Pak Lah’s Legacy? He doesn’t care?

This indeed so strange for a Prime Minister to say.  Pak Lah says he is not bothered with what people will think of him as the PM of Malaysia in the years to come.  Legacy is something everyone should be concerned about.  It is what the individual has done to make the world a better place.  What more a PM who has the power to make a lasting impact on Malaysia as a country.

Pak Lah made many election promises in 2004 which resulted him winning the most votes any PM had done so in the history of Malaysia.  During the four years, none of the reforms he promised which won him those votes materialized although they were much publicized for the wrong reasons like the Lingam scandal.  This year, 2008 March, four years later, Pak Lah again made history winning the least votes any PM had done so in the history of Malaysia.  Not only that, he also lost 5 states (Selangor, Perak, Penang, Kedah and Kelantan) and the KL Federal Territory.  That’s also the most territory a PM in Malaysia has lost, these being the most developed and richest states.

Is this the only legacy Pak Lah is leaving?  Winning the most votes and also the least votes in the history of Malaysia?

We are all hardpressed to think of any major contribution Pak Lah has done that can be called a legacy.  There were no outstanding or major constructions, developments nor reforms done during this period that Pak Lah has ruled and still ruling until next March.  Certainly, he has dismantled some of Mahathir’s legacy in postponing indefinitely or re-awarding some major projects set by Mahathir like the new scenic but crooked causeway to Singapore, the double track deployment to name a few.  And that sparked a continuous bombardment by Mahathir which is unrelentless.  Today, Mahathir smiles as Pak Lah prepares to step aside.

Some postulated that Pak Lah has allowed for more openness to public dissent of views resulting in the unprecedented used of Internet news and blogging as well as SMS that some attributed as a major cause of the BN losses in the March General Election.  This essentially meant that transparency and wide spread knowledge of information prevails as it can’t be controlled like the Main Stream Media which contributed to voters maturity in assessing both sides of the political divide.

Perhaps the sense of openness was Pak Lah’s style of letting people speak their minds to hear them out similar to him allowing those Supreme Council members letting out their candid retorts to Pak Lah in the last two historical Supreme Council meetings.  This was also apparent in trying to hear what the BN component party leaders will speak their mind so that Pak Lah can weigh the matter more clearly.

This seemed to be Pak Lah’s management approach, to listen and listen and each time he hears a good suggestion, advice or thought influences him to make a decision.  Then he continues listening and hears the alternative views which causes him to agree that it’s a better decision.  This makes him appear indecisive.  In fact, Pak Lah has never made any landmark decision that contributed to moving the country forward.  The lack of such decisions has led to a sense of flux in the country with no clarity in direction of policies of growth.  Case in point, raising fuel prices to historic high and then lowering it marginally with little regard to anti-inflationary measures and now resulting in broad impact on the people.

Koh Tsu Khoon even call Pak Lah the Father of Democratic Reforms.  What reforms has Pak Lah instituted, and which of them are considered democratic reforms?  We were introduced to Royal Commissions of which the recommendations were much talked about but never executed.  We hear of reforms but we don’t see the actual reforms.

On the day Pak Lah announced his decision not to defend his Umno President post, he also announced his intents to implement the much talked about reforms for both the Police as well as the Judiciary.  In fact, he outlined 5 major items to implement on October 8 in his press statement.

> ESTABLISHING the Judicial Appointments Commission to enhance the stature of the judiciary;

> ESTABLISHING the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission with greater powers of investigation and enforcement;

> ESTABLISHING the Special Complaints Commission to enhance the integrity and effectiveness of enforcement agencies;

> STRENGTHENING and enlarging the Social Safety Net to ensure aid to all, regardless of race and religion; and

> HOLDING a Barisan Nasional convention to improve inter-racial and inter-religious relations.

On October 11, he conceded that he won’t be able to implement them all.  MalaysiaKini reported here

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has conceded that he could not implement all the reforms that he had promised but vowed to do his best before stepping down as premier next March.

It’s always best to set the right expectations and then exceed them.  Never to set high expectations and don’t attain them.  Worse still is to announce lofty legacies and concede you won’t be able to achieve them before you even start.  Whoever is advicing Pak Lah is doing a horrible job and has done more damage by unbelievably poor PR.  And for Pak Lah to say he doesn’t care what people thinks of him?  The worst statement a statesman can ever make!  True he no longer cares about the electorate as he will not stand for elections ever again but as a PM and an elder statesman, he should care about how he has POSITIVELY impacted the country we all love and live in together.

However, one cannot help but admit that the recent use of ISA for Hindraf and the three personalities (two were subsequently released, RPK incarcerated for two years) has all but negated Pak Lah’s “positive achievements” of his PM career.  His poor handling of the Ahmad Ismail’s defiant racist overtones gave doubts in people’s minds that Pak Lah cannot rein in extremist Umno members.  His Home Minister’s waffling over the reasons of arresting the Sin Chew’s reporter by giving dumb excuses further undermined Pak Lah’s leadership or whatever is left of it.

Yes, it may be true that there appears to be more freedom for people to express their discontentment, disenchantment and disillusionment towards the government.  The fact that public debates are televised, online news and blogs spreading like wildfire, and allowing the opposition to raise their case publicly and get them heard by the people is perhaps not the freedom given by Pak Lah but the power of the Internet which is borderless and virtually uncontrollable as well as the momentum of public accountability demanded by the rakyat.

Yes, there is more freedom lately when parties can campaign publicly, also allowing Anwar to build his case and momentum publicly, are things which were never seen before.  Freedom is a double edged sword.  Giving freedom is also a double edged sword.  Can this be seen a Pak Lah’s legacy?  Veiled freedom with ISA looming to bite back when freedom irritates?

So, five more months and Pak Lah doesn’t care about his legacy?  Unbelievable!  Perhaps he has not the determination and is not about the time.  If there was a will to accomplish the five things he outlined, there will be a way.  But alas, is it because he knows that there’s no way to even start it and that there are insurmountable obstacles within Umno that won’t allow him to do so.  We will never know, will we?

Some has rebuffed his grand last stand to do something right for the country saying what he couldn’t do in the five years in prime power can’t be done in the last five months as a lame duck.  In fact, some even say that nothing can materialize not because Pak Lah is insincere but there is no political will around him to support this.  They are going to let Pak Lah leave his office in total embarassment.

So when March comes and Pak Lah steps down, we will still be left wondering what legacy he has left us with.  What great things did Pak Lah do for the country, for the people, for us all, as the shortest term Prime Minister of Malaysia?  Perhaps it’s not too late still.  Pak Lah may still be the Father of … something good.

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2 Comments to “Pak Lah’s Legacy? He doesn’t care?”

  1. I agree that Pak Lah should step down because he fail to realize his FIRST mission ie to eliminate the corruption but make the situation more worsen. But as a deputy PM, YB Najib should not take any responsible? Why ? I dont think as a Deputy PM has no power to influence PM? Then what for to have deputy PM. If YB Abdullah fail, YB Najib also fail because he fail to help YB Abdullah to manage the country well but make more corruption, wrongly use of power, economic worsen, and even cant control the racist, and need to apologize for him but still havent saiy anything.
    If YB Najib are not going to take responsibility of failing to help Pak Lah to manage the country, then we the citizen should take the responsible to be so stupid to choose BN.

  2. mahathir paklah takleh pakai

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