Rais Yatim Withdraws From Commonwealth Sec-Gen Race. I Wonder Why
"The responsibilities for this year's Merdeka celebrations being the 50th year of independence are far too heavy and as such does not give me the opportunity to make personal visits abroad to do any lobbying... it is one of the problems I am facing and as such it is not fair for me to say that I want to contest but am unable to campaign like the other candidates," he told Bernama.
"My responsibilities (for the Merdeka celebrations) are far more important and furthermore it is already too late (to campaign)... so it's better that I withdraw," he said. Malaysia had nominated Rais to be a candidate for the post last month. Rais said he had informed Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that he was withdrawing from the race and also Wisma Putra (Foreign Ministry). He added that Wisma Putra had acknowledged that it understood his predicament.
The election for the post will be held at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kampala, Uganda, in November. Two other candidates in the fray are India's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Kamalesh Sharma and Malta's Foreign Minister, Michael Frendo. The election is being held as the term of office of the current secretary-general, Don McKinnon of New Zealand, ends on March 31, 2008.
***** Flimsy excuse this. Either Rais was forced to stand for the post by the leadership, did not foresee that he would have to be lobbying during the preparation period of the Merdeka celebrations or an honest assessment gave him a rat's ass of a chance of being elected. The latter seems more plausible.
Of late the nation's stock in the international arena has plunged. From an all-time high during the Mahathir years when such a spectacle would have been inconceivable, we have now resorted to sheepishly withdrawing from contests which only a decade ago would have been considered a shoo-in for our candidate. Now we can daresay that even if the candidate from India withdraws and tiny Malta were to be sole challenger, we would still lose.
Who is to take the blame for this debacle? The internet media which has exposed the 'excesses' of the government or those who have committed and are continuing to indulge in such excesses? The blogs for speaking out against injustice or the authorities who have given ample cause for these allegations? How many, apart from Bangladesh and a few genuine Islamic states, would vote for us when we are seen as inching down the Taliban path? Would squeaky clean Singapore say 'aye' to a country perceived as being increasingly corrupt and unfriendly? Would any white member of the Commonwealth vote for a candidate whose country is intolerant of free speech and attempts to muzzle comment and criticism by using outdated and suppressive laws against its own citizens?
In short does Malaysia have the requisite qualifications at this point in time to be an acknowledged leader of the Commonwealth of Nations? You decide.
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Update: No Replacement Candidate For Commonwealth Sec-Gen Post - Syed Hamid.