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Frustrated atacks at N9 - MGG Pillai
By web aNtu

20/12/1999 10:01 pm Mon

"Frustrated" Attacks Brings A State Executive Councillor

The Prime Minister insisted the Negri Sembilan mentri besar, Tan Sri Isa Abdul Samad, was right to re-appoint Dato' Waad Mansor as state executive councillor. But from the moment of his appointment, Dato' Waad Mansor was under fire, not from the opposition but from within UMNO. One state a#semblymen, Dato' Ishak Ismail, walked out of the palace during the swearing-in of the new state executive councillors. This Tan Sri Isa said was not unusual since Dato' Ishak is a trouble-maker always attacking the administration. But he was followed by several divisions and UMNO leaders including Datin Napsiah Omar, now a member of parliament. The state ruler, Tuanku Jaafar, had protested to the Prime Minister about this and others said to be corrupt, but the Prime Minister stuck with Tan Sri Isa. Then amidst the mounting controversy, Dato' Waad Mansor resigned "in the interest of the party and state." He had, of course, wanted to resign earlier but waited to smoke out the UMNO culprits who used the press to resolve an internal problem. Tan Sri Isa, who adamantly insisted Dato' Waad Mansor be appointed, accepted the resignation with alacrity. His error of judgement is such he should have resigned. The Prime Minister's remark about frustrated UMNO members fell flat.

Dato' Waad Mansor's appointment was controversial since he had been charged and acquitted on three counts of corruption, with two more pending; besides, the deputy public prosecutor has appealed against the acquittal. But he was allowed to stand for re-election, and then appointed as state executive councillor. He was also spectacularly evasive when he announced his resignation. He is reported to have met the Prime Minister before he resigned, but he would not confirm that. It is fair to a#sume he did, especially since the Prime Minister finds egg on his face over him. But this pressure for political appointments is part of UMNO's culture. So much so that mentris besar and chief ministers would accept even a parliamentary secretary's position in the federal cabinet after leaving office. Once out of office, the politician is ignored. So propriety or form is ignored. The Selangor mentri besar, Tan Sri Mohamed Taib, is now all but forgotten although less than a year ago, he was the high-flying high profile UMNO vice president. What brought him down was an unexplained RM2.4 million cash found on him when he landed in Brisbane airport a year ago. He was acquitted in Brisbane and in Kuala Lumpur, but his attempts to return to state and federal politics failed. Dato' Waad a#sumed he could ride roughshod with the support of the mentri besar and the Prime Minister.

But times have changed. The prime ministerial fiat is subject to local sensitivities. That he had to call upon National Front MPs and state a#semblymen to pay particular attention to their constituents is strange indeed. He wants them to be "serious about service", suggesting that the previous MPs and state a#semblymen had not been. The Prime Minister himself does not give parliament sessions the importance he should, often staying away from sessions and treating it as a government department. But he now believes the elected representatives should turn up at the legislature religiously as part of their duties. "Besides visiting their constituencies, they should also be present at Parliament sessions," he told a press conference after meeting the National Front elected representatives before Parliament session opened in emergency session to pa#s the budget tomorrow (20 December). That session itself is mired in controversy, but the session has to be held to pa#s the budget. The revitalised opposition amidst a resurgent Malay community demands an accounting. The Waad Mansor affair is one sign of that. The Prime Minister slipped badly on that.

M.G.G. Pillai