The 100 Days Myth

By Sakmongkol

The 100 days is one of the most nefarious myths culled from American politics. Coincidentally, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in a speech at a private function mentioned the term, a New Deal. The American president most associated with the term new deal was FDR.

In one sense, PM Najib is making a series of deals with the rakyat. He has offered them a slew of changes with the aim of saving UMNO and the country. We have a possible analogy between our PM Najib and FDR.

Franklin D. Roosevelt took office at a time of national emergency when the instruments of government under Herbert Hoover and his laissez-faire Republican predecessors were wholly inadequate to the challenge. FDR went into action with a slew of reforms and invented new institutions to save the American economy.

PM Najib came into power after a brokered transition which allowed PM Najib to move into office and Pak Lah to ride into the sunset a happy and prosperous man. He (Pak Lah) was able to say patronisingly- the man I chose has done well. History will judge this to be a misstatement. The UMNO warlords, scared out of their wits, chose Najib over Pak Lah. What Pak Lah is saying so that he won't miss out on the euphoria- indeed Najib is a better PM than he can ever be.

In a similar sense, PM Najib came into power at a time of national emergency too. At the last general elections, if Pak Lah can be compared to Hoover, his administration of which PM Najib was a part, promised security, peace and prosperity. The instruments of government under Hoover Pak Lah- the police, (security), the judiciary and the civil service and the economy are in disarray. The RM8 billion given to the Police to enhance their operations and management have not result in better crime prevention. Peace has ceded place to anxieties given the negative perception on our judiciary. As for the economy, a new economic model is needed to replace the NEP which has become a tool to legitimise the seizure of economic opportunities by the elite. The stimulus packages which PM Najib announced, have not given results other than transferring funds to, again, selected beneficiaries.

Ok lah, let us be charitable a bit and accept that what PM Najib has done so far were well meaning. But they are not going to be boxed up in the 100 days myth created by the media. History has judged what FDR did as ushering in a brilliant moment. However those did not materialise within 100 days but came much later. It is highly improbable that substantial changes have taken place during PM Najib's hundred days. The 100 days thing is just a myth created by the local media, aping its nefarious kin in America.

Everyone is transfixed on talking about PM Najib's 100 days. It is as though the first 100 days provide a definitive stamp of leadership and governance. More important than offering excessive homage, we should ask, what has PM Najib done? A few changes were announced. Liberalisation of certain sectors within the service industry, liberalisation of selected financial sectors, the abolition of the 30% requirement, announcing that from henceforth scholarship will be awarded on the basis of merits, the teaching of science and maths back into Bahasa Malaysia. Perhaps all these will result in Malaysians moving into higher income groups.

Two important statesmen don't seem to be too enthusiastic about the first 100 days. Tun Mahathir thought the negatives have been bigger than positives but quickly added that his disapproval does not mean he doesn't support PM Najib. Clever.

In his aptly termed straight talk, Tengku Razaleigh has been more forthright. The 100 days thing is no big thing. The bigger picture is to evaluate what PM Najib has done against the promises made since March 8, 2008. Its not that Dato Najib took over after a general elections. He inherits what has been laid down by Pak Lah since the last general elections. PM Najib took over on 2nd April 2009 in accordance to a peaceful transfer of power.