Nearing the end of his tenure, it seemed like almost everyone was after him. I heard a number of Malays complaining that he had weakened the position of the Malays. On the other hand, the Chinese and the Indians were unsatisfied with him as well.
I guess the problem was that when he was made the Prime Minister, Malaysians expected great - almost impossible things from him. They expected him to wipe out corruption from the country, increase transparency, improve human rights, freedom of the press, etc. etc.
The fact is that he did. The press in Malaysia has never been this freer. He also initiated several campaigns to reduce corruption including the "Saya Anti-Rasuah" campaign. Whether these were successful or not is debatable.
Almost anyone who had to deal with Government agencies will tell you that the level of service quality had improved tremendously as compared to the previous Mahathir era. Of course certain departments have a long way to go before they achieve Bersih, Cekap, Amanah dan Toleransi (Clean, Efficient, Trustworthy and Tolerant).
One of the main reasons I have a soft spot was because I once was in huge trouble and I wrote to him directly as a last resort when all my efforts to solve it were in vain. I was really amazed when he (or his secretary) actually directed the Government officials involved to solve my problem with a letter copied to me as well. All this happened within two weeks. I had actually sent letters to other officials as well but no reply till date.
So what went wrong?
People suddenly realised that they could voice out what they felt and I guess the blogosphere had a role in this. This is illustrated by the fact that a few prominent bloggers were elected to the Malaysian Parliament. It suddenly seemed like Malaysia was filled with corruption and scandals. While the fact is that these had been happening from before, only that these were just rumours that went around via word-of-mouth and rarely read and analysed by so many people - common citizens. So opening up the media might have done him a lot of harm and he couldn't put a lid on it after people had tasted the fruits of freedom of speech.
Another thing that really hurt Pak Lah was the strained relations with the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad. There are several reasons and I wouldn't want to go into it. Tun Mahathir has a lot of admirers in Malaysia and even outside (including myself) and you can imagine the impact of every word against his successor.
Most people also blame Pak Lah's son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin for pulling him down. I have not seen any proof that Khairy was ever involved in any wrong doing but I guess a lot of the older politicians were wary of his rapid rise in influence.
Last of all, I blame his PR people for failing him. They totally ignored the blogosphere as well. Pak Lah certainly had a image problem. I am sure everyone has received a forwarded email with a picture of him falling asleep at some event or the other. In the end, everyone got the impression of a PM that didn't care. I wonder why his people never did anything about this. I know of a couple of brilliant old professors who have the same problem and used to fall asleep at all the academic meetings. All the people around knew their problem but just ignored it because they were aware how brilliant they were. However, it's different in the case of a politician, more so the Prime Minister of the country. For them, image is everything.
I guess I could go on and on but I am sure there are a lot of others like me who are sad to see Pak Lah go.