If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.– Gail Sheehy, American author, journalist and lecturer
It was 22 months that few Malaysians want repeated. Ever!
In those 22 months, projects, some of them critical to the economic wellbeing of states, were either cancelled or suspended indefinitely or trimmed.
National assets were sold off to the chagrin of the Bumiputera who saw this as diluting their economic rights.
The GST, seen as taxing Malaysians to the bone, was replaced with SST, which its profounders said Malaysians could generally afford. But soon other taxes were introduced.
Contract employees in the civil service were laid off and there were talks of trimming the civil service, apparently not so much because it was bloated but because the PH people were unhappy with the level of loyalty towards the new government.
It was a government voted by the people, but strangely, nothing people-friendly seemed to be coming from that government except for those much-reduced financial aid it gave new names to such as BR1M to BSH.
Why all this drastic move by the people-elected government was because it was struggling with RM1 trillion national debt, therefore it had little money with which to fulfil its election promises. That was the excuse.
The RM1 trillion was blamed on the so-called kleptocrat government of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. In fact, those allegations of kleptocracy, cronyism and corruption played a major part in the defeat of BN in GE14.
However, if convincing Malaysians to hate the BN and vote it out seemed easy — BN fell on May 9 2018 — PH totally failed to prove it was the better government.
PH struggled throughout its 22 months in power, unfortunately with political issues and not issues that addressed the people’s concerns — the creation of jobs, for example.
At the mere mention of a trillion-ringgit debt, investors not only cringed in fear but not a few actually pulled out — even as the debate raged on as to the real figure. The finance minister came up with how he got to his one trillion while his detractors, some claiming to be better qualified accountants than him, accused him of playing politics that was hurting the nation.
Indeed, the one trillion-ringgit debt hurt deep. It not only frightened investors but the PH government misguidedly used it to do what it did, which was to cancel, suspend or trim aid and projects; or misguidedly used it to tell Malaysians why it could not fulfil its promises made in GE14.
In Sarawak, the GPS state government had to continue several infrastructure projects abandoned by the PH government. The PH government dragged its feet over Sarawak’s dilapidated schools. Sarawak was forced to go to court over its imposition of sales tax on petroleum products for export.
Sarawak had been host of the Borneo High Court Registry headquarters for 55 years; the PH government changed that. There were threats from within the PH government to remove Sarawak’s immigration autonomy which it followed through with the creation of the MPKKP, in direct confrontation with the JKKK.
As far as Sarawak was concerned, it was 22 months of strained federal-state relations never felt before.
Sarawak was discriminated against. It was bullied. Some PH leaders took pride in deriding and making fun of the state leaders.
They had 22 months to do all that. Thank God, that was all the time they were allowed to satisfy their ego.
Now we know what kind of leadership they are capable of; no right-minded Malaysians would want to go through similar experience in the future.
Once is enough, with the PH kind of leadership, a backdoor government is a godsend by comparison.