The country is in crisis

Zaid Ibrahim

When former New Straits Times top dog Datuk Abdul Kadir Jasin described Dato’ Seri Najib Razak as “the Prime Minister with the worst performance in a general election since the May racial riots in 1969”, I took the swipe to be just another explosion of pent-up feelings. After all, supporters of Tun Daim Zainuddin have been letting off steam against the Prime Minister for some time.

I do not think the Prime Minister is that bad but he is slowly showing signs of being unable to deal with crises effectively and with the assurance required of a Prime Minister.

I am not just referring to the Merdeka Centre report that Najib’s popularity is now at its lowest since he became Prime Minister. The apparent weaknesses in his leadership on several issues are obvious. He must deal with them soon.

The recent abductions in Sabah constitute another breach in security that the nation’s leaders must deal with so that we can feel secure again. The Prime Minister thinks this latest incident was done deliberately to sour relations between Malaysia and China. If this is correct, then we are dealing with another country that wants to see Malaysia-China relations go bad.

Individuals do not care about relationships between nations. So, which country is behind the attack? This is a serious matter that must not be glossed over. Sabah is no longer safe, whether for tourists or even for locals. What is so tragic is that whenever such security breaches occur (and they occur on regular basis), the Prime Minister does not think it necessary to make someone accountable for the lapse.

So far, the Home Minister has just kept quiet, as has the Chief Minister of Sabah. No one has come forward with a new security plan. No one needs to be responsible. No one loses their job.

We also have the on-going water crisis in Peninsular Malaysia. Close to two million residents in the Klang Valley currently suffer extensive water rationing. More residents in Negri Sembilan and Johor will endure the same fate, and yet I have not heard any effective steps being announced by the Prime Minister other than getting more helicopters to do cloud-seeding.

Open burning in over 6,000 areas throughout the country will lead to more health problems with dirty air filling the lungs of Malaysians. Declaring an emergency is just a sign that we have serious problems occurring. There is still a need for long-term plans and someone in charge to address them. Who is specifically put in charge of the most essential and vital life-supporting element—water —in this country? No one.

The usual answer is that water is the responsibility of the individual state but that was decided 60 years ago. To keep to this archaic arrangement, knowing how things have changed in the country, and not wanting to deal with the problems effectively is a clear abdication of responsibility. Water and food shortages will soon cause a national tragedy unless attended to.

On the same note, putting the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) in place is not enough. Can we also replace the Sabah Chief of Police and even the Home Minister every time a security breach occurs, so that the people holding these posts know that that’s the price to pay for making Malaysia unsafe?