Many will accolade Dr Mahathir Mohamd as the one to have modernised and industrialised Malaysia to new heights. He was the one who had a vision and beyond his time in some ways and he could 'think out of the box' when most Malaysians were than trying to grasp the meaning of the phrase. He brought double digit GDP growth to a nation that was essentially dependent on agriculture. These were his prime achievements and he wanted Malaysians to believe in themselves so that all could savour success if we had a vision and a road map.
However, he did attain all of the above at the expense of degrading the environment, trampling on human rights and sidelining integrity for which we are all paying the price now. The 'pillage' of the environment was unprecedented. No wonder the local councils could do what they wanted without accountability for their actions. The pathetic Hulu Klang landslides are just the tip of the iceberg of Malaysian environmental disasters.
All Malaysians also know that corruption is an issue that has flourished to dangerous levels. We are only made to feel better due to our neighbours such as Indonesia having a more dismal record. I reckon for every one ringgit we spend in Malaysia, at least 10 to 25 percent is being paid indirectly to the 'warlords of corruption' who comprise local officials, the middleman brokers right up to the politicians. This malaise, and another two - collusion and cronyism - are in my opinion the worst sticking points of Mahathir's regime.
Mahathir also knew that English was the 'lingua franca' of the world and being the prime minister he could have done something radical and progressive but he chose to adopt the adage 'why fix it if it ain't broken'. It now appears as a sore thumb. Let's face the truth. Many of our graduates are unemployed because of their feeble mastery of English. How can you be an effective employee and leader without having a good grasp of the world's most important language in this globalised world?
As for Pak Lah, though at the helm for three years, he has proved only to be a 'social leader'. He has to catch up on the latest of management progressive theories and change for the better. His predictable leadership is slow and whatever problems he inherited from the previous PM is not being addressed successfully. He cannot take the mandate of the voters as his yardstick of success. The recent Sarawak elections lesson has to be learnt fast.
We need hard work, creativity, new talent, world-class competitiveness and a good measurable system where accountability and transparency will be the order of the day. Presently, almost all government projects are not being measured closely. It appears that when there are no complaints everything is fine. Such is the sad culture.