Ariff Sabri in his article “Anwar is not important,good governance is” attributed wild remarks attributed to Dr Chandra. Here is Dr. Chandra’s response.
ARIFF SABRI AND GOOD GOVERNANCE
In "Anwar is not important, good governance is" (FMT, 18 March 2013), Mohd Ariff Sabri Aziz attributes a remark to me which I have never made!
To quote him, “When Chandra said, “It’s only people like us who can fulfil promises and who have the experience to govern...” Now when and where did I say this? What is the source? Is it an article? Is it a speech? It would be much appreciated if Ariff can provide the details.
On the larger question of whether Anwar or good governance is more important, the simple answer is that both are important. In a political system in which the Prime Minister has had a preeminent role since Merdeka, it would be naive to downplay the office. When two Pakatan parties, the PKR and the DAP, and a segment of the voters, are rooting for Anwar, his candidacy becomes a matter of grave concern for the entire nation.
Why Anwar is not qualified to be Prime Minister has been analysed in depth by a number of us for a few years now. His failings as Education Minister and Finance Minister, his manipulation of communal sentiments, his money politics, his cronyism, his links with neo-con politicians and leading Zionists in the United States and his alleged sexual misdemeanours are well-known and not worth repeating.
For the Malaysian public, the equally crucial question is whether the Pakatan ruled states are models of good governance. Is Kelantan where PAS has been in power for 22 years, an example of good governance? Drug addiction and HIV/AIDS are serious social maladies in the state. Out-migration is high partly because Kelantan cannot provide jobs to its people. There are other critical challenges pertaining to the supply of clean water to a segment of the population, land alienation and illegal logging.
How is Kedah faring? Deforestation in the vicinity of a dam, the financial woes of a state run university college, restrictions imposed upon snooker saloons at one time and curbs upon cultural performances involving women do not offer persuasive evidence of good governance.
Then there is Selangor which has been plagued by a series of problems related to governance. From rubbish collection to water management to unfulfilled promises to single mothers and senior citizens, the state government appears to have fallen far short of popular expectations.
And what about Penang? Many thinking Penangites are worried about the cosy relationship between the State government and developers and the pronounced environmental degradation on the island in the last few years. The inability of the government to provide affordable housing to the island’s poorer denizens has also raised a question mark about the government’s priorities.
Of course, in all the Pakatan ruled states there have also been achievements. Rewarding drain-sweepers in the Penang State honours’ list is commendable. Likewise, initiating a Freedom of Information Act in Selangor is a good move.
By the same token, one should also recognise that a number of Barisan states have also done well. Terengganu has gifted students with computers and provided them with free access to tuition. Melaka has won international accolades for its tourism programme. The Perak state government ensures direct social services to the poorer segment of society through a grassroots oriented mechanism.
The Barisan federal government can also proudly proclaim to the world that it has sustained a more than 5% growth rate and channelled a huge portion of the nation’s revenue to the have-a-little at a time when the global economy is in dire straits. Equally important, the government has embarked upon a multi-faceted transformation programme that has already begun to bear fruit in various spheres of life.
At the same time, the public is also aware of the shortcomings of the Barisan at state and federal level. As the annual Auditor-General’s reports show some state governments should improve their financial management. The federal government should do more to close the gap between the have-a-lot and the have-a-little. And elite corruption remains a major challenge.
There must be a willingness to recognise the strengths and weaknesses, the pluses and minuses of both the Barisan and the Pakatan. Painting one side as totally virtuous and projecting the other side as completely evil does not do justice to reality. A black and white approach is infantile. The truth is often in shades of grey.
A balanced perspective on governance is what we expect from Ariff and everyone else who is concerned about the future of our nation.