Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Najib, Where Are You?

It has only been 10 weeks since the 13th General Election was concluded, but the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak who won with a fairly comfortable 44 seat majority in Parliament, appears to have completely lost his bearings.  The Government of the day, instead of seizing the initiative and giving direction to the country, is stumbling and fumbling from one controversy to another.

During the entire election campaign, Dato’ Seri Najib has presented himself as a reformist to all Malaysians, as the man who will make Malaysia the “best democracy in the world”.  However, Dato’ Seri Najib has been unable to put his own house in order with Cabinet Ministers split into 2 factions, one claiming no intent to repeal the Sedition Act, while the other still maintaining that the Cabinet has decided to repeal it.  The most obvious signal that the Act will not be repealed as promised is the fact that it has been used repeatedly over the past 10 weeks to charge political activists.

Then we have found Cabinet Ministers and Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties publicly squabbling over the tabling of the Adminstration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Amendment Bill 2013 which allowed for the conversion of an underaged child to a Muslim by a single parent.  This Bill is significant as it is the very first piece of legislation sought to be passed by the BN Government, which sets the tone and agenda for the 13th Parliament. The spat is also serious because the Cabinet has actually “approved” the Bill to be tabled, before the subsequent volte-face which proved to be a major embarrassment for the ruling party.  Throughout the entire heated controversy, the Prime Minister remained silent as a mouse.

While publicly calling for a post-election “national reconciliation”, the Prime Minister has failed to condemn the extremist elements in UMNO and BN, particularly via their mouthpiece, Utusan Malaysia for continuing to spew racist insults against the minorities, and inflammatory comments to incite hatred among the majority Malays.  Instead of defending the right thinking Malaysians such as the CEO of AirAsiaX, Azran Osman who expressed disgust over Utusan’s anti-Chinese stance, Dato’ Seri Najib allowed the unfettered demonisation of Azran as a traitor to the Malays by UMNO’s Members of Parliements.

When there is a crisis of confidence in the Royal Malaysian Police occuring with 10 deaths in custody within just 6 months, while violent crimes have become a norm in the cities, Dato’ Seri Najib has let the debate over the set up of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), as well as the reversal of his earlier reforms such as the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance (EO) rage unchecked.

Dato’ Seri Najib has let his new Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low fumble over the justification of Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) as opposed to the IPCMC.  He has let the new Home Minister, Dato’ Seri Zahid Hamidi go on a rampage in blaming the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance by Dato’ Seri Najib himself, for the apparent rise in crime.

The Prime Minister has called upon Malaysians to give him the mandate to carry out his promised reforms, and yet the reverse seems to be happening with Dato’ Seri Najib quietly conceding to the party hardliners.

And when Transparency International released the latest Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) report which indicated a severe deterioration on the perception of corruption by Malaysians in the country  from 49% in 2011 to 31% in 2013, Dato’ Seri Najib did not make a squeal.  This is despite the fact that the GCB is a Key Performance Indicator for his flagship Reducing Corruption National Key Result Area (NKRA).

He only let his Performance Management and Delivery Unit admit that the Government has not done enough to battle corruption and concede that “radical reforms” are needed. However, there are no “radical reforms” to be seen as measures to improve transparency and accountability such as the public declaration of assets by Ministers, open and competitive tenders for multi-billion ringgit privatisation contracts are rejected outright.

Malaysians are asking, “where is our Prime Minister?” The are beginning to wonder if he has gone into hiding to avoid having to confront the difficult controversies engulfing the country.  The nation is like a rudderless ship crying out for a leader to put his foot down, and yet what Malaysians are getting are fueding first officers in the absence of their captain.

We call upon Datuk Seri Najib Razak to pick up his courage and demonstrate his political will in ensuring that Malaysia remains on the path to reforms and transformation has he has promised.  The problems Malaysians face today will not go away quietly if he were to remain tongue-tied.  Instead he will lose not only the confidence of ordinary Malaysians, but even that of his own political party.
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