Apr 212008

In less than a week, Abdullah has implemented two core recommendations on the judiciary and the ACA from KeADILan’s 2008 Manifesto. I quote recommendations number 6 and 7 from the section “Part I – A Constitutional State for All: Upholding Unity, Integrity & Human Rights” below –

KeADILan’s vision for a Constitutional State will:


6. Institute more checks and balances into the process of judicial appointments by establishing a Judicial Commission and subjecting the appointment of major appointments in the judiciary to parliamentary confirmation.

7. Make the Anti-Corruption Agency accountable to Parliament, and not the Prime Minister’s Office.

It doesn’t stop there. Syed Hamid Albar:

“I have told my officers that I want to have a re-look at the Printing Presses and Publications Act so that we can move with the times.

“I have asked them to look for other ways of managing the media other than issuing the annual licences,” he added, stating that he would consider an one-off printing licence for the newspapers.

“My argument is why should we let ourselves become unpopular by having such regulations when we had exercised the law sparingly over the years but I need to convince more (people).”

Granted, this is quite non-committal, but look at the very next recommendation in the same section of KeADILan’s 2008 Manifesto:

8. Encourage a free and fair media that reports without fear or favour by amending restrictive laws that regulate the press including the Printing, Presses and Publication Act.

As I’ve always said, if you really want reforms in Malaysia, vote Pakatan. Regardless of who ‘wins’ the elections, that vote will help push through changes the country very badly needs.

Well, I have no problems with BN literally taking a leaf from our book. But what does this all mean?

Let’s systematically (if certainly not exhaustively) try to posit motivations and outcomes from Abdullah’s perspective. Some of these coincide with thoughts in Oon and Kian Ming’s Malaysiakini piece.

Possible Motivations:

1. The most generous interpretation is that reformasi has finally reached Abdullah, repentant as a ‘religious’ man such as himself should be.

2. He is trying to beat Anwar to the reformist image, effectively stealing the rug from under Pakatan.

3. He knows that BN will not survive without some kind of reform, and is thus forced into making some gestures.

4. He plans to use an ‘independent’ judiciary and ACA to go after his rivals. (How would a truly independent court and prosecution investigate the Altantuya murder, one must wonder).

5. This is all a ploy to lull conscientious Malaysians into a false sense of security.

Possible Outcomes:

1. Again, most generous = Malaysia is reformed, to great cheers.

2. Abdullah is basically lying once again, and all these promises will be as empty as his 2004 ones (remember the IPCMC?)

3. Abdullah faces revolt from within BN, who see this as the nail in their coffins.

4. In opening investigations, Abdullah has thrown the first stone in a very fragile glass house. His enemies throw back, and soon all skeletons in the cupboard are partying out in the open.

5. Crackdown.

This is not an exhaustive list, just some thoughts I might even add/subtract to/from later.

Back to Oon and Kian Ming’s piece, which had some interesting points. Perhaps my favourite part:

Given this reality, it might be in Abdullah’s interest to leave a strong political legacy by exercising a ‘nuclear’ option. Imagine if he were to institute a series of far-ranging legislative reforms by co-opting the opposition MPs and using the strength of public opinion.

Why not abolish the ISA (Internal Security Act), reform the UUCA (Universities and Universiti Colleges Act), give the Election Commission actual independence, get rid of the PPPA (Printing Presses and Publications Act), and so on?

Surely there will be strong resistance from within his cabinet and Umno and probably within BN as well. But it would be hard for them to block such moves if Abdullah really goes all out for it and positions these actions as a response to the GE 2008 results.

No doubt this is political suicide for him but if his days as PM are already numbered, why not go out in a blaze of glory? In one fell swoop, he would be seen as a greater PM than even Mahathir and he would have the satisfaction of denying his nemesis Anwar Ibrahim the chance to be the man turn Malaysia into a true democracy.

Interesting proposal, to be sure. I share their cynicism of course, in feeling that Abdullah’s not the kinda guy to go for this sorta thing. And of course, I think the threat of him burning himself ala Possible Outcome No. 4 is very real.

A so-called ‘nuclear’ option, and Motivation and Outcome 1, may or may not evaporate some of Pakatan’s momentum and capital. I suppose it would not harm the country however, and questions of racist ideology aside, may be a more concrete step towards a two-party system (although the crucial question remains: divided along what lines?)


(Warning, spoilers ahead)

In The Godfather, Michael Corleone – a former goody two shoes who somewhat by default has inherited the reins of a major crime family – appears to be leading the family business to demise by a series of weak decisions and gestures to go ‘legitimate.’

In the story’s climax, as his many enemies think he is about to be assassinated in peace negotiations they have arranged, Michael arranges to have all the heads of the other crime families brutally killed simultaneously.

Under the guise of weakness and lack of resolve, the opposition is completely wiped out in one swift sweep.

ISA crackdown anyone? Yeah, Abdullah may not have the balls for that sort of thing and perhaps this is giving too much credit, but remember, Michael represents the younger, second generation in this tale.

  10 Responses to “Abdullah implements KeADILan Manifesto; Khairy the Godfather?”

  1. Hahahahaha, eh that theory is mine! :p Back in 2005 I was wondering if Pak Lah/Khairy might just be doing this.

    Seriously la, I think Abdullah’s truthful position is somewhere in between his old lackadaisical attitude and sincere reformism. I’m not as skeptical as Kian Ming and Oon Yeoh, but I don’t think Abdullah is sincere. He just recognises that he has a slightly better chance of political survival if he takes up the torch for reform again, and for this to be credible, he has to make some real steps towards change. It will be interesting to see how successful he is in pushing these things through.

    I would hasten to add that Shahrir Abdul Samad has also adopted several policies proposed by the DAP and PKR as part of his talking points. He’s been mooting the end of price controls and subsidies (in both DAP and PKR manifestos), instead moving towards a negative income tax/guaranteed minimum income as proposed by the DAP and a freer market to guarantee supply can always meet demand, as emphasised in the PKR manifesto.

  2. Ok let’s presume that Pak Lah is doing all this to save his fledgling career in UMNO and also SIL , but the BIG QUESTION is that who will be WATCHING these two commissions ?

    Ahemm… also who will be the first victim of MACM ?

  3. If it is true that Pak Lah’s days are numbered, I wish he’d take the bull by the horns and really go out to implement everything he’d say he’d do in 2004.

    The best thing he could do, of course, is to run UMNO to the ground and then retire, letting Najib handle the mess. That would be better for the country, I think. :3

    Also, Nat, I think you might want to look into your side bar; too many things there. Your site is the only blog that lags my Firefox when I load it, and I suspect could be because of too many stuff in the sidebar? *Is bricked*

  4. People like Onn & Kian Ming should stop throwing stones anymore.They are both represent the Think Tank of Gerakan.I don’t understand the idea of them being critical but yet be part of the facist regime that continues to bulldoze all issues of rights and democracy.

    Its either Gerakan leave BN and be part of the new coalition of justice and good governance or the duo join the Pakatan parties.

    It does pay a lot to be a hypocrite but for the people its just bullshit if you talk with blood on your hands.

    Gerakan been issuing rare statements on reform for so many years but have never done anything proper or concrete on their talk.

    nat: i share your frustrations gerakan, but as far as i know, i don’t think oon is affiliated with anyone, and kian ming might be a bit connected (i’m not sure, honestly), but i think technically he’s just an independent academic :)

  5. Godfather? Dude-its an insult to Mario Puzo man.The story of lah and his son in law is more like a classic malay movie called Nujum Pak Belalang.

    Read the synopsis below

    Pak Belalang was the laziest person in Pohon Beringin village. He has a son named Belalang. It all started when Belalang managed to trick two thieves, Badan and Nyawa, who had just stolen two cows and two goats. Not knowing who the rightful owners are, Belalang asked his father to be an astrologer. When the rightful owners complained to the village headman of their missing animals,

    Belalang told them to seek his father’s help. Naturally Belalang and his father knew the exact locations of the missing animals. Soon the village people recognized him as a great astrologer. When the Sultan Shahrul Nizam’s treasures were stolen by Badan and Nyawa, the village headman suggested to the Sultan to consult Pak Belalang the astrologer not realizing that Pak Belalang was a fake. Pak Belalang panicked and hid himself in a cave. Through pure luck and certain turns of event,

    Pak Belalang managed to locate the hidden treasure. In the meantime, Sultan Baginda Masai and his ministers approached Sultan Shahrul Nizam and placed a wager: the loser shall lose his kingdom. Sultan Shahrul Nizam was given 4 riddles to solve within 3 days and 3 nights. Pak Belalang was given the heavy task of solving the riddle.

    Can Pak Lah solve the riddle of Umno and BN and safe himself? Lets wait and see.

  6. Wah lau eh… Nat and John Lee got such vivid imaginations – Using godfather as an anology for Pak Lah!

    Did they teach you that in Harvard?

    What’s next? Anwar Ibrahim vis-a-vis Neo from Matrix Revolutions? Is he The One?

    To Jelas.info readers: Any good movie anologies for Selangor exco dare not make public asset declaration?

    – Watchdog Beng

  7. Cyber Spiderman:

    I actually brought this up with a DAP-leaning analyst who knows Kian Ming well last year, and he laughed at the suggestion that Kian Ming is pro-Gerakan. He just happened to work for Gerakan’s think tank for a while.

  8. I said, good for him. Frankly speaking, after the election, the biggest mistake that he made is on his cabinet’s selection (Mike Tyson anyone??! WTH!???), but he, himself did not pissed me off that much. It’s only his downline (Mike Tyson, Azalina, Ali Ketam, who’s that MCA Housing guy?, KuNan) that are being idiots.

    Then again, everything could go IPCMC way :(

  9. To me, reckoning that Pak Lah have implemented two core recommendations in the PKR Manifesto is smack of hubris. I credit the PKR for coming up with Manifesto that represents the wishes of the people, but it is the collective wish of the people and not the unique product of the PKR machinery. I give credit where it is due, but it seems that you have hijacked the people’s vision for a better Malaysia to promote yourself in the eyes of the people.

    Anyway, I am neither a supporter of the BN or PR.

  10. Han Leong:

    It seems to me that Nat was just stating facts, not trying to claim credit. Recall that BN was lambasting the opposition and the promises they made in their respective manifestos; surely it is relevant to point out that now, of all times, they actually take up what the opposition parties talked about in their manifestos.

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