Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Walking the Talk - are cabinet members heading in the same direction as our PM?

Our Prime Minister has always advocated fairness and tolerance towards all Malaysians irrespective of their race or religion, foremost being his declaration that he is the Prime Minister of ALL Malaysians. I do not doubt his sincerity at all.

However, it is common knowledge on the ground that most of his colleagues within his own component party do not share his idealism. The reality is that much of what we see around us and read about in the daily news contradict the man who is supposed to be the leader of the pack. And this is indeed a very sad reflection of his leadership because it can only be surmised that he must be incredibly soft or unworthy of respect from his colleagues that even junior officers or middle-rank bureaucrats can get away with making decisions which blatantly goes against his policy announcements.

Take for instance our Prime Minister's constant reminders to everyone of the need to be tolerant and respectful of the sensitivities of all Malaysians especially when it touches on the issue of race, religion and culture of our people. However, every now and then, we read in the press certain utterings and certain actions which goes against the good faith as promised by our PM.

For example, we have Members of Parliament who find it appropriate to refer to our Indian friends in derogatory terms (the "K" word), overzealous administrators of public institutions who insist that non-Muslim women must wear the "tudung" at a public university (IIU) and when entering Parliament's chambers, and also by one infamous elected leader who insinuated that people who do not fast are perceived to be lesser beings. All these things and more does nothing at all to promote goodwill among Malay Muslims and non-Muslims, what more encouraging acceptance, tolerance and respect towards each other's differences.

That is why an editorial comment by The Star headlined "Let's not cover up the tudung issue" is timely given the way things are getting out of hand lately. I guess non-Muslims are really getting tired of such petty stuff being replayed over and over again by these unrepentant recalcitrants. Ever since we had been treated to the ridiculous public spectacle of our "keris-waving" Education Minister and UMNO Youth Chief, we have seen an unabated stream of antics being served up to further antagonise the minority communities. I wonder if these leaders and their cohorts from the majority party realise that it is starting to get real offensive and perhaps they should be mindful that the minority communities have also played a crucial role in voting them into their current positions of power. Is this the sort of payback being dished out to all those minority communities who have remained loyal to Barisan Nasional?

We had so positively and enthusiastically looked forward to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's leadership following his unprecedented victory at the 2004 polls. Two years down the road, we are left wondering when the real action will begin, or if it will ever take off from the drawing board already covered with dust. Surely he could not be such a "lame duck" as some critics have unflatteringly labelled him. But here we are, still holding our breathe for the day he would spring into action and prove to us that we have not misplaced our faith and trust in him. Is the day of reckoning going to be revealed to us with a new cabinet line-up soon? Dare we hope that he has recovered from his personal setbacks and am now ready and willing to take up the challenge of making good all the lofty promises he had made to the electorate?

Our Prime Minister is rightly the most powerful person in this country by virtue of the undeniable huge support he received from the public. All that he needs to do is to exercise that power and deliver to us all that has been promised and more. He must have the confidence that the people's power is behind him and that for the first time in more than 20 years, virtually all Malaysians are supportive of their Prime Minister. Failing to seize this advantageous moment and make the most of it is incomprehensible to all. To fail to deliver the goods is inexcusable. It would be like waking up to a huge hangover after a long night of blissful slumber only to realise that the nightmare has just begun.



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