March 18, 2018.
Recollections & Reflections – A commentary
THE build-up gave much hope and expectation, beginning with former prime minister and now opposition politician Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad revealing end of October a five-point Pakatan Harapan manifesto focusing on corruption.
There was more to follow, when in January both Pribumi Bersatu deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Bersatu and the party’s strategist Dr. Rais Husin (See items below) categorically stated that the appointments to various critical institutions like the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption and auditor-general would be through Parliament instead of via a recommendation or nomination from the prime minister and it is to Parliament that the heads of these institutions would report to.
Harapan to limit PM post to two terms
Published in the press on January 15
Pakatan Harapan will limit the term of the post of prime minister to only two terms and will alienate the finance minister’s post from the prime minister’s portfolio.
Bersatu deputy president Mukhriz Mahathir said the proposal was among those listed in the manifesto of the opposition pact if they wins GE14.
He said the opposition pact would also propose that the appointment of the inspector-general of police, attorney-general, head of election commission, head of MACC and auditor-general should go through parliament first and not be appointed based on the prime minister’s recommendation.
Item 6 in the 13-point “Muafakat Pakatan Harapan” sent by WhatsApp on January 16 to The Mole by Dr. Rais Husin, an official with Pribumi Bersatu who was one of the four authors of the pact’s recently unveiled manifesto.
6. Memastikan ketua-ketua institusi penting negara termasuk Peguam Negara, Ketua Polis Negara, Panglima Angkatan Tentera, Ketua Pesuruhjaya Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia, Pengerusi Suruhanjaya Pilihanraya Malaysia dan Ketua Audit Negara bebas daripada pengaruh penguasa politik. Mereka bertanggungjawab sepenuhnya kepada rakyat menerusi institusi parlimen, di mana mereka akan melalui proses pengesahan Jawatankuasa Pilihan Parlimen (Parlimentary Select Committee) dan akhirnya dilantik oleh Yang Di-Pertuan Agong;
The final Pakatan manifesto, authored by four highly qualified persons in economics, doesn’t mention specifically about what Mukhriz and Rais had pledged, save for a section on the MACC. Even there it was worded rather ambiguously and without specifically outlining the entire process on the appointments of the agency’s senior management.
But gosh, the Pakatan manifesto feels more like compulsory reading for a final year university undergraduate, a total of 194 numbered pages beginning with the Foreword but with seven blank pages in between. That’s an actual total of 187 pages and if this is not a textbook , what is? Knowing how little Malaysians read, especially in this age, surely Pakatan is not expecting voters to make a grab for its manifesto.
But back to the Book of Hope, as it’s called.
It’s heavy on populist pledges aimed obviously at enticing votes and with little focus on how to effect institutional reforms which in turn would make for a better government, one that is truly transparent and fully accountable to the people and with zero tolerance for corruption. For that you need critical institutions to be absolutely independent of the goverment and this is where the book falls way, way short.
As commented by the G25 group of retired mainly senior civil servants, caution is needed, particularly on the populist pledges regarding the switch back from the Goods & Services Tax to the SST to the take-over of the 21 tolled highways since both would have serious financial implications and could in turn affect the banking system and also investor confidence.
You get the feeling though that what is in the book is aimed primarily at winning enough votes for the sole purpose of removing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib from office plus his party Umno and its allies in the Barisan Nasional out of the government. It is all about the ends justifying the means, leaving thoughts of forming a government that is sincerely committed to a governance system that is independent of the ruling party way behind in the background.
It is akin to what people consumed by a politics of hate and anger would do. The danger with this pre-occupation is that you can end up making all sorts of misjudgments and this Malaysia doesn’t need anymore of.