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Challenges ahead for PH

  • Many people are willing to give PH more time, but the government must first overcome its many challenges.

Sin Chew Daily

Many people asked me a year ago whether BN would be returned in GE14.

I really didn't have an answer to this question then. Pakatan Harapan later won the election and many anticipated that the alliance could at least stay in power for ten years.

Now, many predict a short-lived administration for PH.

A whole world of difference in the span of one year, and this is attributed to the failed high expectations from the voters.

BN performed very badly and therefore Malaysians were pinning their hopes on PH. Skepticism began to surface when the new government was unable to fulfill the aspiration of a New Malaysia. People are now doubting whether PH will still be seated in Putrajaya four years down the road.

As a matter of fact, changing a government is a natural process that needs no regret, because given the poor performance of BN in its final days in office, if it were to continue ruling this country, a crisis would erupt for sure.

BN's downfall is part and parcel of the historical rule, as no governments can stay in power forever, and will eventually be dumped by the voters as a consequence of lust, arrogance and corruption.

The only thing is: people have been over-optimistic and have miscalculated the reality.

Miscalculation 1: The voters have overestimated PH's courage and ability to institute the reforms. According to PH's election manifesto, the country should become more progressive if things go as planned.

There is nevertheless one big stumbling block: the scourge of six-decade old racist and religious politics.

For fear of treading on sensitive issues, PH has kept reversing its policies and has stayed away from ratifying ICRED and withdrawn from Rome Statute.

In order to secure the precious Malay votes, PH has bowed to populist politics.

Mahathir used to slam Najib for distributing cash handouts to voters, but the new government is also doing the same thing, albeit with a different name.

The finance ministry has proposed to allocated RM6 billion to provide employment allowances and salary subsidies to get some half a million young people into the job market.

The PH administration did introduce some reforms, for instance greater freedom for the press. Malaysia's press freedom index has improved dramatically this year, up 22 positions.

In addition, the PH government is also bold to take in women and non-Muslims, including non-Malay Tommy Thomas as the attorney-general and Richard Malanjum as chief justice. Upon Malanjum's retirement, Federal Court judge Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat was appointed the country's first female CJ.

However, the 90% bumi quota for matriculation has come as a major blow for the country's non-bumi population, who for the past so many decades have suffered under the country's quota system.

It is imperative that New Malaysia will do away with this quota system, or systemic reform will remain an empty talk.

Miscalculation 2: Umno has not reflected on its own misdeeds and made amends as widely anticipated.

Naturally when a ruling party is voted out by the people, it should contemplate what the people actually want. Unfortunately Umno has opted to work with PAS and cook up racist and religious issues in an attempt to win the hearts of conservative Malays.

The “Protect Islam” rally by UMMAH in KL last weekend was another major move aimed at impacting the PH government after the anti-ICERD rally last December.

Developments during the last few months show that indeed Malaysian politics is heading down the dangerous way. For example, Islamic preacher Mohammad Zamri Vinoth was arrested on April 28 for insulting Hinduism, while Perlis mufti Asri Zainul Abidin criticized the PH government for not doing enough to defend Islam and for allowing Muslims to be bullied.

Interracial and inter-religious relationship will not improve under the manipulation of the opposition and extreme rightist organizations.

As if that is not enough, strained relationship with the royalty has further bogged down the progress of PH government.

Economically, PH has failed to deliver Malaysia out of middle income trap.

The World Bank has projected that Malaysia will only cross the high income threshold of US$12,000 in 2024.

Vision 2020 was first coined by Tun Mahathir himself, and it is believed that he will remain the country's prime minister in 2020. But how many people still remember this vision?

Tun M has managed to put things in order soon after last year's general elections, but he lacks a comprehensive plan to revitalize the country.

The latest Merdeka Center polls show that 67% of respondents are willing to give PH more time.

That said, the PH government must first overcome the challenges in order to shatter the one-term-government prediction.


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