Here's my take on what constitutes Paklah's legacies as the PM.
I'll focus on the positive things he has done (by design or accidental) or tried to do during his premiership. These are the things that we would generally overlook in our haste to criticize him in the past. But since he's retired, let's be fair to him and evaluate him not just on the successes or failures of his policies, but also try to understand his good intentions underlying such policies. No doubt as a human being he has his shortcomings and whatever he has set out to do in the end not all bore the results that he had originally intended. But despite that, I believe he has had his fair share of successes.
Below is a brief list of what I see as his positive contributions to the nation;
1. Opening up of democratic space.
2. Govt depts. in dealing with the rakyat are now generally more efficient.
3. Efforts to paint a better Islamic face worldwide through Islam Hadhari.
4. GLC Transformation exercise makes our GLCs more robust.
5. Focus on rural development through the 4 corridors.
6. Emphasis on agriculture as a means to uplift the socio economic status of the Malays.
7. Institutionalisatio n of his anti corruption drive.
8. Institutionalisatio n of reforms on the judiciary.
9. His policies have made air travelling more affordable to ordinary Malaysians.
10. Aggressive expansion of Islamic Finance.
11. Efforts to promote Malaysia as a leading centre for Islamic trade (World Halal Forum etc).
12. Emphasis on human capital development; more tertiary institutions being set-up and more opportunitites for young Malaysian in education and training.
13. Policies making cars more affordable.
14. Credit more available to ordinary Malaysians.
15. Improving the quality of life for civil servants through better remuneration.
16. Aggressive regional expansion for Malaysian businesses.
17. More diplomatic foreign policy.
18. Easing the burden of ordinary Malaysian through subsidies.
No doubt Pak Lah's greatest achievement was that BN under him managed to win the largest percentage of Parliamentary seats in its history. And I doubt if any future PM, be it 10 or 50 years from now, can ever beat that record given the changed political landscape. (Of course you can point out that he also created record by losing the seats for BN in the last election. But bear in mind that that record has a far higher probability of being broken in the future). He has also on record as the only PM who also enjoys the support from the Opposition. I have only one word to describe his elevation to the post of PM in 2003 from his political wilderness years earlier; fate! Just shows that one doesn't need to connive or manipulate, like some of our young politicians do nowadays to move up the ladder in politics. Nor does one have to resort to money politics. His pleasant demeanor, strong religious background and clean image then were the key factors to sway the electorate.Don't forget the fact that his mother and wife, both passed away during his time as PM. Imagine his sorrows then.
He is also on record as the only PM who got married whilst in office. Whilst he could have any woman in in the country that he chooses, he chose one that is near to him.His decision to step down is a big sacrifice on his part. Given the arsenal of "weapon" at his disposal as the PM, he could have fought all the way and resort to drastic measures if he had wanted to just to hang on. But he didn't. Instead he chose to retire gracefully. Maybe one of his greatest mistakes, other than his strong reliance on some bad, self-serving and conniving advisors, was that he tried to initiate so many grand schemes in such a short space of time. Perhaps the successes of those efforts may not be evident now, but only in a few decades time.Despite his shortcomings , people generally see him as a nice man with a good heart, and one who cares for the rakyat. And one with a strong religious background as well. In our minds, he will always be remembered as the "smiling Prime Minister". Let's wish Pak Lah a happy retirement. Let's apologise to him if we have been too critical, fairly or unfairly, of him and his Administration in the past. Let's hope also that both him and Tun Dr. M can together contribute positively to the nation even after their retirement.