Congratulations to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on being appointed as the 8th Prime Minister. We hope the new PM will have an inclusive and sustainable Plan of Action for his first 100 days in office.
I wish to propose that the PM focus on four key priorities:
FIRST heal and reconcile the nation. Plans, policies and priorities must put greater focus on unity and harmony. In healing and reconciling the nation, it is hoped that the new PM will have regular dialogues with business and civil society groups to rebuild trust and confidence in government.
The cabinet to be appointed should continue to be inclusive and comprise ministers from different races. Establishing a National Harmony Commission within the first 100 days will go a long way to ensure peace, unity and harmony.
Adopting an ombudsman system and appointing an Ombudsman will be useful. Consultation, dialogue and engagement should be in PM8’s diary.
SECOND, the new cabinet must emphasize economic growth and continued deregulation. We need a new National economic recovery plan. The government should establish a new National Economic Consultative Council (MAPEN 3) to chart out a long-term economic perspective plan for the country that will go beyond the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030.
We need a longer-term Vision 2050 that will chart the new economic directions and priorities for the country that will transform Malaysia into a digital economy.
As a former trade and industry minister, Muhyiddin should understand the needs of the business community and can do more to enhance investor confidence and promote entrepreneurship by lowering the cost of doing business and facilitating the ease of doing business.
Malaysia needs to do more to strengthen our national competitiveness. Hopefully, the new PM will announce a new and enhanced economic package within his 100 days which include more growth drivers to kick-start private investment.
More public investment can be brought forward to provide a multiplier effect to help economic recovery and stimulate growth.
I believe we have room for more public investment. Also as a former Minister of Agriculture, he understands the problems and challenges faced by our farmers and fishermen and how agriculture and agro-based industries can be a new economic driver for the nation.
The new cabinet should also prioritise the UN Sustainable Development Goals that aspire to leave no one behind. In this regard, priority should be given to the 4Ps — peace, planet, people and partnerships.
THIRD, reform education. As a former education minister, Muhyiddin understands the challenges and issues facing Malaysian education. He was responsible for the Malaysia Education Blueprint and now, as PM, is in a key position to ensure quick and effective implementation of the National Economic Blueprint.
We need to raise standards and quality in education besides ensuring accessibility and affordability. During this Covid 19 period, many students in many countries are studying at home through online programmes. Malaysia can move faster to promote distance and open learning. Key new initiatives in education should be announced. We need to prepare students for jobs of the future.
LASTLY, I hope he will also focus on the 4Is — inequalities, inclusiveness, integrity and institutions. We need to look at new ways to reduce and overcome inequalities and the plight of not only the B20 but also the low-income families.
Malaysians also look to the new PM to be an inclusive leader for all ethnic groups. In this regard, his track record as Johor menteri besar elucidates that he is a fair leader who takes into account the legitimate interests of all races.
As for institutions, the need for institutional reforms must continue and not slow down.
Human rights must also be strengthened. Civil society groups will be delighted if Muhyiddin can implement the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission in his first 100 days.
Ethical leadership and integrity must also be strengthened and the fight against corruption intensified. The MACC Corporate Liability Act comes into force in June. It will be a major step towards fighting corruption if a similar Public Liability Act can also be enacted to cover Ministers and government officers.
Malaysians should give Muhyiddin a chance to prove himself. There are many who feel this is an illegitimate government.
But the fact is he was legitimately appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in accordance with the constitution.
A look at the results of the 14th General Election is interesting. Pakatan Harapan obtained 5.781 million votes, or 48.3 per cent of the votes, but the combined votes of Umno and Pas amounted to 6.13 million votes, or 51 per cent of the votes.
Nevertheless, as provided for, the opposition can move a vote of no-confidence against the Muhyiddin government when the Dewan Rakyat meets in May. Whatever happens, the nation must move on.
This article was published on the New Strait Times.