The Pakatan Harapan-led government must have more transparency and political will to fully implement the reforms promised in the 14th general election, said the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism, or C4.
This was summarised in the anti-graft watchdog's tracker on Harapan's performance as it approaches its first anniversary in power - and will be in effect over the next year - to see how the government is doing in fields of governance, political, and institutional reforms.
The monitoring mechanism, which can be viewed at http://janjipakatan.org/, resembles litmus paper, with markers ranging from red to blue. Red represents the worst, while blue, the best.
The scope covers the 16 promises in Harapan's election manifesto, which corresponds with the six strategies embodied in the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP). The six strategies are: political governance, public procurement, law enforcement, public sector enforcement, legal and judicial, as well as corporate governance.
Start RCI on Tabung Haji
While lauding the government's action in the 1MDB scandal, such as the prosecution of former premier Najib Abdul Razak over several charges linked to it, C4 noted the lack of action in the Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) scandal, in which corruption is alleged to have taken place.
Despite the action taken against the alleged wrongdoing in Tabung Haji, a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) is also needed to have an in-depth probe into the matter, said C4.
The anti-graft centre further lamented the lack of information displayed in the MACC's asset declaration website, and the lack of will to implement the Freedom of Information Act.
Also noted was the importance of having local elections.
"It bears reiterating that it is vital for local council members to be elected by the people as they are the third and most basic level of governance, who understand the needs and requirements of the local community much better than the federal government.
"Local councillors will not only provide checks and balances in the administration but also enable better community participation in the decision-making process.
“The third vote will improve governance at all levels, elevate integrity and accountability, enforce prudent public finance management, as well as enhance public service delivery," they said.
C4 also emphasised the need to balance economic growth with environmental protection.
"It is extremely worrying that Malaysia’s green lungs are being dragged into suspicious deals and projects, and no measures to ensure accountability have been taken to immediately address these cases.
"We reassert our call for greater scrutiny over sales of government land and infrastructure construction projects, and demand the right to know and the right to greater information over the dealings involving government land."
'Do the right thing'
According to C4, the tracker will serve as a reminder for Harapan to go back to its initial commitments and "do the right thing".
"Most importantly, this tracker is meant to be an interactive platform for public feedback and insights, to move towards the Malaysia we all strive and yearn for. It bears reiterating that public participation is key to keep the government in check.
"In light of this, we invite members of the public to actively use the tracker and provide feedback that is urgently needed to push the good governance agenda forward."
Generally, C4 said that Harapan's progress has been "notably slow" in areas of reform that do not require further study, time, or constitutional amendments.
"The lack of transparency around the steps or measures that ought to be taken to put in place the promised reforms, raises concerns about the government's commitment to changing the regressive culture of secrecy that is deeply embedded in our country's governance.
"The backsliding on crucial reforms, for example, the urgent need to revise a number of laws that infringe on the right to information can be clearly seen in the continued use of the draconian OSA (Official Secrets Act 1972), which has been invoked to refuse disclosure of the CEP (Council of Eminent Persons) report," said C4, adding that in doing so, Harapan is also making it seem like it had inherited old practices from the BN administration.
C4 then stressed that it is important for Harapan to show political will, to see through the pledges made.
"The promises in the election manifesto which have been subsequently translated into national policies, such as the Mid-Term Review and the NACP must be unconditionally implemented, and the commitment embodied within them should not be treated as promises just to win the elections," it pointed out.