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The NST article on PM’s visit to Japan yesterday should be compulsory reading for all Cabinet Ministers, who should collectively resign to give Abdullah a free hand to end the farce of a “half-past six” Cabinet

Media Statement (2)      
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliament, Tuesday) : Yesterday’s New Straits Times journalist Fauzlah Ismail wrote a report on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s visit to Japan last week which should be compulsory reading and critical discussion by all Cabinet Ministers for their weekly meeting tomorrow to lift them out of their “half-past six” malaise. 

Entitled “Broaden horizons during trips abroad, says Abdullah”, Fauzlah started with the observation: “Trips abroad, be it official or working visits, are not just about the fixed itinerary. It is about observing the culture of the countries visited and finding those that can be emulated back home.” 

Fauzlah said that Abdullah used his fourth visit to Japan since taking office in 2003 to observe what the Japanese do best and what examples he could bring home for Malaysians to emulate. 

Clearly what struck the Prime Minister most was the culture of maintenance in Japan, causing him to ask newsmen covering his five-day visit last week: 

"Did you check their toilets? Did you notice how clean the city is?"  

He was impressed with the Japanese culture of maintenance, especially of public buildings and places.

Fauzlah wrote:

"Indeed, the toilets, especially at the Narita International Airport where millions of local and foreign passengers go through, and the city were impeccably clean."

Another part of Japanese culture which struck Abdullah was queuing. Fauzlah quoted the Prime Minister:  

"Do you see people or cars jumping queue? The queue may be long but they still wait their turn."

There was a third thing about the Japanese which impressed Abdullah - when the Prime Minister reminded of the Malaysian habit of passing the buck to others.

"This has to stop. The departments and agencies concerned must take responsibility. Whoever is responsible must know what he is responsible for and take action without being told to do so."

Fauzlah posed a most pertinent question to the Prime Minister – why, after 50 years of bilateral relations, have Malaysians yet to learn all these from the Japanese – but Abdullah had no reply except to say: "That’s an interesting question" and to express the hope that the 14,000 Malaysians who stayed in Japan for training and studies under the Look East Policy would go home and continue with what they learnt in Japan. 

Why must Fauzlah article be compulsory reading and be the subject of critical discussion at tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting?

Very simple – Fauzlah has inadvertently zoomed in on the critical flaws of leadership and governance in Malaysia in the past 50 years.

The lack of the culture of maintenance is too painfully self-evident from the almost daily reminder government building or public construction defects, whether falling ceilings, cracked walls, burst water and sewerage pipes, air-con and power breakdowns, and now horror of horrors, the revelation that government buildings like the troubled-starred world’s second largest court complex in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur does not have and does not need CFs!

The Prime Minister has been talking about a culture of excellence and towering Malaysians, but 50 years of the national education system have failed to impart to Malaysians the most basic toilet training to the extent that Abdullah has to look with envy at the Japanese toilet system in all his four  visits to Japan as Prime Minister.

There is no culture of responsibility, don’t mention the tradition of hara-kiri, for Ministers to boldly accept responsibility for failures or setbacks in their Ministries – vividly illustrated in the current season of man-made mishaps and disasters in the various Ministries.

Fauzlah rightly pointed out that Abdullah was the minister in charge of implementing the Look East Policy when it was introduced 25 years ago.

If after 25 years, Abdullah has failed to get Malaysians to emulate the Japanese qualities of the cultures of maintenance and  responsibility, what hope is there that he would succeed now unless something extraordinary is to take place in the Cabinet tomorrow.

Is Abdullah prepared to do something extraordinary at the cabinet meeting tomorrow by asking all the Cabinet Ministers to collectively resign to give him a free hand to appoint a new Cabinet to end the national farce and charade of a half-past six Cabinet and administration?


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

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