DATUK Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi shows his concern for our progress and development in more ways than one.
Somebody once said: “You have got to love them before you can lead them.
“When you love your followers genuinely and correctly, they’ll respect and follow you through many changes.
“When followers don’t like the leader who oversees the change, their feelings won’t allow them to look at the change objectively. In other words, people view the change according to the way they view the change agent.”
Many changes are badly in need of taking place. Let us take social problems and define them from the developing countries' perspective.
Abject poverty, child abuse, child labour, domestic violence, drug addiction and all aspects of social injustices are some rampant social problems we are experiencing, causing physical and psychological suffering for certain segments of the population and socio-cultural factors which prevent a significant number in society from developing and utilising their full potential. These are society’s failure to meet their needs.
However, we are very relieved and happy that many changes are already taking place now with swift decisions that are the unique style of our Prime Minister.
Government contractors are now paid on time, investigations into road accidents are being seriously conducted, a surprise visit to the Immigration Department was made by the Prime Minister himself and an all-out war against corruption is being carried out because our Prime Minister is particularly angry with corruption as “it interferes with the smooth running of the Government, interferes with the implementation of things we want to do and creates problems in the public delivery system.” (The Star, Dec 4, 2003)
When the problem of corruption is seriously looked into, all the other irregularities in the administration of the Government will also be tackled and the socio-economic and the socio-cultural problems as well will be dealt with.
Leaders who hate and are angry with corruption will also hate the social problems that exist in the country they govern, and will be quick to remedy these.
However, social problems are citizens' problems and the best agents to work for change are the citizens themselves. To some extent governments do stop the growth of socio-economic problems through long-term planning.
By this is meant that government formulates a set of ideas about what should be done in a particular sphere which is then adopted by the decision-making body. This is where the problem begins – the lack of enforcement of decisions. Decisions can be successfully implemented with the joint participation of all sectors in society – the state, social institutions, private enterprise, the public, home-makers, women and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) i.e. the civil society.
After implementation is completed, strict evaluation and monitoring have to be conducted periodically to ensure the programmes' successful impact. Many in our society have the confidence that this is our Prime Minister's plan.
Abdullah is also concerned about our natural environment. He called for the separation of our garbage for recycling purposes and for recycling bins to be placed at all ministries, government departments and agencies, especially in the administrative capital, and that steps would be taken to cut down on wastage.
These steps taken by Putrajaya and Cyberjaya, the Prime Minister hopes, would become the role model in the promotion of recycling practices for other people and employers nationwide.
The duty of politicians is to see that the people experience peace, security, stability, human dignity, respect for human rights, fundamental freedom in their own mould, social justice for all as well as respect for cultural diversity, to list some of the many.
Our Prime Minister is determined to implement these through good governance.
Good governance is all about sound environmental policies, socio-economic justice, democratic institutions responsive to the needs of the people, the rule of law, anti-corruption measures, gender equality, the opportunities available and a conducive environment for investment, and last but not least to oversee how the nation’s wealth is utilised.
We know that policies at the decision-making level would not be effective unless the right people with the right attitude and commitment with an unblemished track record are identified and placed as decision makers. Malaysia is not bankrupt of the “right people.”
One just has to look hard and very carefully. When this takes place, both men and women in our society will automatically be its beneficiaries. It is very clear now that our Prime Minister has left avenues open for the general public to give their views on any subject that troubles society. He will listen. That is for sure.
We in Malaysia have come to realise that we should not expect the Government to solve all our social problems.
Organisations, concerned people and women in particular whose primary interest is in working for the common good should participate in thinking out the fundamental, the root causes of our socio-economic problems suggesting alternatives and solutions.
The key to human welfare and human dignity is the prevalence of social justice through good governance.
Let us all assist our Prime Minister in his sincere endeavour, but more importantly to strengthen the principles he upholds with viable action on our part. This is what is important to bring about change.
DATIN ZAHARAH ALATAS,