Reforms must be continued, not delayed

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Although we should be understanding about the slow pace of reforms, this does not mean we should allow the government to delay these reforms, writes Chris Chong.

It has been six months since the 2018 general election, and the euphoria that accompanied historic regime change has died down. In its place, the sober reality of bringing about the promised changes has set in.

The new Pakatan Harapan government faces a host for problems ranging from finding a balance between repaying national debts, ensuring that economically disadvantaged groups are not put at a further disadvantage, and reforming laws and institutions to bringing about a more democratic Malaysia.

It is unsurprising that the pace for reforms is slow given the scale of the challenges faced. But this should not be an excuse to delay the reforms that are needed.

Certainly, the education system is in dire need of reform. The whole system, Mustafa K. Anuar reports, is focused on piling paperwork and bureaucracy on teachers rather than allowing them to do their job ie teaching the young.

Although the education minister has promised reforms, the promises have been piecemeal rather than offering a national vision of education, which provides concrete steps to realise the vision. The minister must put this objective as his main agenda for the rest of his tenure. He must lay the foundation of a solid education system that the young of this nation deserve.

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Our health system is another area that needs to be reformed so that healthcare is made more accessible especially for the poor. As Jeyakumar Devaraj argues, the the government’s proposed reforms may make it difficult for the poor to gain access to public healthcare. Instead, Jeyakumar proposes that a series of sensible policies be implemented to ensure an equitable healthcare system. You can read his diagnosis of the proposed reforms and suggested alternatives here.

It is commendable that the PH government, as a matter of principle, wants to repeal repressive laws as soon as possible. For a start, the Malaysian Bar has urged the government to immediately suspend the use of the Sedition Act 1948 while awaiting its repeal in the current parliamentary session.

Although we should be understanding about the slow pace of reforms, this does not mean we should allow the government to delay these reforms. We need to constantly remind this government that we expect the reforms to be implemented as soon as possible.

Chris Chong
Co-editor, Aliran newsletter
17 November 2018

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