For the past 14 months, we in Malaysia have experienced life under a “unity government” led by Anwar Ibrahim.
A poll conducted by Merdeka Center in October showed that the PM’s approval rating was just 50%. The major concern among those polled was over the economy, with 48% saying they were unhappy with the performance of the Anwar administration.
Anwar has his work cut out for him. He reshuffled the cabinet recently, but it is too early to see if the new ministers will perform any better.
Distractions are aplenty. The Chow Kit or Dubai move and ongoing rumours of a potential royal pardon for Najib Razak have distracted us from critical issues.
The state of the economy and the livelihoods of the people are of paramount importance. The unity government must focus on this.
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Politically, the PM’s team has lured five opposition MPs over to its side. These MPs claimed they switched allegiance because they wanted to receive higher funding allocations to develop their constituencies.
‘Weaponising’ of constituency funds in this way is morally wrong. It falls into the same category as MPs defecting because they are offered vast sums of money, cushy positions and perks. Some allege that this is what motivated certain MPs to consider the “Dubai move”.
The PM must walk the talk and ensure an equal distribution of constituency development funds. Opposition MPs should not be discriminated against through lower funding.
Another distraction flared up when former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad questioned the loyalty of the ethnic minorities during an interview with a Chennai-based Indian TV channel.
Mahathir maintained the minorities have to fully assimilate and “become Malay” to be considered as the rightful owners of the country.
Malaysia’s population in 2023 is around 33 million – of this, 70.1% are bumiputra, 22.6% ethnic Chinese and 6.6% ethnic Indians.
What right has Mahathir to brazenly question the loyalty of almost 30% of the country’s population? His insensitive remarks offended many in Malaysia from all ethnic origins.
These are some of the many distractions that impede development for the people.
Anwar and his team are supposed to helm a progressive, reform-minded “Madani” (civil and compassionate) government. So people expect them to focus on the wellbeing of the people, especially the poor.
With rising inflation, many among the middle class are falling into the low-income category. The plan for targeted subsidies – so that only those who are in need are eligible – is a step in the right direction. But will it be implemented effectively and efficiently? Only time will tell.
The Anwar administration must accept and embrace the diversity in our nation. They need to challenge the divisive race-and-religion rhetoric. Programmes to build bridges among the various communities are essential to foster unity. Use the Madani values – sustainability, prosperity, innovation, respect, trust, compassion – as a blueprint for a more inclusive Malaysia.
If we apply good governance practices across the board, Malaysia will make tremendous strides forward.
As a social reform movement, Aliran has consistently promoted justice, freedom and solidarity since 1977. We have struggled for an inclusive, egalitarian and just Malaysia where no one is left behind.
We stand against corruption and ‘leakages’ that benefit the few at the expense of the poor and downtrodden. If at all we are biased, we are biased in favour of the poor, the marginalised and the oppressed. Race and religion are not part of the equation.
The nation still lacks a meaningful separation of powers for checks and balances on the three branches of government. Way too much power is concentrated in the hands of the executive branch of government. Robust reforms are needed to correct this imbalance.
For 47 years, Aliran has lobbied hard for such reforms. Our website, newsletters, social media and hybrid webinars provide a platform for these alternative ideas.
But for this work of speaking truth to power to continue, Aliran urgently needs funds.
We are proud we have not received foreign funding or corporate sponsorship to finance our operations. Instead, donations from the ordinary people of Malaysia have sustained our work.
We are beholden to the many members, supporters and friends who share our vision that Malaysia can and should be a fairer and more inclusive place for everyone.
Unfortunately, Aliran’s funds have now fallen to a critical level. We now have just enough funds to last us for another six months.
We urgently appeal to you to donate generously to keep us afloat. We need about RM10,000 a month to maintain our website, to keep the office running and to pay for tech support and translation work. So our crowdfunding target is to raise RM120,000 in 2024.
Our struggle for reforms depends on your support. We are confident you will rally behind our work to keep democracy and justice alive.
Kindly donate generously to:
Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara
CIMB Bank account no: 8004240948
SWIFT code: CIBBMYKL
Co-editor, Aliran newsletter
20 January 2024