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PH's political and economic challenges

  • There are nevertheless issues that will never get solved, such as the economic and political ones.

Sin Chew Daily

PH has overcome some of the challenges over the past three months. However, there are still a number of tough obstacles lying ahead.

PH has recently resolved two really tacky issues. First of all, PKR elections.

Kapar MP Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid accused Council of Elders chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin of collaborating with PM Tun Mahathir and economic affairs minister Azmin Ali to prevent Anwar Ibrahim from becoming the country's next prime minister.

If more PKR leaders had opted to buy this conspiracy theory, a powerful conflict would have erupted among the PH component parties, and might even cause the new government to collapse.

Tun Mahathir and Daim have denied the allegation, and following the advice and instruction of Anwar, Abdullah Sani apologized to Tun Mahathir .

This shows that there is some degree of mutual trust between Tun Mahathir and Anwar.

In the meantime, PKR's disciplinary board has issued stern warnings to two party election candidates, including Abdullah Sani who is running for a supreme council post.

The party's election committee has also directed the candidates not to attack their rivals while the number of party members attending a campaign event is capped at 100.

PKR has tried very hard to cool down the heat over party elections by reining in the behaviors of candidates. This is going to be unfavorable to Rafizi Ramli, as he will be punished for employing aggressive campaign tactics.

With Anwar putting the party's overall interest above his own, Azmin Ali appears to have the upper hand in the party elections.

Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa has predicted that PH can only rule for not more than two and a half years, and sure enough PH leaders will not allow this to become a reality.

Another tacky issue PH has overcome is to secure the understanding of China over the cancellation of several mega projects involving Chinese investors, such as the east coast rail link (ECRL) and Sabah-Melaka natural gas pipeline projects.

Mahathir's visit to China has proven to the leaders in Beijing that the new Malaysian government is not anti-China.

Tun Mahathir has been able to have his way because in the midst of escalating heat over the Sino-US trade war, more and more countries have become skeptical of China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative first mooted by Chinese president Xi Jinping. Consequently, Beijing needs an influential ally in Asean like Malaysia.

China has repeatedly stressed that it is against unilateralism and protectionism, and after Mahathir has openly declared his support for OBOR, any misunderstanding that used to stand in the way of both countries can now be put aside.

Following Mahathir's announcement to cancel three mega projects including ECRL, officials from both sides will soon start their negotiations over the compensation or modifying the scale of the projects or temporary deferment of the same. The full strategic partnership relationship between the two countries will nevertheless remain intact.

The diplomatic relationship between nations has often been established upon the national interests of the countries involved. If China is really unhappy with Malaysia and wants to take revenge, Premier Li Keqiang would not have agreed to visit Malaysia.

No doubt, Mahathir's political jargon may not be music to the ears of the Chinese authorities, and the bilateral relationship is not expected to return to the same level as during Najib's time before Mahathir steps down.

PH has also overcome several other thorny hurdles, including the claim of Equanimity superyacht and the smooth passing of SST in Dewan Negara.

There are nevertheless issues that will never get solved, such as the economic and political ones.

The 3-month tax holiday is coming to an end and SST will soon take effect from September 1.

Even though SST involves a much smaller scope than GST, the public are extremely sensitive to goods prices. Any increase in the prices of daily necessities is set to send jitters through the society. Reducing the economic burden of Malaysians remains an urgent challenge for the government.

In addition to the RM1 trillion government debts, the government also needs to look for money to pay back RM19.25 billion GST and RM16.046 billion outstanding tax refunds. However, if the government keeps tightening its belt, public expenditure will have to be drastically slashed and this may eventually hurt the economy. The economy may slide further unless there is a significant increase in private investment spending.

Politically, PH must be wary of itself being dragged into the mudpool of racist politics. It is hoped that the government's bumiputra convention on September 1 will focus more on national issues to lift the overall economy and not to get overly engrossed with things like ketuanan Melayu.

Political leaders are not divine beings. They need to listen to the views of the professionals so as to avert unnecessary mistakes.


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