KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 — With Pakatan Harapan (PH) marking its first 100 days as the federal government today, let’s take a quick look at its progress in fulfilling promises it planned to tackle within this period.
In its Buku Harapan or manifesto for the 14th general election held on May 9, PH did not elaborate on these brief 10-pointers, but it did lay out more details in its additional 60 promises to be fulfilled in five years (with some overlaps with the 10 promises).
Here’s the 10 promises which PH told voters it will fulfil in its first 100 days (or in just slightly over 14 weeks):
1. Abolish the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and take steps to reduce cost of living
Even before the PH government could formally do away with GST in Parliament, it stopped collecting it by zero-rating it for three months starting from June 1, giving Malaysians a tax holiday until the re-introduction of the Sales and Services Tax from September 1.
In PH’s first Parliament meeting, the GST which was collected at a six per cent rate was declared “dead” on August 8 (Day 91) by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng after both the Sales Tax Bill and Service Tax Bill were passed in the Dewan Rakyat.
2. Stabilise the price of petrol and introduce targeted petrol subsidies
Less than a month after coming into power, the Finance Ministry (MoF) announced on May 31 (Day 22) that it would maintain the retail prices for the widely-used RON95 petrol and diesel at pre-GE14 levels of RM2.20 per litre and RM2.18 per litre, instead of resuming the weekly float pricing system. MoF said this will result in RM3 billion savings for Malaysians this year, which also means that the government has to allocate RM3 billion in subsidies to absorb any increase in global oil prices.
(Promise 7 of Promise 60 envisioned petrol subsidies targeted at those who use motorcycles below 125cc / cars below 1300cc, with a quota to prevent abuse. In July, the finance minister’s written parliamentary reply said a detailed mechanism is being studied.)
Status: Partially done
3. Abolish unnecessary debts that have been imposed on FELDA settlers.
Status: No progress reported
4. Introduce retirement fund Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) contribution for housewives
On August 8 (Day 91), Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail launched the i-Suri scheme’s first phase, which targets 359,065 female e-Kasih registrants and with RM20 million in government allocation for a RM40 monthly top-up if they contribute a minimum RM5 monthly.
The scheme’s second phase will raise the government contribution to RM50 (including RM10 for Socso coverage), while the third and final phase will require law amendments for 2 per cent of the husband’s EPF contribution to go to the housewife’s account.
(Promise 36 of Promise 60 envisions a nominal 2 per cent contribution from the husband’s EPF contribution to be diverted to the housewife’s account, plus a RM50 monthly contribution from Putrajaya.)
Status: Done / In progress (depending on whether evaluation is based on Promise 36 too)
5. Equalise the minimum wage nationally and start the processes to increase the minimum wage
On July 24 (Day 76), Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said the proposed minimum wage hike will be tabled to the government in the near future. Currently for the private sector, the monthly minimum wage is RM1,000 (Peninsular Malaysia), RM920 (East Malaysia).
(Promise 34: Raise to RM1,500 by PH government’s first term with rate review every two years, and with government subsiding half of the hike.)
Status: In progress
6. Postpone the repayment of federal study loan PTPTN to all graduates whose salaries are below RM4,000 per month and abolish the blacklisting policy
On June 26 (Day 48), PTPTN says 429,945 loan defaulters taken off travel blacklist. On July 16 (Day 68), PTPTN confirms will allow repayment deferment for borrowers with below RM4,000 monthly wage, implementation on later date to be announced.
Status: Done / In progress
7. Set up Royal Commissions of Inquiry on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Felda, MARA and Tabung Haji, and to reform the governance of these bodies
No RCI has been set up for any of these four bodies, with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad saying on May 14 (Day 5) that an RCI on 1MDB will only be after there are concrete charges. The police have carried out 1MDB-linked raids, further investigation and legal action are being pursued.
If a change in management could be counted as paving the way for reforms, both FELDA and Tabung Haji have changed their chairman, with the latter also seeing board members quit.
Status: In progress
8. Set up a Special Cabinet Committee to properly enforce the Malaysia Agreement 1963
Law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong’s July 18 written parliamentary reply said the Cabinet has recently agreed to form this committee, to be composed of experts from Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.
The committee will study and propose measures to rectify various matters, including the Malaysia Agreement’s status based on current laws, Sabah and Sarawak’s rights to revenue from their petroleum as well as the share of funds that rightfully belongs to them.
Liew said the committee will be instructed to submit a detailed report to the government within six months from the date of its formation, and will also be responsible for monitoring the implementation of the report’s proposals.
Status: In progress (Cabinet nod obtained, just pending actual formation of committee)
9. Introduce Skim Peduli Sihat with RM500 worth of funding for the B40 group for basic treatments in registered private clinics
Status: No progress reported
10. Initiate a comprehensive review of all megaprojects that have been awarded to foreign countries
Status: In progress (The government is reviewing two major pipeline projects awarded to a Chinese firm, while the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project awarded to a Chinese contractor was suspended. )
PH also made special commitments to five groups, namely Felda settlers, the Indian community, women, youths and senior citizens.
Top of PH’s list of 22 promises for the Indian community was a blunt but ambitious promise to solve “the problem of stateless Indians within 100 days of taking power”.
In the very last week leading up to the first 100 days, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said on August 14 (Day 97) that the government will approve citizenship applications of Indians aged above 60 with the red identity cards (permanent residents), but did not give a timeframe for this.
Status: In progress
Beyond 100 days
Throughout the 100 days, the PH government had repeatedly dropped hints that it may not be able to fulfil its ambitious 10 pledges within this timeline, owing to practical considerations and obstacles such as the contractual obligations and belt-tightening with the national debt announced to actually be over RM1 trillion.
Yesterday (Day 99), Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had even said that the GE14 manifesto was written based on limited information and that PH had discovered upon taking over that the situation was much worse and the government was in more debt than expected.
So it’s 100 days now, which is roughly slightly under one-third of PH’s first year in power and roughly around five per cent of a full five-year term.
Will PH be able to fulfil most if not all of its promises within five years? Only time will tell.