While many other media organisations are focusing on the performance of the five Pakatan governments in their first hundred days after the 8 March general election, our special correspondent looks at the report card of the Barisan Nasional coalition.
The government-controlled print and electronic media are literally dying, in more ways than one, to produce a Report Card on each of the five Pakatan-controlled states. Though it is tempting to produce a Report Card on the BN’s 50-year reign as the Federal Government, we shall desist from doing so but confine ourselves to making available to the public the current BN government’s 100 days so as not to be cruel to them!
Talking of Report Cards to evaluate the performance of State and Federal Governments and politicians, Kah Huah prepared one on Karpal Singh and himself for the last election campaign period and foolishly tried to pass it off as an evaluation by the Residents’ Association of Island Glades. As expected, he gave himself a generous range of Distinctions as against Karpal’s many “Extinctions”! As it turned out, Karpal came out distinguished at the polls while Kah Huah apparently suffered the karma of being extinguished for his sin!
Jokers and jokes aside, many people wonder how the evaluation of a politicians first “100 days” came about. Other sectors too use the same yardstick. In history, after his defeat at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, Napoleon was imprisoned on the Island of Elba in the Mediterranean. He escaped and had a free run of freedom to regroup his forces and, after exactly 100 days, fought the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Verily, he met his Waterloo. The 100 days of Napeoleon’s freedom came to be famously called “Napoleon’s 100 Days”.
We have chosen the following 13 areas comprising the economic, political and social life of the country for evaluating the performance of the BN government’s first 100 Days’. Incidentally, 13 is the PM’s lucky number.
1. Political stability and good governance
Neither of these has been achieved, given the internal dissension within Umno, MCA and Gerakan. In desperation to marshall Malay support, Umno is resorting to fallacious, indeed dangerous, claims that non-Malays are grabbing political power and therefore pose a serious threat to ketuanan Melayu, Malay polity, supremacy and hegemony. To this, they have now added another sin committed by non-Malays – questioning the rights of Malay rulers! Years of blatant neglect of Sabah and Sarawak cannot be righted, so Sabah and Sarawak have begun to rock the political boat. Add the Anwar factor to these problems and you have a perfect recipe for instability, which is affecting FDI.
2. PM’s performance
The PM’s performance has been perceived to be pathetic on all fronts. Even within influential Umno circles he is perceived as very weak. His promised reforms such as an independent judiciary, a more effective ACA, etc. and a determined attack on corruption have all been relegated to the backyard as he is busy fighting for his own political survival within Umno. His choice of Cabinet members seemingly reveals a lack of IQ and wisdom. With so many characters – discarded, discredited or disgraced – such as Tan Sri Muhammad, Tengku Adnan, Azalina, Hishamuddin and Nazri, what hope is there for a dynamic government that is accountable and transparent?
3. The performance of the Cabinet
With so many tainted and inept characters the government is merrily marching from one administrative blunder to another. Sad to say, there is not a single chap in the Cabinet who understands the federalist nature of the Constitution. Their major achievement has been to throw a spanner in the works of the five Pakatan Rakyat controlled states.
Azalina unilaterally cancelled all MOUs between her ministry’s Malaysian Tourism Action Council and the five Pakatan-held states. Federal funds, which by right should go to the state governments held by the Pakatan Rakyat for tourism promotion, will go to the Tourism Action Councils (TACs) under the control of the BN. The Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister, Noh Mohamad, has directed federal funds which by right should be handled by the SEDCs in the five Pakatan-controlled states to Mara which will take care of federal projects. Tan Sri Muhammad, the Minister of Rural and Regional Development, will recycle 2,000 JKKK members who resigned their posts in Selangor, Perak, Kedah and Penang into new JKKP (Jawatankuasa Kemajuan dan Keselamatan Kampung Perseketuan) under the Federal Development Coordinating Committee, which will handle all federal funds for development projects. Ong Ka Chuan, the Minister of Housing and Local Government, has revamped the newly-revived JKKK’s in Chinese New Villages into JKK Kampung Baru. Federal funds that rightly should be handled by the five Pakatan-controlled states will fall under the control of the JKKKs for road, drain-building etc.
There is a litany of sins against the five Pakatan-held states. In line with the so-called fine tradition of BN leadership by example and, I suppose, very much in line with the noble values of Islam Hadhari, in the lower administrative rank little Napoleons inflict acts of injustice in the five Pakatan-held states. Contrary to tradition, the CM of Penang, Lim Guan Eng, was not invited to officiate at the closing ceremony of the MSSM Sports Meet. An official circular from the Education Department prevents schools from inviting Pakatan Rakyat leaders to school functions. When you appoint petty politicians as Ministers you are bound to get these sorts of things.
The PM called for an education revolution and challenged Hishamuddin to achieve it. Sad to say, standards in education are sinking lower and lower day by day. According to Zaid Ibrahim, racism runs deep and education is “an absolute disaster”.
4. Ethnic relations
Since 8 March, Umno has demonstrated beyond doubt how bankrupt of ideas it is. Its concept of reinventing and rebranding itself has consisted of demonstrations and dozens of meetings of Malays ostensibly for ethnic and religious solidarity. The topics include warnings that Malays are losing political power to non-Malays and in the process losing ketuanan Melayu, Malay supremacy and hegemony. Although Malay representation in Parliament has increase, they shamelessly lie that it has been reduced. Umno has displayed its true colours that it is racist and will fight tooth and nail to ensure that Malays, Chinese and Indians do not unite politically or otherwise. Finally, Umno has unmasked itself.
5. Economy and cost of living
Contrary to government propaganda, the economy on all fronts is not doing well. We ranked sixth out of 10 countries in the region in terms of FDI. The share market is in the doldrums. Ill-conceived economic policies and bad implementation have resulted in huge financial losses. Corruption is galloping, increasing the cost of living, which with toll hikes and a 41 per cent increase in petrol price has lowered the standard of living. If there was no hanky-panky, why are Petronas detailed accounts not subject to parliamentary scrutiny? It appears that robbers and plunderers of the nation’s wealth are continuing their nefarious activities, resulting in hardship and suffering for the rakyat.
Despite much platitude and many pronouncements and promises, there is no serious will to fight corruption. The BN government has consistently refused to establish a public register for politicians and civil servants to declare their incomes and assets. Talk of an independent ACA has remained mere talk. So corruption at all levels of the government continues to gallop day by day. This increases the cost of living and the suffering of the rakyat.
Though the Constitution clearly establishes a federalist structure, not a single chap in the government understands it, let alone respects the provision. Malaysia has always had the most centralised federalist structure. The actions of the ministers mentioned in point 3 above confirms this. Sooner than later, the rakyat will realise that changing state governments is not enough. For change and modernisation of the country, both state and the federal government must be in the hands of one forward-looking, incorruptible coalition and it is not difficult to know what is on the rakyat’s mind.
8. Freedom of the Press and electronic media
he damage that Rahmat and Zam did continues. They spew out BN propaganda day in day out. If they report an event in any of the Pakatan-controlled states, it is only a few seconds and generally slanted. These are two of the tools that caused the tsunami. With an alternative media available, who wants RTM and the BN-controlled print media? For example, the Pakatan-organised rally at the City Stadium on Sunday, 15 June saw a huge crowd of between 25,000-30,000 people. The speakers were Sabu, Kit Siang, Anwar and Guan Eng. Did anyone read anything about this mammoth event in the mainstream media? The Printing Presses and Publication Act continues to deny intelligent discussion and debate on national issues. Though BN talks glibly about encouraging the growth of a civil society, they deliberately do everything to stunt its intellectual growth.
9. Abolition of draconian laws
Though Zaid Ibrahim came out with guns blazing about the draconian laws – the ISA, the OSA, the UUCA, the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Sedition Act – there has been zero progress in abolishing these barbaric laws, which are an insult to a country that calls itself democratic. Rais Yatim and Nazri, two high profile ex-Law Ministers, did nothing to remove these oppressive laws.
10. Independence of the judiciary
Despite a lot of hot air from the government about the independence of the judiciary, nothing really has moved in the right direction. The people are awaiting much needed change in the judiciary while the government is dragging its foot. Lingamgate continues and the government does not appear to be in a hurry to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission. Anyway, we have an utterly hopeless ACA. It is this same ACA that cleared Eusoff Chin of any wrongdoing! It is the same ACA that had not conclusively cleared Tan Sri Muhammad, the currency-smuggler, and Mahathir of abuse of power. Recently, a serving judge talked about Executive interference to influence verdicts and bootcamps to brainwash judges. As the government inaction continues, the rot in the judiciary is bound to get worse.
11. Independence of the ACA
erhaps, the most disappointing institution in the country must be the ACA. Either by Executive direction or by choice, they remain totally ineffective in fighting the scourge of corruption. It is no secret they go after “small fry” while the big “fish” get off scot-free. It appears that this is one legacy left behind by Dr M that the present BN government relishes. I believe that the BN government realises that an independent ACA would be their death knell.
12. An independent Election Commission
Under the Constitution, the EC is supposed to be an independent body but it became an important tool to serve the interests of the BN. With one suspects, the connivance and collusion of the EC, the BN indulged in shameless gerrymandering which produced a very unfair and lopsided electoral system, which seems aimed at ensuring Malay political dominance. Postal ballots have been ruthlessly used by the BN to ensure the election of many BN candidates who otherwise would have lost. For example, a total of 14,000 postal ballots ensured the election of the BN candidate in Setiawangsa constituency! The fiasco of the indelible ink confirms the impotence of the Chairman of the EC. The EC is too valuable a BN tool to be permitted to operate as an independent institution.
13. Rule of law and equal treatment
The present BN government continues the Rule by Law and not Rule of Law which it inherited. Armed with many draconian laws backed by a police force, an effective BN tool, the country continues to be ruled like a police state. Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are selectively denied by the police to the Opposition and NGOs. Police brutality inflicted on those who attend opposition rallies and participate in peaceful marches continue. The use of tear gas and water cannon mercilessly injure and hurt men, women and children. The same rules do not apply to illegal rallies and protests organised by Umno. Since 8 March, not once was tear gas and water cannon used on supporters of Umno rallies and protests. There is a clear perception among Malaysians that not everyone is equal under the law.
Gender equality and a fair and just treatment for women with regard to marriage, divorce and property distribution remain elusive.
To use golf parlance, the BN government’s performance is dismally below par. Predictions are that sooner than later we will see a more balanced Parliament. The political equation has changed drastically and dramatically. Strangely, the rakyat no longer care about a Parliament where ethnic quotas matter. This speaks a world about the maturity of the Malaysian electorate.
Thus far, the BN government has shown a reluctance, indeed a stubborn unwillingness, to face reality and so continues to serve more of the same things, which a disillusioned rakyat rejected in no uncertain terms on 8 March . The BN’s talk about reinventing and rebranding themselves has remained mere talk – is it because the coalition lacks the brainpower to think rationally and analytically? Given this scenario, I wonder whether the BN will meet its Waterloo sooner or later.
We invite readers to evaluate the BN’s first 100-days.
Political stability and good governace
Economy and cost of living
Freedom of the Print/Electronic media
Abolition of draconian laws
Independence of the judiciary
Independence of the ACA
Independence of the Election Commission
Rule of law/equal treatment
Distinction – A+, A, A-
Credit – C+, C, C-
Pass – P+, P, P-
Fail – F