The PH government must have a real understanding of the needs of people across the country including those in Sabah and Sarawak, writes Prema Devaraj.
It has been more than 500 days since Pakatan Harapan seized the reins of power in the last general election from Barisan Nasional, and it has survived various challenges along the way. Given this milestone, it is time for us to take stock of what the PH has done so far.
The PH government has made some successful changes over this period, but then again, it has also experienced some setbacks. No doubt it has been a steep learning curve for PH, the opposition and the public.
PH has had to contend with a number of things, including what it means to work in a coalition and run a government (though certain individuals have had much more experience than others!). They have had to grapple with the actual financial situation of the country and how things work (or don’t) in the civil service while being constantly under fire from the opposition.
Meanwhile, the expectations of those who voted PH into government remain high. Many expect PH to steer the nation forward despite the quagmire of debt, financial scandal and widespread corruption in governance. It is a tall order, but there it is. The people expect better than what was there before.
The frustration that change is too slow in coming in some areas is understandable. So too is the anger of the people when shades of arrogance and a lack of transparency and accountability akin to the previous government creep in.
Worse are the policies which favour big corporations at the expense of public interest.
Then there is the internal politicking within certain component parties which is certainly not what the public need nor wish to see.
PH must provide the leadership and not capitulate under pressure from the opposition’s perpetual chorus on race and religion.
The time PH has before the next election cannot only be about securing votes, but must also be about nation-building. The diversity of the country must be acknowledged and affirmed. Unity must be forged and equal respect given to all.
There can be no room for any ideology which supports the superiority of one group over the other. PH must stand firm on this. Meanwhile, it must pay more attention to vulnerable groups struggling to survive with the rising cost of living. It is only by working together that we can move forward as a nation.
The PH government must have a vision for the longer-term development of the country that takes into account climate change and sustainability. It must seriously reconsider mega-projects around the country, including highways, dams and reclamation along the coastlines. Likewise, to ensure sustainability, it should review industries which threaten our natural resources and the environment.
Housing, health and education must remain crucial areas of attention for PH and not be commoditised.
PH must have a real understanding of the needs of people across the country including those in Sabah and Sarawak. It must give special attention to vulnerable groups, including the Orang Asli and other indigenous people, farmers, fisherfolk, migrants and refugees – and uphold their rights and address their needs.
The PH must set itself a high standard and work strategically towards it. It has been a long struggle to wrest Malaysia back from the abyss. It would be a shame if the hard-fought victory last year results in only a one-term government – for it will take more than one term to create a new Malaysia.