Five priority tasks for Abdullah Badawi to establish his mark as the new
Deputy Prime Minister
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Yesterday,
I proposed five areas where Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
should give priority to give the Home Ministry a human face and start
the painful process to restore public confidence in the institutions of
I stressed that Abdullah should provide leadership and stamp a
new character and personality on the Home Ministry and not allow the various
departments in the Home Ministry to stamp their character and personality
Yesterday, after his first briefing with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri
Dr. Mahathir Mohamad since his appointment as Deputy Prime Minister, Abdullah
said the Prime Minister wanted departments under the Home Ministry to adopt
a more people-friendly attitude.
This is as good as an admission by Mahathir that the various departments
in the Home Ministry lack a human face. It would have been better
if the Prime Minister had realised this in the 13 years he had been the
Home Minister and had taken earlier action to stem the slide of public
confidence in various institutions of government. It is now
left to Abdullah as the new Home Minister to "humanise" the Home Ministry.
I hope Abdullah would take my five proposals on giving the Home Ministry
a human face seriously and with a sense of urgency.
Today, I wish to propose five areas where Abdullah can stamp his
mark as the new Deputy Prime Minister.
There is no doubt that as the fourth Deputy Prime Minister in the 18-year
Mahathir administration, Abdullah will come under great pressures
as everybody would want to see whether he could break the jinx of the three
previous Deputy Prime Ministers of Mahathir who were so near to the highest
political post in the country but which became so far.
Many Barisan Nasional leaders have remarked that Badawi’s choice as
Deputy Prime Minister was the reward for his "loyalty" to Mahathir.
But if "loyalty" is going to be Abdullah’s sole attribute as Deputy
Prime Minister, he will not be able to live up to the
high expectations of Malaysians in the new No. 2 in the country and the
surest way for Abdullah to disappoint Malaysians is for him to play safe
and become a pale shadow of Mahathir.
Abdullah must show that he has a vision of his own for the Malaysian
people and society, which can inspire hope among the new generation
In assuming his new appointment as Deputy Prime Minister, Abdullah
must introduce a fresh air in Malaysian governance and politics. There
are five areas which Abdullah should give priority to establish his
mark as the Deputy Prime Minister, namely:
Initiate a more consultative and participatory form of democracy, where
there is respect for dissent whether from Opposition parties or NGOs,
which will be an important step to address the grave crisis of confidence
afflicting the country and heal the deep wounds and divisions in the Malaysian
Introduce Parliamentary reforms to restore meaning to the system of parliamentary
democracy where Parliament becomes the highest legislative and political
chamber of the land, and not just a rubber stamp of the Executive, and
to uphold the doctrine of the separation of powers among the three branches
of government, namely the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary.
Protection and promotion of human rights in Malaysia. Although Abdullah
had made his mark as Foreign Minister in the last eight years, his greatest
failure in the Foreign Ministry is in the area of human rights, especially
in an era where the protection and promotion of human rights is universally
recognised as a legitimate concern of the international community.
It is a blot in the record of Abdullah as Foreign Minister that when the
world celebrated 1998 as the International Human Rights Year on the occasion
of the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948,
the Malaysian Government boycotted the celebrations. As Deputy Prime
Minister, Abdullah can now make amends by using his influence as the No.
2 in the government to ensure that internationally, Malaysia ratify
the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the
International Covenant of Social, Cultural and Economic Rights without
any delay, while internally, Abdullah should work for the repeal of repressive
laws like the Internal Security Act.
Spearhead a renewed campaign against corruption. The Anti-Corruption Agency
has suddenly become an insignificant department when only 18 months ago,
especially when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was Acting Prime Minister in June/July
1987, the Anti-Corruption Agency became for the first time in its 40-year
history as the most important and feared department in the country.
Provide leadership for Malaysia to enter the new millennium as a world-class
IT nation. In the past year, the country has lost its sense of direction
as far as its National IT Agenda is concerned, as evident in the most "unsmart"
launching of the Smart School project, which is one of the seven flagship
applications of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC).
*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary
Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member
of Parliament for Tanjong