Since his rise to power, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has, over the last few years, tried to present himself as a reformer. To the rest of the world, he appears to have succeeded to a certain extent.
Recently, the Wall Street Journal Asia published an article about him, portraying him as bringing the winds of change to Malaysia. His recent proposed changes such as the 1Malaysia campaign, the ‘people-friendly and well-accepted’ Budget 2012, as well as the newly mentioned radical changes towards certain laws (the ISA, for example) have added to his burgeoning reputation, after sparking discussion and criticism by large quarters of the population.
However, are all these actions taken by the PM meant to be an illusion? Malaysians are skeptical, and who can blame them? The current generation of citizens have grown up in an environment where the government has promised much and delivered little. Be it Tun Dr Mahatir (who certainly did a lot, but little towards law reforms and corruption) or Tun Abdullah Badawi, our Prime Ministers have certainly disappointed us.
Najib, on the other hand, is the first PM to propose major changes to key issues that Malaysians worry about. So far, he has certainly shown a willingness to move away from his predecessors failed and much-maligned policies, hence charting a new course from himself. First off is the economy. The recent Budget 2012 has gained much acclaim from the media (but then again, which budget doesn’t?) because of the benefits it grants the people. The projected growth rate of 5-5.5% from a projected 4.3% for 2012 is also a reason for optimism. What more, these stats have been backed up by International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Now all he has to do is deliver on what he has promised and balance the budget for quite the first time in the last fourteen years.
Second are the proposed reviews of the Internal Security Act (ISA). He recently announced in his Malaysia Day speech that the much detested piece of legislation would probably be repealed. All these changes are good. However, many Malaysians are branding this news as too good to be true. There is already speculation that the two new laws to replace the ISA would be even worse!
Furthermore, the timing of the suggested changes has also done nothing to quell the skepticism of the people. As we all know, the thirteenth General Elections will take place very soon. Early next year, perhaps? Who knows? I don’t think even Datuk Najib knows yet (or maybe he does..)? Are the timing of these suggested benefits mere coincidences? I think not.
This election will be a key indicator to Datuk Najib and Barisan Nasional on whether or not his administration’s policies have been a success. The ball is now in the people’s court, so to speak. It is now their choice to decide. And hopefully whoever gets elected will not disappoint the rakyat this time.