FOR a political coalition that came into office in mid-2018 most unexpectedly and was thus somewhat unprepared, the present government has done impeccably well in achieving effective control of the governance system in our country. While many senior government officials have been replaced or transferred, there has not been the anticipated widespread indiscriminate purge of some able technocrats and administrators.
This demonstrates the implicit trust in an inherently sound system in which most government servants were relatively untainted by the excesses of some of their senior officials.
This has provided stability in the governance system and, most importantly, continuity.
Yet this government has failed to address an ingredient that is vital in any new enterprise. What brought Pakatan Harapan to power in May 2018 was its capacity to communicate simply and effectively with the people.
My impression is that while many commendable steps have been taken to reinstate elements of transparency and accountability, not enough has been done to prepare our population for some of the government’s key initiatives.
As a result of this failure to prepare the ground adequately, valuable capital and time have been lost as these initiatives failed.
Two specific instances may be highlighted. The first relates to the International Convention on The Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd) and the second is the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Both of these international conventions are vital to the process of rebuilding the integrity, reputation and standing of Malaysia in a very competitive global environment that’s also very sensitive to human rights.
The need to reconstruct and rehabilitate the country’s tarnished image is especially relevant given that we went through almost a decade of unbridled kleptocracy.
Malaysia became notorious because we became known for the wrong things – populism, unscrupulous, corrupt and dishonest leaders and their “kaki”.
When the English writer and official of the East India Company Thomas Love Peacock used the term “kaki”, apparently in 1829, he could not have imagined that it would have special significance in our region.
It is essential for the government to capture the narrative at the grassroots level to provide a reasoned and simply understood explanation for some of its initiatives, which were long overdue in the first place.
The government, private sector, media, NGOs and social media influencers must work together to counter the destructive and negative schemes of a discredited political leadership and its newly-found allies.
The most recent initiative on the equality of status of Sabah and Sarawak also failed to muster parliamentary passage.
We must ensure that the legitimate aspirations for a just, equal and equitable democratic society, as envisaged in our Rukunegara, are kept on track.
The supremacy of the Malaysian Constitution must also be upheld.