LETTERS: It is now increasingly evident that the newly-formed Muafakat Nasional is characteristically the same old Barisan Nasional (BN).
In other words, stale rice on new plates.
When Umno was in the government, it would try to scare the Malays using DAP as the bogeyman — that Pakatan Harapan (PH) was controlled by DAP, that the economy was controlled by DAP, and that DAP was surreptitiously spearheading, contradictorily, both a communist and a Christian agenda.
Of course, it did not matter that they had never been able to substantiate any of these claims.
In many ways, DAP and Pakatan Harapan are easy targets. This is because a coalition that champions multiculturalism and the middle path will always be a target of those at the extremes who use race and religion.
When Umno speaks, it will say the Malays are being left behind by PH’s policies. When MCA speaks, it will say that the Chinese are being left out.
When Pas speaks, it will say that Islam is being suppressed.
Pakatan, when reacting to these claims, will attempt to correct the lies. Unfortunately, facts are often not as viral as outrageous lies.
The obvious sometimes bears repeating. Rome was not built in a day and Malaysia cannot be rebuilt in 18 months.
In fact, the federal government’s achievement of fulfilling 60 per cent of its Buku Harapan promises even before two years can be considered a great feat.
There is still ample time to implement the rest of the promises in the manifesto.
After all, many of the reforms require gradual implementation.
Vast progress in upholding justice, parliamentary independence and the rule of law have already been made.
The appointment of an opposition member as head of the powerful Parliamentary Accounts Committee, for example, speaks volumes of the commitment of the PH government to transparency and accountability.
Special Select Committees have also been formed to allow members of parliament (MPs) to play an effective role as intended, unlike the rubber stamp Parliament during BN’s era.
Another critical achievement is the limiting of the premiership to two terms, effectively putting a cap on individual politicians being in power for too long.
Another achievement that often goes unnoticed is PH’s advocation for inclusiveness, both ethnically and in terms of gender.
Leaders are now appointed based on capability. Although this gives fodder to chauvinists and extremists, the agenda continues to forge ahead.
More women now hold top positions than ever before, including the deputy prime ministership, important ministry portfolios, the highest posts in the judiciary and many government-linked companies (GLCs).
Even the youth of Malaysia have been greatly empowered. Where BN restricted the voices of the youth through the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971, the PH government has taken the historic step of lowering the voting age to 18, thus enfranchising millions of young Malaysian adults.
It took our country nearly five decades since Lim Kit Siang first mooted the idea in Parliament in 1971. But what matters is that PH has delivered where BN failed.
Economically, PH is doing its best amidst the fact that they have inherited the worst government financial scandal in the history of the world — 1Malaysia Development Bhd, along with other scandals involving key institutions such as Lembaga Tabung Haji, Felda and Mara.
Billions of ringgit have been lost and the federal coffers were so depleted that RM19.4 billion of Goods and Services Tax (GST) refunds had been held back by the BN government.
PH has not only returned that money to its rightful owners but also abolished the GST altogether. On top of that, PH has delivered on the promise to reduce the price of petrol.
To date, PH has managed to reduce total debts and liabilities from 79.3 per cent of gross domestic product at the end of 2017 to 77.1 per cent at the end of June this year.
Malaysia’s fiscal deficit is also on track to reduce from 3.7 per cent of gross domestic product last year to 3.4 per cent by the end of this year.
These are but the beginnings of the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, which seeks to not only repair the Malaysian economy, but also ensure that its fruits will benefit all sections of societies, cutting across race, class and geographical boundaries.
Despite the little problems here and there, no one can really say that the PH government is not performing. This can even be measured objectively, for example, through the World Bank’s Worldwide Government Indicators (WGI).
The WGI measures institutional quality by accounting for six factors: accountability, corruption, government effectiveness, political stability, regulatory quality and the rule of law. The latest report showed that Malaysia has improved in five out of six dimensions.
In addition, Malaysia has risen up the World Peace Index from 25th in the world last year to 16th this year. This is no mean feat and was only made possible by PH’s inclusive policies.
Bankrupt of ideas, the opposition is only able to throw aspersions on PH by making baseless claims about the coalition.
The fact is that PH is a coalition of equal partners, and while this may present its own complications, it is infinitely better than the BN way where Umno dominated its other coalition partners.
The result of such dominance is the kleptocracy of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, a disaster from which Malaysia will take years to recover from. But recover we will.
AIMRAN SARHAN ABDULLAH
POLITICAL SECRETARY TO TANJONG BUNGAH ASSEMBLYMAN ZAIRIL KHIR JOHARI
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times