Judging PH’s 100 days and moving forward

Posted on August 16, 2018

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The PH government had its first term report card out yesterday.

To see how they have fared in their first 100 days in office.

Why 100 days?

Well, PH did promise us a set of 10 reforms to be delivered within their first 100 days.

Now, taking those 100 days to start the day after the election, 10th May, after Dr M was sworn in as PM, I think the 100th day would be 17th August, 2018.

I stand to be corrected on this.

They did, though, pledge 10 reforms in 100 days.

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Seems fair, then, that we gauge their performance thus far by their pledge to us.

I wish to make four observations here before I proceed to look at that report card, and to then give my own 2 sen.

First, I speak for myself when I say that I was not seduced by the PH election manifesto to give them my vote on 9/5/2018.

In other words, it did not have any bearing on how I voted.

Like so many, I was still in ABU mood.

At all costs, get rid of UMNO / BN first.

Thereafter, we deal with the new government.

This GE14, I was still driven by the short-and-to-the-point ABU reform agenda that we took on the campaign trail during the 13th GE.

  1. No more race politics
  2. Give to the people of Sabah and Sarawak what was promised them as per the Malaysia Agreement 1963, and any other documents that were collateral thereto and which induced the leaders of Sabah and Sarawak to enter upon that agreement. In this regard, I envisaged the appointment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry, steered by commissioners who enjoyed the confidence of the people of Sabah and Sarawak to ascertain what precisely was agreed in 1963 and, having so ascertained, to report back to the rakyat and to the Agung on the same, with recommendations on how and what needed to be done to how that agreement
  3. Repeal all draconian laws
  4. Return all institutions of state to the Rakyat
  5. Replace any and all raced-based affirmative programs with a comprehensive policy which is needs-based.

Item 1 was and is going to be a long haul, and probably the biggest challenge, together with item 5.

To be addressed immediately, without any delay, were items 2 and 3.

Item 4, if the new government had the political will to do so, and in so far as it did not require amendments to the constitution, should be achieved within the first 12-18 months of governance. If amendments to the constitution were necessary to achieve this, it remained to be seen if MPs from UMNO / BN would demonstrate a growing political maturity to support such amendments which were in the best interests of the nation and the rakyat.

Now, the second observation.

During the GE14 campaign period, I was only able to speak at ceramah in Segambut, Klang and Semenyih.

In respect of this 100-day pledge by PH, I shared my view during those ceramah that this was too short a period for some of the reforms pledged.

I suggested 180 days or 6 months.

I stand by what I had suggested in those ceramah.

The third observation.

Allow me to reiterate here what I posted earlier about a conversation between Wilson and myself on the morning of 10th May.
“Wilson and I were the last to leave the ABU Ops room. It was about 8am. We were tired but could not sleep, so we ended up at the mamak.
Wilson remarked that PH would now have to deliver on its pre-election promise to abolish the GST.
I suggested that we needed to allow the new government a measure of flexibility.
“Why?”, Wilson asked.
I explained that giving PH the benefit of the doubt that this pre-election promise was made with all sincerity, having now won, what if, when they began the process of taking over the administration, they find that the scale of mismanagement and misappropriation of the national finances by the Najib administration has been of such proportion that immediately abolishing GST might paralyse the new government?
I suggested that what we needed to do was, as the dust of the just-completed election settled, let PH take over the administration, assess the situation, and report back to the rakyat”.

That which I spoke of to Wilson does appear to have come to pass.

On 31st May, 2018, Malaysiakini reported Guan Eng as saying that PH’s “100-day promises might be delayed due to the burgeoning national debt and liabilities, estimated to be around RM1 trillion” and that several of the those promises could only be delivered when the financial situation of the nation improves.

According to Guan Eng, of those 10 reforms, the following 5 would have to be put on hold until the financial situation improves :

  • Fuel subsidies for cars below 1,300cc and motorcycles under 125cc.
  • EPF contribution for housewives.
  • To standardise and increase the minimum wage.
  • Postponing PTPTN repayments
  • Implementing the Skim Peduli Sihat

3 of those 10 promised reforms were then already in the pipeline. Those were :

  • abolishing GST
  • investigating corruption cases
  • reviewing mega projects

The law minister has since announced the formation of a government committee to look into the status of Sabah and Sarawak. Not quite the RCI that I had in mind.

Also, I read somewhere about a system having been put in place for housewives to register for purposes of consideration to receive EPF contributions.

2 days ago, Malaysiakini reported that at a ‘closed door’ dinner function, sources who were at the function said that Dr M conceded that PH “was facing a tough time over its “thick” manifesto, as some of the promises were made without the expectation that the coalition could truly win power”.
“Actually we did not expect to win, we made a thick manifesto with all kinds of promises… we must fulfil our promises which is why we can’t make promises that we cannot fulfil. We need to make sacrifices to fulfil our promises. If we can’t fulfil them, we will need a good reason that is acceptable to the people.Or else, if we fail to deliver on our promises, the opposition will use it against us and we may be defeated (in the next general election) “, those sources report Dr M as having said.

Which leads me to my fourth observation.

PH did not win the 14th GE.

The majority of the rakyat who wanted to see and voted for a regime change won the 14th GE.

PH was the benefactor of the rakyat’s victory on 9/5 and Dr M is well aware that with this historic victory, we, the rakyat know full well that if, in the 14th GE, we could take out a corrupt and oppressive regime, we can rise again to take out an incompetent regime come the 15th GE.

The Malaysiakini report last referred to says Dr M referred to a “thick manifesto”.

Therefore, I do not think he was merely referring to the “10 reforms in 100 days”, but the entirety of their election manifesto.

Are we entitled to hold them to their manifesto in its entirety?

Of course we are.

More importantly, should we uncompromisingly hold them to this?

I would urge the following approach.

First, take it as given that this being a first ever non – Alliance / BN government in the history of post-British Malaya, and later, Malaysia, this new ‘broom’ would want to ‘sweep clean’ by giving us all they had promised.

If they could, they would.

Their surviving the next GE would turn on this.

Second, divide all that they have pledged into three categories :

  1. those which will require significant financial resources to make good on their promises;
  2. those which, if pursued vigorously, leaves it open for UMNO and PAS and the “ketuanan Melayu” and “membela Islam” NGOs to continue with their brand of race and religion politics; and
  3. those which do not involve any element in 1 and 2 above.

Some examples to help illustrate the three categories above.

For 1, abolishing the tolls.

An example of No.2.

On 1st August, Malaysiakini reported Azmin as mooting a congress of economists and experts from various sectors to look to “strengthen the status of the bumiputera, while at the same time ensuring distributive justice for other ethnicities”.

In an earlier post , I was critical of Azmin’s suggestion but, in all fairness, this might well be an attempt by the PH government to put into public space a suggestion for a needs-based rather than a race-based poverty alleviation program. If such is the case, expect that UMNO, PAS and the likes of Jamal Yunoos will look to spin the same as interfering with the Special rights of the Malays.

An example of No. 3.

Repeal the Sedition Act, 1948.

Looked at in this way, I say we are entitled to demand all reforms that fall into category 3 without any further delay.

As for category 1, for those that need to be postponed, we evaluate the need for such postponement based on such explanation that Dr M concedes would be owed to us.

As for those in category 2, if you share my view that these are of paramount importance and should not be delayed, then my view is that the drive and push for these reforms must come from civil society, rather than the current government.

In other words, we, the right-minded and just-minded citizens must take the lead in making this a nation of equals, founded on considerations of meritocracy, ready to uplift the lives of all, predicated on considerations of need, not race.

Let me now turn to the report card.

FMT has two relevant reports that you can read HERE and HERE.

The first points out some good done and some areas where the government needs to buck up.

The second, reporting what my dear friend Dr Kua Kia Soong thinks of the first hundred days of the PH government, is hard-hitting.

I will only say two things.

First, the criticisms are all well-justified.

They must continue, and the government would do well to pay heed to them.

Second, at this time, there is no semblance of an opposition in Parliament.

For now, we, the rakyat must play that role.

If this post has been a tad long, blame it on the pasumbur in Penang.