KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 – With the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in place, Malaysians are looking to the future with high hopes and a confidence that is rooted in the leadership of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Voters in Malaysia at the recent 14th General Election turned their backs on more than half a century of Barisan Nasional rule.
As Senior Adviser for International Affairs Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (ASLI) Dr Oh Ei Sun said, the series of allegations of corruption and scandals was the undoing of BN. “Finally, the people opted for change, and to try out a new administration. The people are eager for a better life and feel confident that the PH government led by Dr Mahathir will fulfil promises made during the election campaign.
“Dr. Mahathir doesn’t act his age. Immediately after taking over power, he was having like three to four press conferences a day and that’s no mean feat, even for a younger person. If you look at Dr Mahathir’s series of actions during his first few days of the new administration, he indeed is a man in a hurry to fullfill promises made,” he added.
He told Bernama News Channel that Dr Mahathir has a solid mandate now to make changes in the way the government operates, especially in matters of corruption and poor governance.
“I think in voters’ minds, the economy and rising cost of the living, is paramount. They blame the Good and Services Tax (GST) imposed by the previous administration for their lack of buying power. So, Dr Mahathir has as a priority, practically scrapped the GST within the first 100 days of his administration, as promised,” he said.
Oh, a noted international columnist and commentator on politics, economics and current affairs, said: “The GST, whether we like or not, has been felt by most strata of society in Malaysia and has been responsible for the rise in cost of living as well as the slowdown in economic growth.” He said the abolition of the GST would cause some economists to worry about the shortfalls in government revenue.
“But, as former Central Bank Governor Tan Sri Zeti (Akhtar Aziz) pointed out, one of the easiest ways to tackle the shortfall is to stagger some big projects. But, personally, the important thing is a reduction in the cost of a number of government projects which will help cover the shortfall from the abolition of the GST,” he added.
He also said if Pakatan Harapan can fullfill most promises made within the first 100 days in office, voters will still be pleased and perhaps agree to extend the honeymoon period. According to Oh, Dr Mahathir has previous experience in handling the economy and what he needs to do now is encourage more foreign investments,
“We need to reassure investors that Malaysia is open for business and all bureaucratic hurdles and so forth will be reduced to a large extent. Foreigners should feel assured that doing business in a reinvigorated Malaysia is a sound and profitable venture and the rule of law will apply at all times,” he said. — Bernama