Monday, March 10, 2008

Badawi is only 20% to blame

One of the happiest persons in Malaysia today must be Mahathir Mohammed. He could not wait to call a press conference to condemn his successor Abdullah Badawi for the dismal performance of the Barisan Nasional at last Saturday’s general elections. Looking like a delighted kid who has just received his favourite toy, he gleefully pointed out that since Badawi had been given 100% credit for BN’s outstanding performance at the last election in 2004, he should now shoulder 100% of the blame.

I would disagree with that assessment. I think Badawi should only receive 20% of the credit in 2004 and 20% of the blame this time. In both occasions, 80% of the creditor/blame goes to Mahathir. Why do I say that?

Ask yourself. What is the main cause of BN’s poor performance? The newspapers have gone into great detail on that. In a nutshell, the people are fed up with the BN’s mismanagement and wanted change. And this desire for change was already very strong in 2004. Hence they were hopeful that Badawi, being quite different in character and temperament from Dr M would bring about that change. Unfortunately they were disappointed. And so now, they are willing to give the opposition a try.

Let’s take a closer look at just a couple of these causes of discontent among Malaysians.

1) Corruption, nepotism and money politics. Did these come about only during the past four years under Badawi’s leadership? Obviously not. They flourished during the Mahathir era. Remember that famous Lingam video? Who was PM at that time? Badawi’s failure was only his inability to deliver on his promises to solve these deep-rooted problems. So I ask you - can Badawi take 100% of the ‘credit’?

2) Marginalization of the Chinese and Indians arising from the NEP (New Economic Policies) which led to exodus of large numbers of talented Chinese and Indians. Again did this arise during Badawi’s term?

3) Crime and social problems. Remember the time when Lee Kuan Yew caused an uproar in the Malaysian papers when he commented that Johor Bahru was crime-infested? Was that during Badawi’s or Mahathir’s rule?

4) Finally, there is the so-called Anwar factor. This one is fact is 100% caused by Mahathir’s petty feud with his apparent successor. Badawi was simply the innocent bystander. His only fault is that he was not as ruthless as his predecessor in finishing off Anwar by dishonest means.

The above are just a few of the many problems that caused the ‘defeat’ of BN. All these problems were deeply entrenched when Badawi took over the reigns from Mahathir. As I said before, here:

冰冻三尺 非一日之寒; or A three –feet layer of ice did not result from a single day of chill.

Conclusion: Mahathir should not be so quick to point fingers at his successor. You know what they say about pointing fingers. One finger is pointed at Badawi, 4 are pointed at himself. That’s why I say Badawi is only 20% to blame.

As an aside, I think the opposition should thank Mahathir for their victories. Just imagine. If Dr M hadn’t so ruthlessly dealt with his previous deputy, would today’s results be possible. If Anwar had succeeded Dr M, he certainly would have continued the BN’s policies; only he wouldn’t be as easy to handle as Badawi. As it turns out, Anwar is now forced to work with the opposition parties and court the Chinese and Indian voters, and win over some disgruntled Malays.

A final word caution to my Chinese and Indian friends – watch Anwar carefully. There is a Cantonese saying; kor kew chou pan. After crossing the bridge, remove the plank.