THE year 2018 was a turning point for Malaysia as it was the first time the federal government changed hands since the country gained independence. Despite a long delay before an official announcement was made, Pakatan Harapan’s win was received with euphoria. The fact that the transition of power was done peacefully was something to be proud of.
As much as the change of government has been a historic event, a more challenging role is to manage the expectations of the public post-14th General Election.
The public is growing wary with the hard realities of life and unfulfilled election promises. Perhaps public expectations are too high, fuelled by populist manifestos from all sides of the political divide.
With newfound freedom, thanks to the new administration, Malaysians are enjoying the opportunity to speak up in a manner unheard of in those 60 years.
This is good for the nation. But the social media tells a different story. Some of the discourses are so toxic that one may lose interest in politics altogether.
More than six months after GE-14, if indication from the media is to be used, the government is losing its popularity. It is struggling with unfulfilled electoral promises, bad press, etc.
As it stands, neither the perceived poor performance of the government nor the naive remarks of some ministers help. Regardless of whether they are misquoted by the media or on the learning curve, the government is in for a rough ride.
As we enter the new year, it is time to revisit a dream that all Malaysians can associate themselves with and foster unity. We must demand that the government focus on tackling issues facing the country and prioritise accordingly. For that to happen, there must be less politicking.
While the government is not expected to know everything, evidence-based policies must be adopted.
Any ill-thought-out announcement that could be a subject of ridicule or worse any decision that has to be back-pedalled must be avoided.
In some circumstances, “silence is golden” may be a good approach. More importantly, any signal indicating the practice of rent-seeking must be addressed at once. Malaysia cannot afford further leakages of public funds.
For Malays and Bumiputeras, our rights, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution, are here to stay even though some may feel threatened.
Stand for our rights but it is time to get out of the comfort zone for the betterment of society. While politics is part and parcel of the struggle, do not let politics get in the way of the higher goals of improving the socio-economic status of the society.
The much-required reforms in the society must happen, sooner rather than later.
As the globalised world is changing at a rapid pace, what worked in the past may no longer work in the new age. While having entitlement can be a privilege, the reverse can also be true if the values of what makes a strong and resilient society are not embraced.
Education and equality of opportunities must be set as priorities. For the public, while the government may owe us the unfulfilled election promises, let’s be realistic and productive.
As much as a caring government is desired, there’s a lot on the plate for the administration, facing myriad challenges. It should not be an excuse, but for things to happen in our favour, a lot of things have to happen, be it improved economic performance or a better mechanism to channel aid to the needy.
Keep pushing for effective and efficient delivery of public goods and yet allow the administration room for a successful turnaround. It may take a bit of time; patience is required from all Malaysians. After all, isn’t this what patriotism is about?
Going forward, Malaysia has no choice but to reform in order to progress and be a force to be reckoned with, regionally and globally. At the same time, we must strive to maintain our peaceful coexistence. The question remains, though: as we usher in 2019, can the federal government fulfil the aspirations of the people?
MOHAMMAD ABDUL HAMID
Bandar Tun Razak, Cheras,