Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Malaysia turns a page, and over a new leaf?

AS many had anticipated, the leadership transition in Umno, and by extension Barisan Nasional and the country, will come earlier than previously announced. The process will wend its way forward in a way the party knows best.

Whatever else one may feel about its consequences and implications, this latest development should come as a relief to party insiders. For some time already, tension bordering on factionalism had been building up as to compromise governance.

The latest situation sees no winners or losers. There is no need for some to be disheartened, or for others to feel vindicated. What remains of utmost importance is that governance of service to the people will prevail.

In the larger span of things, this particular transition will be seen as not too unlike many others.

When the time comes for a change of leadership, that event must be embraced in the larger interests of the nation.

However, this does not mean that the Umno General Assem­bly, now rescheduled again to March next year, will not see its share of theatrics.

The party presidency is likely to be contested, as Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has said it would, with all its ramifications for the national leadership.

The debate over the degree of internal party democracy will also continue.

However one looks at the issues, such debates are invariably healthy in opening up legitimate if differing points of view.

In this connection, the opposition Pakatan Rakyat will have to reassess the situation and recalibrate its strategies. It is to be hoped that whatever it chooses to pursue, it will be in the interests of the people and seen to be so.

There is no denying that Malay­sia enjoys a vibrant political culture, and there can be no doubt that Malaysians thrive on a daily diet of political discourse. We do need more and better avenues for political discussion free from the encumbrances of outdated restrictions.

Let us hope that a new leadership also opens up the prospect of a more enlightened and progressive approach to political discussion.

So long as the rights of the various groups are respected, there is no reason for continuing with old-fashioned inhibitions.

source: Malaysia turns a page, and over a new leaf?
Malaysia Star, Malaysia