By Yin, Letters from Ward 5, Tanjong Rambutan
It is clear where Anwar Ibrahim’s Government is heading . . . nowhere. Anwar’s own ABIM roots and the short leash allowed by UMNO means not much will be achieved by way of Reformasi.
It is one thing to mouth platitudes and make promises, another to carry out one’s convictions. It takes courage to do the latter.
It is early days but there are signs that Anwar is wavering and hedging his bets.
War on Corruption
On the one hand we are encouraged by his crusade against corruption but then his recent speech to the civil servants implies that past misdeeds will be forgotten and that they start on a new page. Is this Anwar’s way to get onside with the civil servants? If this is indeed his message, then one must not investigate Dr. Mahathir Mohamad (which DAP has been threatening for decades) – how his family has amassed such vast fortunes. What about Daim Zainuddin
Does this mean that all “sins” pre the Anwar era will be forgiven? I can hear a collective sigh of relief not just from civil servants but from politicians.
In one stroke Anwar has emasculated his crusade on corruption.
To focus on lifting the B40 and helping the SMEs
Anwar’s war on poverty – lifting the B40 irrespective of race or religion – is to be lauded. He makes a song and dance about inflation and how the poor is affected by fast rising prices.
His party deputy Rafizi Ramli talks about cartels and monopolies and ask for open competition to bring prices down.
By attacking the cartels and monopolies Rafizi helps the B40 by slowing inflation but also helps the SMEs as it opens new opportunities which were not available to them in the past.
For instance, if we do away with Puspakom and license qualified independent workshops to carry out vehicle inspections we open new opportunities for the small operators. It reduces the waiting time for vehicles to be inspected. In most developed countries it is certified independent garages which carry out such inspections and issue the certificate. I don’t see why it cannot be done here. Puspakom was created as a crony operation by the UMNO-BN regime.
The biggest monopoly is the Bukhari conglomerate. They control everything from rice to sugar and cooking oil and more. A creation of Mahathir’s crony capitalism, it is a burden on the rakyat. Surely if Anwar is serious about his war on poverty he should be dismantling monopolies and cartels and making our economy more openly competitive. We know that open competition delivers the lowest price and the best service.
Consumers become king and they decide where to spend their money. As it is, Malaysians have no choice but to buy from one person because he holds the monopoly – a gift from the government.
As with Puspakom, by breaking up the Bukhari monopoly, it opens new opportunities for SMEs to participate in the economy.
What about the toll roads, petrol subsidy, housing subsidy (bumiputra discounts) and so on.
PLUS has paid for itself many times over. Those who invested should not continue to milk the public. It is time the government takes over the highway and give it back to the public. Forget compensation; what compensation? They have more than recouped their investment. Just nationalise it!
As for petrol subsidy, I suggest that it be targeted rather than across the board.
How is it fair that Incik Kaya with his fleet of limousines can buy cheap fuel at the public’s expense while Incik Miskin with his motor bike or Kanchil gets the same. I suggest that only those below a certain income level be allowed to buy subsidised fuel. Subsidised fuel can also be allowed for commercial vehicles so as not to cause inflation. The rest can pay market price. It’s not difficult to devise a mechanism to implement this. This will save the country billions every year. The other benefit is less cars on the road, less pollution. It also means that the money saved can be used to improve public transport. This has proved successful in developed countries.
I can hear a collective groan from everyone. Our trouble is we have been spoilt by subsidised fuel for too long and now we groan at the suggestion of ending the subsidy. We will get used to it – drive smaller cars, drive electric cars, drive only when necessary. It has long term benefits e.g. it will spur our efforts to develop cheaper renewable clean energy to run electric vehicles. The money we save from the subsidy can be used to improve our infrastructure and services.
As for subsidsed housing (via Bumiputra discount – non-bumi buyers are subsidising the price); it makes no sense that someone who can afford several houses is allowed to exploit the racially based system. The bumi discount was meant to make housing more affordable to poor Bumiputras. It has been hijacked by the rich.
Remove the across the board racially based discount and demand from developers more affordable housing aimed at the B40. This will do more to help poor Malaysians instead of pampering the rich.
We know what needs to be done if we really want to bring our education to the level of the best in the region (never mind world standard for now). The best way is to bring back English medium schools. Too radical? What about increasing the periods for English and STEM subjects? Because the school day is limited this would mean periods for other subjects will have to be reduced.
Dare I suggest reducing Agama? Yes, why not? It’s not a subject which should even be taught in school for starters, otherwise why not also teach Agama for other religions? Religion is a personal matter and it is for parents to provide that. School periods should be used to prepare our children so that they can contribute as well-rounded citizens with the skills set to be competitive.
But will this be acceptable to Muslim parents? I am sure the Conservatives and Religious zealots will kick up a fuss but most parents will put their children’s future ahead of politics. The increasing number of Malay parents sending their children to Chinese schools is a clear indication of how concerned Malay parents are about their children’s future in the national school system.
What our education minister has done is to tinker with the system instead of reforming it root and branch.
Our interns are exploited. Can we blame the medical brain drain – we lose 30 doctors to another country every year all because the government cannot take them into the system or because the pay and conditions are bad. If you count the cost of bringing them up through school and to university and then give them medical training, we must be giving away 30 million ringgit (if not more) every year to another country.
We know it’s a question of funds. Using the analogy of a household, we have only so much money and we must decide what are our priorities. Do we buy the children sweets and junk food or do we spend the money on nutritious food?
Similarly, do we spend billions on Jakim and give our bloated civil service bonuses for just doing their work? When we are sick the last thing we need is for someone to police our morals and come up with more rules and regulations on how Muslims should behave. Even the most ardent Muslim would rather that he is properly cared for when he is sick. He is capable of taking care of his own spiritual wellbeing.
Ministerf for Health, Zaliha Mustafa, should be demanding her ministry’s due (and more). The billions wasted on non-productive, non-essential services should instead be used to better our healthcare now. Let the afterlife take care of itself.
Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission
NGOs and ordinary Malaysians have waited 17 years for the IPCMC. The police force is against it. In its place the government has brought in the Independent Police Conduct Commission. The IPCC has no disciplinary powers when dealing with police misconduct. The IPCMC on the other hand has such powers.
Does the public trust the police to investigate and punish those in the force for their misconduct? Obviously not; we have had deaths in custody for years. I don’t recall any police officer being charged for murder or manslaughter and that is because inevitably no officer has been found guilty. Would you let a thief investigate another thief? How is it that the police can wield so much power over the government?
If Nasution’s reaction to calls for the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) is anything to go by then you can be sure we will not get the IPCMC.
So much for a reforming government.
Pertinent to the above is the question of Pastor Raymond Koh, Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Sitepu and social activist Amri Che Mat disappeared within a brief period between November 2016 and February 2017. They disappeared in full sight of the public when it was alleged that several official looking cars stopped Pastor Koh on a public road and bundled him into one of the cars.
To cut to the chase, Suhakam has openly accused the Special Branch of being responsible.
Malaysians cannot accept that the government cannot get to the bottom of this if it really wants to. What about a Royal Commission of Inquiry into these forced disappearances?
This iswhy we need the IPCMC.
Give Anwar Time
Many will say it[I1] [I2] is early days, the government is not yet 100 days even. Fair enough, it takes time to make changes. All we are asking is the start of the process for change. We accept that it will take time for change to be effected.
What is disappointing is that Anwar has not initiated the start of changes.
By all indications this government has not the stomach for real change which is what the country needs.
Anwar cannot be talking about helping the poor “irrespective of race” and yet leave the edifice of racial discrimination largely untouched.
Rafizi cannot be calling for competition to reduce prices and so that consumers have a choice while at the same time leaving monopolies untouched. You cannot have real market forces in play when licences (APs) control who can and cannot import/export. Typically APs are given to cronies in the past. Should there be APs in the first place? Why not allow everyone to import and export if they meet regulations – and these regulations should be transparent and colour blind. Rafizi should be working to reduce regulations to encourage a free market if he is serious about giving the rakyat a choice.
Recently Anwar declared that he is against LGBT, Communism and Secularism.
He has also ordered one million Korans to be printed. His ABIM roots is showing.
Enlightened governments everywhere have accepted that there will always be differences concerning gender issues. I am not suggesting that the government endorse LGBT. But there is no need to persecute them. Each to his own. Let them be.
What surprised me most is Anwar’s anti-Secularism. Is he not aware that we are a Secular Nation. It’s enshrined in our constitution that Malaysia is a Secular State with Islam as the ‘Official Religion’.
Unless Anwar has plans to turn us into an Islamic State he should withdraw his comment on secularism.
Is Anwar’s Government an improvement on past governments?
It will have to be a conditional YES.
But it’s not difficult to be better than the clowns and thieves that ran the country for the past so many decades. Some of these clowns are in Anwar’s Unity Government but I quite understand why. Apa mahu buat?
While Nasution has not exactly excelled and Fadhlina Sidek is too timid to make real changes in education and Rafizi is all out at sea, Hannah Yeo and Anthony Loke are busy trying to make a difference. By no means are the former three failures – not yet anyway – given time we hope they will deliver.
For now we should be thankful that we don’t get laughed at when our prime minister meets foreign leaders and speak in English.
How will Anwar’s government measure up? The signs are disappointing but let’s say the judges are still out.
By Yin, Letters from Ward 5, Tanjong Rambutan
(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)
Credit Malaysiakini for 100 days Anwar photo
Update: Daim and family are being questioned wrt Pandora Papers