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One Last Flip-Flop by PM Abdullah Badawi

FLIP (26 Feb 2009)
TheStar: Works Minister announces toll hike
KUALA LUMPUR: Road users will have to pay higher tolls for five major highways beginning March 1.
The highways affected are the North-South Expressway (PLUS), Sprint/Kerinchi/Damansara Link highways, Ampang-Kuala Lumpur Expressway (AKLEH), Sungai Besi Highway and the New Pantai Expressway (NPE).

FLOP (27 Feb 2009)
Malaysiakini - Gov't U-turn: Toll hike put off
In a dramatic reversal, the government has decided to suspend toll hike of up to 33 percent for five major highways in Klang Valley announced yesterday.
Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi was also quoted in The Star saying "The situation is not right for a toll hike. I felt that this matter needed to be discussed again in the Cabinet."

Now, the interesting question is, why is it that no proper study or consideration was made before announcing the toll hike? Sadly, it just shows how indecisive and weak the government is. The government should study all possible (political) implications before making such hasty decision. I think it's pretty obvious that no sane rakyat would support or agree for a toll increase, especially in the present state of economic crisis. But no, this smart Minister decided to proceed with announcing the toll hike on Thursday.

This is not the first flip flop decision made during Pak Lah's administration, or else he wouldn't be named as such. I believe the first was the controversial 'crooked' or 'scenic' bridge issue when Pak Lah decided to scrap it altogether just over a month after announcing that "JB bridge project must go ahead" back in January 2006. This incident also signalled the first public feud between PM Abdullah Badawi and former PM, Tun Dr. Mahathir and it further strained the relationship between the both of them.

Like it or not, the present government is a weak government, and when you have a weak government administering the country, you just can't afford to make unpopular decisions or risk facing voters' backlash in the next general election. Future Prime Minister and UMNO president, Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak is no statesman but a politician (which I think is slightly better than Pak Lah, a mere administrator/bureaucrat). To me, this is the main distinction that separates between Najib and Tun Dr. Mahathir - a real statesman. I foresee that Najib and his new government will not have much choice other than adopting a populist approach in policymaking otherwise they will forever be dogged by never ending dilemmas and controversies. Looking in the context of the local blogosphere, I anticipate such great backlash from the pro-Pakatan Rakyat bloggers (especially coming from Raja Petra's Malaysia-Today) the moment Najib takes the oath as the nation's sixth Prime Minister.

Coming back to the toll issue, I thank Pak Lah for intervening in postponing (should've just be cancelled for good) the toll hike. After all, he is resigning soon, so let's be nice to him. :)

"A politician thinks about the next elections - the stateman thinks about the next generations." -- Winston Churchill.

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