Abdullah may not be the greatest prime minister this country ever had, at least he has given Malaysians more freedom to express themselves without fear of being incarcerated.Malaysians are now bolder than before to go on the streets and show their displeasure at the government.
How many people have Abdullah sent to ISA detention other than the Hindraf 5 ? How many have Mahathir detained under the ISA during his time? Incredible as it may sound, some of those locked-up by Mahathir are still in prison, forgotten by society, because the families are just too poor and helpless to bring their appeal to the authority.Unless you are a famous political figure or someone known to the public, you would be forgotten and unforgiven.
The blogging fraternity is a stark example of the huge difference in freedom Malaysians have now than before to criticise the leadership and the government.
Abdullah has taken in his stride many of the unfair criticisms and slighting remarks on his personality.Just go to any of the popular political blog and you would find unsavoury language used by blog readers on the Prime Minister and his family.
I do agree there are certain weaknesses in his administration but these are not insurmountable problems and given time I believe he could mend those weaknesses. Mahathir's first term in office was also a period of trail and error.
Part of the problem leading to the unprecedented losses at the recent polls was Mahathir himself.His constant harping and attacks on Abdullah's personality have had great impact and influence on voters' mind.The demoralisation in UMNO was attributable to his unrelenting and malignant attacks on Abdullah.
Mahathir, although out of office, still wields significant influence in UMNO and part of the populace.This can be seen from the popularity of his blog.It is the fastest growing blog in term of readership with over 2 million hits since its inception a few months ago. If one cares to look closely at the readers' sycophantic comments in his blog, it is obvious most of those who came to his blog are readers who are in their early youth, those who knew only one prime minister from adolescence.They grew up under the golden years of Mahathir's rule and have not known any form of hardship and would assiduously oppose any fundamental change.
Many Malaysians have fallen victims to the mud-racking campaign of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad.They forgot that Mahathir had 22 years whilst Abdullah had only less than 5 years so far and under very trying conditions.
Many of us have forgotten that when Mahathir first came to power he was also a green horn in the world of commerce and had experimented with all sorts of things.His 'Look East' policy and his dreams of building Malaysian version of the Japanese model of the 'sogo sosha' was a complete failure costing taxpayers millions of ringgits and his close friend Abdullah Ng in prison for criminal breach of trust.How many financial scandals and bank failures were there during his time? How many bail-out were there using Petronas money?The BMF scandal that ended up with the murder of a bank officer and the bail-out of Bank Bumiptra was during his time.The steel mill Perwaja which was losing huge amount under bumiputra management which he eventually handed over to his good friend Eric Chia whom he thinks is a wiz-kid and can do a better job, eventually lost even more money through corruption.Eric Chia was charged and brought to court for corruption.He was later acquitted of the charge.It was reported Chia died yesterday morning in his sleep at his own hotel.
The huge forex losses at Bank Negara was a mind-boggling financial adventure. The giving of huge projects to cronies that went down the tube would be hard to list out here.The building of the Petronas Twin Tower and Puterajaya are showcases of his extravagance and megalomania.
Some of the scandalous financial expeditions during his time are shown below:
1.Bank Bumiputra and BMF scandals in early 1980s costing the nation over RM2.5 billion in losses and ended up in bail-out by Petronas and the murder of the bank's officer investigating the case.
2.Attempt to corner the tin market in the 1980s costing the taxpayers in the region of RM1.6 billion.
3.Forex speculation in 1990s costing Bank Negara almost RM30 billion.
4.Perwaja losses of RM2.56 billion.
5.Billions paid to IPP(Independent Power Producer) for unused and overpriced power generation.
6.About RM10 billion spent to shore up the stock market.
7.A ridiculous amount of RM2.2 billion spent on information and computer technology to teach Maths and Science in English.
8.Billions spent in bail-out of MAS twice during his time.
9.Amount of RM3.2 billion spent to bail-out Star-LRT.
10.Scandalous losses of RM1.0 billion at Bank Islam.
11.Annual expenditure of RM500 million spend on so-called National Service which are merely badly-run holiday camps some with high mortality rate.
The above list is not exhaustive, there were many more below the tip of the iceberg.
The awarding of huge government projects at highly inflated prices to cronies and party members to buy patronage is humongous.Some of the projects were sub-contracted so many times, there weren't enough profit left for the final contractor to make money, who had no choice but to cheat, using sub-standard materials and work to cut costs and what do you get, sub-standard and dangerously built buildings and highways and abandoned projects which incurred additional costs to rescue.
Just take a look at the divisional heads of UMNO branches.See how filthy rich they are.They fought tooth and nail to be divisional head, it's a shortcut to the bounty and instant wealth.
After the President and Supreme Council this is the third most powerful position in the party, even ministers have to kowtow to them during elections time.The politic of patronage and money politics started during Mahathir's time.He closed his eyes and pretended not to see the goings-on.
I wouldn't doubt Mahathir's contributions to the building of this nation and successfully brought it to what it is today.It could have been better if he had been less autocratic and more frugal in financial management.As much good that he has done he has also rendered some very unpleasant flavouring to the politics of this nation.
Since he handed over power to Abdullah and the shelving of his pet projects he has gone on a rampaging war path against the Prime Minister.His fulmination of Abdullah is expression of his deep-rooted anger of his feeling of being played out and decided that Abdullah must be punished severely for the broken promise.If Abdullah had built the crooked bridge and not cancelled the double-tracking railway , we would see different 'wayang'(shadow play) being played out by him.Mahathir's criticism of Abdullah can be likened to the 'pot calling the kettle black'.
Other than being awkwardly inconsistent, dozing off at parliamentary sittings and flip-flop if you like, many of the fashions of the government being used today were inherited from Mahathir.The only big mistake Abdullah made was to open the flood-gate and let Malaysians speak out more freely.
Dozing off at parliamentary sessions is a natural phenomenon in many countries, but many Malaysians made a big play out of it to ridicule Abdullah.
Because of public perception created by Mahathir's relentless attacks that Abdullah is incapable, flip-flop and not fit to be a prime minister, some segment of our society had become judge and jury and have passed sentence on the Prime Minister. Journalists who has agenda against him were quick to snap pictures of his slumber.
Winston Churchill was known to have taken cat-naps during meetings of his War Cabinet and had, for all the cat-napping he took, turned out to be one of the greatest prime ministers Britain ever had. During the same period Theodore Roosevelt, a paraplegic, was President of United States and ran the nation from a wheelchair.These two men and to some degree Stalin of Russia had saved the world from total hegemonic control of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.So cat-napping may not be so bad after all.For some people it may be the only way they can re-charge their batteries.
Beleaguered Abdullah's attacks came from all fronts, from Mahathir and disenchanted UMNO members,Anwar Ibrahim and his oppositions partners and from some segment of the population who have bought Mahathir's and Anwar's story.
Most people would have thrown in the towel.Abdullah has steadfastly stood his ground against all odds.The many predictions that he would fall sooner than later have not materialised.
Anwar Ibrahim's perennial claims that he would be taking over the government had so far come to naught.Lot of talk but didn't have the guts to start the ball rolling by using his own PKR MPs to bring a motion of no confidence against Abdullah. He had instead approached Yong Teck Lee for help to demolish Abdullah, which have back-fired badly.His next dateline is not later than September 16, if he failed, he has to put his foot where his mouth is.
So far Badawi has managed to temper the would be rebels in his own party and calls for him to resign has quieten down and it looks like the other components in the BN are heading the same way.
Will Badawi survives the full term?
To be continued