MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Saturday, July 30, 2022

PM8 - a closet reformer who never came out of the closet?


MP SPEAKS | House speaker Azhar Azizan Harun took everyone by surprise when at the launch of the book, ‘Muhyiddin Yassin: Leading a Nation in Unprecedented Crisis’ by Abdul Mutalib Razak, he described the country’s eighth prime minister as a “reformist” who “many choose to overlook, for whatever reason they may have”.

Was Muhyiddin a closet reformer but who never came out of the closet?

Azhar is dead wrong when he said Muhyiddin “never asked for the job” of prime minister.

I should know because Muhyiddin asked me for DAP support to be prime minister way back in July 2016 – in a cloak-and-dagger meeting at the Le Meridien Hotel in Kuala Lumpur - but I declined to do so as the DAP was committed to Anwar Ibrahim as the prime minister candidate.

Muhyiddin will forever be remembered for five failures:

1. The infamous Sheraton Move conspiracy which stole the people’s mandate in the 14th General Election and toppled the Pakatan Harapan government.

2. His illegal and unconstitutional declaration of six-month emergency and his earlier and later failures to impose emergency rule.

3. The beginning of more than two years of Covid-19 pandemic, where Malaysia had the worst health minister in the world and Malaysia plunged from a country with a good record to a country with one of the worst records in the world in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

4. His failure to Malaysianise his political thinking to graduate from a ‘Malay first’ to a ‘Malaysian first’ political leader.

5. The largest most bloated cabinet of 32 ministers, 38 deputy ministers and four special envoys with ministerial rank.

But Muhyiddin’s political life which culminated in his becoming prime minister but with the shortest term of 17 months had one saving factor – his uncompromising position against the 1MDB scandal, for which he was dismissed as deputy prime minister in July 2015 and later sacked from Umno in June 2016 by Najib Abdul Razak.

It is difficult to say that Muhyiddin’s political life was one of success for the nation. When he was education minister, his Education Blueprint 2013-2025 to get Malaysia to be above global average and be in top one-third of countries in international education standards by 2025 was a flop, as Malaysia is below global average and not in the top one-third of countries in the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment and TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) international assessments.

The battle against corruption was also a flop. When Muhyiddin was prime minister, Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released its TI CPI 2020 in January 2021, and there was a drop in score from 53 points to 51 points, which resulted in a six-point fall in ranking from No 51 to 57.

In January 2022, the TI CPI 2021 was announced under a new prime minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, and the score fell another five points to 48 and the country’s ranking fell to No 61.

Malaysia is likely to fall to the lowest score and rank since 1995 when the TI CPI 2022 is announced in January 2023.

Fails Covid test

Malaysia was doing quite well in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic in the first six months of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the situation deteriorated badly after that period.

The Bloomberg Covid Resilience Ranking placed Malaysia No 16 out of 53 countries with economies of more than US$200 billion in January 2021, but when Muhyiddin resigned as prime minister, Malaysia was ranked in the 52nd spot.

Mythmakers claim that the Muhyiddin government had passed its greatest test in the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is not the truth. The reverse is the case. The Covid-19 pandemic had in fact provided the Muhyiddin government with an opportunity to hide its weaknesses and internal contradictions.

But thanks to the frontliners and to Malaysians who rallied behind the government because of the enormity of the Covid-19 disaster, we have survived despite the unnecessary deaths of 35,956 people and infection of over 4.6 million people.

The original sin of Malaysia’s Covid-19 crisis was the Sheraton Move conspiracy and the initial mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic which sparked several waves of the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown of the country – or there would be no MCO, CMCO, RMCO!

Emergency was declared on Jan 11, 2021 when Malaysia had 135,992 Covid-19 cases and 551 Covid-19 deaths. Six months later, at the end of the emergency on July 31, 2021, we had 1,113,272 Covid-19 cases and 9,024 Covid-19 deaths – some five times the number of Covid-19 cases and 16 times the Covid-19 deaths after the emergency.

The exponential increase of Covid-19 cases and deaths since the declaration of emergency has shown that the emergency which suspended Parliament and the state assemblies was the wrong prescription for the Covid-19 pandemic, and in fact, a gross abuse of executive power.

But Muhyiddin’s greatest failure is his inability for his political thinking to graduate from ‘Malay First’ to ‘Malaysian First’ and be a prime minister for all Malaysians.

But that is another story. - Mkini

LIM KIT SIANG is the Iskandar Puteri MP.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

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