Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Let's move foward

Stop bickering and move forward

I refer to NST says: Get on with the job” (NST,April 26)

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. We have an ideal situation in parliament with BN forming the government but with a stronger opposition to provide a more effective check and balance of the ruling party.

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. Are the parties responding rightly to the demands of the people?

The opposition alliance seems to have responded positively to the demands for change. It has recognized the aspirations of the people in wanting all the races to work together and has gone all out to forge that inter-racial cooperation among them. Despite the vast differences in ideology among them, they have come together because that was what the people wanted. They have set up a common platform, the Pakatan Rakyat, to implement in unison all their pre-election pledges. Whether their unity will stand the test of time is yet to be seen.

On the other hand there is a great deal of chaos in the BN camp. The MCA,MIC,PPP and Gerakan have suffered severe losses and are at the verge of becoming irrelevant. They 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 Umno,the dominant partner in BN.

Meanwhile there is turmoil within Umno with a free-for-all 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 Datuk Seri 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.

The various factions in and outside Umno are bent on forcing Abdullah to step down .They are demanding, at times rather rudely, that he step down immediately. Abdullah’s assurance that he is willing to hand over power to his deputy, only after he sorts out the chaos in his party should be appreciated by all. It would be wrong and irresponsible of him to push over the problems of his doing to his deputy like the way the problems of his predecessor were thrust onto his shoulders which he is still unable to undo.

The losses at the recent elections have humbled the Prime Minister into accepting the blame for those losses. His admission that the public perception of BN today as ‘a party that is arrogant and corrupt’ is a sign of that humility which should be an example for all politicians. Unfortunately the election losses haven’t had much effect on many of his party members and stalwarts who are still not willing to accept the people’s verdict. They are bent on changing the leader instead of actively striving to introduce the much needed reforms in the party and government as demanded by the people.

Now that he has said he wants to defend his post as Umno president, he should be allowed to do so and not forced to step down now by any quarters for their own interests. Anybody wanting to challenge him should be free to do so in accordance with the party rules. It is only right that the party members be allowed to elect their president at its Annual General Assembly in December.

While waiting for the peaceful transfer of power, Pak Lah should be serious and waste no time in implementing the badly needed reforms for better governance; greater accountability and transparency, fighting corruption, judicial integrity, freedom of expression, a professional police force, abolishing the ISA and other repressive laws, revamping the education system, greater racial and religious integration and ensuring a fairer socio-economic system for all Malaysians.

The nation has been without a proper government for too long.If this is not checked quickly the nation will have plenty to lose.All parties must stop their bickering immediately and work to fulfill the desires of the people.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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