Greg Lopez over at New Mandala has been assessing the legacy of Malaysia PM Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and comparing his reputation as being Malaysia’s Mr Clean with the reality of his time in power. Using Bridget Welsh and James UH Chin’s Awakening: The Abdullah Badawi Years in Malaysia (also published in Malay as Bangkit: Tempoh Pentadbiran Abdullah Badawi di Malaysia) he attempts answer the question of whether or not Pak Lah attained the status of an ethical leader especially in relation to his religious background.
As Lopez argues Badawi came from a long line of prestigious leaders, but chose a career in politics at a time when UMNO was attempting to cultivate a more religious agenda. But it was only with Abdullah Badawi, Lopez notes, that Islam became central to public policy making.
Nevertheless, as Lopez highlights, Badawi’s leadership as chronicled in Awakening points towards very different priorities, with accusations of nepotism rife and implications in the misuse of the Iraqi Oil-for-Food programme. Whilst after his tenure as Prime Minister Badawi has continued to support the embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak against accusations of corruption.
Lopez then ends quoting from Tengku Razaleigh Hamza’s assessment of Badawi’s Premiership in the Foreword of Awakening.
So the best way to conclude Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s stewardship of the country is to say that he has failed to live up to the legitimate expectations of the people. People say that he failed miserably to translate the aspiration of the people in wanting real reforms for the country. Perhaps it could be said, he fell into the same trap as many third world leaders as he too succumbed to corrupting tendencies of power.