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Who is the boss in Cabinet – Najib or Abdullah?

Media Statement          
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Wednesday): I commend the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for countermanding the decision of his deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Razak to bypass the Cabinet and defer consideration of the Lingam Tape scandal, in particular the findings of the three-man Haidar Panel.

Yesterday morning, Najib indicated that the Cabinet would be by-passed when he told reporters after opening the 35th ASEAN Chemical Industries Council Conference (ACIC) that the Government will assess in a matter of days the Haidar Panel Report on the authenticity of the Lingam Tape.

Najib said: Yes (we have received it). I don't have time to look at the report yet (but) I would assess the report in a matter of days and I would discuss with the PM (Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) on what to do.”

Najib’s announcement had come as a shock for it meant at least two things:

• That the top Barisan Nasional leadership in government are living in a world of their own, without any sense of urgency and completely cut off from the primary concerns of thinking Malaysians, in this case over the worsening crisis of confidence in the independence and integrity of the judiciary which had been rocking the country for nearly two months with the explosive allegations of the perversion of the course of justice contained in the Lingam Tape;

• That the Cabinet is not only “half-past six” but completely expendable. It was not consulted when the decision to establish the so-called Haidar Independent Panel to probe into the authenticity of the Lingam Tape was made – when what should be set up should be a Royal Commission of Inquiry – and the Cabinet is again utterly irrelevant in the decision-making as to the next step to be taken after the submission of the Haidar Report.

If the Cabinet is by-passed on the Haidar Panel Report today, because Najib was too busy to read the report (it must be the thinnest and briefest inquiry report in Malaysian history), then the entire Cabinet should be censured for its irresponsibility and irrelevance.

This is why the announcement by the Prime Minister in Kuching last night that the Cabinet today will discuss the findings of the Haidar Panel on the Lingam Tape and countermanding Najib’s earlier statement is most welcome – as the Haidar Panel Report cannot wait a single day if the Cabinet is serious about Malaysia’s reputation and international competitiveness which is inextricably linked to the independence and integrity of judiciary and a just rule of law.

It has been reported that Najib will not be present for today’s Cabinet meeting but the more important question is who is the boss in the Cabinet - Najib or Abdullah.

The Cabinet will be seriously remiss in its national responsibilities if it evades or procrastinates in making a decision – and the least it could do is to immediately make public the Haidar Report as well as set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Tape allegations and the whole issue of the independence, integrity and quality of the judiciary.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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