Kuala Lumpur, 9 May 2019- The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) congratulates the Pakatan Harapan government for completing its one-year term in office today. The gains from the victory of 9th May 2018 cannot be overstated. There have been significant reforms in institutions such as the Elections Commission and Parliament, dissenting voices are increasingly given space to be heard and with the recent return of more than RM 236.5 million to Malaysia from asset seizures related to 1MDB, the PH government looks on track to fulfill some of their promises on anti-corruption and institutional reforms.
However, the government cannot afford to rest on its laurels. It cannot be denied that some of the energy and promise borne out of last year’s historic election results have dwindled, and people’s dissatisfaction with the slow pace of economic, political and institutional reforms is becoming more evident. The voting in of any new government naturally comes with very high expectations, and implementing reforms and policies take a long time. Balancing competing demands from different groups is challenging and has forced the government to take positions to appease these various interests, often at the detriment of racial and religious harmony. While we understand the complexities of navigating political survival and keeping to an agenda of reform, we also urge the government to steer the narrative towards their longer term strategy to further strengthen Malaysia’s socio-economic development.
It is crucial that the wave of enthusiasm and energy of May 9th be sustained, and a clear communications strategy be undertaken to keep Malaysians well informed of the government’s agenda. Sustaining public support is crucial for the PH government to remain on track in keeping its promises in the next four years. A diligent pursuit of these promises is also crucial to ensure trust in a democracy that delivers.