest failure of Abdullah is the sense of drift and indecision brought about by his failure in the anti-corruption campaign, efforts to clean up the police force to make it more accountable or his reform agenda to improve the delivery system in governance. Up to now the recommendation of the Royal Commission of Police, particularly to set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, has not been fully implemented. Except for the political sloganeering of creating the ‘Towering Malay’ and Islam Hadhari, there have been no substantive achievements.  

Instead of getting down to work saving his administration, Abdullah is spending more time overseas and is now enjoying another holiday in Australia. The series of actions against bloggers is a desperate attempt by Abdullah’s government to cover up its fundamental failures and weaknesses as well as hide the ABCD of attrition, belligerence, confusion and drift in his administration.  

What can be more obvious than bloggers such as Raja Petra Kamaruddin and PKR staff member Nathaniel Tan investigated not for the content which they have been responsible for but for anonymous postings sent by other contributors? More curious is why the government dare not take action against opposition bloggers who admit to posting up fake photos? 

Clearly the latest directive gagging the media from publishing opposition to Malaysia being turned into an Islamic space and arresting bloggers in cyber-space would make for a gloomy celebrations of our 50th Merdeka celebrations next month. Celebrations marking our independence should make Malaysians feel free and liberated and not be subject to the confines of a police and an Islamic state.



* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP

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