SINCE Pakatan Harapan the government at the federal level and in several states after the 14th General Election, one of the popular slogans that has emerged is “New Malaysia” or in Malay, “Malaysia Baru”.
However, many people at the grassroots level are unclear what the term means.
So what does New Malaysia mean? According to Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (online), baru or “new” means to repair so that a thing becomes new, or to repeat; or to start something new; or to replace or change with something new.
Therefore, it could be summised that New Malaysia is an effort to repair what needs to be improved or to repeat successes that have made the country respected in the past.
The New Malaysia concept is aimed at restarting a progressive and visionary move by putting in place new strategies so that the goal of making Malaysia a great and respected nation can be achieved.
In his speech at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly last year, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad stated that via the New Malaysia concept, the government and leadership is committed to ensuring that every Malaysian enjoy the nation’s prosperity buttressed by equitable distribution of wealth generated by the nation-state.
It should be remembered that the emergence of New Malaysia is a response to Malaysians who wanted changes in the political, governmental, economic and social systems.
Malaysians want a New Malaysia that upholds the principles of justice, has good governance and a high level of integrity, and exalts the concept of the rule of law. Many changes have been implemented or are in the pipeline:
FIRST, the size of the cabinet and membership was reduced to fewer than 30 ministers.
Reflecting a more confident leadership, policy decisions in the cabinet are no longer based on consensus but on majority support.
With this method, a decision is easier to reach for the benefit of the people compared with the previous method of consensus, where decisions reached a stalemate due to dissension in the rank;
SECOND, efforts to eradicate corruption were intensified. Many steps were initiated. Government officials are dissuaded from accepting gifts except perhaps tokens. Any donation to a party in the government is not allowed without prior consent from the cabinet;
THIRD, the media have latitude and more freedom. However, the new ruling party is mindful of reports that may create tension and uneasiness among the multiethnic population.
Nevertheless, there is a more lax attitude, believing that the media organisations will exercise discretion and ensure that law and order are sustained; and,
FOURTH, Dr Mahathir’s administration is set to be business-friendly by adopting an open participation policy.
Managing business startups will be simplified and bureaucratic red tape will be reviewed.
The government has indicated that it will revisit laws that restrict the freedom to trade in an effort to make business activities freer and easier.
All projects will be conducted through open tender in an effort to be transparent.
The government has stated that it will encourage and accept investments. Foreign direct investments are slated to bring in capital and technology.
As for development projects, such as the construction of new townships, local companies are given preference as they have the capabilities.
As for large-scale infrastructure projects, foreign participation will be allowed only if there is no local expertise.
The new government is bent on upholding the rule of law. This has been reiterated by members of the ruling party and it will apply to everyone, regardless of rank, status or education.
The government is also reviewing laws and regulations to strengthen governance and weed out obsolete laws.
The government is committed to distributing the nation’s wealth to all parties fairly and equitably.
The federal government has pledged to reinstate the rights of Sabah and Sarawak as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and examine to which extent provisions in MA63 have been implemented to safeguard the rights and interests of residents in Sabah and Sarawak.
Therefore, the new government is going forward with new visions and missions to create a Malaysia that was envisioned by our forefathers.
It is the greatest challenge to have emerged since Malaya’s independence in 1957 and the formation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963.
The country is going through a transformation and reform phase that demands all parties to work together and strive to achieve the goals of a New Malaysia.
As Malaysians who love this nation, we should cooperate and work together so that we can continue to enjoy the blessings of independence, prosperity and successes of our great nation. Anything else is secondary.
Dr Al-Azharri Siddiq Kamunri, Putrajaya