100-Day Itch Over But Still A Little Scratchy

MALAYSIA BAHARU

100-Day Itch Over But Still A Little Scratchy

The Pakatan Harapan government has survived three months of scrutiny after taking over the reigns of power. We peer at its first term report card.

Never in the history of this country, has the manifesto of a party going into a general election – upon winning it, come for greater, nay; ANY measure of scrutiny.

With the shocking defeat of the Barisan Nasional (BN) at the hands of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition on May 9, that has all changed.

100 days on, like some chastened school kid bringing home the end of term report card for dad to sign; PH’s list of promises are being dissected and graded.

So what gives?

Two-thirds of Malaysian voters approved the PH government performance in its first 100 days in power

Before we even go there, let it be established that not ALL who voted PH in GE14 did so, solely upon studious scrutiny of its lengthy manifesto; and holding them to their every word.

Secondly, those who are holding it to account as if a grave sin has been committed for failing to deliver on its pre-election promises and that PH has `broken’ its word; could well have given their vote to the then government-now-opposition.

Thirdly, promises are based on optimism that one can hit the ground running; discounting the pessimism that coffers may be empty and foundations left behind might be rickety.

Being generous, fairness notwithstanding; this third scenario – which the government freely admits is the rock on which its defence rests; is indeed the background for this exercise to assess its first-term performance.

Let us see who is happy or otherwise 100 days into the life of the New Malaysia.

Hindraf which claims 95 percent of Indians voted PH, largely attracted by its 25 election promises to lift the social and economic status of the Indian community.

Top of their grouses is the plight of 350,000 Indians still awaiting award of citizenship status. Next is the promise of upping the minimum wage to RM1,500.

They also point to the homeless and landless issue affecting more than 27,000 estate workers, financial aid for Tamil schools, university places, welfare aid.

That would be in time for the tabling of the 2019 budget when the government has a clearer picture of the challenges ahead and all the initial excitement makes way for realistic expectations

Never one to despair, Hindraf is looking forward to 25 November – giving the government another 100 days to stand up and deliver.

On the business front, the Small and Medium Enterprises Association are still waiting for the government to show that it is business friendly. It has urged the Finance Ministry to reveal the full list of taxable industries and items to enable SMEs prepare for the implementation of the Sales and Service Tax (SST). Above all, they are quite disappointed that corporate tax will not be lowered.

Its bumiputera counterpart – through the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (NCCIM) commended the government for being quick in the promise to abolish Goods and Services Tax (GST) and stabilising petrol prices. Its president Datuk Seri syed Hussien Al Habshee says while there is still much to be done, this early commitment to create a more business-friendly environment, greater accountability and transparency are encouraging. He adds, Rome was not built in a day!

SUARAM, the human rights NGO noted on the positive developments related to the provision of social security for women, movement on the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) study loans issue and blacklisting policy. Equivocation on the government’s part on the fate of the National Civics Bureau (BTN) and the National Service drew its ire but was soon placated when both were ditched.

It seeks greater resolve from the government on the issue of abolition of what it describes as draconian laws – the National Security Act 2015, the Sedition Act 1948 and the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012. It lauded the demise of the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 which was banished in the nick of time.

SUARAM notes that capital punishment remains unresolved.

Perhaps the last word on running through the report card should go to the report released by the Merdeka Center which produced a comprehensive 30-page assessment of the 100 days of the PH government.

It summed up that two-thirds of Malaysian voters approved the PH government performance in its first 100 days in power.

Interestingly, 71 percent of voters said they were satisfied with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s handling of the government. Much more of a surprise, to some at least though; that 81 percent of civil servants expressed approval of the man who has expressed some degree of antipathy and concern at the bloated state of government machinery.

With the first session of this 14th parliament now in recess and adjourned sine die, much is expected when the second session convenes. That would be in time for the tabling of the 2019 budget when the government has a clearer picture of the challenges ahead and all the initial excitement makes way for realistic expectations.

Given time, the rakyat’s romance, support and sympathies with Tun Mahathir and his disparate coalition may or may not wane. It appears there is still a huge reservoir of goodwill remaining to be tapped from Malaysians who; having lived through 100 days of Pakatan Harapan, are ready to give it another 100 days at least, if not more; to deliver.

That of course will not sit well with the likes of UMNO President Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi and his cohorts who have loudly prognosticated that the PH government face the prospect of crumbling well before GE15.

If that happens, it is doubtful if the motive power will come from any concrete offerings from what amounts to the remnants of the BN coalition. More likeLy, it would come from within the ranks of the PH itself.

Bring it on – the next 100 days! 

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