Pak Lah On The Ropes Again

If such were to happen, it would be the first time that a Malaysian Prime Minister would be deposed from office in such a manner; the last time anything of the sort was even attempted was in 1969 when the then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman was deposed from within his own party.

By FARISH A. Noor, MySinchew

Today, Monday, 23 June, Malaysia’s political future may be decided on a permanent basis. Three months after the elections of March 2008, and in the wake of the most disastrous showing for the ruling National Front coalition led by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party that has been in power for more than half a century, the Badawi administration is facing yet another challenge that it cannot afford not to take seriously.

“Decades of sectarian politics gone unchecked may have finally rendered Malaysia almost ungovernable.”

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi came to power in 2004 riding on the biggest mandate ever given to any Prime Minister in Malaysia’s history. The overwhelming votes cast in favour of his UMNO party and the Barisan coalition it leads should have given him ample opportunity to carry out many of the reforms that he had promised the Malaysian electorate. Badawi had promised to be ‘the Prime Minister of all Malaysians’, to listen to the plight of the ethnic and religious minorities of the country, to open up the judiciary, police force and government sector to public enquiry and to create a new mode of governance that was more accountable and transparent.

Instead in the space of four years, practically none of these reforms were ever achieved. Corruption, abuse of power by the police, nepotism in high places and the rise of religious and communal sectarian politics became the salient features of his first term in office, and his inability to act decisively at a time when the Malaysian public wanted a decisive leader were among the factors behind his untimely downfall. A significant example would be his poor leadership handling cases of inter-religious marriages and divorces where time and again the non-Muslims felt they were being discriminated against in a country that was moving further to the right in terms of conservative Islamist politics.


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