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How to stay in power

  • Compared to the anemic performance over its first year in office, the ruling coalition should be able to do much better over the next four years after introducing a series of plans.

By LIM SUE GOAN
Sin Chew Daily

Although Umno and PAS were well aware of the fact that there weren't any big issues at this moment and that their rally to defend Islam on May 4 would not see overwhelming response from the public, they still hoped to exert some pressure on the PH government and not to give it a good time ahead of its first anniversary in office.

Umno-PAS knew that they needed to keep the temperature of Malay society warm. It didn't matter how many would actually turn up, most importantly they must provide a platform for people to lash out at the government.

With the so many tricks from Umno and PAS in recent months, it is utterly necessary for the PH government to do something, and it seems that indeed it has mapped out some plans and strategies to win back the voters' hearts.

The strategy is two-pronged. On the one hand, the economy has to be revived and problems encountered by the rakyat resolved. On the other hand, obstacles to reform must be removed.

PH has moved away from its earlier austerity drive, expanding government expenditure and injecting fresh funds into the market, including reviving the east coast rail link (ECRL) project.

It has been reported that the MRT3 project could also be revived if the original cost of RM45 billion is cut down by half.

The reinstatement of these mega projects is poised to stimulate the national economy during the second half of the year.

PH is not also neglecting the day-to-day problems encountered by the people. Domestic trade and consumers affairs minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has said his ministry would conduct analysis on the supply chain of daily necessities, and the final report could be completed by September or earlier so that the government would have more accurate data to help draw up measures to control goods prices.

Analysis shows that profit from the supply of one particular item alone is as high as 133%, while the profit from wholesaler to distributor is up to 67% for another. It is hoped that retail goods prices will be lowered if such profiteering acts are curtailed.

The ministry of agriculture and agro-based industry will also work with the economic affairs ministry to jointly develop and reform the country's agriculture industry, including reviewing abandoned government lands.

Food imports jumped by 3.5% over the past two years. If food production is boosted and imports reduced, the cost of living for ordinary Malaysians will be lower.

In addition, the retail price of RON95 has dropped from RM2.20 per liter to RM2.08 today. The government needs to fork out an average of RM133 million in fuel subsidies every week to cap the petrol and diesel prices.

Where employment is concerned, the government is prepared to allocate RM6 billion to provide RM700-RM1,000 employment subsidies to help get some half a million youths into the job market.

According to the 2019 economic outlook report, youth unemployment topped 13.2% in 2017, almost 3.5 times the national unemployment rate of 3.7%!

This means that among the 463,700 Malaysians out of job, 57,248 are youths, most of them university graduates.

To address the issue of skyrocketing house prices, Syarikat Perumahan Nasional Berhad (SPBN) signed a memorandum of understanding with eight Chinese companies during the prime minister's recent visit to China, to build one million prefab affordable homes over the next ten years

PH is also doing something to try to tame down the anti-government sentiment among civil servants.

During the recent Rantau by-election, PH only managed to get 10 military and postal votes while BN won 113. This shows that majority of civil servants still won't support the government.

Even though PM Mahathir claimed that some people, including civil servants, had wanted to topple the government because of its anti-corruption effort, the government still need to do something to win over some 1.7 million civil servants in the country.

As such, Mahathir was having a dialogue with about 1,500 civil servants in Ipoh while Jeli MP Mustapa Mohamed, who has joined PPBM, met Selangor's civil servants in Shah Alam.

AG Tommy Thomas recently refuted Umno's allegation over the Rome Statute issue. Prior to that, very rarely would an attorney-general rebut Umno in such high profile.

Compared to the anemic performance over its first year in office, it is believed that the ruling coalition will be able to do much better over the next four years after introducing a series of plans.

It is also hoped that the government will have the resolution to fulfill its reform pledges and no more policy U-turns, after the confidence of the Malays is restored.

Having said that, the PH government's populist measures have been introduced with the next general elections in mind, and therefore entail certain level of risk, including hefty financial burden from excessive subsidies.

If the Sino-American trade war is reignited, impacting the Malaysian economy, PH will probably have to work double as hard to keep itself in power.

 

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