Thursday, December 25, 2003

Malaysian PM sends Christmas Cards

Last Updated: Thursday, 25 December, 2003, 18:00 GMT


By Jonathan Kent
BBC correspondent in Kuala Lumpur

The Malaysian Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi, has become the first leader of his Muslim majority country to send an official Christmas card.

Some 1,500 leading members of Malaysia's large Christian community have received season's greetings from Mr Abdullah.

The prime minister's card shows Malaysians of different races and religions holding hands and dancing.

The card itself does not explicitly mention the Christmas holidays.

But it does extend festive wishes for peace, happiness, love and national unity to Christian preachers and their congregations around the country.

'Discrimination' claim

Abdullah Badawi, who became prime minister almost two months ago, is a respected Muslim scholar and has long made a point of promoting good relations among the country's various religious groups.

Malaysia's PM Abdullah Badawi
Malaysia is predominantly Muslim, but remains under secular rule
None of his four predecessors, who were all also Muslims, sent out official Christmas cards.

Last week Mr Abdullah reacted angrily to a US Government report which listed Malaysia among countries which discriminate on grounds of faith.

Ministers are considering lodging an official protest with Washington.

Although Malaysians enjoy freedom of worship, some opposition leaders say that the state discriminates economically in favour of Muslims and that non-Muslims are excluded from the highest political offices.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

"Thank You, Tun Mahathir" (3)

Oleh/By : DATO' SERI ABDULLAH BIN HAJI AHMAD BADAWI
PERDANA MENTERI MALAYSIA
Tempat/Venue : PUSAT KONVENSYEN PUTRAJAYA

Tarikh/Date : 21/12/2003
Tajuk/Title : MAJLIS JASAMU DIKENANG SEMPENA PERSARAAN YABHG TUN DR MAHATHIR MOHAMAD

Bersyukur kita ke hadrat Illahi kerana dengan limpah dan kurniaNya, kita dapat menghadiri majlis yang penuh bermakna pada malam ini. Malam ini, kita berkumpul untuk memberi penghormatan kepada Yang Amat Berbahagia Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Perdana Menteri Malaysia yang keempat. Malam ini, secara rasminya, Kerajaan Malaysia raikan beliau sebagai seorang negarawan yang ulung, seorang pemimpin yang telah mengabadikan dirinya demi kemajuan bangsa, agama dan negara.


2. Dalam perjuangan untuk memartabatkan rakyat dan negara, beliau tidak pernah kenal erti letih. Beliau tidak pula kenal erti kecewa atau putus asa. Berkhidmat, berkorban dan berbakti telah menjadi darah daging dalam hidup beliau.


3. Malam ini kita juga ucapkan terima kasih kepada Yang Amat Berbahagia Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, seorang wanita, isteri dan ibu yang turut berkorban demi kepentingan rakyat dan negara. Terima kasih kerana sepanjang 22 tahun, Kak Hasmah tidak pernah merungut atau mengeluh kerana meminjamkan suaminya kepada negara. Kesetiaan, sokongan dan kasih sayang beliau telah membolehkan YABhg Tun Dr Mahathir untuk menumpukan segala daya usaha memimpin negara ke arah kecemerlangan.


Tuan-Tuan dan Puan-Puan yang saya hormati


4. Kepimpinan Dr. Mahathir telah banyak menukar wajah dan lanskap negara ini. Apabila beliau mengambil alih jawatan Perdana Menteri pada 16 Julai 1981, Malaysia baru sahaja menikmati status sebagai negara merdeka selama 23 tahun. Pada waktu itu, Malaysia merupakan sebuah ekonomi dunia ketiga yang masih bergantung kepada harga komoditi yang terumbang-ambing. Pada waktu itu juga, ramai yang mempersoalkan sejauh mana perpaduan nasional dapat dikekalkan, bagaimana masyarakat majmuk di negara ini dapat menjamin keamanan dan kestabilan.


5. Namun, dalam tempoh 22 tahun sebagai Perdana Menteri, Dr. Mahathir telah membawa Malaysia ke persada kecemerlangan. Malaysia telah melalui pelbagai pembaharuan fizikal, mental dan sosial. Malaysia telah menjadi negara yang disegani dan dihormati di pentas dunia. Ekonomi negara telah dipelbagai dan berkembang secara mampan. Perdagangan antarabangsa telah diperluaskan dan pasaran baru untuk keluaran negara telah diterokai. Malaysia mampu mencari jalan penyelesaian sendiri apabila rantau ini diancam krisis kewangan tidak lama dahulu. Negara kini berada dalam keadaan yang aman dan stabil. Kejayaan Malaysia sebagai negara membangun dan sebagai negara Islam telah diiktiraf dunia. Warisan pusaka yang ditinggalkan oleh Dr. Mahathir berada di mana sahaja kita melihat.


6. Pembangunan dan pembinaan infrastruktur negara telah berlaku dengan pesat, sehingga banyak kemudahan awam di Malaysia setanding dengan kemudahan yang disediakan di negara yang lebih maju. Kerajaan telah membina jalinan jalanraya yang menjalar ke seluruh negara, rangkaian komunikasi yang moden dan sebuah lapangan terbang antarabangsa yang diiktiraf antara terbaik di dunia. Kini, terdapat pelbagai bangunan mencakar langit yang menonjolkan kesenian dan kehalusan budaya tempatan. Ini semua telah menjadi simbol kemampuan dan kemakmuran Malaysia.


7. Dari segi pembangunan mental, Malaysia juga telah mencatatkan perubahan yang mendadak di bawah pimpinan Dr. Mahathir. Kewibawaan dan keberanian beliau untuk menyuarakan idea dan pendapatnya, untuk berkongsi wawasannya dengan orang ramai telah menyuntik keyakinan diri pada rakyat Malaysia. Dengan berbekalkan semangat Malaysia Boleh, kita kini percaya bahawa kita mampu menangani segala cabaran dan melepasi segala rintangan yang dihadapi. Kita yakin bahawa kita boleh bersaing dengan mana-mana bangsa di dunia. Pembangunan sumber manusia telah melahirkan barisan muda yang mempunyai kebangaan nasional dan nilai maruah yang tinggi, sebuah barisan yang berpelajaran, kreatif dan mempunyai pemikiran kritis - barisan yang bakal membawa negara ke tahap kegemilangan. Mentaliti inilah yang perlu terus dipupuk dan diperkuat - agar Malaysia dapat membina di atas tapak kejayaan yang telah disediakan oleh Dr. Mahathir.


8. Purata pendapatan dan kualiti hidup rakyat telah bertambah baik jika dibandingkan dengan 22 tahun yang lalu.. Kadar kemiskinan telah diturunkan dan lebih ramai rakyat Malaysia berpeluang mengecapi kemakmuran negara. Bilangan rakyat yang mahir dan berpelajaran telah bertambah. Formula perkongsian kuasa telah mengukuhkan perpaduan antara kaum, menjurus kepada persefahaman antara rakyat yang semakin ketara, toleransi agama yang semakin baik.


9. In the international arena, Dr. Mahathir realised that being a developing nation need not mean that we have to accept being marginalised. He has shown that being a developing nation does not mean that we cannot conduct ourselves with pride and dignity. His statesmanship has given Malaysia a reputation as a country that holds firmly to principle and campaigns tirelessly for justice. We speak with enough clarity to be heard and we speak with enough conviction to be taken seriously. Our engagement in multilateral initiatives and organisations, whether in ASEAN, APEC, NAM, the OIC or the UN is well documented. Our involvement in South-South cooperation through events such as the Langkawi International Dialogue is testament to our commitment to the "Prosper Thy Neighbour" philosophy. Malaysia is now truly a full and active participant in the global race.


Ladies and Gentlemen


10. There is ample evidence that Dr. Mahathir is a man of great foresight and vision. Few people would have imagined 22 years ago that oil palm plantations could be transformed into a gleaming new government administrative centre. And yet here we are, gathered together in the Putrajaya Convention Centre, in the middle of a grand design turned into reality. Few people would have conceived of a developing nation's plan to build a Multimedia Supercorridor - an area where the latest developments and innovations in information and communications technology could be conducted. And yet the MSC has purposefully spearheaded Malaysia's push towards a 21st century economy.


11. There are numerous other examples where Dr. Mahathir has implemented bold initiatives that naysayers were sure would result in failure - the national car project , the Petronas Twin Towers, the Formula One circuit in Sepang come to mind. All of these projects have been successfully implemented and stand as a testament to the courage and farsightedness of an enduring leader.


12. It has been said that Dr. Mahathir is a man ahead of his time - a man whose thinking is frequently 5 or 10 years ahead of his fellow Malaysians. This quality has propelled Malaysia to great prosperity and laid the foundations for future growth. The challenge that is now faced by his successors, starting with myself, is to consolidate the gains and great leaps that we have taken as a nation under his leadership. It is my privilege to carry on his efforts to take Malaysia to greater heights. We must manage our success properly for the sake of future generations - that is the best way to preserve his legacy and to ensure that his efforts and sacrifices have not been in vain.


Ladies and Gentlemen


13. I had the honour of working alongside Dr. Mahathir in the Cabinet for 19 and a half years, including serving as his deputy for almost 5 years. I have cherished the opportunity of observing the man at close quarters and have been inspired by his vision, dedication, discipline and tenacity. I know that he is averse to being idolised. He is uncomfortable with adulation and excessive praise and that he accepts accolades with shyness and reluctance. However, I hope that he will allow us this opportunity to express our appreciation and gratitude for his contributions to the nation.


14. Bagi pihak Kerajaan Malaysia, saya ingin mengucapkan terima kasih kepada YABhg Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, Bapa Pemodenan Malaysia. Kami berdoa agar beliau, Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah serta keluarga mereka akan tetap dilimpahkan rahmat dan berkat oleh Allah s.w.t. Kami berdoa supaya mereka sentiasa akan dilindungi Allah dan berada dalam keadaan sihat walafiat dan sejahtera. Semoga hari - hari persaraan akan diisi dengan kebahagiaan dan kegembiraan. Jasamu tidak terbalas tetapi akan sentiasa dikenang.


Terima kasih.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

"Send observers to see people of different faiths worshipping alongside one another"

Last Updated: Saturday, 20 December, 2003, 06:21 GMT


By Jonathan Kent
BBC correspondent in Kuala Lumpur

A Muslim boy falls asleep next to other children offering Friday prayers for the Iraqi people at the national mosque in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, north-eastern Malaysia
Malaysia is predominantly Muslim, but remains under secular rule
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has reacted angrily to a US report criticising alleged shortcomings in the country's religious freedoms.

The report highlights what it says are problems faced by Malaysian Muslims who wish to adopt another faith or who do not follow Sunni Islam.

The PM told the US to send observers to see people of different faiths worshipping alongside one another.

But opposition leaders say that non-Muslims are discriminated against.

Abdullah unimpressed

The report from the US bureau of democracy, human rights and labour assesses such freedoms worldwide.

Malaysia's PM Abdullah Badawi
Abdullah invited US observers to see for themselves

It lists Malaysia as one of nine countries where laws favour certain religious groups and discriminate against others.

It also expresses concern that non-Muslims wishing to build places of worship often face obstacles.

But Malaysia's new PM was unimpressed by the latest US Government assessment.

Mr Abdullah told Washington to send its observers to see how the Muslim-led government marking the festivals of all the countries' religions.

However, the opposition says non-Muslims face discrimination and are kept out of the highest levels of government.

Although they account for more than 40% of the population, none has held any of the most senior ministerial posts for over 30 years.

Malaysia also pursues affirmative action policies, which give economic and social privileges to ethnic Malays who by law have to be Muslim.

Friday, December 19, 2003

"Thank You, Tun Mahathir" (2)

Oleh/By : DATO' SERI ABDULLAH BIN HAJI AHMAD BADAWI
PERDANA MENTERI MALAYSIA
Tempat/Venue : PUTRAJAYA MARRIOT HOTEL

Tarikh/Date : 19/12/2003
Tajuk/Title : MAJLIS MAKAN MALAM PPTD 2003


Saudara Pengacara Majlis

YABhg. Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
Dan YABhg. Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohamed Ali

YBhg. Tan Sri Samsudin Osman
Ketua Setiausaha Negara
Dan isteri

YBhg. Tan Sri Jamaluddin Hj. Ahmad Damanhuri
Ketua Pengarah Perkhidmatan Awam dan isteri

Ybhg. Dato' Aseh Che mat
Presiden PPTD dan isteri,

Pegawai-pegawai kanan kerajaan dan ahli-ahli Persatuan
Perkhidmatan Tadbir dan Diplomatik (PPTD) yang saya hormati.

1. Terlebih dahulu marilah kita sama-sama memanjatkan ucapan setinggi-tinggi kesyukuran ke hadrat Allah S.W.T., kerana dengan limpah kurnia dan inayahnya kita semua dapat berada di majlis. Kehadiran begitu ramai pegawai PTD di majlis ini jelas mengzahirkan komitmen serta semangat esprit de corps yang tinggi yang ditunjukkan oleh ahli-ahli pptd semua.

2. Majlis ini tambah bermakna dengan kehadiran Yang Amat Berbahagia Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad dan Yang Amat Berbahagia Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohamed Ali. Beberapa generasi pegawai kerajaan yang telah berpeluang berkhidmat di bawah pimpinan Y.A.Bhg Tun telah menyaksikan kegigihan, pengorbanan, komitment dan disiplin y.a.bhg tun yang cukup tinggi. Sikap unggul Y.A.Bhg Tun untuk menjayakan negara dan memartabatkan rakyat Malaysia sememangnya menjadi teladan kepada kita semua.

3. Malaysia, di bawah kepimpinan Y.A.Bhg Tun telah menyaksikan pembangunan prasarana fizikal yang begitu pesat. Namun, ini bukanlah satu-satunya lambang kejayaan Y.A.Bhg Tun. Beliau juga telah berjaya meletakkan negara kita di pesada dunia, sehingga nilai yang begitu tinggi sekali diletakkan di atas nama "Malaysia". Ianya adalah satu pengiktirafan kepada kestabilan politik, kekuatan ekonomi, perpaduan kaum dan semangat gigih rakyat Malaysia semua dalam membangunkan negara dibawah kepimpinan berwibawa Y.A.Bhg Tun.

4. Jasa Y.A.Bhg Tun , seorang negarawan ulung berwawasan tinggi, memang tidak terhingga. Saya mewakili rakyat Malaysia dan semua pptd ingin merakamkan ucapan terima kasih kami atas segala jasa, bakti, tunjuk ajar, bimbingan, cetusan pemikiran, pendapat dan pengorbanan Y.A.Bhg Tun yang tidak ternilai harganya. Penghargaan yang sama juga ingin kami sampaikan kepada Y.A.Bhg Tun Dr Siti Hasmah, seorang wanita yang turut berkorban besar untuk negara.

5. Berkat usaha kerajaan di bawah pimpinan Y.A.Bhg Tun , saya kini mewarisi pembangunan negara yang teguh dan kuat. Kita kini hidup dalam suasana yang aman dan stabil. Kita kini menikmati perpaduan nasional. Kita kini berjaya mencapai pembangunan ekonomi yang mantap, utuh dan jitu.

6. Adalah menjadi tugas saya untuk mengurus dan meneruskan kejayaan ini. Saya sedar bahawa tugas ini merupakan tugas yang besar. Ia hanya akan dapat dilaksanakan dengan sokongan, sumbangan dan pengorbanan semua rakyat Malaysia. Setiap ahli masyarakat, setiap individu, perlu mempunyai rasa tanggungjawab dan keazaman untuk berusaha membawa negara mara ke puncak yang lebih gemilang lagi.

7. Kita semua mengejar matlamat yang sama, iaitu meneruskan pembangunan negara untuk generasi akan datang. Oleh itu, marilah kita berkerja bersama- sama, berganding bahu untuk memastikan amanah ini yang telah diberikan oleh rakyat Malaysia dilaksanakan dengan sepenuhnya. Hanya usaha padu yang akan menjamin kecemerlangan dan kegemilangan rakyat dan negara tercinta. Kerjasama erat antara semua kakitangan kerajaan akan menjadi sumber kekuatan menghadapi sebarang cabaran yang timbul dalam kita menjayakan kesinambungan kecemerlangan negara.

Tuan-tuan dan puan-puan,

8. Peranan anggota perkhidmatan awam adalah amat penting dalam perjuangan membangunkan negara. Dalam hal ini, saya berpendapat bahawa pegawai - pegawai perkhidmatan awam telah banyak mencurah bakti untuk memajukan negara. Syabas saya ucapkan kepada kakitangan perkhidmatan awam yang telah selama ini berjaya melaksanakan tugas ini dengan cekap dan berkesan. Tahniah juga diucapkan kerana anggota perkhidmatan awam Malaysia kerana kerap diambil sebagai contoh oleh negara-negara membangun lain. Sebagai bekas anggota perkhidmatan awam, saya turut bangga dengan pencapaian tuan-tuan dan puan-puan.

9. It is an unquestionable truth that the Malaysian civil service has played a leading role in the success of our nation. Without the dedication and hard work of the men and women who carry the responsibility of implementing government policies, we would still be languishing as an undeveloped member of the global community. Armed with the spirit of "Malaysia Boleh", we have proven to ourselves and to the world that we possess the tools to manage and develop our own country.

10. But this does not mean that there is no room for improvement. We should not rest on our laurels. We should not be satisfied with what we have accomplished. We must continue to strive to achieve excellence and distinction. We must continue to infuse our work ethic with integrity, efficiency and professionalism. These are values that are essential ingredients in order for Malaysia to ascend to greater heights.

11. We have long prided ourselves on being a business friendly government. Malaysia has been and will remain a nation that is conducive to private enterprise. Private enterprise has been the engine of our economic growth and will continue to be in the future. But without a first class public delivery service system, the wheels of the machine will grind to a halt. Private enterprise can only thrive if the public sector plays its role as a partner to the private sector effectively. This is the central tenet of the Malaysia, inc. Concept.

12. As public servants, it is therefore our duty to provide the best quality service to our customers - the ordinary taxpayers, as well as the corporations that generate the economic activity that enables our nation to thrive and develop. We need to go the extra mile when discharging our responsibilities. The public should not feel trepidation when dealing with the civil service.

13. Kita patut sentiasa mesra rakyat. Kita mestilah dengan ikhlas mendengar, meneliti, menyelesaikan masalah, permohonan, cadangan dan apa-apa lagi tugasan yang sememangnya menjadi tanggungjawab kita. Kita juga mesti ada semangat kerja yang jitu. Jangan sekali-kali melepaskan batuk di tangga.

14. Kita perlulah ingat bahawa tanggungjawab yang diberikan kepada kita adalah bagi membangunkan negara, dan bukan kuasa untuk kepentingan diri sendiri atau, yang lebih buruknya lagi, kuasa untuk membuka jalan memuaskan keinginan membangunkan dana peribadi.

15. Saya ingin menyeru agar pegawai-pegawai PTD mengambil langkah-langkah positif untuk meningkatkan kemahiran masing-masing. Marilah kita terapkan mentaliti yang utamakan kualiti dan elakkan daripada menjalankan tugas dengan sambil lewa. Lengkapkan diri, dalam erti kata berilmu, berwawasan dan mempunyai kemahiran serta kepakaran dalam pelbagai bidang. Rakyat Malaysia memerlukan pegawai-pegawai ptd yang mempunyai daya fikir yang kuat membaca serta mahir menganalisis situasi, berupaya mengatur strategi, mempunyai high-level critical thinking serta kreatif, disamping memiliki akhlaq dan etika yang tinggi dan mulia.

Tuan-tuan dan puan-puan,

16. Sebelum saya mengakhiri ucapan saya, saya ingin sekali lagi merakamkan ucapan terima kasih kepada Y.A.Bhg. Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad dan Y.A.Bhg. Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali kerana dapat hadir bersama. Jasa mereka kepada negara tidak akan terbalas dan akan sentiasa dikenang. Saya percaya, dengan kehadiran beliau berdua telah menambah makna dan seri kepada majlis makan malam PPTD pada malam ini.

Terima kasih.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

"Postponement of Double Tracking Project"

Oleh/By : DATO' SERI ABDULLAH BIN HAJI AHMAD BADAWI
PERDANA MENTERI MALAYSIA
Tempat/Venue : PUTRAJAYA

Tarikh/Date : 17/12/2003
Tajuk/Title : STATEMENT ON DOUBLE TRACKING ELECTRIFICATION RAIL PROJECT

After due consideration, the Cabinet has decided today to postpone the implementation of the double tracking electrification rail project ("DTP") because of the need to prioritise Malaysia's many development projects.

The Cabinet recognises the letter of award to the consortium comprising Malaysia Mining Corporation Berhad and Gamuda Berhad ("MMC - Gamuda"), which was issued to initiate negotiations on the terms and conditions of an agreement between the Government of Malaysia and MMC - Gamuda.

Today's Cabinet meeting also recognised the benefit of upgrading and developing Malaysia's rail system to meet future logistical needs.

However, the Cabinet took cognizance of the need to carry out its development plans with prudence, towards achieving national economic objectives, including sustained economic development and a balanced budget.

The Government has committed to spend RM160 billion under the 8th Malaysia Plan and will continue to implement development projects, prioritising those with significant direct impact on the people's quality of life.

In view of this, and although Malaysia's reserves as at 28 November 2003 stand at an all-time high of USD44 billion, the Cabinet has decided to postpone the DTP.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

"The government sees its role in providing a conducive environment for business to operate"

Oleh/By : DATO' SERI ABDULLAH BIN HAJI AHMAD BADAWI
PERDANA MENTERI MALAYSIA
Tempat/Venue : ISTANA HOTEL, KUALA LUMPUR

Tarikh/Date : 16/12/2003
Tajuk/Title : THE M.I.G.H.T. CONSULTATION 2003

YBHG. TAN SRI DR. AHMAD ZAHARUDIN IDRUS
SCIENCE ADVISOR, PRIME MINISTER'S DEPARTMENT AND
M.I.G.H.T. JOINT CHAIRMAN (GOVERNMENT)

YBHG. TAN SRI DR. AHMAD TAJUDDIN ALI
M.I.G.H.T. JOINT CHAIRMAN (INDUSTRY)

YBHG. DATUK DR. AHMED TASIR LOPE PIHIE
M.I.G.H.T. PRESIDENT/CHIEF EXECUTIVE

Excellencies

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

1. Good morning, and thank you for inviting me to say a few words at this impressive gathering of industry captains and technology leaders. I am pleased to be here today to share my thoughts with you and to listen to you, on issues of critical importance not only to your companies and industries, but also to the nation as a whole.

2. Over the past few years, I think it is fair to say that we have achieved a good understanding of the challenges that we face in becoming a developed nation. We have formulated strategies to meet those challenges, not least is the establishment of M.I.G.H.T. itself, which has endeavoured to "Serve The Nation In Shaping Competency In High Technology Towards Sustainable Development".

3. I believe the time is ripe for us to act upon that understanding of the challenges, and to bring about tangible results in Malaysia's technological development. This work is vital as it will determine our standing in the global value chain, as well as shape the capability and well-being of future generations of Malaysians. Indeed, we must move forward on concrete technology advancement if we aspire to be an economically competitive nation and an internationally respected people.

Ladies and gentlemen,

4. Every business and industry is well aware that we now operate in an extremely demanding economic environment. The stakes are higher. The risks are greater. Economic cycles are getting shorter, and as such, businesses go through good and bad times more frequently. Competition is more open, oftentimes more unrelenting and brutal than ever before. Events with systemic impact, such as the Asian financial crisis, September 11th and S.A.R.S., occur enough times to make us more accustomed to extremes. Given this scenario, one can be sure that only the resilient and responsive survive and thrive in this new age of business.

5. Part and parcel of this demanding environment is what people refer to as the `china factor'. China's entry into the world trade Organisation (W.T.O.) represents one of the greatest challenges for developing nations to contend with, given china's low labor costs, vast market size and growing science base. But beyond the challenges, china also presents immense opportunities for Malaysia. In the past decade, china's role in the region has reversed from that of net exporter to that of net importer. The challenge, therefore, is not only to keep up with china competitively, but also to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by china's growth and expansion.

6. As such, in order for us to be resilient to external shocks, for us to thrive through intense business cycles, and for us to be competitive in the wake of china's rise, we need to develop a more diversified economic base, and to grow more internationally competitive local industries. Technology plays a critical role in the achievement of both these aims. Accordingly, we must not be content with being mere adopters and users of technology, but must increasingly strive to be adapters and creators of technology.

7. The M.I.G.H.T. consultation today is especially important in that context. In terms of diversifying our economic base, it is vital for us to ascertain, with a critical eye, our progress in the new growth industries and in the technologies that we have identified, and will identify, for development.

8. Perhaps, in reviewing our progress to date, we will find the imperative to further refine our strategy. With our constraints in size and resources, we need to focus our efforts intelligently on technologies in which we may distinguish ourselves or be able to use to best advantage, rather than attempt to be a jack of all trades. Based on such criteria, we could then move more aggressively into the selected technologies, and yield more results with every development ringgit invested.

9. In terms of becoming more competitive, we must increasingly apply technology to improve our ways of working, to create better methods of production, and to invent new products and new service concepts. In short, we must be more innovative.

10. Malaysian firms can no longer afford to compete on low labour and land costs. As an economy we cannot be comfortable supplying commodities and basic manufactured goods. Survival and success increasingly depends on our capability to add value at a higher and higher rung of the value chain.

11. The implications are clear. Companies which do not innovate and which do not find their unique competitive advantage will continue to compete on cost. An economy that depends on such companies will find its sustainability largely eroded, especially with more and more developing countries joining the global marketplace. We have little choice but to innovate and to add value, lest we are forced to struggle and to survive on smaller and smaller margins.

Ladies and gentlemen,

12. The government is fully committed to developing the nation's competitiveness by enhancing its economic and technological capabilities. In line with this, the government sees its role in providing a conducive environment for business to operate, in strengthening the country's human capital base, in promoting science and technology, and in encouraging innovation.

13. First and foremost, the government will continue to maintain macroeconomic and social stability, so that business and investment can flourish. We will provide quality `hard' and `soft' infrastructure, as well as ensure good public service delivery. In terms of foreign investors and non-national human resources, the government continues to welcome those with significant knowhow and cutting-edge technologies. Where it should, the government will work with the private sector in catalysing the development of new industries, while always encouraging the private sector to take the lead to drive growth.

14. Secondly, the government aims to strengthen the country's "software", namely, the capacity and talents of its people, especially in science and technology. We hope to increase our ratio of researchers and engineers five-fold by 2010, from 15 for every 10,000 workers now, to 75 for every 10,000 workers in 2010. We will promote a diverse mix of science and technology workers, from laboratory specialists, to technology brokers, to technology evaluators. Here, i would like to emphasise the need for Malaysia to review our "brain- gain" programs aimed at attracting talented Malaysians overseas back to home shores. To be more independent in the global economy, we need to have an indigenous base of talent in science and technology working in the country.

15. Finally, where it can, the government will play its part in strengthening the national innovation system. Successful commercialisation of technologies depends not only on the `discovery' of new knowledge, but also on having `linkages' to enable that knowledge to be translated into useful applications. Linkages between government, industry and academia are crucial in this respect. These linkages also extend to international partnerships. It is noteworthy that the spirit of partnership in M.I.G.H.T. transcends borders. The Langkawi international dialogue and other technology partnership initiatives between Malaysia and other nations, led by M.I.G.H.T., are commendable and should continue to be supported.

Ladies and gentlemen,

16. The government's role in economic development is clear and we will do all that we can to enable our industries to grow and flourish. But before us stand various key challenges. It is my hope that M.I.G.H.T. will continue to add value to industry in Malaysia by bringing people together in smart partnerships, working jointly on technology development, guided by clear targets, specific deliverables and achievable milestones.

17. On that note, i congratulate M.I.G.H.T. for successfully organising this event. I wish your deliberations success in leading us to winning strategies to enhance our competitiveness. It is now my pleasure and privilege to open the M.I.G.H.T. Consultation 2003. Thank You.

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

"Corruption, both grand and petty, is mankind's most deadly social disease which must be cured"

Oleh/By : DATO' SERI ABDULLAH BIN HAJI AHMAD BADAWI
PERDANA MENTERI MALAYSIA
Tempat/Venue : SHANGRI-LA HOTEL, KUALA LUMPUR

Tarikh/Date : 03/12/2003
Tajuk/Title : THE 4TH REGIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION CONFERENCE FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

Tan Sri Samsudin Osman
Chief Secretary to the Government of Malaysia

Mr. Kiyotaka Akasaka
Deputy Secretary-General
Organisation For Economic Co-Operation And Development (O.E.C.D.)

Mr. Gerry Van Der Linden
Vice President Asian Development Bank (A.D.B.)

Dato' Zulkipli Mat Noor
Director-General Anti-Corruption Agency Of Malaysia

Excellencies

Distinguished delegates

Ladies and gentlemen,

1. On behalf of the government and people of Malaysia, I would like to welcome all delegates and guests, especially those who have traveled from all parts of the Asia-pacific region to be here today. as a country that has always striven to uphold the principles of democracy, justice and integrity, Malaysia is honoured to host this year's regional anti- corruption conference for Asia and the pacific .


2. I would like to congratulate the A.D.B., O.E.C.D. and the anti-corruption agency of Malaysia, for jointly organising this important event - one that brings together politicians, officials, anti-corruption experts and leaders of civil society, in order to discuss, share and deliberate ways and means to effectively combat corruption in the Asia-pacific region, in the new millennium.


3. This conference is the fourth in a series of successful regional anti-corruption conferences, where many important milestones have been achieved. one such milestone is the endorsement of the regional anti- corruption action plan for Asia-pacific by 17 participating governments during the last conference in Tokyo in 2001. I am confident that this year's conference will continue to forge new approaches to strengthen our resolve to fight corruption and enhance integrity in all spheres of life. as an implementer, I am grateful that with such internationally endorsed strategies and action plans, we now have even more weapons in our arsenal with which to confront global and national corruption decisively.


Ladies and gentlemen,

4. Looking around this afternoon, I feel enormously encouraged that there are individuals and organisations all over the world that are sufficiently concerned about the debilitating effects of corruption on the human condition. it is people like yourselves who are making a positive difference to the lives of citizens in your country and throughout the world. I know I am preaching to the converted when I say that corruption, both grand and petty, is mankind's most deadly social disease which must be cured.


5. Efforts to combat corruption have never been and will never be easy. indeed, it is easier to ignore it, to sweep it under the carpet, or to even benefit from it. but confront it we must, not just for the simple reason that corruption is morally wrong, but because corruption exacts a heavy toll on a nation's social, political and economic wellbeing.


6. At a fundamental level, corruption is damaging because decisions are driven by ulterior motives, with no concern for consequences on the wider community. corrupt acts undermine good governance, fundamentally distort public policy, lead to the misallocation of resources, and harm the growth of the public and private sectors.


7. Corruption is also the single greatest obstacle to economic and social development. it undermines development by compromising the rule of law and weakening the institutional foundations upon which economic growth depends. if there is a perception that corruption in a country is dire, and the cost of doing business has therefore escalated, that country will find its foreign and domestic investors shying away from further investing and doing business in the country. in this instance, economic expansion is stalled, competitiveness drops, incomes fall, jobs are lost, and the people suffer.


Ladies and gentlemen,

9. In order to combat corruption effectively, we can no longer afford quick, ad-hoc short-term solutions. rather we must fight it comprehensively on all fronts, with a myriad of tools. the fight against corruption must necessarily begin with inculcating the right attitude and values in all of society, particularly among those who wield power.


10. Inculcating values, attitudes and behaviours based on the principles of integrity and justice is arguably the most important element in the fight against corruption. values and attitudes are shaped by an individual's upbringing and his or her life experiences. in that sense, the fight against corruption is a long-term battle, and begins with the family unit. knowingly or unknowingly, parents pass down their values to their children. it is, therefore, crucial that parents themselves lead an honest life based on principles of justice and integrity so that they can be an example for their children to follow.


11. Meanwhile, the education system, which shapes and moulds our youths, can also play a vital role in instilling good values. in this case, the Malaysian government will be reintroducing civics classes in the school curriculum for all students in the hope of instilling a lifetime of good values and ethical behaviour in our children.


12. However, merely appealing to a person's sense of right and wrong alone may not be sufficient to fight corruption. I believe that to be successful, we must always consider a systems-wide approach. our actions, especially in the area of good governance and anti- corruption, should not only be aimed at instilling the right values and attitudes, but should go beyond that to strengthening processes, institutions, as well as punitive measures.


13. In Malaysia, we are continuously looking at ways and means to enhance the pillars of integrity in order to work towards a corruption-free society. personally, I have always been a strong believer in the need to promote good governance. as many of you may be aware, in the past month I have vigorously pursued efforts to improve the public service delivery system to make it more efficient, transparent and accountable.


14. The benefits of an improved public service delivery system are wide-ranging, with positive effects on the economy through a reduction in the cost of doing business, through better allocation of resources, and through shorter time needed to complete a transaction. in enhancing the delivery of services, both big business and the man on the street can benefit. but equally, if not more important, a better functioning public service delivery system will promote integrity by reducing opportunities for corruption to occur. in short, by improving public service processes and procedures, loopholes and gaps in the system, which allow corruption to take place, can be eliminated.


15. Beyond this, sound institutions are critical in the fight against corruption. my experience as a politician and civil servant tells me that many of the problems associated with corruption have their origin in flawed or compromised institutions. it is out of this conviction that recently announced that Malaysia would implement a national integrity plan, which is a comprehensive framework in which best practices, new mechanisms, committees and structures would be formalised and implemented to promote good governance, particularly within the public sector.


16. To ensure that institutional capacity building has a sound ethical foundation, the Malaysian government is also supporting the establishment of a national institute for public ethics, which will be the prime mover of the national integrity plan. this institute will coordinate and undertake research aimed at promoting good governance, accountability, transparency, and efficiency in the public service. at the same time it will also provide training, courses and opportunities for inter-agency discussions on ways to improve the quality of service and efficiency in both the public and private sectors.


17. What I have hitherto outlined are preventive measures in fighting corruption. if implemented effectively, I believe they can curb graft, reduce incidences of bribery and monitor potential abuses of power. yet without the deterrence provided by enforcement, these measures will not comprehensively eradicate corruption. we need to ensure that punitive actions are as effective as preventive measures. national anti-corruption agencies must be allowed to operate without fear or favour and empowered to investigate speedily and comprehensively. for some, values and principles are insufficient. only the fear of being caught and punished can stop them.


Ladies and gentlemen,

18. I believe that the fight against corruption has to be a national effort. members of the public must be educated about the evils of corruption and co-opted into the fight against this scourge. just as we clap with both hands, we need to acknowledge that it is not only the bribe taker, but the bribe giver that is at fault. my government's effort to eradicate corruption will come to naught if the public compromises the integrity of government by offering financial and other such inducements.


19. Not only must the public not offer bribes, they must be proactive in reporting instances of corruption. every citizen must be the eyes and ears of the government in detecting and exposing corruption. let those who partake in graft feel unsafe and insecure knowing that they are being watched. in this regard the government will ensure that there are easy and convenient channels provided to the public to report cases of corruption, and that protection be given to those who come forward to report cases.


Ladies and gentlemen,

20. With technological advancements in I.C.T., and greater cross-border movement of ideas, people and finance, national borders are increasingly more porous, and corruption too has taken a more international flavour. for example, the evidence of corrupt acts in one country can swiftly and neatly be hidden away in secret bank accounts in another country. this is but one example that points to the serious need for greater international cooperation to contain the spread of corruption. after all, we already have international cooperation in piracy, drugs, and transnational crime; it is only logical that we cooperate to stamp out corruption as well.


21. Recognising the need for greater investigative expertise and skills to clamp down on the rise of corruption, my government has recently approved a 17 million ringgit allocation for the creation an anti- corruption academy under the purview of our A.C.A.. it will be the first of its kind in the region, and we would like to offer the academy as a regional centre for anti-corruption capacity-building - promoting best practices in investigations, monitoring and enforcement, and in newer areas such as forensic accounting and forensic engineering. it is our sincere hope that countries around the region will support this effort by sending their representatives to the academy to discuss, share, and learn from each other new methods and tools to fight corruption.


22. Malaysia remains committed to the cause of reducing and eradicating corruption, and we welcome any initiative that seeks to advance justice and integrity in all spheres of public life. to demonstrate our strong commitment, especially at the international level, I would like to announce that the Malaysian government will be signing the U.N. anti-corruption convention later this month in Mexico. the general areas that are covered by the convention include criminalisation of bribery; prevention of corruption and promotion of integrity; international cooperation, including in asset recovery and extradition; as well as cooperation in implementation of the convention itself.


Ladies and gentlemen,

23. I believe expectations for this conference are fairly high. this is necessarily so as much of our work will have a direct and indirect impact on the lives of so many people throughout the region. we can, and we must, do more to take on corruption in a clear and resolute manner.


24. I would like to wish all delegates and participants here a productive and successful conference. I hope this year's conference will result in greater understanding among all groups of the challenges that lie ahead, and of the need for greater collaboration in tackling the menace of corruption. on that note, it is my honour and privilege to officially declare the 4th regional anti-corruption conference for Asia and the pacific open.

thank you.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

"Mr. Right"

Malaysia banks on Mr Right
Keith Andrew Bettinger

WASHINGTON - As the torch of Malaysian leadership passes from Mahathir Mohamad to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, pundits are scrambling to figure out what to make of the new prime minister. Abdullah, it has been decided, has a number of hurdles to overcome, and while not possessed with the unique attributes of his predecessor, he does have certain qualities that could help him steer Malaysia nearer its lofty "Vision 2020" goals.

While doubters keep pen and paper at the ready to chronicle any signs of behind-the-scenes manipulation by Mahathir, challenges from Islamic fundamentalists or any economic indicators that would doom Abdullah's administration in its infancy, the new prime minister has indicated that his ascendancy will be measured and calculated. It will have to be if he is to balance trends toward fundamentalism in his country against Malaysia's relationship with its No 1 trading partner, the United States. He inherits criticism from abroad for Malaysia's draconian Internal Security Act (ISA), but any moves toward liberalization could strengthen the opposition and weaken his grip on power. Malaysia is indeed at a crossroads; Abdullah will make or break his career with the decisions he makes as Mahathir fades into the background.

In terms of economics, Malaysia is on the brink of a new phase of development. Malaysia was the grand Southeast Asian success story of the 1990s - the great hope for the developing world. Bucking conventional wisdom and eschewing the Washington Consensus, Malaysia emerged relatively undamaged from the Asian financial crisis, poised to continue its meteoric rise through middle-income nationhood. Malaysia's growing affluence stemmed from its export-oriented economy and its success in transforming itself from reliance on commodities to finished goods and high-tech products. During the 1990s Malaysia benefited from its relatively cheap labor force and became a hub for silicon chips.

Now Malaysia faces greater competition from abroad. Many observers have pointed to China as a threat to Malaysia. In the mid-1990s, Malaysia was attracting US$5 billion to $7 billion a year in foreign direct investment (FDI). While China's FDI is approaching $50 billion annually, Malaysia's has dipped below $1 billion. Some analysts warn of a great sucking sound as jobs move out of Malaysia to take advantage of cheap, abundant labor and a liberalizing business environment. However, with balanced policies and a sensible eye toward the future, Malaysia may be able to increase its fortunes in tandem with the People's Republic. Things have been looking positive for Malaysia; the stock market is up, and the economy has experienced 4.5 percent growth this year and is projected to grow by another 5-6 percent in 2004. These figures are down from the average 7 percent pre-meltdown growth rates experienced in the 1990s, but Malaysia's economy has entered a new phase in which the goal should be slower, sustained growth.

Dr Arvind Panagariya, former chief economist for the Asian Development Bank, focused on China by explaining how its rise could benefit other nations as well. "It's a big opportunity," he said. "The Chinese market is evolving in such a way that other countries, if their policies are right, can do well. China's market is not closed." Panagariya then added: "If Malaysia can compete with China now, they will able to compete later."

Specialization would improve Malaysia's position. As China continues to develop, wages will need to rise, as people desire a higher standard of living. Panagariya said that unfettered markets in Malaysia will enable experienced entrepreneurs to take advantage of opportunities in China. One current example is palm oil, one of Malaysia's most abundant commodities, which is selling briskly in India and China, where consumers are choosing vegetable over animal oils.

Abdullah Badawi has said publicly that he will continue Mahathir's economic policies. But this by itself is a vague statement providing few clues for international investors; Mahathir was praised for his handling of the 1997 Asian financial crisis but has been jeered for rewarding friends and "picking winners". However, Abdullah has railed against the cronyism and corruption so ingrained in the Mahathir regime, and as time goes by, he should feel more comfortable in criticizing his former boss. He will seek to make Malaysia more attractive to foreign investors by cracking down on corruption and mindless bureaucracy while improving the efficiency of the civil service.

One early test of his ability will be how Abdullah handles the recent imbroglio over a contract to improve a stretch of railway; the multibillion-dollar contract had been awarded to a Indian-Chinese partnership, but just 10 days before he retired, Mahathir reneged on the promise, instead awarding it to Syed Mokijtar al-Bukhary, a reclusive Malay tycoon with personal ties to Mahathir. This type of contract is an example of the type of cronyism that marred the Mahathir years; critics often assailed the administration over billions of dollars spent on megaprojects, such as the Putrajaya capital district, the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the KL monorail.

Abdullah has indicated that he will move away from big-ticket spending and will instead focus on agricultural and small business development. This may have the serendipitous bonus of discouraging cronyism because agricultural development and small businesses are harder to skim huge amounts of money off the top of, and these types of projects will be less accessible and less attractive to the old-guard tycoons. Then Malaysia may enjoy the best of both worlds - increased transparency and competitiveness to go along with the lure of a well-developed infrastructure. Abdullah does not have the solid hold on the reigns of power that will allow him to be perceived as favoring one group over the others. If he allows cronyism to flourish anew, he risks losing credibility with younger Malaysians still forming their political loyalties.

Abdullah's reputation as a consensus-builder should further soothe the misgivings of international investors. In addition to the aforementioned criticisms, Mahathir has also been attacked for his autocratic management style. K S Jomo, economics professor at University Malaya, wrote recently in the Far Eastern Economic Review that "the quality of Malaysian policymaking would have been considerably enhanced by genuine popular consultation in the national interest, rather than presuming to know what was best for the nation. There are few instances when greater consultation, transparency, and accountability would not have helped."

His style not withstanding, Abdullah does not have the political capital to dictate his terms. He will need to be more open to other views and will need support of other leaders to buttress his administration. In the long run, this will provide stability and more enlightened policymaking. As Abdullah follows a moderate path, institutions that were cowed under Mahathir may slowly reassert their constitutional purview. This will increase transparency and improve governance, enhancing Malaysia's image among human-rights watchers.

The new prime minister will have ample opportunity to prove himself in international politics as well. Malaysia's geostrategic location makes it a key variable in the international calculus of power politics. Abdullah's predecessor has been somewhat of an enigma for global-minded statesmen. Mahathir's anti-Semitic rantings and periodic outbursts aimed at the West have won him few friends, and have perhaps hindered Malaysia's relations with the West, preventing it from taking a greater role in regional affairs.

Dr Bridget Welsh of Johns Hopkins University's School for Advanced International Studies said that since Abdullah is a more consensus-oriented leader he may be able to soothe the recently rocky relations between his country and Australia and the US. In the past there were "leadership issues causing needless negative energy", Welsh said, adding that the United States should give Abdullah and other leaders some time to consolidate their positions and suggested patience.

So far, though, Abdullah is making progress. Welsh cited the recent release of prisoners jailed under the controversial ISA as an example. Releasing former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, whose health is deteriorating, would be a further sign of goodwill and would "show that Badawi is standing on his own ... that he is different". Welsh, the editor of Reflections: The Mahathir Years, cautioned that it is still too early to make judgments on Abdullah's chances.

Abdullah is well equipped to deal with international issues. In addition to a term as finance minister, he served as foreign minister for eight years. He will have a chance to define himself quickly, as Malaysia is the chair of the 114-member Non-Aligned Movement and the 57-member Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). Abdullah, though seen as a moderate, has excellent credentials with his country's Bumiputra (Malay) majority; he was trained as an Islamic scholar. This should enhance his credibility in the OIC. Thus, while Mahathir was lauded by some Muslims for his remarks about the Jews, Abdullah's background will enable him to be more of a model, leading by actions rather than words.

Abdullah has a chance to be the prototype of a new kind of Islamic statesman, rather than a fiery demagogue. This could woo supporters away from the Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), although he may have difficulty in reconciling Malaysia's relationship with the United States with his political imperative of appealing to the Muslim majority, among whom US foreign policy has not been well received. Abdullah has shown promise, though. This year, while Mahathir was on a two-month vacation, Abdullah had a "dry run" as acting prime minister and diplomatically voiced Malaysia's opposition to the US-led campaign in Iraq while keeping internal protests manageable.

He will also have an opportunity to reinvigorate the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which many analysts have claimed is mired in a procedural swamp that prevents its members from getting anything done. With the recent debacle in Cancun, Mexico, and protests in the streets wherever the carnival that is the World Trade Organization sinks its stakes for a meeting, regional trade agreements have a great deal of appeal.

India and China have both expressed interest in forging ahead with a free-trade area in Southeast Asia; if Malaysia can move these projects forward it would enhance its prestige in ASEAN. Abdullah's Islamic credibility and his diplomatic manner would serve him well as a regional leader; if he plays his hand well he could be a bridge between ASEAN and the United States, interpreting and guiding US policies toward the region while steering regional initiatives in a direction that is amenable to the heterogeneous populations of the ASEAN nations and to the US as well.

Southeast Asia is an important nexus in the "war on terror"; while it is becoming more obvious to the administration of US President George W Bush that terrorism is a global problem, it seems apparent to other nations that US policies are shortsighted and ignorant of local realities. And though it would be down the road a bit, given the realities of the current world, Abdullah may be able to cultivate "soft power", that is influence over other nations, especially by making friends in Washington and subtly informing the leadership there while making monetary and manpower contributions to international reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The United States will be eyeing Abdullah's policies vis-a-vis the PAS, which now controls two states, Terengganu and Kelantan. Under Mahathir, Islamic extremism never had the chance to thrive, but in the past few years the PAS has gained ground on Abdullah's United Malays National Organization (UMNO), much to the consternation of the US. The PAS has declared jihad against the United States, and PAS demonstrators clad in Osama bin Laden shirts protested the campaign in Afghanistan outside the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. While the running joke at the US State Department is that the United States had no problem with Malaysia, just one particular Malaysian, Mahathir has been the only Muslim leader in Asia with the courage to take on Islamic schools that are hotbeds of teaching hatred and terror. Abdullah will be watched like a hawk for any sign that he favors a relaxation of Mahathir's policies against fundamentalism.

Mahathir has been synonymous with Malaysia. He has been labeled a visionary and will go down as a national hero in Malaysia. There is good reason for this. During his tenure, Malaysia's per capita income grew from RM4,630 in 1982 to RM$14,877 ($3,915) in 2003; a true middle class developed and now most citizens have houses and cars. Regardless of his eccentricities, this is a marvelous feat; the "Malaysian Dream" has become a reality.

Now Abdullah Badawi takes over. No one has accused him of being a visionary, but he may be exactly what the doctor ordered: a steady hand to guide Malaysia into a new millennium, using a "nip-and-tuck" style of modifications to improve the country's governance. Abdullah will face the difficulty of moving away from Mahathir's shadow and asserting himself, while not arousing the ire of the former prime minister. Abdullah has shown that he is politically skilled, but he will need support and a certain amount of luck to succeed.

While the challenges are formidable, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi just might be the right man at the right time for Malaysia.

(Copyright 2003 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact content@atimes.com for information on our sales and syndication policies.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Surprise Visit to Immigration Dept.

Abdullah Badawi: Malaysia's tinker man</span>
By Anil Netto

PENANG, Malaysia - Like a home handyman tinkering around the house making adjustments and minor repairs, Malaysia's new premier has been busy fine-tuning what he believes is a successful system.

In power now for nearly a month, Abdullah Badawi has had plenty of time to shake up the system and rid it of some of the excesses of the previous administration of Mahathir Mohamad, who retired as prime minister at the end of October.

And indeed, Abdullah has already made a few newsworthy moves. But rather than grabbing the administration by the scruff of the neck and shaking it up, he has been tinkering with it on the surface, including providing some material goodies to civil servants, perhaps with one eye on the coming general election.

Barely a day passes without some new policy or approach being announced. Some of these moves have been perceived in various quarters as vote-catching ploys ahead of a general election, widely expected to be held early next year, and party elections of the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO).

Since taking office, Abdullah has swooped down against civil-service inefficiency, corruption and bottlenecks. He also made a surprise check on the Immigration Department in its frontline office where the public has to queue starting at dawn.

One day he announced an effective hike in the golden handshakes for civil servants upon retirement and a pay raise for the police; another day, he launched a major road-safety campaign ahead of the end-of-Ramadan rush to return home.

The new premier, obviously trying to distance himself from the excesses of the previous administration, wants moderation in all future government functions, pointing out that many of these events were "way too elaborate".

He has also directed the Treasury to take immediate measures to settle all outstanding payments to government suppliers and ensure that payment is made within 30 days of delivery. Identifying corruption and education as key areas to focus on, Abdullah has urged his ruling-coalition leaders to tell him the truth about the problems being faced by the people.

But many Malaysians remain deeply cynical over whether the untested new premier can undo overnight years of tolerance for a culture that often closes an eye to various abuses and inefficiency. Moreover, Abdullah has yet to even be confirmed as leader of the UMNO by the party rank-and-file.

Although the crackdown on corruption and inefficiency in the civil service is widely welcome, it does not tackle one of the major problems in Malaysia: money politics. Far too many politicians in business have close links with the dominant parties in the ruling coalition like the UMNO. Critics point out that the prime minister, cabinet ministers and other elected representatives should all be required to declare their assets to the public and that the Anti-Corruption Agency, which falls under the Prime Minister's Department, should be made genuinely independent.

As his first month draws to a close, Abdullah has not reshuffled the cabinet or brought in new blood. Power continues to be centralized in the hands of the prime minister. In addition to the powerful home affairs portfolio that he held even before taking over the helm, Abdullah also assumed the Finance Ministry's portfolio that Mahathir controlled. And he cannot argue that he needs more time to select the right candidate, as Mahathir announced his resignation in June last year. Critics say he is insecure - the deputy premier's post is still vacant - and he needs more time to build his support base before he can relinquish these key portfolios.

Not long ago there was some bright news for Abdullah: third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth reached 5.1 percent after the economy expanded by 4.5 percent in the first half of the year. But recently a hot potato has landed on Abdullah's lap: the hiring of a local consortium - Gamuda Bhd-Malaysian Mining Corp Bhd (MMC) - to build and electrify a 636-kilometer double-track railway line despite a letter of intent having been given to the Indian Railway Construction Co (Ircon) and China Railway Engineering Corp (CREC) in mid-2002.

The railway line is part of the US$30 billion 5,500km trans-Asia railway track linking Singapore with Kunming in China. Gamuda-MMC reportedly won the bid after quoting a lower price - RM14.5 billion ($3.8 million) - under controversial circumstances.

Holding the finance minister's portfolio is especially convenient for Abdullah at this point with a snap general election looming. The ruling coalition's election campaign has traditionally banked on the "politics of development" - a euphemism for promising development projects and aid and dishing out on-the-spot grants to win votes.

Also, the finance minister's post means that Abdullah controls the purse strings in the run-up to the elections of the UMNO, of which he is now acting head.

Politics in the UMNO is dominated by the politics of patronage: contracts, licenses, shares and other favors are awarded to build support within the party. Abdullah, who was only appointed - rather than elected - as UMNO deputy president after the ouster in 1998 of the then incumbent, Anwar Ibrahim, has not been tested in party polls for the UMNO leadership. Holding on to the finance portfolio, therefore, would give Abdullah an obvious edge over any potential rival that may emerge from within the party ranks to mount a leadership challenge.

Widespread speculation over who will be Abdullah Badawi's deputy is also revealing. If anything, it shows the extent to which Mahathir's tenure had assumed feudal overtones after 22 years of autocratic rule. Now that Mahathir's successor is at the helm, Malaysians are obsessed about who will be next in line to succeed the new premier. This fixation on who will be the new premier's deputy is a phenomenon that is rarely seen in democratic nations that have installed a new leader and shows how the feudal mentality has seeped into the political arena here.

Meanwhile, news broke on Friday that the editor-in-chief of the establishment English-language broadsheet New Straits Times, Abdullah Ahmad, had been removed. The NST boss has been seen as a Mahathir loyalist who appears to have been backing Mahathir's choice, Defense Minister Najib Razak, for the vacant post of deputy premier.

If tradition is the guide, the deputy president of UMNO will become the new deputy premier. But party elections for top posts are not due until mid-2004 and, with other potential candidates lurking in the wings, it is by no means certain that Najib will be a shoo-in for the UMNO deputy presidency.

Away on a vacation in Europe, Mahathir himself was largely out of the media glare during the early part of the month.

Abdullah, still unsure of his support base, shows no sign of easing up on autocratic rule. The number of those in detention without trial under the feared Internal Security Act swelled to more than 100 after 13 Malaysian students were held on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity. Some of these students are teenagers who were picked up by Pakistani authorities and sent back to Malaysia.

Human-rights campaigner Irene Fernandez meanwhile faces the possibility of going to jail after she was convicted of maliciously publishing false news despite overwhelming evidence in her favor during the course of her trial. And ex-deputy premier Ibrahim is still in jail, trying to get medical treatment for a spinal injury while appealing against his conviction. There also appears to be little sign of any major reforms in the judiciary. And although a new police chief has been appointed, it is doubtful whether this alone can improve the image of the force among the public after all the bad news during the Mahathir years.

As the weeks roll by, Abdullah can be expected to apply more fine-tuning rather than the adventurous radical reforms in almost all areas that Malaysia needs. It is unlikely that such tinkering will capture the public imagination or enable UMNO to win back lost ground.

(Copyright 2003 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact content@atimes.com for information on our sales and syndication policies.)

Sunday, November 23, 2003

"I want to be open about this. It has nothing to do with the internal politics," on the sacking of NST GEIC Abdullah Ahmad

Malaysia PM defends sacking of editor

Posted Sun Nov 23, 2003 11:19am AEDT

Malaysia's Prime Minister has defended the sacking of New Straits Times group chief editor, saying his article on the Saudi monarchy had soured ties between Kuala Lumpur and Riyadh.

"The article has caused problems between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia and a number of countries in the Gulf," Prime Minster Abdullah Badawi told reporters.

The editor, Abdullah Ahmad, 66, was sacked on Friday after publishing comments about the kingdom's royal family that sparked a strong protest from the Saudi Government.

The New Straits Times (NST), the country's oldest newspaper group and one of the biggest, is linked to Abdullah Badawi's ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

The November 12 article, headlined "Freeing the Prophet's land", had also prompted Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Malaysia to boycott one of the Prime Minister's functions this week, sources said.

The Prime Minister said the sacking of the editor, who took up the job in August 2001, was not politically motivated.

"I want to be open about this. It has nothing to do with the internal politics," he said.

"If it was personal, we would have taken action long time ago."


He said the decision the sack the editor was taken by the paper's owners.

--Reuters

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Malaysian 'militant' students held under ISA

Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 November, 2003, 03:21 GMT

By Jonathan Kent
BBC correspondent in Kuala Lumpur

Thirteen Malaysian students suspected of involvement with Islamic militant groups have been detained upon their arrival home following their deportation from Pakistan.

The 13 were arrested in Karachi in September along with the younger brother of Hambali - the Indonesian man alleged to have masterminded the Bali bombings.

Police outside Kamunting prison, where the suspects are being held
No suspected militant has been brought to trial
The group is being held under Malaysia's internal security act, which allows for indefinite detention without trial or charge.

The thirteen were studying at Islamic colleges in Pakistan when they were originally arrested, apparently on the strength of information provided by Hambali.

Prior to his arrest in Thailand in August, he was allegedly the operations chief for the militant network said to be responsible for bombings in Bali and Jakarta.

The Malaysian authorities say Hambali's younger brother was grooming the students to become future militant leaders.

He was one of a number of Indonesians also arrested in Pakistan.

No-one charged

The fathers of four of the students are already in detention in Malaysia, according to local media reports.

More than 90 people alleged to have links to militant groups have been detained here in the last two-and-a-half years.

None has been charged or brought to court.

Under Malaysia's internal security act police can hold suspects for up to 60days.

Thereafter they can be detained indefinitely on the authority of the Home Minister.

That post has been held by Malaysia's new prime minister, Abdullah Badawi, for the last four years.

Monday, November 10, 2003

"Work With Me, Not For Me" (RTM Interview)/"Tell Me The Truth" (RTM Interview)

Oleh/By : DATO' SERI ABDULLAH BIN HAJI AHMAD BADAWI
PERDANA MENTERI MALAYSIA
Tempat/Venue : PUTRAJAYA

Tarikh/Date : 10/11/2003
Tajuk/Title : TEMURAMAH PERDANA MENTERI BERSAMA RTM

Temuramah Bersama Perdana Menteri Bersama Penolong Pengawal Berita TV RTM, Monshi Abdullah dan Pengarang Kumpulan Berita Harian, Hishamuddin Aun, 10 November 2003.
----------------------------------------------------

SOALAN: Dalam banyak perkara, terutama yang membabitkan soal peralihan dan pertukaran, orang suka ingin mengetahui apakah perubahan yang hendak dilakukan. Apakah pendapat Datuk Seri dalam konteks ini?

PM: Orang nak tengok perubahan yang berlaku. Tetapi pada saya, saya berfikir apakah yang terbaik yang boleh saya lakukan. Apakah perkara yang penting. Kalau itu dianggap sebagai perubahan, Alhamdulillah. Kalau tidak, tidaklah. Umpamanya, saya kata, saya suka orang bekerja dengan saya, bukan kerja untuk saya dan ini nampaknya pada banyak orang satu perubahan, satu pendekatan yang kata mereka menyegarkan. Jadi, mereka sangat suka. Sebenarnya sokongan atau respons positif kepada apa yang saya katakana itu adalah sangat baik. Mudah-mudahan dengan cara ini akan membawa kepada satu cara kerja, satu cara muafakat, satu bentuk pasukan, kerja berpasukan yang lebih berkesan untuk memastikan yang kita boleh mencapai matlamat pembangunan yang telah kita tetapkan.

SOALAN: Selain mengenai tema bekerjasama dengan Datuk Seri dan bukan untuk Datuk Seri, kelmarin Datuk Seri membangkitkan mengenai perlunya maklumat yang tepat dan benar disampaikan kepada Datuk Seri. Apakah Datuk Seri juga berharap kepada kelompok parti pembangkang dan badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) untuk memberi kerjasama sedemikian?

PM: Sebenarnya saya telah membuat permintaan itu ketika merasmikan Konvensyen MIC (di Shah Alam, Ahad lalu). Saya gunakan platform itu bukan saja untuk menyeru ahli parti komponen Barisan Nasional (BN), tetapi juga orang ramai, kumpulan NGO yang suka berhubung terus dengan saya dan orang biasa yang kadang-kadang tulis surat beritahu itu dan ini, minta perhatian saya. Jadi untuk mengelakkan daripada kita terbuang masa ambil tindakan yang tidak betul kepada permintaan itu, malah boleh jadi tersilap dan menimbulkan banyak masalah, saya perlu memastikan maklumat yang diberikan kepada saya itu maklumat yang tepat, yang betul. Kalau maklumat tak betul, maka respons dan tindak balas saya tentulah sekali tak betul. Ini merugikan dan boleh menjadikan keadaan kelam kabut. Itulah yang saya harapkan. Ada pula orang kata, setengah orang takut nak bagi maklumat, nanti mungkin saya susah hati tidak boleh tidur. Pada saya ini tidak menyusahkan saya. Sebenarnya sebagai pemimpin, saya bersedia untuk menghadapi apa juga maklumat yang diberikan kepada saya walaupun maklumat itu mengejutkan, boleh buat saya rasa sedih, boleh buat saya rasa gusar, terkejut, tergempar. Itu tak kisah. Pada saya yang penting, yang kita nak tahu ialah apakah yang betul dalam hal ini. Kalau betul Alhamdulillah. Itulah penekanan saya. Saya nak ini dibuat bukan hanya kepada saya. Biarlah ia menjadi amalan semua orang, kepada sesiapa juga. Sesama kawan-kawan dalam jabatan misalnya, pegawai nak beritahu sesuatu kepada menteri, kepada KSU (Ketua Setiausaha), kepada Ketua Pengarah, biarlah tepat. Mana-manapun perhubungan itu, perhubungan yang tepat ini baik dan saya anggap ini sebagai satu keikhlasan. Tetapi kalau kawan-kawan kata saja, dia ni sokong saya, dia bersama saya, tetapi semua cakap tak betul, lebih suka memuji-muji, ini tak kenalah. Macam ini tidak membawa kepada kebaikan, terutama dalam konteks apa saya perlu lakukan. Kita mahu kawan, kita mahu pembantu, kita mahu penolong, bukan pembodek. Ini tak boleh. Ini adalah kawan-kawan yang berupa sokong membawa rebah. Jadi, dia tidak begitu ikhlas dalam hal-hal memberi maklumat, khabar dan sebagainya.

SOALAN: Tetapi Datuk Seri, kemungkinan juga mereka bimbang jika mereka menyatakan sesuatu yang benar, mereka akan memperlihatkan prestasi mereka yang lemah atau membongkar kelemahan diri mereka sendiri. Ini yang mungkin jadi halangan.

PM: Macam-macam boleh jadi halangan. Tetapi jika mereka anggap perkara itu menjadi halangan, saya akan marah, saya akan tengking, saya ada dukacita dengan dia, saya akan kecewa dengan dia. Bagi saya, perkara itu tidak akan berlaku. Tetapi kalau apa pun, saya akan panggil dia dan tanya dia habis-habis, betul atau tidak.

SOALAN: Datuk Seri juga turut menggunakan analogi sebuah pasukan bola sepak yang memerlukan keseluruhan pemain patuh kepada arahan jurulatih untuk mencapai kemenangan. Ini satu penekanan yang sebenarnya diterima. Jadi, bagaimanakah Datuk Seri dapat menerapkan kefahaman ini untuk menjadi ikutan rakyat keseluruhannya?

PM: Saya perlu pastikan ada semangat setia kawan, semangat berpasukan dan yang penting sekali supaya kita sama-sama memahami apa yang kita nak, apa matlamat kita, ke mana kita nak tuju. Yang kita mahu itu apa dia. Setelah kita faham tentang perkara ini, maka kita boleh bekerja dengan tujuan itu. Kalau kita tidak faham tujuan, maka masing-masing dengan cara masing-masing. Itu yang akan membawa kepada kelam kabut dan kurang berkesan dalam cara kita bertindak. Saya gunakan pasukan, ertinya semua orang dalam pasukan ada peranan. Dalam pasukan yang saya terbabit, saya ada peranan, yang lain pun ada peranan. Jadi, kita semua berperanan, tetapi cara kita menyelaras, cara kita melaksana peranan kita itu mestilah dengan kefahaman kita, melaksanakannya dengan penuh tanggungjawab. Apa yang kita buat itu adalah untuk kebaikan, keberkesanan pasukan kita, kerana matlamat kita adalah untuk mencapai kemenangan, kemenangan bagi semua.

SOALAN: Datuk Seri, menerima tanggungjawab baru yang juga satu amanah memerlukan masa dan sebagainya. Jadi bagaimana Datuk Seri menerima tanggungjawab ini dan menyesuaikan dengan keperluan masa Datuk Seri sekarang?

PM: Saya menerima tanggungjawab ini dengan rasa senang hati, tidak ada gabra dan risau sangat. Cuma yang saya fahami tanggungjawab ini dan peranan melaksanakannya adalah besar serta amat berat. Jadi saya mencari ketenangan dengan berdoa kepada Allah swt untuk mendapat hidayah, untuk mendapat bimbingan, untuk mendapat ketenangan. Itu adalah cara saya dalam menghadapi apa situasi sekalipun. Jadi, saya anggap ini juga satu peluang untuk saya buat apa yang saya terdaya, untuk memberi sumbangan kepada pembangunan bangsa, pembangunan negara dan juga kita harap saya dapat mencapai kejayaan dalam perjuangan saya untuk agama, bangsa, dan negara. Di samping itu, sebagai ketua BN, saya juga komited kepada perkongsian kuasa, kepada menjayakan muafakat dan kerjasama di kalangan parti komponen. Jadi perpaduan semua kaum itu menjadi satu-satunya yang saya mesti capai. Jika saya mendapat kerjasama daripada semua orang, mahu membantu, mahu bekerjasama, kerja akan jadi mudah dan akan melegakan sebenarnya.

SOALAN: Media asing nampaknya memberi reaksi yang sangat positif terhadap pelantikan Datuk Seri dari mula lagi. Cable News Network (CNN) umpamanya, amat meyakini kemampuan politik Datuk Seri untuk menangani cabaran warisan yang ditinggalkan oleh Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Apakah ini suatu rangsangan kepada Datuk Seri dan apakah Datuk Seri berharap ia akan berkekalan demikian?

PM: Ya, itu adalah pandangan dia, tak apalah. Saya terima kasihlah. Yang pentingnya apa juga yang saya nak buat itu adalah bertunjangkan kepada matlamat untuk menjayakan kerja saya, nak buat itu dengan sebaik-baiknya. Kalaulah pandangan orang awam, pandangan media dalam negeri dan luar negeri itu adalah sesuatu yang baik, Alhamdulillah. Pandangan mereka pun akan membantu juga. Kalaulah media antarabangsa memberi pandangan yang baik kepada saya, mungkin ia juga akan dapat membantu nanti, membantu kejayaan Malaysia untuk mendapatkan sokongan, untuk mendapatkan pelaburan dari luar misalnya dan sebagainya. Ada kebaikannya juga.

SOALAN: Beberapa ucapan tahniah diterima daripada pemimpin dunia atas pelantikan Datuk Seri. Apakah hasrat mereka sebenarnya Datuk Seri?

PM: Hasrat mereka ingin bekerjasama dengan saya dan mahu supaya Malaysia dan negara mereka meneruskan kerjasama yang sedia terjalin disamping itu mahu mengukuhkannya lagi. Pada saya tidak ada masalah sebab saya pun memang berhajat begitu juga. Hubungan dua hala dengan negara lain boleh ditingkatkan lagi supaya kita mendapat keuntungan lebih besar dalam kerjasama itu, baik ekonomi atau apa juga. Tidak ada masalah. Saya tidak ada masalah.

SOALAN: Di sebalik kesibukan Datuk Seri memimpin kerajaan, Datuk Seri juga harus memberi fokus kepada Pergerakan Negara Berkecuali (NAM) dan Pertubuhan Persidangan Islam (OIC). Kedua-duanya di bawah kepemimpinan Malaysia. Apakah ada hala tuju baru dan keutamaan Datuk Seri dalam memacu kedua-dua pertubuhan antarabangsa ini?

PM: Ini bergantung kepada apa yang sedang dihadapi oleh OIC waktu ini. Sebabnya itulah yang menjadi keutamaan. Jadi isu-isu yang ada hubung kait dengan perpaduan dan kerjasama di kalangan negara OIC tidak semestinya yang berhubung dengan politik atau kerjasama ekonomi kerana sejak dulu pun kerjasama ekonomi amat kurang. Jadi, kita terlalu sibuk dan terlalu memberi perhatian sangat kepada hal yang berkaitan dengan politik. Walaupun politik itu penting, kita kena terus menjadi kumpulan yang sentiasa menekan mengenai betapa penting masalah Palestin diselesaikan segera. Kita akan guna segala platform yang ada, terutama di Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (PBB) yang mana muafakat negara OIC dan negara lain dalam NAM juga boleh dibawa sama untuk membantu bagi menjayakan gerakan dan tuntutan kita itu. Dari segi ekonomi, ini boleh dibuat secara individu atau membabitkan beberapa negara. Sebenarnya, saya sudah bercadang nak wujudkan gabungan beberapa negara yang dapat memulakan secara positif bagaimana kita boleh membantu meningkatkan kerjasama dalam bidang ekonomi. Jadi, kita kena cari negara yang memang aktif dalam bidang perdagangan, barulah boleh kita mula dan lepas itu kita perluaskan lagi bidang kerjasama ini. Jadi anda mesti memulakannya. Apa yang kita buat baru-baru ini apabila kita adakan ekspo sempena Sidang Kemuncak OIC. Ekspo itu saya harap akan jadi satu kegiatan yang sentiasa dilaksanakan apabila ada sidang OIC. Dengan itu, ia akan jadi pembuka mata kepada negara anggota supaya berminat untuk eksport dan import.

SOALAN: Adakah jangka sama tertentu yang ditetapkan supaya cadangan berkenaan boleh jadi kenyataan?

PM: Kita nak buat, kita buat dengan secepat mungkin. Ada benda yang akan mengambil masa panjang. Semuanya bukan boleh dipastikan berlaku dengan segera. Tetapi kita perlu membuat permulaan, jika tidak kita tak boleh buat apa-apa pun.

SOALAN: Di sebalik keakraban Malaysia dengan negara jiran, masih wujud pelbagai isu yang boleh merenggangkan sedikit hubungan sedia ada. Contohnya penambakan laut oleh Singapura, kebanjiran pekerja asing, isu militan membabitkan negara jiran.

PM: Kita sebenarnya ada masalah. Semua negara jiran kita ada masalah. Dengan Indonesia mengenai Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM), dengan Singapura isu penambakan laut, dengan Thailand masalah sempadan, dengan Filipina soal selatan Filipina, masalah orang selatan Filipina yang membanjiri Sabah. Dengan Brunei, berkaitan dengan sempadan maritim. Jadi ada saja semuanya. Pada saya yang penting ialah saya perlu berusaha bersungguh-sungguh supaya apa juga masalah dua hala yang ada dengan negara jiran itu diatasi. Saya pegang kepada satu prinsip. Prinsip saya ialah supaya dengan jiran kita mesti berkawan dan mesti ada hubungan baik. Jiran yang baik itu pada saya adalah sama penting, mungkin lebih penting lagi daripada sahabat jauh yang duduk sebelah dunia yang lain, yang nak pergi pun mengambil masa berbelas-belas jam lamanya. Jadi jiran itu amat penting untuk keselamatan rantau.

SOALAN: Tema ucapan Datuk Seri semasa merasmikan Perhimpunan Pemuda, Wanita dan Puteri Umno tahun ini iaitu Mengurus Kejayaan. Apakah ia akan menjadi sebahagian agenda pengurusan Datuk Seri nanti?

PM: Mengurus kejayaan ini besar sebenarnya. Kita nak pastikan kalau kita sudah capai kejayaan dalam sesuatu perkara, dalam sesuatu sektor, kita nak pastikan sektor itu tidak mundur. Apa juga yang telah kita capai itu tidak akan hilang begitu saja. Ekonomi misalnya, kita nak pastikan ekonomi kita terus membangun. Kita nak capai pertumbuhan lebih baik lagi di masa hadapan. Jadi dengan itu kita nak fikir apakah yang menyebabkan ekonomi kita berjalan baik pada waktu ini dan kita nak pastikan faktor yang menyebabkan ekonomi kita itu berjalan rancak atau pun menghala kepada pertumbuhan itu mesti dipelihara. Kalau ada pendekatan yang telah kita gunakan, kita gunakan pendekatan itu. Kalau kita ada dasar tertentu dalam sektor ini yang telah menunjukkan kesan baik, maka dasar itu mesti terus dijalankan. Itu bermakna belajar daripada kejayaan yang diperoleh pada waktu ini untuk menangani kejayaan pada masa sekarang. Di samping itu kita kena juga fikir untuk masa depan. Itu yang kena menjadi usaha saya, menjadi sumbangan saya untuk masa depan. Dalam hal ini, kalau untuk ekonomi, kita kena pastikan bahawa kita dapat mewujudkan kebolehan kita untuk bersaing. Ertinya kita punya daya saing
perlu ditingkatkan. Kita perlu bina keupayaan kita untuk tingkatkan persaingan kerana persaingan pada peringkat global akan terus menjadi hebat terutama dengan adanya Pertubuhan Perdagangan Dunia (WTO) globalisasi, liberalisasi, amat penting.

SOALAN: Sebarang bentuk perbandingan pada peringkat ini tidak akan memberi keadilan baik kepada Dr Mahathir mahu pun Perdana Menteri sendiri, tetapi sehingga hari ini nampaknya perbandingan masih terus dibuat oleh pelbagai media baik di dalam mahu pun di luar negara. Adakah keadaan ini merimaskan Datuk Seri dan bagaimanakah Datuk Seri menangani perkara ini?

PM: Saya tahu. Saya tak kisah apa orang nak kata, katalah, pasal 22 tahun tak ada orang lain jadi Perdana Menteri, yang orang tahu itulah Perdana Menteri sampai panggil Dr Mahathir sebagai PM. Saya pun masa nak balik ke Pulau Pinang baru-baru ni, orang kata kita pakai Perdana One, bukan perdana satu, saya pun terus kata itu PM punya. Lepas itu pegawai aya kata, Pak Lah lah Perdana Menteri sekarang ni, jadi dah lama dia punya, seolah-olah itu saya tak boleh pakai, maka saya diperingatkan `you are the PM now', OK OK betullah tu. Kadang-kadang tersasul. Dr Mahathir ertinya PM, 22 tahun punya cerita jadi kita tak boleh elak bila orang nak banding. Orang tahu Dr Mahathir, PM itu cara dia. Dr Mahathir telah dapat bagi orang faham atau pun orang sudah mula terima cara Dr Mahathir itu cara PM. Jadi kalau ada PM baru macam saya ini, apa pula cara Pak Lah ni, Dr Mahathir buat itu tak boleh dielak, tapi kalau saya dah buat sesuatu dah mula semua dapat faham, mesti ada orang kata ini cara Pak Lah, macam saya kata tadi perlu bekerjasama dengan saya bukan kerja untuk saya. Itu orang utara kata - Pak Lah kita boleh kerja tak ada masalah sampai membangkang, apakah kita boleh bekerjasama? Badan-badan lain pun boleh
kata begitu, individu pun kata begitu, semua orang kata OK. Pak Lah kata nak bekerjasama dengan dia, kita bincang. Itulah, dia akan mengambil masa maklumlah bukan senang. Tapi... orang tetap akan terus membuat perbandingan walaupun mereka membanding tapi yang pentingnya bila saya nak buat sesuatu orang tengok saya buat. Kalau kerja saya itu menjadi, maka ini bukan menjadi masalah kepada rakyat, pada saya itulah. Dr Mahathir sendiri mengakui dia kata Pak Lah dengan dia berlainan stail takkan sama stail tapi matlamat tetap sama demi masa depan bangsa dan negara untuk yang lebih baik, lebih cemerlang. Itu komitmen kita, komitmen Tun Dr Mahathir, komitmen saya dan komitmen semua rakyat Malaysia, jadi kita bekerjasama ke arah itu.

SOALAN: Dalam tempoh 10 hari ini saja beberapa peringatan telah diberikan oleh Datuk Seri sendiri terutama dalam soal rasuah, mahupun ketelusan. Kemudian dari segi perpaduan, konsep sekolah-sekolah. Jadi nampaknya dalam 10 hari ini Datuk Seri telah memberikan satu rangsangan kepada semua untuk bersama-sama dengan Datuk Seri. Bagaimana Datuk Seri dapat menangani tindak balas rakyat terhadap Datuk Seri dalam tempoh berkenaan?

PM: Baik, Alhamdulillah baik, sama ada cara bekerja baik, keutamaan yang telah saya tetapkan yang kita perlu beri perhatian, itu pun dapat sokongan yang baik juga, Alhamdulillah. Bermakna kalau ada sokongan itu harapan saya akan ada juga kerjasama bukan setakat bagi sokongan secara cakap saja, lepas itu lain tak mahu membantu, itu tak seronok kan? Yang kita nak cakap sokongan pun di mana boleh bekerjasama, OK kita akan bekerjasama, menyertai jawatankuasa yang ditubuhkan atau pun mereka sendiri adakan program lain sebagai tanda kami sokong. OK, kata ini Pak Lah kata nak buat macam ini, apa kita nak buat, mereka boleh memikirkan sesuatu tindakan yang baik dan menepati apa yang saya kehendaki. Walaupun saya bekerja di sini dan mereka buat di sana, semuanya satu niat dan satu matlamat, ini yang saya harapkan. Kalau saya katakan ini kita kena `good governance', impian semua syarikat beri perhatian kepada betapa pentingnya ditingkat lagi tadbir urus yang baik, yang ada kewibawaan. Kalau kita nak tingkatkan kecekapan pentadbiran, kita semua akan berusaha ke arah itu dan tak semestinya untuk meningkatkan kecekapan itu dia bergantung kepada apa yang saya cakap saja, mereka sendiri boleh fikir dan cari jalan macam mana nak perbaiki. Kalau mereka dapati satu pendekatan mentadbir itu telah menunjukkan satu keberkesanan, maka saya nak pinjam idea itu, hantar idea itu pada saya kata Pak Lah kami tadi telah buat begini dan nampaknya berkesan sekali. Kalau begitu OK maka kita guna pakai, kita ambil pendekatan itu dan kita sebar kepada jabatan. Apa malu ambil idea orang, apa nak malu, orang ada idea baru kita tengok idea itu, kita terima dan OK kita laksanakan. Dia pun rasa seronok, dia akan rasa dia buat sesuatu yang membolehkan dia menyertai dalam usaha untuk membangunkan negara.

SOALAN: Maknanya dapat menyumbang bersama?

PM: Ya, kita nak begitu. Itulah kerja berpasukan, kerja bersama, kerja dengan saya - itu maknanya.

SOALAN: Masa yang terluang untuk Datuk Seri bagi sebarang aktiviti lain sekarang amat terbatas, bukan lagi untuk keluarga, bukan lagi untuk bermain golf?

PM: Itu kita tak boleh buat apa dah..

SOALAN: Bagaimana Datuk Seri nak menangani keadaan ini, nak membahagikan masa antara tanggungjawab sebagai seorang pemimpin negara dan juga seorang ketua keluarga?

PM: Emm... kalau kita tak ada masa, dulu pun tak ada masa juga ketika saya jadi Menteri Luar, selalu keluar bila ada masa tak cukup, Ya lah masa sedikit yang ada untuk keluarga itu hendaklah digunakan sebaik-baiknya,

SOALAN: Masa berkualiti?

PM: Ya. Bagi seorang bapa yang ada masa banyak, bini dok rumah, dia dok rumah tapi baca surat khabar, anak semua keluar, jangan dok dekat- dekat bapa nak baca surat khabar, dok kat rumah bapa nak tidur, semua tengok tv. Anak-anak memerlukan interaksi masa bermanja, berlari kadang- kadang nak main dengan kita, dia nak baca buku, nak tunjuk permainan itu pada ayah, ini yang mak beli, ini yang abang bagi pada dia, dia bangga untuk berkongsi bersama kita. Jadi kita kena ada masa untuk berinteraksi supaya nanti apabila kita tidak ada, anak-anak ingat dan kenang masa dia bermain dengan kita, masa dia berinteraksi dengan kita, masa dia berjenaka dengan kita. Dia ingat, dia tidak ingat bapa ada pun tak kisah, kita biar, kita main, tengok tv pun kena berhenti, jadi macam satu beban juga depa bila bapa ada rasa tak seronok, semua tak boleh buat, itu tak boleh buat, sebab bapa tak pernah berinteraksi dengan anak-anak. Saya tak pernah belai anak-anak itu lain, itu saya kena buat masa berkualiti. Jadi kalau main golf tak boleh 18 lubang, sembilan pun jadilah, tapi kena cari kawanlah.

SOALAN: Kenyataan Datuk Seri yang menyebut bahawa kerajaan sedia hadapi cabaran kritikan luar. Apakah sebenarnya mesej yang hendak disampaikan Datuk Seri dalam kenyataan yang dibuat pada 20 Oktober lalu itu?

PM: Ya, kita akan dan kita mesti hadapi segala cabaran. Kita tak tahu cabaran yang mendatang. Ada yang berbahaya mungkin, yang mendatangkan kesusahan kepada kita tetapi yang penting dalam hal ini ialah kalau ada cabaran terbuka, cabaran terhadap kewibawaan, kedaulatan negara kita semua kena muafakat menghadapinya. Dalam hal ini, semua pihak sama ada dari parti pembangkang atau parti kerajaan, semua golongan Muslim sama-sama menghadapi cabaran itu dengan kesempatan yang ada pada kita. Dalam hal ini tentulah kerajaan diharap memainkan peranan yang lebih besar kerana peranan kerajaan tentulah diketahui dalam hal ini. Hubungan luar atau hubungan antara kerajaan dengan kerajaan, jadi saya tentulah sebagai ketua kerajaan kena melaksanakan apa juga tindakan yang diperlukan. Tetapi kalau memahami bahawa ada sokongan yang kuat, ada muafakat, ada pendirian Malaysia yang benar-benar kukuh, maka ia akan menjadi satu kemudahan kepada saya untuk membuat gerakan yang perlu, tindakan yang perlu diambil dalam menghadapi cabaran itu. Saya ambil contoh, kalau dulu umpamanya masa kita hadapi krisis mata wang yang teruk, tapi rakyat memberi keyakinan kepada kerajaan pimpinan Dr Mahathir pada masa itu dan bersedia untuk memberi jalan, bersedia untuk memberi laluan, bersedia untuk beri peluang jangan ganggu tetapi beri sokongan. Maka kita senang hadapi masalah kita, cabaran itu dan menyelesaikannya. Tetapi kalau kita menghadapi di sini dia buat kacau di sana, datang kacau, keliling kacau, jadi susahlah kita. Benda yang susah jadi banyak susah dan akhirnya semua orang akan jadi susah. Kita tak mahu, bila masanya kita nak mengenepikan perbezaan antara kita untuk menjalin mewujudkan satu kekuatan bersama kerana ia ada hubung kait dengan kedaulatan maruah negara dan bangsa.

SOALAN: Selepas lebih seminggu dalam jawatan ini, adakah Datuk Seri bercadang untuk mendahulukan lawatan ke negara jiran terdekat seperti dilakukan oleh pemimpin lain?

PM: Belum, belum lagi masa ini tak boleh. Bulan Ramadan ini tentu sekali tak bolehlah. Lepas itu pun mungkin saya kena ambil masa sedikit lagi kerana banyak lagi perkara yang perlu diberi perhatian dalam hal ini dan rakyat Malaysia pun belum lagi biasa dengan saya, dengan jawatan yang saya pegang pada waktu ini sebagai Perdana Menteri. Jadi, mungkin ada beberapa perkara yang saya nak lakukan. Saya perlu berjumpa dengan kumpulan tertentu sekarang, dari kumpulan wakil rakyat, Ahli Parlimen dan Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri. Baru-baru ini, saya adakan majlis berbuka puasa untuk hakim, bukan apa, bukan politik sebab saya ingin dekat dengan mereka, sembang dengan mereka, itu saja bukan ada apa. Satu perkara yang mereka kata kepada saya dan saya cukup seronok dengar ialah `cubalah Pak Lah sekali-sekali sebutkan kepada orang bahawa kami ini adalah bebas, orang kata sistem kehakiman ini adalah sistem yang bebas, tapi kita buat keputusan, keputusan mengikut peranan kita yang bebas, kita hanya mentafsirkan sesuatu undang-undang itu untuk membuat keputusan mengenai kes-kes yang dibawa ke mahkamah dan kita buat itu atas nama keputusan kita tapi yang peliknya kadang-kadang bila jadi nampak memihak kerajaan, dia kata kita ni menyokong kerajaan, kita ini tertekan oleh kerajaan untuk membuat keputusan. Kalau buat nampaknya memihak kepada sana, ahh pihak kerajaan dah berasa gelisah, tak elok dah. Jadi susahlah macam itu. Kita terpaksa dengarlah saja. Yang pentingnya ialah kita ada undang-undang. Undang-undang itulah yang menjadi asas untuk membuat keputusan di mahkamah. Ada lagilah yang biasa diambil kira oleh tuan hakim yang arif itu. Jadi itulah. Masa di Parlimen dulu dalam ucapan saya mengenai kebebasan sistem kehakiman iaitu ada kehakiman, ada pentadbiran, tetapi semuanya ini mempunyai matlamat sama. Cuma dalam kerja itu masing-masing tidak akan diganggu dan tak perlu diganggu, tetapi matlamatnya ialah supaya kita menegakkan sistem demokrasi di negara ini. Kita mempunyai satu sistem yang sihat, satu sistem yang baik, sistem yang dapat memberi apa juga yang terbaik. Bagaimanapun, sistem demokrasi itu bukanlah satu sistem yang tiada cacat cela, yang cukup sempurna.

SOALAN: Apakah Datuk Seri akan bertemu dengan kumpulan ahli perniagaan?

PM: Ya, saya akan bertemu.

SOALAN: Apakah mesej yang agaknya nak dibayangkan kepada mereka?

PM: Bagi saya berfikir, apakah yang sebaik-baiknya setelah melihat maklum balas rakyat terhadap tindakan yang saya telah ambil baru-baru ini dan juga ucapan di mana saya tekankan aspek yang tertentu berhubung ketelusan, itupun memang ada hubung kait dengan sektor swasta dan perniagaan.

SOALAN: Kalau saya boleh meminta Datuk Seri menyimpulkan tempoh seminggu yang berlaku ini antara seminggu yang sangat panjang atau seminggu yang sangat singkat?

PM: Dah seminggu saya pun tak perasan, hari-hari ada saja benda. Alhamdulillah. Saya tak kata apa, saya ada sikitlah rasa gembira, ada juga kepuasan bahawa tindakan yang diambil setakat ini nampaknya ada kesan yang baik pada waktu ini dan daripada laporan akhbar, media massa dalam dan luar negeri pun, nampaknya telah memberi pandangan mereka - minggu pertama ini luluslah ujian.