Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, hailed as "Mr Nice Guy", has made this assertion in perhaps the strongest statement yet defending his leadership amid increased street protests.
Mr Abdullah was speaking yesterday at the prestigious 4th Khazanah Global Lecture in Putrajaya, a lecture series organised by Khazana Nasional, the investment arm of the Malaysian government.
"I can be nice. Being nice is your character and you cannot change. But being nice does not mean one is weak," he told the gathering of some 700 people comprising political and corporate leaders, students, civil servants and policymakers.
Referring to the arrests of lawyers and political leaders who had taken part in recent protests, including a demonstration march on Sunday, he reiterated his view that no one is above the law.
In yet another indication that the government may resort to the Internal Security Act (ISA), Mr Abdullah - who is also Internal Security Minister - said he would not "feel guilty or sad" if he has to sign detention orders for someone to be arrested under the ISA, if he believes the reasons are justified.
"God knows I have a duty to fulfil and I will do just that," he said to applause from the audience. Mr Abdullah first hinted at the use of the ISA two weeks back following a rally organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), which the government says has links to terrorist organisations.
"As far as I am concerned, I know what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong. If somebody breaks the law, he has to face the consequences," he said yesterday.
"If the choice is between public safety and public freedom, I do not hesitate to say here that public safety will always win."
Referring to past racial violence in Malaysia, he said: "Malaysians must never, ever take their peace for granted and they must continue to be responsible to one another."
Addressing criticism that he had failed to deliver on promises made at Malaysia's last general election in 2004, Mr Abdullah said such objectives cannot be fully achieved in his five-year tenure as Prime Minister.
He said: "These things take time to grow. Food takes time to grow. Trees take time to grow."
Curbing corruption was one of Mr Abdullah's election promises. He said he had already started to implement some programmes. These included establishing economic corridors such as the Iskandar Development Region in South Johor to ensure that even Malaysians outside the prosperous Klang Valley can enjoy the benefits of economic progress.
Again to resounding applause, Mr Abdullah said: "I want to succeed more than anything else, more than anyone, because I feel responsible for what I've said (in the 2004 general elections). "
Actually he wants to say 4 yrs is not enough maa, and when he said that he wanted to succeeed MORE than anythig and anyone else meaning....20yrs also still won't be enough maaaa....