May 16, 2018
G25: The road to a clean, transparent and efficient government
PH’s list of fundamental reforms must inspire confidence among local businessmen and foreign investors.
We in the G25 congratulate the victory of Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the 14th general election. Through the ballot box, Malaysians have proven that an unpopular government and its leaders can be removed from power.
G25 joins all the brave people of Malaysia who want freedom, democracy and reforms, in rejoicing the beginning of a new Malaysia.
It is the people’s hope that the PH government will be committed to bringing about political, social and economic reforms, leading to transparent and accountable governance as well as checks and balances to prevent political and economic abuses.
The announcement of the four key ministers is necessary to ensure the smooth running of the country. G25 supports the Prime Minister in the selections made, putting the best people forward for the job, regardless of gender and race.
The rakyat voted for the whole coalition and not individual parties or personalities.
The rakyat voted against corruption and deception. It is a clear sign that PH would have to acknowledge that whichever coalition and personalities they are to work with are not plagued with such labelling.
An enactment discouraging party hopping should be looked into. It is our hope that a strong opposition coalition is present to provide checks and balances for the ruling government.
While we wish to see justice being done to those who have transgressed the law among the politicians, the civil service and the public sector, it should be done in a manner which is evidence-based and free of prejudice, malice and revenge.
The government must avoid creating a climate of uncertainty on who might be on the hit list. The civil service and the public sector agencies must be ensured of their smooth running.
Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said that Malaysia’s King had indicated he was willing to grant a full pardon to jailed politician Anwar Ibrahim.
We are relieved that a royal pardon is in progress for Anwar Ibrahim. This will indeed strengthen the coalition under Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The establishment of the Council of Elders and its members is commendable. G25 and the rakyat will be holding the government accountable for good governance and a professional code of conduct to be observed at all levels.
Nepotism, cronyism and the culture of fear and intimidation should be a thing of the past. This will no longer be tolerated.
We encourage the practice of having regular meetings of the top five PH leaders chaired by Mahathir, along with the Council of Elders as and when necessary to ensure a fair, balanced and informed consultation process in the decision-making.
PH should place reforms as its top priority. Its 100-day list is most welcome.
This list has addressed specific one-off measures, which will mostly benefit the B40 (bottom 40% of households with a monthly income of RM3,860 and below), allaying their concerns about the financial challenges they face arising from declining disposable income amid rising prices.
Nevertheless, priority attention must also be given to fundamental reforms that will change the investment and socio-economic climate and generate confidence for sustainable growth favouring all income groups.
These fundamental reforms certainly cannot be done within 100 days. However, G25 considers it equally critical that PH announce specific actions to be taken to institute such reforms as soon as possible.
PH’s list of fundamental reforms will inspire confidence among local businessmen and foreign investors that this coalition is indeed strategic in its approach to achieve a clean, accountable, transparent and efficient government.
The list of economic and governance reforms is long, after years of consistent abuse of power.
List of reforms needed
Before the end of the 100-day period, PH should announce its framework to implement a list of reforms it considers as priority to restore the rule of law, achieve good governance across institutions and ensure accountable government decision-making.
For the G25, the core list of priority reforms would cover the following:
Restore independence of key institutions and remove them from political control. Parliament should have oversight functions over the executive through the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Parliamentary Select Committees (PSC). Similar reforms should be carried out for the judiciary, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Bank Negara Malaysia, the Police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Election Commission.
An independent Police Commission and a Civil Service Commission should be established to restore their integrity, especially with respect to the appointment and promotion of senior officers. The Parliamentary Select Committee should be responsible for vetting the appointments of chairmen and chief executives in statutory bodies and major public enterprises. These processes and establishments will ensure a proper monitoring of the governance framework for thorough checks and balances in government.
Ensure Malaysia’s elections are clean and fair by reforming the Election Commission into an independent institution which is responsible only to Parliament. The legislation on funding of political activities should be expedited, with institutional changes to ensure effective enforcement of the law. For example, the Registrar of Societies should no longer have any role in regulating political parties, as the independent Election Commission will carry out all regulatory functions, including on political funding.
Guarantee freedom of information, expression and assembly, a basic move to ensure all other reforms work. These fundamental rights will support accountability and a transparent public delivery system. In general, ensure the protection of our freedom and democracy, including the need to support and acknowledge the consistent bravery of Suhakam. They must be considerably strengthened and their reports tabled and discussed in Parliament.
Focus on education policies that foster national unity based on the Rukun Negara, cultivate creative, conscientious and critical-minded students as this will support employment and business needs. To achieve these goals, review and strengthen the national school system and allow for full autonomy of universities.
Raise disposable incomes of households by addressing a combination of issues that contribute to declining wages. The package of issues covers: a) taxation and protectionist excise duties which eat into household incomes unfairly; b) foreign labour and its promotion of a culture of low wages and productivity; c) formulate a currency strategy towards a strong currency regime which will influence import values and domestic prices, especially food and intermediate goods; and provision of affordable homes of between RM70,000 to RM100,000.
Enforce processes to ensure budget formulation; approval and implementation are conducted according to regulations and best international practices. This budget process must stop grand spending and debt creation. Large projects that contribute to debt creation must be reviewed.
Begin the process to eliminate corruption. As long as there are no checks and balances on the funding of political parties and proper book-keeping of government agencies, corruption will continue.
The first step will be to implement reforms determining how political parties are funded. Work on the recovery of stolen assets and hold politically-exposed persons (PEPs) accountable for their corrupt behaviour.
Promote moderation (Wassatiyah) and tolerance in Islam. Review Islamic-based institutions and their budget allocation for various activities and purpose. Their budget has been increasing over the years. Review all religious schools, including the private schools and align them with the national school curriculum.
Introduce decentralisation of decision-making to allow states more responsibility on development programmes. Decentralisation also promotes competition and innovation among states.
Cabinet members at the federal level, as well as state exco members should be required to declare their assets at the start of the term. The MACC should undertake a periodic review of their assets during their service in office.
G25 trusts that the PH coalition will remain united to lead the country with utmost integrity, competence and efficiency and ensure that we rebuild this nation to its former glory.
G25 is a movement of eminent Malay moderates.
The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.