Abdullah should sack Adnan as
Pahang Mentri Besar as a serious start in his second year as Prime
Minister to root out corruption and not just make strong policy statements
about fighting corruption
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament House, Tuesday): The relatively sober and down-to-earth statement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the Prime Minister's Department monthly assembly yesterday acknowledging that the "honeymoon period" for him was over and that the people would be less forgiving in his second year as Prime Minister for any shortcomings on his part and that of the government machinery is a salutary relief to the paeans of first anniversary praises and glowing reports in the mainstream media which in some cases bordered on sycophancy.
It would have done Abdullah’s premiership and place in Malaysian history as well as the nation greater good and service if the first anniversary of the nation’s fifth Prime Minister had been focused on a searching and dispassionate analysis as to why Abdullah had fallen far short of the sky-high public hopes and expectations for change and reform – or to use Abdullah’s own classic formulation, to eradicate the “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” Malaysian malaise right from the Cabinet and topmost government echelons downwards.
On Sunday, some 500 policemen were deployed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to “receive” former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim returning from medical treatment overseas when the first duty of every policeman and woman is to restore to 25 million Malaysians a crime-free society and their fundamental right to safety and security in the streets, public places and the very privacy of their homes.
The recent spate of crimes have shown that Malaysia is still a very long way off from becoming a normal country, where Malaysians can come out of their homes and go about their ordinary lives in safety and without fear; getting courteous, honest and efficient service in all government departments; fair, impartial and speedy justice in the courts; quality and affordable healthcare and education services; and a free, independent and responsible media.
The latest senseless killing in Kota Kinabalu yesterday of 47-year-old Elizabeth Wong Oi Chin, victim of brutal snatch-theft, is a tragic reminder that Malaysia has not become a safer country one year after Abdullah’s premiership – despite the establishment of the Royal Police Commission of Inquiry.
Wong is the third case of brutal and heinous snatch-theft in the past 12 days - on October 20, pregnant housewife Sanorfizah Saleh, 31, went into a coma after falling off her motor-cycle when two men on a bike snatched her handbag and kicked her machine, and a caesarein operation had to be performed on her while in coma to deliver her sixth son; while last Wednesday (27th October) hawker Wong Ah Kew, 57, fell into a coma after suffering severe head injuries in a snatch theft in Taman Midah in Cheras.
Five days before Abdullah’s first anniversary, Malaysia’s international reputation suffered a severe blow when the country dropped 18 places in the Third Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2004 by the international press organization, Reporters sans Frontier (RSF), from 104th last year to 122th position out of 167 countries – lower than Indonesia, which had caught up and outpaced Malaysia from last year’s 117th to 110th position.
It is most shocking that there had been no comment or reaction from either the Government or the mainstream media to the adverse press freedom ranking for Malaysia despite the change of Prime Minister, as if ignoring the RSF’s 2004 Worldwide Press Freedom Index can make it go away - an indication of the severity of the denial syndrome which is beginning to beset the present administration.
However, it is the comment of former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who said that “the quality of Umno delegates had declined” as reflected in the latest and worst phenomenon of "money politics" in the September UMNO party elections which should compel Abdullah to make the transition from just making strong policy statements about fighting corruption to have the greater political will to take drastic action against the corrupt, regardless of station or rank, without fear or favour.
As a first step, Abdullah should give the Pahang Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob the ultimatum of producing the proof to reveal the culprits he knew to be behind the money politics scandal in UMNO or be sacked as Pahang Mentri Besar and as a newly co-opted UMNO Supreme Council member to demonstrate the seriousness of his second year as Prime Minister to fight corruption.
Adnan had said on October 21 that he would not report any case of "money politics" in Umno, saying it was against “his principle” as he did not want “to hurt the political career of my friends”.
Abdullah must make it clear that there can be no place in his administration, whether as Mentri Besar or UMNO Supreme Council member, of any person who is prepared to countenance or condone corruption, as clearly demonstrated by Adnan.
In fact, Abdullah should go one step further and convene an all-party-NGOs roundtable conference to graduate in his second year as Prime Minister from making strong policy statements about fighting corruption to purposefully and aggressively placing Malaysia among the world’s ten least corrupt nations by the end of the Ninth Malaysia Plan in 2010.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman