Congrats to Abdullah as
new PM – but he may not have a political honeymoon as long as the
conventional First Hundred Days as Malaysians are eager to know what
changes are in store to address the failings of 22 years of Mahathir rule
best captured by his own critique of “First World Infrastructure, Third
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Friday): DAP congratulates Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on his being sworn in as the fifth Prime Minister today, taking over from Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad whose tenure as Prime Minister for more than 22 years and 3 months was almost as long as the combined terms of office of the first three Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn, i.e. over 23 years and 10 months.
Abdullah may not have a long political honeymoon such as the conventional First Hundred Days as Malaysians are eager to know what changes are in store to address the failings of 22 years of Mahathir rule best captured by his own critique of the nation’s “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality”.
Mahathir has undoubtedly catapulted Malaysia to “First World Infrastructure” status but at the price of pushing the country backwards in democracy and human rights and in undermining the vital institutions of state and society which are vital to provide the checks and balances to ensure the development of a healthy democracy and vibrant civil society, such as Parliament, the judiciary, the civil service, a free press, the police, anti-corruption agency, election commission, etc.
Mahathir’s repeated statement on the eve of his retirement that there would be no change of policy under Abdullah, which was echoed by Abdullah himself, must be viewed with grave concern by Malaysians, for they do not want to see a pale Mahathir clone but a new Prime Minister who could come out of the shadows of Mahathir to restore public and international confidence in the key institutions of state and society and the important principles of accountability, transparency, public integrity and the rule of law.
Abdullah had 16 months to mull over the defining characteristics of the premiership he wants to project and he has no excuses for any undue delay in announcing the policy changes he intends to introduce.
It would be a let-down if all he could hold out to Malaysians on his becoming the fifth Prime Minister is “more of the same” as in the past 22 years of the Mahathir administration.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman