PUTRAJAYA:We are just two days away from Datuk Seri Najib Razak's first 100 days as prime minister of Malaysia.And his approval rating is up to 65 per cent from 42 per cent before he took office, so says the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research.Now what has he done to get such a jump in almost 100 days?Freeing the Hindraf leaders? Yes, 74 per cent of Indians surveyed approve of him now.Freeing the economy? Well, only 48 per cent of Chinese polled approve of him now despite the community being most affected by Bumiputera-friendly policies.Agreeable to unity talks with PAS? Installing an almost all-Malay if not all-Muslim slate of editors in the Umno-held Media Prima group of television stations and newspapers? Okay, 74 per cent of Malays questioned approve of him.Unfortunately, the decision to switch back to vernacular languages to teach mathematics and science was too late to be included in the survey. But it could have helped him with a higher approval rating.The main question is, has there been any change in the conditions, policies and excesses of ruling party politicians that drove Malaysians to desert the Barisan Nasional in Election 2008?After all, the power grab in Perak remains messy with Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin's case being heard in the Federal Court. He is no closer to returning to Ipoh as Perak mentri besar. And the judiciary has yet to see its finest hour in dealing with the matter.That remains a part of Najib's baggage even before he took office on April 3.
And there is the classic scandal of the Port Klang Free Zone that began from the time of fourth prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, continued under Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and now in the hands of Najib.Yes, the audit report is out and we all know that a project that began life with RM2 billion has now ballooned to RM12.5 billion unless the skint Port Klang Authority strikes oil or finds gold within its grounds.But apart from publishing the report online, getting the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Public Accounts Committee to look into the fiasco, nothing really has been done.The Najib administration remains arrogant in dealing with the issue even as it continues to pay the vendors and contractors for the project "without prejudice" although the audit report has raised red flags citing weak governance and conflicts of interest.Perhaps, the Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi says it best: "This PKFZ scandal is fast becoming an Agatha Christie mystery murder: You have a stinking corpse with multiple fatal stabs, no killers."Think about how the so-called freer media environment has been rolled back in the last three months with mainstream newspaper editors being told to cut down coverage on excesses of Barisan Nasional politicians.Giving too much space to Datuk Seri Khir Toyo's mansion earned a couple of them a rebuke. After all, Barisan Nasional acolytes are also entering the cyberspace to give their side of the story, even if it flies against the facts.And think about what 1 Malaysia really means. Is it really equality for all, or just a smokescreen as they continue campaigning for unity talks with PAS in the Manek Urai hustings.
Najib has done a fair bit in his first 100 days, announcing his slogan of 1 Malaysia. People First. Performance Now.And he has liberalised 27 sectors of the economy, freed Hindraf leaders and others, cut the FIC's role, tweaked the Bumiputera equity quota and thrown out the policy of using English for certain subjects.For the more things change, the more they stay the same.But these are just illusions of change at this point in time. Real reforms and equality must be done. For approval ratings can go up and fall down.Only the next general election will determine how far has Najib gone to make Malaysia, 1 Malaysia.--MA