Govt has made commendable progress, but unfulfilled promises remain, says Bersih


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 09 May 2019

PETALING JAYA: The Pakatan Harapan government has made commendable progress in implementing institutional reforms during its first year in office, but there remain many unfulfilled promises, says Bersih 2.0.

The electoral watchdog released the "First Year Report of Pakatan Harapan", focusing on six promises and 44 sub promises related to institutional reforms in Pakatan's Buku Harapan manifesto.

Bersih noted that Pakatan had listed 60 promises in its manifesto.

The report scored the government 36.4% for its first year performance in implementing institutional reforms.

Bersih chairman Thomas Fann (pic) did not see the 36.4% rating as failing mark; saying that this was only the government's first of a five-year mandate to bring about reform.

"Reforms thus far has been commendable, but obviously there are weaknesses where there are many promises not fulfilled. However, this is the first year and we are cognisant of that," Fann said in a press conference on Thursday (May 9).

The areas where Pakatan has done well, Fann said, was having a new and progressive Election Commission (EC), a reform-minded Dewan Rakyat speaker, a fulfilled promise to shrink the size of the Prime Minister's Department and also the formation of the electoral reform committee.

"These are all the very positive things that have taken place in one year, but the challenges ahead are constitutional amendments," he said.

Fann urged the opposition to support institutional and structural reforms that require a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

He said failure to implement such reforms would allow any government to "entrenched itself in power by abusing current laws".

"So, support any constitutional amendment that will bring about a more level playing field for everyone," he said.

The report also noted its concerns that many critical electoral reforms had yet to be codified.

Among the promises not fulfilled was for the opposition leader to be granted the status and provisions equivalent to a federal minister; key positions – such as member appointments for the EC, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) and the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) – were not approved by a parliamentary committee, as well as civil society organisations not given platforms to express their views.

The report also listed two broken promises by the government – one was when Pakatan MPs received an annual RM1.5mil constituency allocation, while opposition MPs only received RM100,000.

The second was for parliamentary sittings, which should take place for 100 days but were only scheduled to sit for 68 days this year.

Among the recommendations suggested were for a bill to be introduced to allow the EC to have operational independence, a new Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reform to be formed, to introduce the Parliamentary Services Act, and for the current six PSC's to have clear terms of reference for them to start their work.

It also noted that the separation of functions of the Attorney General from the public prosecutor should be implemented, while a prime minister's, mentris besar and chief minister's two-term limit should be codified.

It added that equitable access to state-owned broadcasters should be put in place, the Political Financing Control Bill should be presented to Parliament and passed, as well as for the role and power of the local authorities to be strengthened and be accountable to the people.

Fann said a year from now, Bersih hoped to see the government achieving a 60% to 70% rate on fulfilling its promises.

"I think that would be really laudable if they can achieve that, given that we know it will get more and more challenging because some of these reforms really need a two-thirds majority in Parliament," he said.

For more on Pakatan’s first anniversary as the Federal Government, visit our special Recalibrating Malaysia microsite.


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