People of Penang should learn the lesson 22 years ago and support Abdullah as Prime Minister by ensuring that that they could “feel good” not only before but after the polls with a stronger DAP in Parliament and State Assembly to monitor the implementation of his promises of a clean, incorruptible, efficient and people-oriented government
- at the Bukit Bendera DAP Chinese New Year 2004 celebration
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Monday): Gerakan President Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik has at a Gerakan dinner on Saturday urged the people of Penang to give a strong mandate with a landslide victory for Barisan Nasional in the coming general election to prove their support for Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Keng Yaik said that since taking over as Prime Minister in less than 100 days, Abdullah had proved his mettle by advocating anti-corruption policies, declaring that Abdullah’s “winning formula has been to continue the mission of his predecessor”. (New Straits Times)
Is Keng Yaik saying that Abdullah’s pledge for a “clean, incorruptible, efficient and people-oriented government” is the same as the earlier pledge by his predecessor, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in his first months as Prime Minister 22 years ago for an ABC (“amanah, bersih, cekap”) administration – i.e. “clean, trustworthy and efficient” government?
If so, would Abdullah’s pledge of a “clean, incorruptible, efficient and people-oriented” government prove to be as disappointing as the ABC pledge 22 years ago, with government inefficiency, ineffectiveness, lack of accountability and transparency, corruption, financial scandals and public alienation increasing in the past two decades by leaps and bounds?
It is precisely because the “ABC” pledge of a new Prime Minister 22 years ago for a clean, efficient and trustworthy government had been such a let-down, with corruption and financial scandals increasing exponentially from millions of ringgit to billions and tens of billions of ringgit, that Abdullah has been able to generate sky-high hopes and expectations of change and reform in his first three months in office.
It is also because of such “feel good” factor among the people that Barisan Nasional leaders have become supremely confident that the “new Prime Minister effect” would be the single greatest factor to ensure a landslide Barisan Nasional victory in the next general election.
The people of Penang should learn the lesson 22 years ago and support Abdullah as Prime Minister by ensuring that that they could “feel good” not only before but even more important, after the polls, with a stronger DAP representation in Parliament and the State Assembly to hold Abdullah to his pledges and monitor the implementation of his promises of a clean, incorruptible, efficient and people-oriented government.
Twenty-two years ago, Mahathir was even more successful in creating the “feel good” effect among the people with his promise of an ABC government in his first months in office, as unlike Abdullah, Mahathir had to overcome the historic baggage of being regarded with reservation by the Malaysian Chinese as an “ultra” – which he had publicly admitted.
But the “new Prime Minister effect” was so powerful that Mahathir could generate the “feel good” euphoria among the people and lead the Barisan Nasional to a landslide 1982 victory winning five-sixth of the parliamentary seats, reducing DAP’s representation in peninsular Malaysia to only six MPs.
But the promise of a clean, efficient and trustworthy government as promised during Mahathir’s political honeymoon as the new Prime Minister 22 years ago was never fulfilled, which is why Abdullah’s promises of good government in his current political honeymoon as the fifth Prime Minister could strike such a resonant chord and raise such high hopes among the people.
However, as highlighted in the past three months, Abdullah’s call for a clean, incorruptible, efficient and people-oriented government is a lone voice without any concrete support from the rest of his Cabinet or the government.
Keng Yaik and other Cabinet Ministers have declared their lip-service support for Abdullah’s call for a clean, incorruptible, efficient and people-oriented government but they were the very same Ministers who had supported the policies of the past 22 years which Abdullah’s new policies are meant to rectify.
This shows that what is important to these Cabinet Ministers is to support whoever becomes the Prime Minister and not so much his policies – as they were just as prepared to support policies which had made corruption the cancer of Malaysian nation in the past two decades as to do a lip-service about-turn because of the say-so of the new Prime Minister.
If the people want to make sure that Abdullah’s pledge of a clean, incorruptible, efficient and people-oriented government will not be forgotten like Mahahtir’s ABC slogan 22 years ago, so that Malaysians can “feel good” not only before but also after the general election with the fulfillment of his promises, they must vote in a strong DAP representation in Parliament and the State Assembly to be a constant reminder to Abdullah of his promises – a role which can never be performed by the Cabinet Ministers or Barisan Nasional component parties.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman