Sunday, July 19, 2009

Repentance In Retirement : The Badawi Baffle

A very interesting behavioural pattern is emerging amongst the Malaysian politicians whilst in power and when they are no longer in power. Even prime ministers are not spared.

In Malaysia there are many repressive laws, legislations and stifling administrative procedures that are archaic and unworkable in a modern democratic system of governance.

Often we witness politicians within the ruling government, when called upon to state their views on these laws, governmental directives and administrative procedures, either support it openly or maintain a puzzling silence.

No matter what degree of public outcry, the response is akin to “you shout as much as you can, I am in power and I will decide the way I want it” seems to be the trend in response.

But once they find place in retirement, their views become somewhat perplexingly inconsistent to their earlier views. Suddenly they are now champions of human rights and fundamental liberties.

The recent comment by the former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is now a famous example that one can refer to, to drive home the point.

Badawi is reported to have said that the government must consider abolishing the Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows for detention without trial.He is also reported to have said that the draconian piece of legislation (introduced by the colonial masters) which has drawn negative views - should be replaced with a new legislation that allows for preventive detention and at the same time protects fundamental rights.

After years of living in fear of many repressive laws, Malaysians in general gave the biggest electoral mandate to Badawi in 2004 with hopes that he would bring all the necessary reforms consistent with the need for more democratic space in the ever changing social and political landscape of this country.

With the huge backing from the people, Badawi had this one golden chance to dismantle all unjust systems that were backed by unacceptable laws and place himself in the hearts of the majority of Malaysians, as the man who brought the promised reforms.

But alas, a golden opportunity, squandered.

Five years on, under Badawi, Barisan Nasional suffered the biggest electoral loss in Malaysian history. The loss was due to many perceiving him as unable to bring about many of the promised reforms that were announced when he took over from the previous prime minister.

However many still perceive that Badawi really wanted to make changes to better the country but he just did not have the political and personal will, stamina and courage to fight a long entrenched system of governance that has become a frothy cocktail of treachery, deceit, cunningness and dishonest personal survival of many within this system, be it political warlords or big boys of the bureaucracy.

Instead of Badawi getting the better of the system, the system got the better of him and he got sucked deep into the rabbit hole.

Now we have a new prime minister and the thought still lingers whether he will outsmart the system or otherwise.

Whatever the permutations are, one thing is certain and that is, the new breeds of voters are results oriented.

Announcements must be matched with delivery and promises are meant to be kept.

I do not think that the new generation of Malaysians, particularly the voting population, will pay much attention to rhymes of repentance in retirement.

(Note : In Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice follows a mysterious white rabbit into a rabbit hole to enter 'Wonderland', an absurd and improbable world inhabited by many strange characters - source - Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia)
By Augustin Anthony

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