PETALING JAYA: All eyes are now on Pakatan Harapan (PH) with its first 100 days in office as the federal government fast approaching.
Presuming the first of the 100 days was on May 12 when Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced his core cabinet lineup made up of three main ministries — Finance, Home and Defence — that would leave the coalition with only six remaining days.
The bigger question remains how well, or poorly, they have fared so far.
PH took over a government that Mahathir and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng revealed was laden with a RM1 trillion debt.
But true to their promises, and despite the heavy debt, the coalition zero-rated the Goods and Services Tax (GST) almost immediately after.
And while on paper it may not seem a financially sound decision, it was a move that deserves applause.
“They fulfilled what was deemed by many to be the most significant of their manifesto promises. Although it (GST) is yet to be abolished officially, it is now zero-rated.
“And the rakyat felt the impact almost immediately. The people really appreciate it. The same can also be said about the move to retain the price of RON95 and diesel, despite the increasing global fuel price,” political analyst Prof Datuk Dr Mohammad Agus Yusoff told theSun yesterday.
The re-introduction of the Sales and Services Tax (SST), which was passed by the Dewan Rakyat last week, is expected to be implemented by Sept 1 to replace GST.
To cushion this impact of a tax holiday (as the government waits to implement SST), the government has announced several major decisions including cancelling the MRT3 project, and reviewing the high-speed rail and LRT3 rail projects.
This was in addition to the setting up of a Tabung Harapan – that has since collected over RM170 million – in view of the public's desire to help contribute to the nation.
PH has also to date started “cleaning up” the government, including removing political appointees and changing the top guards in several agencies that have been linked to or accused of protecting former premier Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak over his alleged corrupt practices.
This included the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Bank Negara Malaysia, and the Attorney-General himself.
Najib himself has been slapped with multiple charges of criminal breach of trust, power abuse and money laundering, and assets linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad have either been brought back to the country or are being seized.
On parliamentary reforms, PH has also taken several moves in the right direction with the appointment of a non-Pakatan member (former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof) as the Dewan Rakyat speaker and an opposition lawmaker (Barisan Nasional's Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee) to lead the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
One other change that may not seem as obvious was the move to free the media and provide greater freedom of expression for Malaysians in general.
“Although many of PH's promises have yet to be fulfilled, I think the rakyat are not as angry, as they understand the financial situation of the government and they don't see leaders living way above their means,” Mohammad Agus said.
Fellow political analyst Dr Lim Teck Gee said; “I feel one of PH's biggest achievements was ushering a wind of change and helping foster more critical public and media feedback to government policies. The climate of fear among citizen is now beginning to dissipate.”
Meanwhile, Batu Kawan two-term MP P. Kasthuri from DAP told theSun that the people should not solely focus on the 100 days but on reforms and changes made by the government since taking charge.
“It is important to have political will to solve people's grouses and bring the best outcome to the people,” she said.
She also singled out that PH government listens to the people and provide consultation while also committing itself by tabling bills for betterment of the people.
“All these efforts need a certain time as everyone in the government is working hard on it.
“I can proudly say that we are about exceeding the halfway mark in terms of promises made since taking over,” she said.
Nonetheless there are also many firsts that many people are unaware when it comes to Pakatan Harapan's first 100 days in power.
Jelutong MP and state DAP committee member R. S. N. Rayer said there are now four cabinet ministers who are of Indian descent – Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran, Minister in the Prime Minister Department P. Waythamoorthy as well as Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar.
“It has never happened before. Welcome to a more inclusive Malaysia.”
Besides that, Rayer said that the country's judicial system has been changed to reflect transparency, accountability and the rule of law.