MP SPEAKS | We recently passed the 100-day mark of Pakatan Harapan’s new administration. This new government, built on the hope of the rakyat for change and reform, has done well in its first 100 days considering the enormous burden placed on it.
Aside from abolishing the Goods and Services Tax, the government has also pushed for other changes to ease the burden of the Rakyat especially for those in the lower income groups. This includes stabilising the fuel prices, introducing EPF for housewives, widows and single mothers, looking into the implementation of a minimum wage, the redevelopment of PPR flats and the promise to bring affordable Healthcare through the implementation of Skim Peduli Sihat nationwide.
More importantly, the government has made some promising moves to signal that they are indeed serious about institutional reform.
This includes setting up committees such as the Institutional Reform Committee and meeting with NGOs and civil society leaders to gather suggestions for the government on key reforms that our outdated institutions desperately need following years of neglect and abuse.
Moreover, there has also been a positive move towards tackling corruption within the government. The groundwork for creating a more transparent government and civil service is something that is being done and I hope that it continues on.
Although Harapan has not been able to fulfil everything it has promised to do within the first 100 days, it is important to remember that many of the reforms promised in the Pakatan Harapan Manifesto requires some time before it can be delivered. What is important is that we must continue to push the government beyond the 100 days to continue to work towards implementing some of these reforms.
Moratorium on oppressive laws
One area that I would like to point out is the need to abolish the oppressive laws that were used by the previous regime to deny Malaysians their right to free speech. Even though the government has repealed the Anti-Fake News Law, there are still many oppressive laws still waiting to be undone. Even today, we find that controversial laws such as the Sedition Act, the Peaceful Assembly Act, Sosma, Poca and Pota being used by the authorities against individuals. The government therefore needs to act more firmly and impose a moratorium to ensure that such abuses no longer happen before it has time to repeal these laws.
Although I believe that the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) has set policies in the right direction, the extension of the CEP beyond the first 100 days, is something that the government needs to explain. What are the terms of the CEP, and who appoints its leaders, and how long will it continue to exist? This must be made clear to the public.
The government also needs to be firmer when it comes to its stand on certain issues like the Child Marriage Act, which I believe they have now done, and on the issue of creating an inclusive society that is respectful towards one another.
What is clear is that despite this, there is more willingness within our society to debate and understand certain issues that were previously labelled too sensitive to address.
It has also been more than 100 days since I became Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya.
I feel that there is more openness and excitement among the public to engage in the decision making process. MPs especially those from the government are more willing to listen to NGOs and members of civil society . I myself have attended and been asked to chair a number of meetings between the two groups on various policy issues. I would also like to point out that compared to the former BN government, it has been much easier to meet and engage with members of the Cabinet.
Within my constituency, there are still many things to be done. Poverty and poor accessibility to healthcare, transportation and education are some of the things that continue to affect many people in Petaling Jaya. Many of the lower income groups are being sidelined from mainstream development and are not afforded the opportunity to break away from the poverty that has affected them for generations. Many residents do not even have access to proper healthcare, a basic right. Clinics are overcrowded and residents are forced to travel far to receive treatment from a government hospital.
Since the election, my service centre has been dealing with numerous cases of people who have been suffering from an unjust and overly bureaucratic system. I have also had dialogue sessions with various residents’ associations and community leaders who also echo similar concerns.
To take on many of these issues, I have started an initiative called #105PJ in order to raise the standard of living for all PJ residents and ensure that no one is left behind as we strive towards a better future. The initiative comes under the supervision of the Petaling Jaya MP’s Office, and is divided into seven workstreams, which are run by volunteers. These are Housing, Transportation, Health, Youth, Women Empowerment, Environment and Democratic Participation.
We have already launched several programmes such as a Health Survey with students from Universiti Malaya, and two Focus Group Discussions for women from the Taman Medan area. Over the next few weeks, we will be conducting various other programmes such as a food bank initiative, citizens’ participation courses and counselling for at risk youth.
From the feedback and support of volunteers and members of the public, I can still see there is still a lot of excitement and interest from the public to work toward a better future for all. The community spirit is definitely getting stronger and there is still hope.
Since May 9, the government has made some historic first steps towards changing the fate and destiny of this country and although there is still a lot to be done, I hope that the Rakyat can give Harapan a little more time to fulfil their promises and to bring much needed reform to the country.
We cannot deny the peoples’ movement that brought Pakatan Harapan to triumph over BN during GE14. It is important to remember that the change of government was a revolt by the people of this country against the corruption, lies and oppressive policies of the former BN led government.
Moving past 100 days from that historic day in May, I am happy to report that the peoples’ movement is still well and alive.
MARIA CHIN ABDULLAH is Petaling Jaya MP.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.