It is May 2009 already. How time flies…
It’s been a month since Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Razak became our Prime Minister. His deputy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had said:
UMNO tidak tunggu 100 hari bawa pembaharuan
SUNGAI PETANI 30 Mac – Kepimpinan baru UMNO yang akan mengambil alih tampuk pemerintahan negara dalam tempoh terdekat tidak akan menunggu 100 hari untuk membawa perubahan dan pembaharuan.
Therefore, since there won’t be any honeymoon period for BN, let’s cut to the chase and review Najib’s leadership style after 1 month being in power.
Initially Najib mentioned that his style of governance is based on a remarkable declaration that the era where ‘government knows best’ is long gone. In other words, Najib will embark in an inclusive style of government where the inputs from the public or the creme de la creme from the myriad of intellectual groups or institutions will be taken into account.
Firstly, let’s take stock of the situation the government is facing.
I truly believe that BN must put a candidate in this by-election as it upholds the very basic principle of democracy. People in Penanti MUST be given the opportunity to vote for their local representative in the state assembly. BN must not deprive Penanti from exercising their democratic rights. in choosing their Yang Berhormat. A walkover by BN will dent its reputation further. Although there are certain quarters that cringed with the thought of facing yet another by-election, BN must hold its head up high and face this inevitable event with the courage of BN leaders of the yesteryears. If they suddenly want to be prudent in by election spending, then they just have to be more efficient this time.
Local BN leaders should do the ground work. Their Youth brigades and the local party information bureaus must work around the clock to gain those extra votes. There is no need to gather leaders from across the country who are ultimately there just for window dressing and looking to gain favours from top leaders.
About a month ago, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin stated that BN will engage an independent body to study the reasons why BN lost the by elections in Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau.
Is there such thing being done since then? If they had, then BN should not face any problems in Penanti as lessons learned from the study will benefit BN in facing this upcoming by elections.
If it was just rhetoric from the DPM, then BN will definitely lose the chance to wrestle Penanti from PKR.
2) The Perak impasse
We have discussed tremendously on issues concerning the situation in Perak;
What once was deemed as only simple political takeover issue had mutated into a political, governmental and constitutional debacle. Soon, it will shift to become a socio economical and judicial fiasco if Najib could not find a way to find solution to this.
3) Najib’s policy metamorphosis
Since becoming the PM, Najib had introduced several changes to stamp his style of governance. Among them are:
This concept is at an infantile stage and has to aggressively be promoted by his government. JAKIM made an effort to issue guidelines on 1Malaysia. Although a more relevant job function would be the Information, Communictaion, Arts and Culture Ministry (Datuk Seri Rais Yatim) or the JPM’s Unity and Performance function (Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon), I wish there are more concerted effort from the cabinet. Nevertheless, I hope JAKIM can do this thoroughly well instead of presenting half baked efforts which the previous administration is famous of.
Either way, this bring about another issue – does each minister know their scope of work? KPIs can only be determined if each ministry knows their terms of reference and job scope. If not, there will be a complete confusion during the appraisal exercise 5 months down the road. The result may be a complete sham and an insult to the public.
The most drastic yet contentious issues are the changes in socio economical policies stated above. Najib may have wanted to emulate his father’s performance in the area of economy when he announced these changes. Back in 1971, barely a year after being the Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak managed to achieve 10% growth for Malaysia through the implementation of NEP, well structured 2nd Malaysia Plan (1970 – 1975) and expanding the fiscal policies by allocating higher budget for Federal and public sector development.
Personally, I feel that the intention of Najib is very noble in changing the mindset of Malaysians. Since these new policies are affecting mostly the Malays, it must be implemented not only with vigour but more importantly, every Malay must made to be well informed and empathetic towards this decision.
As it turned out, no thorough explanation was forthcoming from the Prime Minister regarding this issue. Back in October 2008, Najib, the then DPM stated that the NEP will not be abolished but instead, it will be liberalised in stages. However, Najib also made a disclaimer:
“Saya menyatakan bahawa unsur-unsur DEB akan diganti melalui proses liberalisasi secara gradual atau berperingkat-peringkat, bukannya secara serta merta. Saya difahamkan ini menimbulkan pelbagai kecurigaan di hati orang-orang Melayu terutamanya,” katanya.
Beliau berkata liberalisasi yang dimaksudkan itu akan menggunakan formula yang tidak membebankan usahawan Melayu dan juga prinsip yang adil dan saksama kepada semua pihak.
“Kita akan mengambil pandangan daripada semua pihak supaya apa-apa yang akan kita laksanakan dapat diterima oleh rakyat. Seperti yang telah saya katakan, bila kita berlaku adil kepada orang lain, kita tidak mengambil hak orang lain, kita tidak menafikan hak kaum lain,” katanya.
Najib berkata beliau akan meastikan tidak ada sesiapa yang menafikan hak orang Melayu.
“Saya akan terus memperjuangkan agenda Melayu. Jangan ada sesiapa sama ada dalam dewan ini mahupun yang berada di luar sana cuba mempertikaikan perkara ini,” katanya.
This liberalisation is in line with the interview by Tun Dr Mahathir back in 2002. However, just like any other policy changes, the PM should go to the ground (read: every state) and give more information to the public, particularly the Malays. Najib had bent over backwards to plead for the support of the non-Malays. It will be a shame should he lose support from the Malays instead.
Back in 1998, soon after Anwar Ibrahim was sacked, Tun Dr Mahathir energetically visited every state in the country to disseminate information to Umno members. It was crucial to maintain the support from party members in order to have a united defensive wall against the looming economic crisis then.
Currently, without a doubt, there are grumblings in the grounds which can only be appeased through a cohesive and intense ‘meet the rakyat’ drive in every state.
Najib must not forget that a big policy change will not work if the majority of people do not champion his cause. Afterall, wasn’t him that said his cabinet is actually a ‘Kabinet Rakyat’?
Allow me to comment about the liberalisation of the service sub sectors. One of the reason why the sub sectors are liberalised is to increase the FDI into the country.
I believe there is a need to study this reason as relaxing the bumi quotas in these sectors will not necessarily achieve the intended aim. Foreign investors can be fickle in selecting the countries they want to invest. Back in the 90’s, FDIs into Malaysia were very impressive eventhough there are bumi quotas.
FDIs to Malaysia decreased over the last half decade is probably due to political instability and lack of transparency and increasing corruption index. In 2006, Indonesia surpassed us for the first time in drawing FDI’s!
Though I do not question the move, I do question the timing. The world is currently in recession with top economies of the world is embarking in protectionism and minimal investment in overseas markets. The FDIs may not be forthcoming. The KPIs of MITI may show a poor performance in the horizon.
However, there is hope yet. Anwar Ibrahim promised to bring in investments worth USD1 trillion from key fund managers. I am sure these fund managers still have their trillion dollar stash somewhere on the planet.
Jokes aside, Najib must pre-empt potential backlash with massive campaign drive nationwide.
It took the Umno Youth chief about 6 weeks just to get his team together. This loss of time will be felt when the Umno Youth machinery finds it hard to battle the very effective PR propaganda machinery in the Penanti by election.
I do not wish to comment on the composition of the bureau members as I do not know 99% of them. However, as I said above, each bureau and secretariat must have a clearly defined roles and responsibilities and also job description. This will prevent any bureaus from impinging into other bureaus’ territory. At the same time, clearly defined roles will enable the Umno Youth to gain synergy from each one of them. I am somewhat impressed with the result of the 3 day brainstorming session conducted last weekend. They produced some shades of brilliance in creating a more relevant bureaus to cater for the current environment.
Some of them include Urban and Rural secretariats, New Media bureau and the Psy-war bureau. Kudos to the Umno Youth members. But can they aspire to be the role models for all the youths in Malaysia?
We can conclude that the young voters simply want an avenue to discuss ideas and also to voice out their aspirations. Umno Youth of recent years did not cater to these needs. Consequently, the young generation are compelled to support the opposition which gives them enough opportunities to be part of something big.
The above are the pertinent issues that will be the barometer to measure the performance and importantly, the competence level of the current crop of leaders. Hopefully, the mantra of ‘government knows best is long gone’ will not be mutated into ‘the government indeed does know what’s best’. Thank you.