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Abdullah losing the fight for the soul of his premiership


Media Comment
by Lim Kit Siang  

, Tuesday) : A little-noticed and unreported battle for the soul of the Abdullah premiership is being fought out in Parliament in the past 10 days revolving around the Royal Police Commission’s key recommendation for the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

On the first day of the current Parliamentary meeting on March 13, 2006, the Police headed by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Mohd Bakri Omar, gave the Barisan Nasional MPs a night briefing and succeeded in “brain-washing’ them to champion the police cause in Parliament to oppose the establishment of IPCMC, even though it meant distancing them from and repudiating the public commitment   of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi supporting “in principle” the establishment of  IPCMC.


This is most unprecedented in the almost half-century  history of Alliance and Barisan Nasional government.


In today’s debate on the motion of thanks for the royal address,  the police standard was carried by the BN MP for Santubong, Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and BN MP for Muar, Razali Ibrahim, adding their  voices of opposition to the IPCMC – as if responding to a powerful force compelling them to declare their allegiance on the IPCMC issue.


I asked Wan Junaidi why BN MPs, particularly from UMNO, are taking an open stand to break from the Prime Minister’s support “in principle” for the IPCMC proposal, only to  get the lame answer that he had not heard the Prime Minister expressing support for IPCMC.


In my interjection, I noted that there was no objection from the BN and UMNO MPs to the establishment of the Royal Police Commission in the past 26 months and to  its 125 recommendations in the past 10 months, but everything changed after the police briefing for BN MPs ten days ago.  The IPCMC not only came under attack, even the  Royal Police Commission was not spared.  What happened at the police briefing for BN MPs ten days ago?


To my next question why there was a coup d’tat by BN MPs against the Barisan Nasional BackBenchers’  (BNBBC) Club Chairman, Datuk Shahrir Samad, who had  publicly declared his support for IPCMC, Wan Junaidi gave  the equally lame reply that he did not know the stand of the BNBBC Chairman.


To justify their indefensible position in  going against the Prime Minister and the BNBBC Chairman, UMNO MPs are  thinking  up new reasons for opposing IPCMC.  In the past two days, DAP MP for Seputeh, Teresa Kok, was accused of being responsible for the IPCMC proposal, when the nude earsquat scandal she exposed happened more than six months after the Royal Police Commission had come out with its 125 recommendations and the IPCMC proposal.


Razali tried his hand at these new reasons when he said that the remuneration, working conditions and facilities of the police  were grossly inadequate for them to discharge their functions well, and until these inadequacies are overcome, it is not time yet for an IPCMC. 


In my interjection, I pointed out that the IPCMC was only one of 125 recommendations of the Royal Police Commission, many of which were aimed at improving the remuneration, facilities and working conditions of the police.  In fact, the Cabinet had given priority to implementation of some of these proposals, including housing, when they were lower down the list in the time-line for implementation – and all these improvements to improve the working environment of the police had received all-round support.


Razali also offered the reason that unlike more developed countries which have police external oversight mechanisms like the proposed  IPCMC, Malaysia is not developed enough yet to have an IPCMC.


This prompted my observation that such an attitude made nonsense of  the call by the Prime Minister for an end to the Malaysian malaise of “First-World Infrastructure, Third-World Mentality”, as BN MPs were  wallowing in the “First-World Infrastructure, Third-World Mentality” syndrome.


In this battle for the soul of the Abdullah premiership, to keep true and alive the Prime Minister’s pledge to lead a clean, incorruptible, accountable, transparent, efficient and professional administration on the important issue of IPCMC, BN MPs particularly from UMNO appeared to have abandoned the Prime Minister – leaving to DAP MPs to valiantly defend the Prime Minister from the betrayal of his own backbenchers.


If a vote has to be taken among the UMNO MPs on IPCMC, Abdullah’s support “in principle” would not get majority support. In fact, I wonder whether Abdullah would be able to get majority support from UMNO Ministers in Cabinet  for the establishment of IPCMC.


Abdullah seems to be losing the fight for the soul of his premiership.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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