Agenda Daily


From absent MPs in the Dewan Rakyat to missing aircraft engines, the administration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak has been dogged by problems in the nine months it has been in power. Unless the Prime Minister starts taking a tough stance on issues such as these, the ruling coalition could pay a heavy price in the next general election.


DESPITE HAVING LAUNCHED CATCHY SLOGANS and a slew of policy and programme initiatives, the government of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak continues to be dogged by problems.

Just as his 1Malaysia, People First, Performance Now’ slogan is gaining currency, or, at the very least, is adorning billboards and banners, his Members of Parliament (MPs), on Dec 14, decided to play a cruel trick on him.

They decided that the 2010 Budget, which was crafted and presented by Mohd Najib himself as Finance Minister, wasn’t important enough to warrant their full presence in the Dewan Rakyat.

So, when the 2010 Supply Bill was put to vote close to midnight on that fateful day, only 66 out of 140 Barisan Nasional (BN) members were in the House to narrowly save it from being defeated. It was passed by a majority of three.

The Opposition too should be kicking itself in the rear. Had a few more of its members been present, it could have easily defeated the Bill and, indirectly, passed a vote of no-confidence on the government.

Alas, its members too played truant. Out of 82, only 63 were present when the voting was called. But percentage-wise, it did stunningly better than the BN.

As I had reflected on my blog on Dec i8, if the BN MPs had no respect or fear for their bosses, they should at least fear the voters, taxpayers and the people as a whole.

I can understand if the truant MPs had neither the respect nor the fear for their party bosses. For them, it could be a game of ‘I rub your back and you rub mine’.

They elected their bosses to high party positions and in return, the grateful bosses nominated them as party candidates in the general election.

There’s no need for the Prime Minister to investigate why so many of his MPs went missing unless he harbours the suspicion that they did so deliberately.

Unless they were bedridden or were in police lock-ups, they had no reason to be away from the House no matter how late the sitting. They were elected by the people to legislate laws.

And what can be more important than the annual budget that determines the welfare of the people, including the truant MPs themselves.

Their identities should be revealed so that the voters know who they are and the reasons for their absence. Only then will they be able to decide if these MPs deserve their votes should they be nominated to stand again in a future election.

On the other hand, Mohd Najib can do the voters and taxpayers a huge favour by blacklisting these errant MPs and not nominating them to contest in the coming general election. The same applies to Pakatan Rakyat (PR) if it wants the people to believe that it is better than the BN..

If the BN MPs did not care about the Finance Minister, who is also the Prime Minister, they should care about the voters and taxpayers who put them in Parliament.

For the Prime Minister, unless he changes his play safe stance and decisively takes the bull by the horns, he may not have anybody to blame but himself if the BN’s fortune continues to dissipate.

After nine months in power, the people have the right to expect more than just slogans and promises. Acting firmly against the recalcitrant members of his party and the civil service is the least the people expect.


AND how do we justify military officers allegedly stealing and selling aircraft engines and being dismissed without a civil trial or military court martial?

According to media reports, a Brigadier-General and 40 military personnel were sacked in late 2008 over their alleged involvement in the case of the missing RM5O-million jet fighter engine belonging to the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

Let’s hope that if the military was not particularly serious about punishing these criminals, the police and the civil court will.

The New Straits Times, quoting an unnamed source, said the Brigadier-General, who was a department head, might be one of four men whom Federal Commercial Crimes Investigation Department Deputy

Director I, Datuk Nooryah Mat Anvar, identified as the main players in the case.

These suspects had their services terminated by an internal inquiry and disciplinary committee following an audit of RMAF assets by the-then Air Force Chief Tan Sri Azizan Ariffin. He is now the Armed Forces chief. Twenty were subsequently reinstated following appeals.

Those sacked lost their pension and other benefits as former servicemen while others had to opt for early retirement. The punishment was based on the severity of their involvement.

This is mind-boggling. And there’s no reason for us to be jumping with joy simply because the suspects had been sacked.

If these officers were alleged to have committed the offence, what then is the ‘real’ truth behind this dastardly, shameful and treacherous act?

Why only an internal inquiry? Why not a full-blown investigation and trial by a civil or military authority?

Hopefully, a police investigation or a probe by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission will lead to the truth being revealed and appropriate punishments meted out.

A court martial would have solved the issue at the military level. Just think, if these people could steal and sell their own equipment, what is there to stop them from surrendering or defecting to the enemies when their lives are at stake?

The questions must be asked, where was the minister in-charge when this alleged crime was committed? Where were the generals, the secretaries-general and the internal auditors?

It does not sound right. Why just an internal inquiry? This is an act of treason. Why they were not court-martialed?

It’s too mind-boggling. It defies logic. Here, I strongly feel that there’s a very strong reason to call for the setting up of an independent Royal Commission of Inquiry.


ACCORDING to media reports, PAS Vice-President Salahuddin Ayub has called for the replacement of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) with the Freedom of Information Act,

This, said the liberal-minded Pas leader, would assure full freedom to the media and bloggers.

The call, which he made at the inaugural convention of PR in Shah Alam on Dec 19, is timely, given the fact that the alliance leaders top the list of politicians taking journalists, writers and bloggers to court.

In their attempt to silence the mainstream media, writers and bloggers who are not friendly to them, an increasing number of PR leaders are suing journalists, writers and bloggers.

While proclaiming to embrace the new media and pledging to defend the freedom of expression, these leaders, many of whom are themselves bloggers, are taking the conventional route to silence their detractors. They drag journalists, writers and bloggers to court.

Apart from abolishing the OSA, the PR convention also adopted a resolution to amend the Printing Presses and Publications Act.

This falls short of the general expectation that the alliance would do away with the Act altogether.

These proposals may not necessarily be a boon to journalists, writers and bloggers if the PR leaders continue to show intolerance towards criticism.

They should show the way to the empowerment of the media by using it as an arena for open discussion and intellectual bantering.

On the contrary, it would appear that the present government is not only sparing in the use of the OSA and the Printing Presses Act, but has also been generally tolerant towards the new media, the blogs in particular.

As things now stand, it is opposition politicians who are suing journalists, writers and bloggers, and in some cases, demanding astronomical claims of damages.

Instead of debating intellectually and debunking each other’s views cyberspace and other open forums, these politicians still resort to the courts, which they often cast as lacking independence.

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