It is almost midnight here. Late noon today, Pak Lah had sworn in as the fifth Prime Minister of our nation, Dr. Mahathir and the fourth first lady, Dr. Siti Hasmah were awarded the title Tun, and at circa 5pm, I saw it on TV that PM 'punch-carded' his last day in the office.
As far I could remember, I spotted Dr. M three times in close vicinity. Once was when I was doing grocery shopping at the Isetan KLCC - and he was at the vege & fruits section; the next one when I saw him driving his 4WD along the Bukit Bintang road on a lovely Sunday evening; and recently, few days back, he visited my office, and upon waving, he uttered the word 'terima kasih' from the back of his new Perdana (plate number: 2020).
Nevertheless, during his 22 years in office, we have seen lots of his policies in place particularly of infrastructure and capacity building at the time when we witnessed two important landmarks of economic transitions; i.e. industrial (manufacturing-based) and the ever complex effort policies formulation to leapfrog the nation into a post-industrial-knowledge-based-economy.
Through his fiscal and monetary policies that are at times controversial, he had almost balanced out (18% vs. 30%) the economic participation among the people. And as a result, there are more and more middle class (near to upper) living prosperously in this country today. Although, I think that we could have been much better off given the wealth are equally distributed!
I only wish that lots had been introduced on social and welfare as much as what had Tun Abdul Razak did. Although Dr. M managed to reduce the poverty line from about 45% (? or was it 55%) when he started in the early 80's to about 5% today, most of them are continuation policies from his predecessor. Wonder whether those same policies are sustainable and effective in the long run.
Let's see what Pak Lah can formulate out of this. Let's also see what will Pak Lah do with the USD$40 billions of reserve as well as his promise of policy continuation. It will be an exciting period to witness and critically analyze on how will Pak Lah lead the nation as we grow towards becoming a virtue-based society (Read: National IT Agenda) in the forthcoming years.
What I admired the most about Dr. M is his ability to explain his visions in easy terms (albeit the ubiquitious propaganda vehicles - but tell me which leader isn't leveraging on that?) that he wrote most of his speeches, his ability to ask the right questions, (an important traits as a leader; this was told to me by someone who had the chance explaining to him issues in the country's learning technology; and recently the InfoSys chairman wrote this same observation in a featured section of Far Eastern Economic Review on Dr. M farewell), and most importantly, that he had built the Putrajaya.
I admired the last achievement simply because Dataran Merdeka and the downtown of Kuala Lumpur are full of colonial buildings and landmarks, that only made me loathe and detest seeing all those nostalgic from of colonialism infrastructure; but what the heck, tourists love them! Today, the administration center is a magnificent manifestation of his vision to rebuild our fallen Malacca. I won't mind my tax paying money going there. And if you mind about it, then it is simply your choice!
And by his virtue, the word proxy has new connotation to me. Apart of those proxy IPs we sometimes use to bypass certain restrictions on the Net, Mahathir has given a new feeling to that word from the most quoted part of his controversial speech few weeks back! And I won't go far discussing that in here.
[Picture: BAZUKI MUHAMMAD/REUTERS]