I was there at the MSLS yesterday, I was there when the Prime Minister gave his speech and I was there to witness how badly Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi performed on the stage. It was a dreadful experience and I do not think I would not want to listen to the PM’s speeches in person anymore.
What makes it even worse was that he was delivering a prepared speech. If it were impromptu, it might be okay because not everybody is an orator but his prepared speech took a 180° turn and then to somewhere uncharted and irrelevant. It was uninspiring and more importantly, the speech lacked critical content. There is no real content worth mentioning at all and so, I shall not even try to paraphrase anything from his speech.
While struggling to stay awake, a friend sitting several tables in front texted me, replying to my earlier text about how I was falling asleep. The reply: “done that.”
A student later walked up to the microphone and requested the PM to address his topic, which he failed. The floor came alive, disapprovingly of the PM’s performance.
The consolation is that the Education Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, performed marvelously. He got me when he said schools are free to do whatever they like as long as they deliver results. He answered questions and did not shy from it even once. Though the speech lacked fire, it contained ideas and policies. He knew his stuff. I truly hate a politician that palliates and my respect for a politician goes down to the drain each time a politician does not answer a question.
Hishammuddin Hussein earnestly engaged questions asked instead of palliating. And each time he directly answered a question, my respect for him grew little by little.
I thought he carefully explained the rationale for vernacular school. And I thought, he appealed to liberty when he said the government cannot force people to go “national schools and national schools only.” I have established this for myself and I found myself nodding at the speech.
The same friend in a conversation said to me in a three-party libertarian circle later after the speech, ” I wouldn’t mind having Hishammuddin Hussein as the Prime Minister”.
I think, I would not mind either.
The question who should be the next Prime Minister is a question that has never been answered ever since PM Mahathir Mohammed stepped down. PM Abdullah is ineffective though his style allows organic reforms somewhat reign over top-down approaches. I am somewhat suspicious of Anwar Ibrahim but previously, he remained the sole choice thanks to his charisma and intellect.
Now, after attending Hishammuddin Hussein’s speech, I now think there is a choice. I am still reserving some dose of skepticism however. Politicians, Anwar Ibrahim included, or especially, tend to play to the gallery. I am sure Hishammuddin Hussein does that too but how much, that I will have to find out.
In any case, the Education Minister, yesterday, did not play to the gallery and appeal to rationalism. That, alone, deserve an applause. Apart from the PM for which I stood up and clapped just for the sake of respecting the Office, the Education Minister got my applause because I approved of his speech and the policy explained in his speech.