Brave New World (The Star)
October 30, 2008
"He is someone who is brave enough to stand up to the more extreme elements in his party, who has proven that he has strong principles of justice and democracy and is courageous enough to stand by them regardless of how the political winds may blow."
Sometimes, a change in leadership is a good thing. Take Tottenham Hotspur, for example. They have made their worst start to a season since the days football was played using the head of a sheep. Then suddenly, Harry Redknapp becomes the new manager and they win their first league game in 10 tries.
It was the same when Juande Ramos became the new boss last year. They won the Carling Cup after winning nothing for nine years.
It soon petered out, though, and the same could happen with Harry “Houdini” Redknapp. A change could mean better things or it could mean a moment of excitement followed by the same old, same old.
Perhaps it is the prospect of change that keeps people here interested in things like the Umno elections.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak looks like he is on the way to becoming the new Umno president and by convention (but not by law) will then probably become the new Prime Minister soon after.
Is this going to be the beginning of a new phase in Malaysian politics and governance?
I doubt it. Looking at the recent behaviour of the executive, it seems they are doing the same things they have been doing for years. March 8 does not seem to have made them any more sensitive to what bothers the Malaysian people.
Two things pop into mind.
First is the appointment of the new Chief Justice. Now, it was quite obvious that when Tan Sri Zaki Azmi made his meteoric rise in the judiciary from being former Umno lawyer to Supreme Court judge to President of the Court of Appeal, something was definitely afoot.
It could be that he is the finest of fellows, cut as he is from the cloth of Azmi Mohamed (Lord President 1968-1974, when our judiciary was respected and independent), and I am in no way suggesting otherwise.
However, considering his history and the history of our executive having such an influence on our judiciary, it is undeniable that his elevation would raise more than just eyebrows.
However, I had thought that after March 8, the executive would be a wee bit circumspect when the time came to advising the King on who should be the new Chief Justice.
I had thought that the people’s anger at the recent scandals with regard to the judiciary (which I believe was one of the issues affecting the polls outcome) would have woken the executive up to the fact that we would ideally like to see a more independent method of choosing the top judge.
Then there is the matter of a local Malay language daily and its publication of a short story about the assassination of a “fictitious” MP which, in my opinion, is little more than a thinly veiled incitement to committing violence on Teresa Kok.
There are so many laws that can be used against such an appalling act of irresponsibility on the part of the paper for publishing such a story, but all it gets is a “warning”, whatever that might be.
Now don’t get me wrong, I abhor the Printing Presses and Publications Act and I am not advocating its use against any paper, even one that behaves so badly.
However, the hypocrisy shown in that episode is appalling.
It would appear therefore that at least where the ruling party is concerned, it is business as usual in the area of politics and governance in Malaysia.
Would a change in Umno leadership alter that?
For that to happen, it would require a new top man who is a reformer; someone who is brave enough to stand up to the more extreme elements in his party; a person who has proven that he has strong principles of justice and democracy and is courageous enough to stand by them regardless of how the political winds may blow.