Abdullah should issue a mid-term report of his “First Hundred Days” as fifth Prime Minister on the  pledges and actions for a clean, incorruptible and efficient  administration with  the people able to tell   him the truth

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(PenangSaturday): Today is the 50th day of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia  and Abdullah should issue a mid-term report of his “First Hundred Days” on  both the  pledges and actions  for a clean, incorruptible and efficient administration with the people able to tell  him the “truth”. 

It is understandable that in his First Fifty Days, there will be more pledges than actions but in his second Fifty Days as the new Prime Minister, his agenda and record  should be dominated more by action than  pledges for  a clean, incorruptible, efficient and people-friendly administration.  In other words, Malaysians should be able to look forward to Abdullah’s Second “Fifty Days” for Action, Action and More Action instead of Pledges, Pledges and More Pledges! 

Four things stood out in Abdullah’s First Fifty Days, viz: 

  • His commitment to lead a “clean, incorruptible, modest and beyond suspicion” administration;
  • His surprise visit to the Immigration Department to underline his call for an  end of red tape and bureaucracy,  the introduction of a people-oriented civil service and his message – “work with me, not for me”.
  • His call to the people to tell him the truth.
  • The postponement of the RM14.5 billion double tracking rail project which has threatened to become a full-blown trade war between Malaysia on the one hand and India and China on the other.

Although Abdullah has made a good start in his pledge for a clean and incorruptible government, such as proposals to establish a regional anti-corruption academy, a National Ethics Institute and Malaysia’s signing of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in Mexico last week,  it must be a matter of grave  national concern that up to now, he seems to “One Man versus the System” whether in Cabinet or the  government in trying to wipe out corruption and instal a new culture of political integrity with zero tolerance for corruption. 

Malaysians are entitled to ask whey the Cabinet had not been able to give 100 per cent support to Abdullah to declare an all-out war against corruption in the past 50 days of the new Prime Minister by taking at least four  measures: 

  • Leadership by example to the entire public service with Cabinet Ministers publicly declaring their assets and their  next of kin  to show that they have nothing to hide;
  • Adoption of a new meaning of the “Malaysia Boleh” spirit by declaring as a national objective to rank  Malaysia  among the world’s ten least corrupt nations instead of the present dismal 37th ranking of the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2003;
  • Be among the world’s first ten countries to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Corruption after 95 countries had become signatories to the Convention  in Mexico last week.  The UN Convention Against Corruption cannot come into force until 30 of the 95 countries which had signed it last week had completed the next process of ratification.
  • Set up a national  task force with representation from all political  parties and the civil society   to fully implement Malaysia’s commitments and obligations under the UN Convention Against Corruption, in particular to formulate and implement a meaningful  National Integrity Plan and System.

Abdullah needs a reliable group of advisers to let him know that there is a vast gulf between his promises and deeds of a clean, incorruptible and efficient civil service. This is best illustrated by Abdullah’s surprise visit to the Immigration Department, which was  more of a “Public Relations” exercise  than having any root-and-branch effect in  changing the mindset of the civil service, whether in the Immigration Department, the Home Ministry or the whole government as evident from widespread public complaints that little had changed in government red tape, bureaucracy, inefficiency and insensitivity in the past 50 days. 

Most serious of all, Abdullah is still prevented from hearing  the “truth” from the ordinary rakyat.   Although his statement that he wanted the people to tell him the truth came  like a breath of fresh air, there had been no perceptible change in the system of governance to encourage a free  two-way flow of information between the government and the governed. 

In  the past 50 days, the people have not been empowered to tell him the truth through  new era of  press freedom in Malaysia. If  the voices of the Opposition and dissent in the civil society continue to be suppressed in the mainstream media, whether printed or electronic, how can Abdullah hear the truth from the people? 

These issues are among Abdullah’s greatest challenges in his Second Fifty Days, which is why there should be a frank and honest reappraisal of his First Fifty Days as the new Prime Minister allowing for a full-scale public debate and review.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman