Is Mahathir’s speech at BN rally of “no policy change” under Abdullah tying the hands of his successor from initiating reforms to make Malaysia more democratic, accountable, transparent, competitive and humane?
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Monday): At the Barisan Nasional’s “Power Sharing” 50th Anniversary public rally at the Merdeka Stadium, Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad committed his successor, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to no policy changes when the latter takes over the premiership at the end of next month.
This was given front-page headline treatment yesterday, viz: “PM: No power struggle – Abdullah to continue with Barisan policies” (New Sunday Times) and “Support Pak Lah – Barisan policies will continue under my successor, says Mahathir”. (Star)
The question discerning Malaysians are asking is whether Mahathir is subtly tying the hands of his successor from initiating reforms to make Malaysia more democratic, accountable, transparent, competitive and humane?
Are Malaysians and the world being told that even when Mahathir steps down as the fourth Prime Minister after more than 22 years, governance in Malaysia under Abdullah will be “business as usual” as in the past two decades under the long Mahathir shadow?
This is a very pertinent question for undoubtedly, after more than 22 years of Mahathir rule, Malaysians are looking forward to change and a break with many past policies which cannot be defended from the standpoint of justice and good governance.
For instance, is Mahathir hinting that the government-business nexus which has given rise to serious allegations of cronyism, nepotism and corruption will remain basically untouched, except for the change of players? This is most disturbing, especially as Abdullah has not yet responded to my call for a clear policy statement as to what are the implications of the meteoric rise of Scomi as the top equity performer this year and involving his son, Kamaluddin Abdullah Badawi, who could have become RM430 million richer overnight, to his commitment and policies of accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance when he becomes Prime Minister.
Does the “no policy change” mean that Malaysia will not be taking any radical let alone revolutionary steps to combat corruption as Public Enemy No. 1 and that Malaysia will be content to occupy the lowly ranking in the Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index of keeping company with the corrupt and most corrupt in the world, instead of competing with Finland for the ranking as the globe’s least corrupt nation?
Does it mean that there can be no hope for major improvements in human rights, to move away from the arsenal of draconian and repressive laws to usher in a new era of democracy, the rule of law and press freedom?
Does it mean that Parliament will continue to be a “rubber stamp” of the Executive with no hope for parliamentary reforms to allow MPs a meaningful role to take part in the various stages of formulation of laws and policies – and that the parliamentary home-page will continue to be the most disgraceful website in the realm of Commonwealth Parliaments (the parliamentary website was down again during the weekend, demonstrating the stubbornness of the its webmasters to reject the 24/7 concept of making it available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year)?
Does it mean that Anwar Ibrahim will have no hope whatsoever of being released from jail and must serve his full sentence?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman