IN just two days we will be at the one-year anniversary of the historic 14th General Election.
On May 9, 2018, Malaysians took a whole lot of effort to get through whatever obstacles that lay in their way to cast their ballots for the political party of their choice. The next day, the people of Malaysia woke up to a brand new government. All eyes have been on Putrajaya since then as the new government took over.
Unfortunately, over 300 days later, Pakatan Harapan has only achieved a tiny fraction of its manifesto. It abolished the Goods and Services Tax and restored the Sales and Services Tax. It took a big step in pricing public transport affordably introducing the My50 and My100 pass for commuters. It also scaled down the cost of many mega projects. Despite their efforts, though, there are still many unfinished promises.
Pakatan has lost some support, as demonstrated by its losses in three consecutive by-elections. And it took a very long time for them to abolish tolls and they have had a hard time dealing with the Felda issues.
Despite these failures, Pakatan has two factors that can serve as a role model for many developing countries, which are its transparency and sincerity. Pakatan accepted its by-election losses with a sincere, open heart and acknowledged them as losses that helped expose the mistakes it needs to correct.
It improved the transparency of its governance when it decided that the Council of Eminent Persons’ report must be made public after initially planning to keep it confidential. It also revealed the earnings of all the ministers in the government. And ministers and Parliamentarians like Wong Chen have publicly declared how they are spending their budgets.
Although Pakatan saw its approval rating sink down to a figure similar to the Barisan Nasional government’s before May 9, 2018, its governance has been comparatively better. For instance, freedom of the press has increased, making Malaysia the country with the freest press in South-East Asia (according to the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2019).
Allegations of corrupt officials within Pakatan have been immediately investigated. Election candidates of the coalition were instantly probed when they broke an election rule, thanks to the separation of independent agencies from the government.
This new feature of separation is effective and Constitutionally valid as, for instance, in the past, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) was under the control of the prime minister. Today, SPAD is under the Transport Ministry, where it belongs, and is now called the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD).
Pakatan has another four years before the 14th Parliament dissolves. It should make the most of its time and leave a lasting legacy for Malaysia before its term ends. Time is short and the government should make every second count before it is too late.
LAU WEI YIANG