Friday, March 27, 2009

Pak Lah : No place for the 'old order'

Greater democratization in the way forward

Out-going Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi’s speech at the opening of the Umno Assembly was very apt and his advice on a wide range of issues should be taken seriously by all especially the incoming leadership party. Of particular importance was his warning against a return to the “old ways” of restricting the freedom of our citizen and by silencing criticisms.

Umno - BN is at the crossroads and it needs to act fast and decisively to regain its past glory. The direction it takes now will determine whether it can succeed and remain relevant in the future. It can either choose to return to the old ways of authoritarianism and repression to subdue criticism or allow greater space for democratization and dissent.

Do the incoming Umno president and the Prime Minister Datuk Seri NajibTun Razak and his team possess the wisdom to take the nation in the direction of the latter for greater glory, progress and prosperity?Their actions in the coming weeks and month will determine this.

Abdullah has rightly advised that if the party chooses to follow the old path of repressive measures it risked hastening the party’s demise. How can it regain the support by suppressing others and not changing itself? The old order described by Pak Lah is obsolete and must be rejected.

What is needed is to move forward with aggressive reforms towards greater democratization and allowing greater space for dialogue, debate and dissent. Despite the shortcomings Abdullah has undoubtedly allowed more openness in Malaysian society and can be credited for the possible evolution of a two-party system of democracy.It is a pity the he did not have political will and courage to complete the democratization process and has to leave prematurely.

The modern world today is so complex that no one individual or party,however powerful, will be able to lead effectively to overcome the numerous challenges that come our way. It needs the concerted efforts of all its citizens, regardless of race, creed or political ideology to succeed. Nobody’s contribution is too small to be ignored.

It is encouraging Najib has placed much emphasis on the need for change and reforms in his address to the Umno Youth and Wanita wings. We hope he will be able to implement his plans for such change towards greater freedom, transparency and accountability. In this endeavor there is a need to engage all parties in implementing the policies to benefit the people at large and to fight corruption and other ills that plague the nation.

It is time for the new leadership of Umno-BN and the Opposition to put aside their past animosity and adopt a more conciliatory approach towards each other in tackling the common problems facing the nation and the people. It is time for them, especially with the looming economic crisis, to initiate the dawn of a new era of cooperation and comradeship in the service to the rakyat.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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