Sunday, April 13, 2008

One month after the historic verdict

"mahawiras" mahawiras@yahoo.com

One month after the historic verdict
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Can BN deliver the reforms promised?

It is already more than a month since the general elections. The people
have voted in the Barisan nasional(BN) into power but with a smaller
majority. They have opted for a stronger opposition in parliament to
provide a more effective check and balance of the ruling party. They
want a government that is more responsible, accountable and transparent
in all its dealings.

The other significant demand of the people is to do away with race
politics as demonstrated by the unprecedented success of the Pakatan
Rakyat which stood on a multiracial platform and pledged to champion all
races. The people could not tolerate the arrogance, high handedness,
abuse of the power and race politics that was so prevalent. In short the
rakyat rose above racial divide and voted for change, a change for
better governance.

The Opposition alliance seems to have responded positively to the
demands for change. It has recognized the aspirations of the people in
wanting all races to work together and has gone all out to forge that
inter-racial cooperation among them. They have set up a common
platform, the Pakatan Rakyat,to implement in unison all their
pre-election pledges. The various parties have amicably ironed out the
distribution of seat allocation at the various state assemblies, the
post of Opposition leader in parliament and even agreed to appoint,Datuk
Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the leader of the coalition without much hassle.

The people at large are happy with the Pakatan Rakyat so far but whether
this happiness will continue to hold is yet to be seen. The real test
will come when their initial euphoria of election victory is finally
over and are confronted with the hard issues that emerge in a
multi-racial and multi-religious country. This is particularly so in a
country that has been so accustomed to politics along communal lines all
these years.

The task is not easy but as Confucius says "A journey of a thousand
miles begins with a single step." At least we have taken the first step
now and our hopes for a better Malaysia have been rekindled. With a
committed Pakatan Rakyat and the support of the people I do not see why
we should fail to achieve what others have done so.

Over at the BN's camp everything seems to be going haywire. They
have yet to accept the verdict of the people. The MIC was given a fatal
blow by `Makkal Sakthi' and has been made totally irrelevant
with its leader still refusing to step down despite calls from his own
members. So are the Gerakan and PPP.The MCA is struggling to remain
relevant by trying hard to revamp its organization but with little
success so far.

These parties are desperately calling for a merger to form a multiracial
BN as they foresee their demise if they continue with their communal
politics. Their fate to a large extent depends not themselves but on
their,Umno. Is Umno in a position to come to their rescue? Is it ready
for multiracial politics? With its own internal turmoil can Umno find
the formula to connect to their Chinese and Indian partners in the
coalition?

Umno meanwhile is in crisis, undergoing a serious struggle for power.
The damage done at the polls appears to be minor compared to that being
done by the various factions trying to topple its leadership of Abdullah
Ahmad Badawi
, whom they blame solely for their defeat. Ironically even
his predecessor, Dr.Mahathir, who was largely responsible for laying the
foundation for BN's defeat has become the fiercest critic of
Abdullah, descbring him as being shameless and even referring to him as
"Sultan Abdullah Shah".

The main problem with Abdullah was his failure to initiate radical
reforms since he took office in 2003.The people gave him an overwhelming
majority in 2004 but he failed to capitalize on that mandate to
introduce that badly needed reforms. He allowed the ills of the Mahathir
rule to continue into his. He failed the people miserably by his
inaction to make changes. He continued with the policies and the leaders
of the previous regime that were detested by the people.

The people expected him to introduce changes to strengthen the judiciary
and make it truly independent, fight corruption, resolve inter-racial
and inter-religious disputes and make the government more accountable
and transparent. Not only he failed in these but he also failed to check
those who were abusing the system for their benefit and the benefits of
their cronies.

The people want change and reforms and the BN should implement them
without delay. Abdullah should get a new team that is more dynamic and
professional and start working on these reforms if he wants to survive
the onslaught by his critics from within and without his party. He
should go down to the grassroots, meet the people in all states
including those controlled by the opposition and put forward his plans
for radical change. It may take time for reforms to take effect but he
must be seen to be reacting to their demands.

He can start by offering an apology, on behalf of the government, to the
former Lord President and his colleagues who were humiliated. He should
act fast to form a judicial commission, give full autonomy to the Anti
Corruption Agency, grant more freedom to the media to highlight the
people's plight, form a high level task force to look into ways of
eradicating poverty regardless of race, release all ISA detainees and
take steps to repeal the draconian law, actively promote racial
integration by being fair to all and act against the `little
Napoleons' who are out to sabotage government policies.

It is sad that instead of getting together to make amends for the losses
and consolidating the party,Umno is bent on changing its leader. Instead
of giving Abdullah a time frame to set things right and step down they
are demanding he do so immediately. Will the departure of Pak Lah
overcome the problems of Umno and the BN?

If the present squabbles in Umno continue I am afraid that it will not
be able to continue leading the coalition effectively and there is real
fear that its partners will be forced to leave.Umno must get its acts
together to rejuvenate itself and the other partners if its coalition if
wants to remain relevant to the new generations of Malaysians. It is
timely for Abdullah and his Umno to seriously consider forming a
multiracial BN that would pave the way to create a two-party system that
will benefit all Malaysians.

Dr.Chris Anthony

*****.*****

Daripada Abu Umarah iaitu al-Bara' bin 'Azib radhiallahu anhuma, katanya: "Kita semua diperintah oleh Rasulullah s.a.w. untuk melakukan tujuh perkara, iaitu meninjau orang sakit, mengikuti janazah, menentasymitkan orang yang bersin, menolong orang yang lemah, membantu orang yang teraniaya, meratakan salam dan melaksanakan sumpah."

(Muttafaq 'alaih)

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