Monday, September 19, 2011

Malaysia's PM Appointment Process Must Change

The prime minister of Malaysia is by default the president of UMNO the largest partner of the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, or BN and his deputy, UMNO's deputy president. Malaysians do not have a say in choosing a PM of the calibre and background they trust. This has been the process since independence in 1957 and today proves to be the undoing of the political leadership and maturity of our freedom to choose the best. Today, Najib Razak is the PM and his appointment has come about by a simple ascension to power when his 'boss' the former PM and UMNO president relinquished his post by being forced out simply because he won the 12th General Election in February 2008 by losing 5 states. Najib did not have a strong mandate to be UMNO president, and hence PM. Since April 2009 when he became Malaysia's 6th PM his leadership and policy has not shown his mettle as a PM of substance. In fact many have placed him as worse than Badawi, the sleeping PM who retired with a Tunship, which many wonder why and what for?

Granted that Najib was handed a tough assignment to turn around a nation riddled with corruption from the top and disintegrating racial harmony and religion intolerance he could have decline the job but he took it and now nearly 29 months in office, failed to deliver substantial transformation except sloganeering and advertorials on how well his team has performed. But the results are not confirmed by the regular man or housewife on the street. His popularity plunged after he mishandled the July 9 protest against unjust electoral process which Najib callously blunt off and used force in the name of national security to suppress and silence. When he realized the tragedy his mistake caused his political future he again took a populist approach to abolish the repressive security laws that give the government unlimited rights to arrest and jail dissidents without trials. In other words, he is not a change agent but a person who reacts to changes necessary for his political survival, which any ordinary citizen can see through. Malaysia can ill afford PM of such calibre.

So how should we elect our PM? Certainly not the way it is done which reeks of too much political patronage that make a PM powerless. For example, the announcement to repeal the ISA and other repressive laws have been met with conditional support from militant groups like Perkasa which can cost Najib substantial support if he does not agree to their conditions. Likewise views from former PM Mahathir can also swing votes away if Najib refuse to play to his tune. Hence he has no freedom to exercise what he believes is right and continue to be manipulated by hidden hands. Malaysia do not need a weak PM who cannot deliver his promises. The only way out of this hopelessness is give the voters their power to choose directly a PM they can trust to serve effectively. This change cannot happen as long as the nation is under BN rule. It stands a good chance of happening when laws are amended when Parliament sits under the rule by Pakatan Rakyat with strong mandate.

Malaysia is about to taste a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Many are beginning to think that it is possible for a PR victory instead of just reducing further BN's marginal lead. It is no longer a chant for change for a better government, but rather a change against an intolerant government, whatever the outcome. It is that desperate. Let the power to decide the future of Malaysia be returned to Malaysians as a whole, not cronies who wear Malaysian names.

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