Arrogance has a price

(The Malaysian Insider) – You would think that by now the Najib administration will act with some humility and acceptance that Malaysia has grown up faster than the politicians in its fold.


After all, since the Sarawak polls the government has been drifting, floundering, from one mistake to another. Barely a week passes by without a minister putting his foot in the mouth; without the opaque nature of decision-making laid bare.

Only this past week, de facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had to defend a letter he wrote to GLCs asking them to stop all legal proceedings against Tan Sri Tajuddin Ramli, the man who left Malaysia Airlines with a heap of debts. The minister said that an out-of-court settlement was being worked out, a point finessed unsuccessfully by the prime minister who said that it was not an out-of-court settlement but “an off-site” settlement.

You would think that Nazri having been caught out with the publication of the letter would hold his tongue and be more humble.

But talking about the electoral reform select committee in the Sun today he refused to acknowledge Bersih, the organisation that has forced the government to go down on bended knees and agree to electoral reform.

“I don’t know who Bersih is… Bersih is not a registered body,” he said. He then suggested that individuals under the Bersih umbrella make suggestions to the committee as “there is nothing special about them and it is not for them to tell us what to do.”

He is missing the point because it is not whether Bersih is special or not. The simple fact is that without Bersih, the need for electoral reform would not have been on the agenda. Bersih is made up of individuals who have studied the election system and have suggestions to improve it.

More importantly, they are Malaysians and the government of the day has an obligation to hear them out and not just pay lip service to the need to reform the electoral system.

The Najib administration can either win big or lose big with this move to set up an electoral reform select committee. If it is serious and honest about making sure the select committee does a sterling job, then the government will come out with much credit.