Expectations of MY government

Trust needs to be rebuilt urgently to heal the heart and soul of the nation.

“THE priority is to increase administrative integrity and management. Fight corruption and abuse of power.

“Even if you are a farmer, a fisherman, a trader, a civil servant or a private sector employer, I am your prime minister. I offer my heart and soul for the nation.”

Any country would be fortunate to have a leader who says, believes and executes these words. These particular sentences, together with commitments towards addressing cost of living, healthcare and education, were uttered in an address to the nation by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin a day after being appointed as the eighth Prime Minister by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong following a process which followed the provisions of the Federal Constitution.

Indeed, only fanatics among certain political parties (and lazily, some parts of the international press) have criticised the performance of our head of state in this matter, while downplaying the role of duplicitous politicians in triggering the whole episode in the first place.

Some other countries would have descended into violence in a situation of political uncertainty, but the constitutional and moral authority of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong ensured peace and stability.

But while our new head of government might be constitutionally legitimate, he knows that establishing moral legitimacy is a much harder task.

The trust deficit is such that his claims have been mocked, particularly of “not wanting to be Prime Minister” and only stepping forward when his name was “put forward”.

In response to the “promise to appoint a Cabinet from individuals who are clean, with integrity and calibre, ” one meme added a stinging conclusion: “which means it will be completely empty.”

Indeed, the appointment of the Cabinet will provide the next substantial evidence of the direction in which our country will move, especially since the MPs available contested the last general election on different manifestoes.

There is a flurry of lobbying going on, not only from party leaders (who claim that they are leaving the choices entirely up to the Prime Minister, despite reliable accounts that names have been submitted for consideration), but also from different ideological factions within supporters.

One list, which was described as “too good to be true” in one of my groups for its purported ministers of finance and education, was later revealed to have been created by reformist defenders of the new government, to suggest that despite the unfortunate manner of the change of Prime Minister, the new Cabinet might actually be capable of many meaningful reforms.

Indeed, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, likely to have a senior role in the new line-up, stated the government’s commitment to the Constitution, the Rukun Negara and the “national agenda to drive the economy, guarantee inclusive prosperity, preserve security and sovereignty, strengthen unity as well as ensure institutional reform”.

Many might dismiss these assurances as worthless but the fact that they have been said at least provides something against which civil society can hold them.

And it is vital that civil society, together with advocates and activists on important issues, continues to speak up.

I hope that jitters over reports of investigations into certain individuals for what appear to be activities within their constitutional rights are more the result of a temporary and exaggerated fear of a crackdown, rather than an actual crackdown on civil liberties.

As per the statement from the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) – approved by the board of directors which I chair – “the new government must continue the push to abolish oppressive laws, particularly the Sedition Act 1948. Constitutionally enshrined freedoms such as freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association must be upheld”.

Our statement continues by noting challenges on the economic front and the need for the government to implement the stimulus package and define a new strategy for economic growth.

We call upon the Opposition to rebuild, regroup and focus their efforts towards ensuring a check and balance on the government’s power. The parliamentary reforms already achieved (especially the select committees) will be important in this regard.

More urgently, trust needs to be rebuilt: between people and government, and among Malaysians. A narrative of inclusivity, acceptance and embracing diversity as one of our greatest strengths as a nation needs to be shaped.

Trust between Malaysians of all backgrounds is not only critical for the country to fulfil its true potential, but essential in building a nation where everyone feels a sense of purpose and belonging.

This necessarily requires both a strong shared sense of history, a feeling of a common destiny, and a solid understanding of why our institutions exist.

It is only in this way that the recent political trauma can be redeemed towards a more positive, democratic future.

By Tunku Zain Al-Abidin.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/abidinideas/2020/03/06/expectations-of-my-government

Comments are closed.