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Term limit: Jeffrey mocks Sabah Umno men

Sabah's political maverick Jeffrey Kitingan, slams critics who
criticise his proposal to limit the terms of prime minister
and chief ministers.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Umno leaders are scrambling to kill off any debate on a proposal to limit the terms of a prime minister or chief ministers to two consecutive stints in the top post.

The proposal by United Borneo Front (UBF) chairman Jeffrey Kitingan last week has set off a rash of criticism from leaders and members in Umno, who currently enjoys a stranglehold on the prime minister’s post as well as the top positions in states under Barisan Nasional (BN) control.

In response to the criticism, Jeffrey said the call for a maximum two-term rule is not a denunciation of any leader in the country and Sabah Umno leaders should not be so defensive and paranoid when debating the issue.

“The suggestion has been thrown into the prime minister’s court and it is for Parliament to consider the rationale of this request.

“The fact that two Umno leaders have insinuated that this has nothing to do with the chief minister’s abilities only shows a terrible lack of comprehension on their part as to what is being legitimately requested by our movement,” he said.
He said the request to the prime minister is to put in place a national policy that would lead towards the eventual amendment of the Federal and State Constitutions to allow for a two-term maximum rule for the prime minister’s post and chief ministers of every state.

“The basis for this suggestion is to eliminate systemic corruption and greed that comes with the complacency felt by dictators who are in positions of leadership for too long.

“We want to avoid the type of revolutions that are taking place in countries where the people are at boiling point against leaders who are far too selfish to release their seats to younger leaders and, instead of planning a proper succession plan, they want to hold on to power forever.”

‘Debate with an open mind’

Jeffrey added: “Any right-thinking leader who understands first-world politics would comprehend the rationale of our arguments and as such, should debate with an open mind.

Many great leaders who did great jobs as prime ministers have vacated after a maximum of two terms because they accepted the rationale of this argument.
“They are remembered for excellence and not tyranny.”

The former PKR vice-president also said that Malaysia should not make policies on the assumption that the country will remain undeveloped.

“This country needs to move from being a developing country to a developed nation and if policies like a two-term rule is not in place now, then when are we ever going to start being ready for Mahathir’s (former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad) Vision 2020, which is only nine years away?”

“If we hope to make it into the (ranks of the) OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) and speak with any credibility on the world stage, we must embrace the reality of the two-term rule as being the premise upon which our political system can function with a proper succession plan for the benefit of future generations,” he added.

Jeffrey also chided Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan, who is also Sabah BN secretary, for jumping to the conclusion that placing limits on the terms of leaders would result in unstable policies.

“The thing in Malaysia is that when we change a new prime minister, the prime minister will have his own set of policies,” the local media quoted Rahman as saying on Monday in reply to the term limit suggestion.

Respecting predecessors
Jeffrey, who is campaigning for a host of changes in the current policy which he hopes will lead to the political autonomy of Sabah and Sarawak, however, brushed off Rahman’s argument with disdain.

“Leaders normally respect their predecessors and attempt to be consistent in their policies, especially if the prime ministers are from the same party.

“Changing policies with every prime minister suggests inconsistency, which is obviously not the way to go in good governance unless of course Rahman is suggesting that all previous policies were so bad they had to be changed.

“This is not a good reason to refuse a two-term maximum rule and we must not think of the chief minister alone but the good of the whole country when putting in place this important policy for change,” he said.

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