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Sunday, March 30, 2008

From: Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

Dear fellow Malaysians,

Thank you for voting Barisan Nasional back into power. It is with great honour that I will serve you for another term. I want to share with you what I plan to do in the next four or five years to fulfil your aspirations for the country.

You used your votes to send me a message – a message that I didn't hear earlier, but which I hear now, loud and clear. Yes, it was a wake up call for a rude awakening and me for all of us at BN. We must never take the Malaysian public for granted.

One of the loudest things I hear from you is 'No more arrogant, inflammatory and racist rhetoric'. I admit several of my outspoken ministers and yes, even my own son-in-law, have said things that hurt the feelings of many segments of our society, especially the non-Malays. I should have rebuked them immediately but I didn't.

I didn't share their views, I'm sure you know that, but I was complacent in thinking such comments would eventually blow over. Little did I realize that many of you had actually taken them to heart. As a prime minister for all Malaysians, I should have been more sensitive. The next time any Umno leaders say things that are out of line, I guarantee you I will slap them down straight away. And if they don't apologise for the hurt they cause, I will ask them to resign whatever posts they hold in the party or the government. That is how seriously I take the matter.

I was mistaken in thinking that Malaysians would be content and grateful just to have peace and security in this country. But after 50 years, Malaysia has grown up. We are becoming a developed nation. Peace and security is not enough. Economic development is not enough. The people want and deserve civil liberties.

As such, I am going to take steps to honour not just the law but also the spirit of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. That means getting rid of the Printing Presses and Publications Act. In addition, all government parties will be required to divest itself of ownership in news media companies. I know this means opening myself and my government to critical articles by journalists, but that's what free speech is all about. And I accept that.

People will no longer need to apply for a permit from the police to peacefully assemble and even to protest. Of course if they make a nuisance of themselves or become rowdy, law enforcement officers will have to do their job to ensure public safety. But your right to peacefully assemble will be respected.

I am going to get rid of the dreaded Internal Security Act and the Kamunting detention facility will be torn down and converted into some new commercial development. To be honest with you, I didn't want to detain those five Hindraf guys without trial. It's against my nature to do such things. But alas, I listened to advisors who been giving me wrong advice. They will be freed, as will other ISA detainees, but if there is evidence against any of them, they will be charged and have their day in court.

Speaking of courts, I will be asking the King to set up a new Royal Commission of Inquiry and this time, the terms of reference will extend all the way back to the controversial sacking of Salleh Abbas. Many learned lawyers have highlighted that it was that incident which started the rot in our judiciary. I know we might be opening a can of worms but let the law take its course. I am determined to repair our judiciary.

The Official Secrets Act will also be removed and replaced by the Freedom of Information Act. People rightly view the OSA as an impediment to catching crooks within the government. In contrast, a Freedom of Information Act will help us catch those crooks. When you first elected me, I was known as Mr Clean. Nobody calls me that now but by the time my second term ends, that's what you'll be calling me again. Just wait and see.

Last but not least – and I've really saved the best for last – I am going to initiate something that will end communal politics once and for all. Umno will soon stand for the United Malaysian National Organisation and all component parties in the BN will be invited to merge with the old Umno that we can become one big multiracial party. Also, the NEP will stand for Newest Economic Policy that will help all Malaysians regardless of race. Take that, Anwar!

None of the things I've mentioned is going to be easy to implement. There will be resistance like you wouldn't believe. But if I am going to regain the trust you first gave to me four years ago, I will have to earn it the hard way – by not just talking the talk but walking the walk. Last time around I asked you to work with me. This time, watch me work for you, to build a better Malaysia that you deserve.


Pak Lah

source malaysiatoday

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