NAJIB’S 100TH DAY IN OFFICE AND HIS PROMISE
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
By Lee Wei Lian
KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 — To mark his 100th day in office, the prime minister pledged that his government would be accountable to voters.
He also announced a slew of measures, including a cut in road tolls and an increase in the number of individual taxi permits, in a bid to build on his high approval rating so far to win back support for the Barisan Nasional (BN).
In a televised address to the nation, Datuk Seri Najib Razak also outlined the focus of his administration would be in six key areas:
• The prevention of crime;
• The fight against corruption;
• Access to quality education;
• The improvement of the living standards for the lower income group;
• Improvement of rural infrastructure;;
• Improvement of public transportation.
“We must be responsible to the rakyat. It is all about performance now, performance driven government,” he told a special gathering at the KLCC Convention Centre here to mark his 100 days in office.
Despite scoring an approval rating of 65 per cent in a recent poll by the independent Merdeka Center, Najib has come under fire from his allies and rivals alike in recent days, especially over his reversal of the English policy and also the economic liberalisation programme.
He appears to be ignoring the criticism and is now staking his administration on winning over ordinary Malaysians.
Besides offering motorists a 20 per cent discount for those who use toll roads more than 80 times a month and increasing the number of individual taxi permits by 3,000, he also announced:
• The allocation of 44,000 units in public housing projects to be offered for sale to tenants;
• A 50 per cent reduction in license fees for petty traders in the Federal Territories;
• Drastic steps to be taken to combat crime and graft of which details would be announced later;
• A pledge to settle birth registration issues in east Malaysia;
• A pledge to settle citizenship applications in East Malaysia;
• A pledge to build up to 1,500 kilometres of rural roads;
• Efforts to be made to improve water and electricity supply to east Malaysia;
• A reduction in the cost of motorcycle riding courses from RM500 to RM211;
• A new Amanah Saham 1 Malaysia with 10 billion units offered for sale to all Malaysians above 18.
The prime minister stayed on his signature 1 Malaysia message throughout the event and the festivities reflected that.
There was no talk of the supremacy or privileges of any ethnic group.
Instead, the increasingly familiar refrain of unity among all races and putting the public first was repeated several times.
Formalities were noticeably low key, save for the red carpet, and the seating arrangements were deliberately left open to encourage cabinet ministers to mingle with the public.
“Whether Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sikh, Iban, Kadazan, Bidayuh, Orang Asli, Siamese, we are all Malaysian citizens. If we can move together as one team, one people, one nation, we will be greatly successful,” said Najib.
Perhaps to drive home his commitment towards fostering racial unity and acceptance, the printed text of his speech was delivered to him by a symbolic retinue of 11 children consisting of different ethnicities from east and west Malaysia.
The most humorous moments came when Najib reminisced about his walkabouts during the first few days of office, when he visited derelict flats, ate “tosai” in Brickfields, bought fake Louise Vuitton bags at Petaling street and inhaled the stinking pollution at the infamous Pudu bus station so much so that “the smell still sticks till today.”
He noted that his directives to improve conditions at the locales he visited are being carried out quickly, including a makeover of the Pudu bus station and plans for a Little India in Brickfields.
He left unanswered, however, the question of what happens if the prime minister is too busy or unable to do walkabouts?
Najib also extended an olive branch to critics of the government’s human rights record.
“The era of government knows best is over,” he said. “We will consult the public including on the review of the Internal Security Act and this includes consulting the Bar Council and other NGOs.”