Last week marked a year since the unprecedented victory of Pakatan Harapan (PH) coaliton in the 14th General Elections, where it effectively seized power from the long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition. Here is what we think of PH’s progress so far.


Arveent Karthirtchelvan:
“A year on from the momentous 14th General Elections, looking back is bittersweet. Last year, I was on edge, having written a petition to make the 9th of May a public holiday which gained over 120,000 signatures in 2 days. Though I wanted to provide more Malaysians the possibility of voting in the elections, as a JPA scholar, I feared what would happen to me should Barisan Nasional win.

They didn’t, as I was on the edge of my seat watching the live stream of the vote counting online whilst writing my dissertation in Manchester. I was thankful. The oppressive regime of Barisan Nasional was over and even as my heart broke due to Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)’s unfortunate performance, I took it in stride as the people of Malaysia finally voted for change.
What followed was a mixed year of some progress and equally some regression. To name a few — the attempt to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act 2018, better appointments in the judiciary and Elections Commission, introducing the public transportation passes and reduced broadband prices are encouraging.

But the numerous U-turns on policies, the lack of public engagement for the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and MySalam initiatives, the antagonism of workers when it came to raising minimum wage, the bullying of Lynas and incomprehensible backtracking for nuclear power all make me feel very worried for Malaysia.

Some Pakatan Harapan leaders even continued to make racial and religious statements and didn’t seem committed to their own reform agenda.

Malaysia needs revolutionary reform. We need to seriously reduce coal and natural gas usage to be replaced with a clean energy source capable of replacing it (nuclear power) not play around with marginal increases in solar power that would not lead to much.

We need to restructure our economy from the ground-up, changing our taxation system to be more progressive, recognising workers unions to ensure their share in the wealth produced in the country is fairer and more sustainable. We need to fundamentally shift from a racial/religious perspective to class-based policies such that those who really need help are lifted to a fairer stratum in society.
Pakatan Harapan, unfortunately, seem too timid to restructure society in a significant enough manner. Maybe they might change as they get used to their roles but after a year of glacial action, I must say that, to me, PH get by more on the fact that Barisan Nasional were dismal rather than their own merit. I agree with Tun Mahathir, this government gets a 5 out of 10, and I shan’t be as lenient moving forward.”


Michelle Liu:

I recall the anxious wait for my ballot paper to arrive in Colchester, United Kingdom around the same time last year. The 14th General Election was the first election where I’m eligible to vote and I thought it was quite unique to do so overseas. The few weeks leading up to election day had been eventful for postal voters. There were already news circulating among the Malaysian community in the UK that the ballot papers will not arrive in time. In spite of this, the Election Commission (EC) had, defying all sense of logic and time, assured us that they will.

When it became evident that a large majority of postal voters have been effectively denied from their right to vote due to the late delivery of postal ballots, Malaysians at home and abroad banded together in a race against time to send marked ballots back to Malaysia. Some have decided to take it to the streets as the last resort to express their dissatisfaction – I personally took part in protest held in front of the Tourism Malaysia office at Trafalgar Square, London.

I thought the irregularities of the postal voting process encapsulated the state of our country’s politics at that time perfectly: the very institutions and leaders who were supposed to serve the interests of the people have instead failed us tremendously. Yet, the Malaysian people have managed to overcome the odds that were stacked against them.

It’s been a year since the change of government. A lot has been mentioned about institutional reforms, but I personally think that our political culture also needs to be reformed. One of the reasons why we are facing such a hard time pushing through institutional reforms over the past one year owes to our own unchanged attitudes and mentality. We have failed to accede to the ICERD and Rome Statute because we could not even have a proper discussion to clear the air, what more on how to proceed with them, without a dose of hatred and personal attacks. As a result, biases, prejudices and misconceptions remain unaddressed.

Racial and religious sentiments continue to linger in our political sphere, with most apparent being Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA)’s claims about the ‘undermining of Islam’s sovereignty’ and Muslims being sidelined by the current administration.

Freedom of speech applies to all. However, this does not mean that we should sit around and disagree in silence. In fact, ISMA’s claims should be countered with facts and reason. It is only through this that we may — firstly, learn to have constructive discussions; two, counter mistruths and rhetoric; and thirdly, encourage others to think critically of the matter at hand rather than forcing our views through coercion.

I agree that this is a sensitive matter that should be trodded on with care. Racial and religious sentiments must be done away with, but only in a manner that aligns with the change that we aim to attain. Indeed, it is an uphill task but the spirit which inspired the historical events of GE14 is a testament that the we, the people, are capable of producing change. And we must continue in our efforts of rebuilding Malaysia by reforming our institutions and our culture.”


What do you think? Leave your comments down below.

Featured image by bergerpaints.com

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