The economic figure just posted a gloomy first quarter GDP forcast skrinkage by 6.2%. The market forecast is a contraction by 3.5%.
As expected, there are parties pre-empting Putrajaya's response to basically point their nimble finger at the Finance Minister cum Prime Minister.
For that, it is not fair. The PM should not be blamed. He inherited the problems from his predecessor.
Dato Seri Najib assumed the MoF post on September 17th, 2008. Tun Abdullah basically announced he is not running for the UMNO Presidency in mid October 2008. UMNO General Assembly ended on March 28th, 2009. Najib swore in as PM on April 3rd, 2009. He didn;t have much time to avoid the global economic downturn.
Before the real intention of this posting is expressed, let's allay the blame the opposition is setting to blast the PM.
After all, it is them that diverted national attention to the endless politicking with the 916 charade, Perak constitutional crisis, and endless political provocations. When Najib offered an olive branch to work together to focus on the economy, Anwar answered in Parliament arrogantly accusing Najib as offering olive branch by throwing thorny durians.
When Najib tookover the finance portfolio, the GDP growth for the quarter, Q4 2008 was at 0.1%. Thats down from 4.8% for 3Q 2008 growth. By referring to the chart below, the economy was in a down trend from Q1 2008.
The general election was held on March 8, 2008, in which Barisan Nasional was handed it's worst performance ever and losing 5 states to the opposition coalition. The economic figure for Q1 2008 seemed prime pumped to prepare for the general election.
But throughout 2007, our growth was unimpressive; quarterly growth was ranging from 5.4% to 7.2%. The macronumbers were one thing but the indicators and experince on the ground were another.
In fact, one of the main grouses with the previous PM was the poor economic managment of the country. There is no need to go over that again, but understand that it is inherited. But, there is a need to discuss on defending the PM.
The manner to defend the PM is also to help, assist and remind him from making mistakes that could become ammunition for the opposition. Before one can strategise and pursue an offensive on the political opponent, the priority is to make necessary preparation for ones own defense and make pre-emptive steps to avoid any lapse in defense line.
The Prime Minister is faced with a multitude of tasks and inherited problems from the past administration to solve and overcome. The immediate responsibility is prepare for the difficult situation the people, nation, and party will be facing in the near future.
When he said in his closing speech at the UMNO GA that leaders should be better listeners, he is much aware that he needs all the help from all of us who still believe in the current leadership and government. There must be voices, opinions and viewspoints of ideas, cautions, and warnings for him to train his ears to listen.
It does not serve him to have claimed supporters praising every words of his like everybody was mimicking "Cemerlang, Gemilang dan Terbilang" and "Islam Hadhari" in the immediate past. The PM can't afford dishonest praises and sweetened words to lull him into a lullaby.
To defend the Premiership institution, one can't be blind loyalist whose claimed loyalty do nothing but lead the PM to make costly mistakes one after another without a word of caution and preemption.
One will hear their claimed defense with attacks on the vocal ones with accusation and labels of disloyalty, trouble maker, and even personal character attacks. One blogger expressing opinion was demonised with accusation of self interest securing of contract.
Instead of presenting fact and argument, they believe that defending the PM is by shallow denial and argument that the PM knows best. Where were them when PM delivered his closing speech at UMNO GA? Our PM acknowledge that the PM does not necessarily knows everything. He is truly asking to "work with me."
Returning back to the issue of the economy, the PM had laid out his Stimulus Package which will be supported by a Credit Guarantee Corporation. Today he announced the need for new approach in economic managment or a new economic model.
For this effort, he should be supported. The people, supporters and defenders of the PM has to ensure he is able to achieve what he set out to achieve. He need to be alerted on areas that need extra caution and needs delicate balancing. And, he need to develop an Economic Model that is for social justice and not "sama rata, sama rasa."
The desire to develop a new economic model was expressed by our previous PM, in which yours truly was present in that closed door session. What models that strive towards social justice did he came up with in 5 years?
For the PM to derive to that economic model, he should pick the right person for the right job. In areas where an economist is more appropriate, putting a banker with sheltered and play safe experiance of the economy will not meet the objective. In organistions where tradition of professionalism, independence, and corporate governance is of utmost importance, there must be no room for negotiation, justification and compromises.
Taking a "tak apa lah" attitude and excuses like "dulu pun lebih kurang" as justification will only be suicidal for the PM, especially when the ruling party is in its most vulnerable state from opposition attack.
In turning around the economy, the PM have to make a bold, out-of-the-box and ungeneric moves. He need to create a one swift step that awe and impress the people that instantly renew public confidence in the national leadership.
Among other things, the PM must take charge of the national debate. He should not allow opposition or activist dictate the direction of public discourse.
The PM should preferably be the first to express an opinion on any issues. His view must be sought after by the press and all. His feedback is something everyone take heed. He should be capable to anticipate any public's negativism and pre-empt with confidence building and clever remark.
The correctness of view or accuracy is not the primary concern. The keyword here is take charge. A PM that takes charge create good political perception.
Criticism, pre-emptive warnings and expressing expectation on the PM should not maturely be viewed as an attack on the PM. It shows concern and brevity to put right to wrong and avoiding costly mistake. It shows true supporter willing to express sincerely, even if criticised by the pembodeks around. It is easier to defend before a mistake is made than after it is done.
The party can't afford any more silly decisions and new mistakes. One senior politician used to caution that when a Malay reached a point described in Malay as meluat, no amount of persuasion or discourse or scare tactic could turn him around. Of late, this term is constantly heard on the ground.
The PM can't afford to be too deliberative in deriving a decision. He must be able to derive from his own observation, experiance, and knowledge into an instinctive decision. Leaders must be decisive and not flip flop like before.
The people and voters are expecting nothing less in a decisiveness. If it means heads rolling off the judicial guillotine board for corruption and money politics practices, be that as it may. Only then, could they be convinced change is forthcoming.
If the party delegate system is the problem, nilly dilly on the delegate numbers is seen as procrastination. All members want to be eligible to vote. And, if warlords and gatekeepers are the perenial problem in the party, there should not be any over balancing act to maintain them.
The expectation on the PM is a lot. He needs to solve problems, adminster the nation, and provide the leadership sorely missing in this country from half a decade of sleep. He has to do the needful and not trying to please everybody.
Bloggers like yours truly will play our role to defend him when he needs to be defended, will remind and pre-empt him when he is heading in dangerous territory, and although rarely do, will praise him when he did something truly worthy.
That's what defending the Prime Minister means to yours truly.
Note: The PM studied at University of Nottingham and the pictures are of Nottingham Forest FC supporters.
* Up-dated 6:30 pm
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