After five and a half years being the boss of Malaysia, AAB will step down tomorrow. A tenure that promised so much at the beginning pattered out barely a whimper.
When AAB started helming the nation on 31 Oct 2003, there was so much good vibes surrounding his appointment that I felt that the country was on the threshold of change for the better. Especially with the enduring images of him doing spot checks on government agencies and rhetoric of cleansing out corruption from the country on the first few days. I had so much faith in him that I kept the whole 56 pages Star Special pullout on him dated 1 Nov 2003.
I still remember feeling euphoric when he won his first general election in 2004 with 90% of the seats. I was in INTEC that time, thinking that AAB must be an amazing guy. Fast forward 4 years later to the next general election, I stayed up till the wee hours of the morning in Australia refreshing the Malaysiakini website for the latest election results. I recalled feeling elated as more and more states fall to the opposition.
Last night, I pulled out that Star Special from my drawer and started reread the whole thing to see where he went wrong. I also scoured the Internet on what prominent people and political analysts make out of his tenure.
The summary was that he had noble intentions but was just weak in carrying it all out. Perhaps the photo below best captured the task in store for him.
If only he had the foresight that it was a huge immovable rock that he was trying to push once he became the PM. He might want to change but not everyone was ready for it. Changing is difficult. Not everyone was really to give out their comfortable lifestyle fuelled with corruption money. Not everyone was willing to relinquish their power for the good of the country. Power and money are like drugs, once you are on it, its hard to go without it. For his trouble, he will probably live with the legacy as the Flip-flop PM.
Perhaps his downfall was that he was a too nice guy. Because in politics, you can't be nice to everyone. He should have stepped on some toes and do some backstabbing. Perhaps he never have the intention to be PM at all. He started off as a reluctant politician, and probably suffers from a lack of ambition once he reached the top. He had the PM position handed to be on a platter after all.
But I think the timing of him stepping down is right. With the economy in a downward slump, we need a strong and ambitious PM. Najib seems to be the man. He may ended up to be a dictator as Mahathir, but a ruthless and wily streak can bode well if use correctly.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this power transition will be for a better future. Perhaps it will be, as this time, I started off by having a lower expectation.
In the meantime, thank you for your services to the nation, AAB. I guessed you tried your best.