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.
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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.

Saturday, November 8, 2003

"Democracy, on the separation of powers, on a clean and incorruptible government, on respecting separation of powers, welcoming criticism"

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi - first 100 days as Malaysia's Prime Minister - Pt 1

November 8, 2003

With Abdullah Ahmad Badawi into his first 100 days as Malaysia's Prime Minister, RSI's Augustine Anthuvan explores some of the challenges that lie ahead for Abdullah as Malaysia gears up for its 11th general election.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi , at the age of 63, took over as Malaysia's fifth Prime Minister from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who retired after 22 years at the helm. And right at the outset of his tenure, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has pledged to tackle a range of pressing issues - from corruption and law-and-order problems to preparing the ground for an election.

R: "I think certainly the new Prime Minister seems to be right now coming out with the appropriate statements and comments on what has to be done".

Professor P Ramasamy from the Department of Political Science at University Kebangsaan Malaysia.

R: "I think as the new Prime Minister he has to build up the kind of support necessary for him to face not only the next elections but at the same time consolidate his position within UMNO. And so I think his statements about efficiency, accountability against corruption and all, I think this I mean the Malaysians will agree to that but the question is I think they'll be really looking forward to whether he'll have the kind of political will to implement what he has said so far".

At present, Prime Minister Abdullah, is acting president of UMNO as the United Malays National Organisation's general assembly is not due to be held till next June. In any case that's just a formality when Abdullah is endorsed as President of UMNO. But UMNO is also the dominant party in the ruling National Front coalition otherwise known as the Barisan Nasional. Reflecting on the road ahead for Abdullah is Lim Kit Siang, Chairman of the opposition Democratic Action Party.

KS: "Well I think his first immediate preoccupation is to how to consolidate his own power position in UMNO and government. So I think that will be his first preoccupation".

Lim Kit Siang, was the former Opposition leader in the Malaysian parliament and I asked him what he thought of Prime Minister Abdullah's inaugural speech in the Malaysian parliament on 3rd Novermber.

KS: "He gave a marvellous speech as his first maiden official address in parliament when he spoke about issues which are close to the hearts of concerned Malaysians. Questions on the democracy, on the separation of powers, on a clean and incorruptible government, on respecting separation of powers, welcoming criticism, but whether these will be translated into deeds and actions, only time will tell".

Offering another perspective on the challenges ahead for Prime Minister Abdullah in his first 100 days is Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr Khoo Kay Khim of University of Malaya.

KK: " Well I think 100 days will still be a little short. At the moment, based on the number of statements that Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi has made, the general feeling is that the people expect that he will be able to make significant changes for the improvement of the country. He has spoken about corruption. It seems that corruption is getting a little out of hand. If we go by the newspaper reports the public is becoming quite jittery especially if government servants are the ones largely involved in corruption".

According to Transparency International, a non-governmental organisation devoted to combating corruption, its annual Corruption Perceptions Index had Malaysia ranked in the 37th position this year.

Transparency International’s (TI) Malaysian chapter president Tunku Abdul Aziz has suggested that the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) be given the independence to look into cases of corruption, and hopes to see evidence of political will and enforcement within the first 100 days of Prime Minister Abdullah's tenure. Lim Kit Siang of the opposition Democratic Action Party.

KS: "Well we all of course hope that he will make a difference, that he will succeed and we wish him well. But he will have to do more than just making good and beautiful speeches and statements. What is needed are actions. But whether with a new IGP and with a new Prime Minister, a message will be sent out that the police will be professional, competent, clean and incorruptible, is still something to be seen. Corruption is very serious in the country and as you mentioned about the Transparency International's annual evaluation, Malaysia has done quite dismally. In fact the 37th position is the worst in the last nine years. And I think there must be a bold start".

On top of his existing portfolio as Home Affairs Minister responsible for domestic security, Prime Minister Abdullah has also taken over the Finance Minister's job.

Financial markets and political observers are closely watching Abdullah to see who he'll name as Finance Minister. More importantly, who will be his deputy, a coveted appointment that could settle - or inflame - factional squabbles within his party. Well to discuss this and a range of issues that Prime Minister Abduallah is likely to face, I spoke to Manu Bhaskaran, CEO and Director of the Centennial Group in Singapore

MB: "Couple of points. First of all Prime Minister Abdullah takes over at a point when the global economic recovery is feeding through to Malaysia. So there is no pressing problem that will pre occupy the Prime Minister for now. Secondly while he is covering several portfolios, it is only for a short duration until the fasting month is over, at the end of which he is likely to appoint a new Finance Minister as well as a Deputy taking the pressure of him. Thirdly the priority now clearly is the general election which is probably going to be sometime first or second quarter next year. And then the UMNO general assembly that follows. Once that is out of the way, then I see the new Prime Minister embarking on a series of new initiatives".

And with that final comment by Manu Bhaskaran, CEO and Director of the Centennial Group in Singapore, we end this first part in our series that looks into the challenges ahead for Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, as Malaysia gears up for its next general election.

Thursday, November 6, 2003

"Cut Bureaucracy" (2) - "Form Task Force"

Oleh/By : DATO' SERI ABDULLAH BIN HAJI AHMAD BADAWI
PERDANA MENTERI MALAYSIA
Tempat/Venue : PUTRAJAYA
Tarikh/Date : 06/11/2003
Tajuk/Title : MESYUARAT YAB PERDANA MENTERI BERSAMA-SAMA MENTERI-MENTERI BESAR DAN KETUA-KETUA MENTERI (KENYATAAN AKHBAR)


Pejabat Perdana Menteri

YAB Perdana Menteri, Dato Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi telah mengarahkan semua Menteri Besar dan Ketua Menteri menubuhkan satu pasukan petugas (task force) untuk mengurangkan karenah birokrasi di negeri masing- masing, dalam mesyuarat bersama Menteri-Menteri Besar dan Ketua-Ketua Menteri di Putrajaya hari ini.

Arahan ini adalah berdasarkan hasrat Kerajaan untuk meningkatkan mutu pentadbiran awam menjadi lebih cekap dan licin. Pasukan petugas ini akan dipengerusikan Menteri Besar, sementara Setiausaha Kerajaan Negeri adalah Setiausaha kepada pasukan ini.

Di mesyuarat yang sama, YAB Perdana Menteri juga telah mengarahkan Menteri Besar dan Setiausaha Kerajaan negeri mengemukakan cadangan kepada Ketua Setiausaha Negara tentang rombakan semula agensi-agensi barisan hadapan, terutamanya Pejabat Tanah, Pejabat Daerah dan Majlis Tempatan.

YAB Perdana Menteri di dalam mesyuarat Kabinet semalam, memutuskan untuk membentuk pasukan petugas di peringkat kementerian. Proses peningkatan melalui pengurangan birokrasi bukan sahaja akan menghasilkan kecekapan, tetapi juga dapat mencegah rasuah. Langkah seterusnya untuk membasmi rasuah termasuk merangka dan melaksanakan Pelan Integriti Nasional. Di bawah pelan itu, sebuah Institut Etika Awam akan ditubuhkan.

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

"Cut Bureaucracy"

Oleh/By : DATO' SERI ABDULLAH BIN HAJI AHMAD BADAWI
PERDANA MENTERI MALAYSIA
Tempat/Venue : PUTRAJAYA
Tarikh/Date : 05/11/2003
Tajuk/Title : SIDANG MEDIA (KENYATAAN AKHBAR) MENGENAI PERKHIDMATAN AWAM

Pejabat Perdana Menteri

Dalam sidang media pada 5 November 2003, YAB Perdana Menteri Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, telah mengumumkan bahawa Kabinet telah membincangkan cara untuk meningkatkan mutu perkhidmatan awam dan membasmikan amalan rasuah.

YAB Perdana Menteri telah mengarahkan semua menteri membentuk dan mengetuai pasukan petugas di kementerian masing-masing untuk mengurangkan karenah birokrasi di setiap kementerian, dan jabatan di bawah kementerian masing-masing.

Kabinet juga bersetuju untuk menilai semula agensi- agensi barisan hadapan, bermula dengan Pejabat Tanah, Pejabat Daerah, dan Majlis Tempatan. Ini bertujuan untuk meningkatkan kecekapan serta mengurangkan tempoh pemprosesan perkhidmatan (terutama dalam memproses permohonan yang dibuat orang awam). Ketua Setiausaha Negara akan memulakan usaha rombakan semula ini.

Proses peningkatan melalui pengurangan birokrasi bukan sahaja akan menghasilkan kecekapan, tetapi juga dapat mencegah rasuah. Langkah seterusnya untuk membasmi rasuah termasuk merangka dan melaksanakan Pelan Integriti Nasional.

Pelan Integriti Nasional adalah satu rangka kerja komprehensif dan holistik untuk mengkaji amalan terbaik (best practices), mekanisma baru, jawatankuasa serta struktur bagi menggalakkan urus tadbir yang baik (iaitu akauntabiliti, ketelusan dan kecekapan) di seluruh negara. Pelan Integriti Nasional ini diketuai Ketua Setiausaha Negara dan terletak di bawah naungan Jawatankuasa Kabinet Mengenai Keutuhan Pengurusan Kerajaan.

Objektif utama Pelan Integriti Nasional adalah untuk mencegah rasuah serta menerapkan perubahan dalam sikap perkhidmatan awam, sektor swasta , badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) dan masyakarat secara keseluruhan, agar dapat menjadi lebih berwibawa, selaras dengan prinsip pengurusan yang baik serta beretika.

Di bawah pelan itu, sebuah Institut Etika Awam Nasional akan ditubuhkan. Fungsi institut ini, antara lain, adalah untuk menyediakan latihan mengenai etika dan amalan yang sihat; menjalankan penyelidikan mengenai kewibawaan institusi dan sosial; mengadakan seminar, bengkel dan persidangan; serta menjalin kerjasama dengan Badan Pencegah Rasuah (BPR) dan agensi lain, untuk meningkatkan pengetahuan awam mengenai pencegahan rasuah.

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

"Mr. Nice Guy"

Now, 'Mr. Nice Guy' New leader gives Malaysia milder image

From:
International Herald Tribune
Date:
November 4, 2003
Author:
Jane Perlez
More results for:
Now 'Mr. Nice Guy' New leader gives Malaysia

Jane Perlez
International Herald Tribune
11-04-2003
The new prime minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Badawi, a consummate diplomat abroad and well connected to the Islamic community at home, cuts an entirely different image than his volatile predecessor, Mahathir bin Mohamad. Abdullah is popularly known here as ''Mr. Nice Guy,'' an endearment that could hardly be conferred on Mahathir. But the new leader's basic policies are likely to provide a continuum for a prosperous nation that survived the Asian economic crisis better than most and is headed for nearly 5 percent growth this year, analysts said. Abdullah, 63, comes from a patrician family on Penang, the island that is the base for the ...

Monday, November 3, 2003

"I Promise Openness"

Last Updated: Monday, 3 November, 2003, 10:53 GMT

Malaysia's PM pledges openness

Jonathan Kent
BBC, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia's new prime minister has signalled his support for a more open and tolerant style of government.

In his first speech to parliament as the country's new leader, Abdullah Badawi committed himself to strengthening Malaysia's democratic culture and its checks and balances on power which critics say his predecessor undermined.

Abdullah Badawi
Mr Abdullah said he wanted democracy to thrive
What had been expected from Abdullah Badawi was a bland tribute to the former prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Though Mr Abdullah called his predecessor a hero, he appeared to distance himself from Dr Mahathir's style of government.

Mr Abdullah affirmed his commitment to democracy, declaring that he wishes to see it thrive in Malaysia.

While he said the government would not tolerate terrorism or those seeking to incite race or religious hatred, he said it should be open to critical and contrary ideas.

He went further, speaking of the importance of checks and balances and promised to respect the separation of powers between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

Under Dr Mahathir the courts were widely seen as unwilling to cross the government and parliament had in effect been sidelined.

Mr Abdullah also issued a stern warning to public servants that they should reflect a clean and incorruptible image.

The new prime minister was a high-flying career civil servant before entering politics and has long been known to be intolerant of corruption.

Now the sentiments have been expressed, many will be waiting for something concrete to be done.

Mr Abdullah will meet with senior judges and civil servants in the next week.

"Thank You, Tun Mahathir" (1)

With your permission, I would like to table the following motion at this sitting of the parliament session:

`That the Dewan Rakyat,

Accepts the fact that the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu, who was the fourth Prime Minister since 16th july 1981, and who has served with the fullest of dedication, firmness, efficacy, excellence and wisdom, has vacated the nation's top leadership;

Appreciates and holds in high regard the noble, enduring and invaluable struggle, sacrifice, deeds and service of the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu, carried out through pragmatic policies, strategies and programs, to ensure national unity and resilience, security and well being of the people, and prosperity and brilliant success of the nation;

Is mindful and conscious of the consistency, resolve and compassion of the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu in his struggle to uphold the dignity of Islam and The Ummah throughout the world, particularly in plural Malaysia, through the acquisition and mastery of knowledge in all fields;

Aprreciates and fully supports the wisdom of the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu in tackling the nation's economic crisis caused by international rogue financial speculators, through the execution of unique, effective and internationally acclaimed economic and financial strategies and management;

Recognises that vision 2020, inspired by the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu, is a national doctrine to build a Malaysian nation that is sovereign and independent, unified, happy, peaceful, prosperous, advanced, excellent, dignified and respected, in an era of globalisation and neo- colonialism;

Acknowledges that the great effort of the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu to develop information and communications technology (ICT) through the establishment of the multimedia super corridor, and to develop biotechnology through the creation of the bio-valley, will bring about tremendous benefits to the people of Malaysia, in the future;

Holds in the highest esteem the character, wisdom and courage of the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu, who has empowered and upheld the dignity of the people and nation of Malaysia, as well as of developing nations in the international arena, through multilateral initiatives across continents and throughout the world, as well as through expressing universal opinions, ideas and thinking in the fields of humanity, justice, equity, trade, science, technology, as well as the primacy and sanctity of international law, particularly at ASEAN, APEC, NAM, OIC and un;

Accordingly, the Dewan Rakyat sitting today on 3rd November 2003, 8th Ramadhan 1424, hereby resolves to;

Record the highest gratitude and appreciation from all Malaysians to the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu;

Pledge to continue the struggle to defend the sovereignty, independence and prosperity of the nation through policies, strategies and programs introduced and promoted by the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu;

Continue the effort to enhance the excellence of the Malaysian people in the future, through means founded upon the spirit of the federal constitution, the principles of the rukunegara as well as the main objectives of vision 2020.

***

Full text refer here.

"Cemerlang, Gemilang dan Terbilang" (Excellence, Glory and Disctinction) - Maiden Speech

TABLING A MOTION OF THANKS TO THE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR KUBANG PASU, TUN DR MAHATHIR MOHAMAD

Oleh/By : DATO' SERI ABDULLAH BIN HAJI AHMAD BADAWI
PERDANA MENTERI MALAYSIA
Tempat/Venue : PARLIAMENT HOUSE
Tarikh/Date : 03/11/2003
Tajuk/Title : TABLING A MOTION OF THANKS TO THE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR KUBANG PASU, TUN DR MAHATHIR MOHAMAD


"INHERITING SUCCESS AND BUILDING A FUTURE OF EXCELLENCE, GLORY AND DISTINCTION"

Mr speaker,

With your permission, I would like to table the following motion at this sitting of the parliament session:

`That the Dewan Rakyat,

Accepts the fact that the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu, who was the fourth Prime Minister since 16th july 1981, and who has served with the fullest of dedication, firmness, efficacy, excellence and wisdom, has vacated the nation's top leadership;

Appreciates and holds in high regard the noble, enduring and invaluable struggle, sacrifice, deeds and service of the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu, carried out through pragmatic policies, strategies and programs, to ensure national unity and resilience, security and well being of the people, and prosperity and brilliant success of the nation;

Is mindful and conscious of the consistency, resolve and compassion of the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu in his struggle to uphold the dignity of Islam and The Ummah throughout the world, particularly in plural Malaysia, through the acquisition and mastery of knowledge in all fields;

Aprreciates and fully supports the wisdom of the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu in tackling the nation's economic crisis caused by international rogue financial speculators, through the execution of unique, effective and internationally acclaimed economic and financial strategies and management;

Recognises that vision 2020, inspired by the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu, is a national doctrine to build a Malaysian nation that is sovereign and independent, unified, happy, peaceful, prosperous, advanced, excellent, dignified and respected, in an era of globalisation and neo- colonialism;

Acknowledges that the great effort of the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu to develop information and communications technology (ICT) through the establishment of the multimedia super corridor, and to develop biotechnology through the creation of the bio-valley, will bring about tremendous benefits to the people of Malaysia, in the future;

Holds in the highest esteem the character, wisdom and courage of the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu, who has empowered and upheld the dignity of the people and nation of Malaysia, as well as of developing nations in the international arena, through multilateral initiatives across continents and throughout the world, as well as through expressing universal opinions, ideas and thinking in the fields of humanity, justice, equity, trade, science, technology, as well as the primacy and sanctity of international law, particularly at ASEAN, APEC, NAM, OIC and un;

Accordingly, the Dewan Rakyat sitting today on 3rd November 2003, 8th Ramadhan 1424, hereby resolves to;

Record the highest gratitude and appreciation from all Malaysians to the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu;

Pledge to continue the struggle to defend the sovereignty, independence and prosperity of the nation through policies, strategies and programs introduced and promoted by the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu;

Continue the effort to enhance the excellence of the Malaysian people in the future, through means founded upon the spirit of the federal constitution, the principles of the rukunegara as well as the main objectives of vision 2020.

Mr speaker

2. Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad served Malaysia and its people for 22 years, 3 months and 15 days as Prime Minister, from July 16, 1981 until he retired on October 31, 2003. His record of service can be tracedBback well before his tenure as this nation's leader. His firm and articulate voice was first heard in this august house when he became a Member of Parliament after winning the Kota Setar Selatan seat in the 1964 general elections. His parliamentary career was interrupted briefly after being defeated in the next general elections in may 1969. On 12 February 1973, he was appointed to the Dewan Negara. In the august 1974 general elections, he contested and won in the Kubang Pasu parliamentary constituency and was appointed education minister by the late Tun Abdul Razak. After the passing of Tun Bbdul Razak in 1976, the next Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, appointed the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu as Deputy Prime Minister. During this period, he also served as minister of international trade and industry. When he became Prime Minister, he held at different times the portfolios of Defence, Home Affairs and Finance.

3. The Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu is the longest serving Member of Parliament after the Member of Parliament for Batu Berendam. In the 36 years he served as a member of parliament, the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu served in the cabinet for 29 years, of which he was Prime Minister for 22 years. Since his early days as legislator, he has been known to voice his opinions and criticisms openly and frankly. He has a reputation as a man who articulates his views with discipline. He has always advocated renewal and possesses a vision that his ahead of his time.

4. When he was appointed Prime Minister, the country was in its 24th year of independence. And when he retired, we had just celebrated our 46th independence day. He inherited a stable country and a prosperous economy. On these building blocks, he brought the country to a higher level of success and prosperity.

5. The development of our infrastructure and human resources grew at its fastest pace during his premiership. More importantly, he placed our country on the world map and has made Malaysia an example of political stability, economic prosperity, racial unity and religious tolerance. We are now widely acknowledged as a progressive Islamic country.

6. Under his leadership, this small nation wielded a big voice in international forums. South-south cooperation was infused with a new lease of life. The membership of ASEAN was successfully expanded. The commonwealth heads of government meeting and the summit meetings of the g-15, the non-aligned movement and the organisation of the Islamic conference were all held in Malaysia. Today, Malaysia is the 18th largest trading nation in the world. Malaysia possesses a clear vision to become a developed nation by 2020. Malaysia successfully weathered the financial crisis of 1998. The Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu has imbued us with self-confidence, dignity and national pride. He is a hero to his nation and to his people - a hero who elevated his country in the eyes of the world

7. The former Prime Minister is a visionary leader. More importantly, he has the tenacity and capacity to convert his vision into reality. He is a statesman who has inspired his people to achieve their aspirations. He is a statesman ahead of his time and has enabled the hopes of the future to become reality today. He has transformed a country solely dependent on its agrarian resources to become one of the most industrialized nations in the developing world.

8. The people and the country greatly appreciate his services, which he has discharged with integrity and responsibility. He has brought this country to the altar of excellence and allowed us to emerge as a nation that is respected throughout the world.

9. This house records its highest appreciation and thanks to the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu, for his selfless service to the nation, for all his ideas and articulate opinions, for his sacrifices and dedication. This house also records its highest appreciation and gratitude to Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah bt. Mohd Ali and her family, who have sacrificed to allow the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu to devote his energies, thoughts and time in service to his country, his people, the region and the muslim and developing world.

10. We pray for his health and contentment in his retirement. We wish him, Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah and their family much happiness. May his services to the nation be recognised in this world and in the hereafter. The biggest retirement gift that the people can present him is to continue towards achieving his vision and his dream to make Malaysia a peaceful, stable and prosperous developed nation.

11. I am grateful that the former Prime Minister has left behind a legacy of success. A legacy that has sustained political stability, strengthened national unity, promoted economic development and given meaning to our independence. With Allah's guidance, I shall build on this foundation to achieve excellence, glory and distinction for Malaysia. In fulfilling this responsibility, I shall take stock and guidance from the successes of the leaders who came before me and seek the cooperation of my cabinet colleagues and from all segments of society.

Mr. Speaker

12. Allow me to recite a hadith: "If Allah wishes peace on a people, then god will grant them a good leader." We are grateful that Allah has always granted us good leaders. All four Prime Ministers before me - Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak Putra, Tun Hussein Onn and the Member of Parliament for Kubang Pasu, Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad - passed on to their successors a peaceful, stable and prosperous nation, enabling them to strive for greater heights. Each of these men was successful in their time. It is therefore fitting for this house to remember and acknowledge the contributions of each Prime Minister who left a legacy of a peaceful and prosperous country to the people. In this holy month of Ramadhan, may peace be upon them.

13. On the afternoon of Friday 31 October 2003, by the will of Allah I was sworn in as the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia. This determination demonstrated the greatness of Allah. Man proposes, but god disposes. Allah is the divine power that decides everything. Allah has declared in the holy Quran in Surah Al Qasas, verse 68:

"And your Lord creates whatsoever He
wills and chooses: no choice have they
(in any matter). Glorified is Allah, and
exalted above all they associate
(aspartners with him.)"

14. I realise that in our collective effort to manage and build upon the success that we have today to greater heights of excellence, I have to play the leading role as the head of our government. It is based on this realisation that I have decided to speak in this august chamber to outline and clarify the principles that we have to hold on to together in our efforts to achieve excellence and glory for our country.

15. I am fully aware of the need for me to carry out my duties with integrity, trustworthiness, efficiency and fairness. I am aware that I will be assessed by the members of this house, by the people and above all, by the almighty. The position and the power that have been entrusted to me is a test from god for this humble servant. If this can be carried out with integrity, honesty and fairness, then this humble servant will have succeeded in passing the test. But failure to do so will be a heavy burden for me to bear in this world and the next.

16. I have chosen this house to deliver my maiden official speech in my capacity as leader of this nation. This is a symbol of my respect for this august institution; an institution of public trust, an institution based on consultation, an institution where laws are made and where policies are debated.

17. Since the first elections were held in this country in 1955, we have upheld and defended our democracy, apart from a lapse of 21 months during the days of the national operations council after the May 13 riots. But we quickly restored parliamentary democracy and have the distinction of being one of few countries in the world where the government has been returned to the people. We believe democracy is the best system of governance to ensure the participation of the people and for their voices to be heard.

18. It is incumbent upon us as elected representatives to display exemplary political leadership, which can only be effective if we are respected. We must inculcate the values of honesty, determination and dedication if we wish to be held up as examples for others to emulate. We must be open and ready to accept criticism and contrary views to ensure that the culture of democracy thrives. We must cultivate an image that is clean, incorruptible, modest and beyond suspicion.

19. Democracy will flourish if all its participants behave responsibly. Democracy does not mean absolute freedom. Issues that inflame religious, racial and cultural sentiments should not be sensationalised, while attempts to undermine national security and public order must be dealt with firmly.

20. We cannot compromise when dealing with the threats posed by extremism, terrorism and militancy. Therefore, the government's firmness in dealing with these threats must be fully supported to ensure the security and peace of our nation. The Malaysian people must hold to the principles of the Rukunegara: belief in god, loyalty to the king and country, supremacy of the constitution, sovereignty of the laws, good behaviour and morality.

Mr. Speaker

21. The success that we have inherited cannot be continued if creativity and innovation do not become part of our culture. First world infrastructure must go hand in hand with first world mentality. Human resource development has to be enhanced to ensure that the growth of the Malaysian people balances physical, mental and spiritual aspects.

22. In a knowledge based economy, people are the most important factor. Therefore, the government will work towards providing quality education for each and every Malaysian to reach their full potential. We must also develop a value system that rejects crass materialism. We must reject a mindset that places the pursuit of material gain and narrow self-interest above all else.

23. We must seek and identify new sources of economic growth. We must develop new approaches to enhance our competitiveness and strengthen our resilience to face global challenges. The distribution of economic opportunities must be equitable to benefit the broadest range of people. We need to ensure that rural development continues to be a part of mainstream national economic development, and identify new sources of wealth for those in the rural sector. Malaysians must be ready and courageous enough to face and deal with change. Our capabilities in the new and strategic areas of information and communications technology, biotechnology, science and modern agriculture are still nascent, and therefore we must enhance research and development in these areas.

24. The Bumiputera development agenda in producing a commercial and industrial community, as well as a science and technology community, must be fair and just, based on meritocracy within the community itself. This is necessary to enable Bumiputeras to receive due respect and recognition for their capabilities. Marginalising Bumiputeras who are truly capable and qualified, whatever the reason, will be damaging to the community in the long term.

25. The private sector is acknowledged as the engine for economic growth and should play a more important and active role in creating employment and economic opportunities. This requires the private sector to develop a more efficient delivery system. The public sector must radically move beyond its role as mere regulators and law enforcers. It must become more effective, efficient and transparent facilitators, able to respond speedily to the needs and requirements of the private sector.

26. The public sector shoulders the responsibility of ensuring national policies are implemented effectively and transparently, reflecting a clean and incorruptible image. The public sector should be clean, efficient and trustworthy and embrace a work culture that is based on the concept of leadership by example. People friendliness must be the order of the day in public service delivery, especially to the ordinary citizen - those without high standing or important positions or a famous name - and the people who are in most need of assistance. We need to prioritise the people.

27. Corruption is an odious crime. We must explore more effective methods to deal with it and in this regard, prevention is equally important as punishment. Streamlining work processes, reduction of red tape, improvements in the delivery system, a conscious effort to raise the quality of work and more frequent and effective audits would reduce the opportunities for bribery. Our resolve to have a civil service that is corruption-free should not be weakened by unhealthy practices in the private sector or by parties that are outside the government that contribute to this disease.

28. The governance of the nation would be strengthened if our laws were enforced transparently and without fear or favour. Crime prevention must be intensified. Vice that tears apart our moral values must be eradicated. We must fight those groups involved in the underworld and vice activities, and expose those who collaborate with them. The security of private property and the personal safety, particularly of women, children and visitors to our country, must be assured. Mr. Speaker

29. We have both a young nation and a young population. Malaysia must be able to cradle the hopes and aspirations of the younger generation. The ideas, aspirations and idealism of the youth must be harnessed into mainstream national development and draw from it innovation, invention and creativity.

30. The family institution is important and must be reinforced by educating our young wth the right value system. We must advocate the concept of a happy family, to ensure the older members of our society are treated with deference, respect and continue to be cared for. This approach is consistent with the teachings of Islam and with the tenets of our Asian culture. We need to ensure that women, making up half of our population, are accorded equality and are not discriminated against in the formation of policies, in the enforcement of these policies and in levels of participation. We need to recognise the importance of their role.

Mr. Speaker

31. Globalisation and information and communications technology (ICT) have connected the world. We cannot live in isolation. Malaysia must be committed to being an oasis for foreign investments, international trade and a place where cultures meet. In the face of global realpolitik, the government will continue to protect the sovereignty of the nation and will not compromise on our national interest. We will remain steadfast and principled in pursuing global and universal justice. As the chair of both the non aligned movement and the Organisation of Islamic Conference, we will work towards creating an equitable world economy and a global political order based on international law.



Mr. Speaker

32. In shouldering these heavy responsibilities, I assure that i will continue the policies that have been laid out by the leaders who came before me. Vision 2020 will continue to inspire and drive this nation towards holistic development, to become a developed country. We must bring comprehensive human development in the areas of politics, ethics and morality, and socially. The national vision policy will continue to underpin our national economic policy.

33. The spirit of the new economic policy will not be neglected, given that it ensures our efforts to restructure society will strengthen national unity, and will eradicate poverty. The spirit of power sharing, which is the core of our system of governance and of nation building efforts, will continue to be strengthened. The practice of constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy will continue to be supported, and we must respect the separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. This is important to maintain the checks and balances needed to prevent abuses of power.

34. I have inherited the responsibility of governing a successful country. The responsibility is heavy and I cannot do it alone. Therefore, I seek the cooperation and support from all - legislators, administrators, the private sector, political parties, the media and from Malaysian citizens from all walks of life to work with me to take Malaysia to greater heights - to achieve excellence, glory and distinction.

35. To you Allah, your humble servant turns for guidance and inspiration, strength and fortitude, patience and determination.

Mr. Speaker,

I move the motion.

Sunday, November 2, 2003

Government Pledge Not to Censor Internet, Creates Opportunity for Journalists

Malaysians Test Limits of Press Freedom; Government Pledge Not to Censor Internet Creates Opportunity for Journalists

First police raided the modest newsroom, hauling away the 19 computers that journalists used to produce their online report and put it beyond the reach of the country's stifling press restrictions.

Two days later, the landlord informed journalists for the Web site, Malaysiakini, that they were being evicted from their offices, tucked down a narrow side street of buildings and apartment blocks, for activities contravening the laws of the land.

Nine months later, Malaysiakini (www.malaysiakini.com) has recovered all but two of its computers and rebuffed the eviction order. But the chief editor, Steven Gan, faces the prospect of three years in prison on sedition charges for refusing to reveal ...