YESTERDAY marked the first 100 days since Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over the federal government of Malaysia on May 9, having overthrown the Barisan Nasional, which had ruled for the past 61 years.
Much ado has been invoked and shouted from the rooftops about what they had pledged to do, what has and has not been done, and what’s next?
I am no politician but I would be lying if I say that I have no interest in politics – no responsible citizen of a country can say this – as what happens in the political arena affects and infects our daily lives, and we are all dependent on a government which has the best interests of its citizens at heart. This is a prerequisite in any democracy today.
Many of us felt immense joy and had great expectations when we waited two days and then for over five hours for Tun Dr Mahathir to be sworn in as our seventh Prime Minister on May 10. The entire mood of a majority of the voting population of the country was ecstatic – the changes and reforms which were expected by those who had voted for PH went well beyond the happiness chart.
As to be expected and for a coalition of so many disparate parties with their own individual missions, goals, and following – it was not easy to strike a balance – as everyone wanted a say – which translated to a seat in the inner sanctum of power. It behoved well that Tun Dr Mahathir was able to temper his selection without too much hassle among the party power brokers, found a workable cabinet, and appointed many whom he perceived qualified to handle their portfolios. For that, one has to take off one’s hat to his 22 years of experience in previous governments.
Tun Dr M vacated his seat as PM in 2003, which was a long 15 years ago – but we can judge for ourselves that he has never really ‘left the building’ as for the past many years he has been actively involved in the fight to topple the man whom he handpicked for the job.
In a moment of candour just a couple of days back, Tun Dr M revealed that of the many pledges built into the PH election manifesto, many of them were more akin to “wishes” rather than “promises”. To be sure, Barisan Nasional too was guilty of having done the exact same thing – and for the past 61 years. They never fulfilled many of their past pre-election pledges despite winning general elections over and over again.
But should we then forgive PH for this – just because the previous government had done it, they too can get away with it? Of course not.
Personally, I have been quite happy and rather impressed with what PH has been able to take action on thus far, or has started the wheels rolling, on their first 100 days in government.
For one thing, they have made a clean break from the old administration and done away with many of the bad, poor, and corrupt practices, which had befallen many departments, ministries, projects, etc etc – and have started to reveal, audit, and open up for public scrutiny the many dubious and secretive ventures and other misadventures.
The new Minister of Finance has virtually had to hold a press conference every single time he discovers another new financial leakage here or a hitherto unknown or secret project there. He has been burning the midnight oil, as to be expected of a job which was previously mishandled by an inept, inefficient, and corrupt Prime Minister.
To be sure, there are many pledges still waiting to be fulfilled, so many pre-election promises to be acted upon. But we all need to have some patience and show some faith as no newly-installed government anywhere in the world can totally revamp the entire system of governance within such a short period as 100 days. We need to come down to earth and be realistic.
We also have the naysayers and those who are in the corner of the fence-sitters – these are the people who have been working overtime to pick on the issues where PH’s pledges and promises have either stalled, swayed, or been KIV-ed for the time being. So what if the PH government cannot immediately say yes to implementing the UEC for Chinese independent schools or to reduce the price of fuel?
I read somewhere that someone has calculated that only 20 per cent of the Election Manifesto pledges had been fulfilled so far. To me that is a decent enough percentage – it’s a beginning and a show of willingness that they’ve made a brave start and will continue to pursue the balance of the remaining 80 per cent. It might take five years …
I will have an issue and will indeed speak out to remind and to haunt the new PH government if this 20 per cent figure doesn’t increase in the next few months and years ahead. To be reasonable I do not expect them to ever reach a point in time when they can actually fulfil the entire 100 per cent at all. I’d be happy with 80.
Fellow citizens, let’s give our new PH government a chance – give them some breathing space and let’s pray, hope and wish that this first 100 days of spring will eventually lead us to an endless summer of days …
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