Update: A message from Judy Cheng-Hopkins: Yayyy! PF is ready to come out of its group-thinking cocoon! A new day, a new beginning: Malaysians have decided on ‘The Malaysia We Want’, now Penangites can start a dialogue in earnest on “The Penang We Want”. HK or Costa Rica? (See my piece) or something in between? Time for all sides to rethink and reach out, and leave the baggage behind! JCH
A few statements from Penang-based civil society groups, Aliran, Penang Forum and the Consumers Association of Penang in the wake of the recent general election.
Aliran statement: Power to the People
Penang Forum and CAP statements (below)
Penang Forum calls for greater dialogue on pressing issues
Penang Forum congratulates the Pakatan Harapan governments—both state and federal—on their success in winning the general election. We also offer our heartfelt congratulations to YB Chow Kon Yeow on his appointment as Penang’s Chief Minister.
As we usher in a new era for the nation, listening to the new Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad putting the rule of law above all else, we anticipate, with hope, governments that will place priority on upholding good governance, respecting institutional processes and independent checks and balances, and being responsive to public and civil society participation, both at the federal and state levels.
We call on the incoming federal and state governments to seriously tackle urban and rural poverty and the wide socio-economic disparities in our society. We appeal to all elected representatives to jointly work for the empowerment and welfare of the people, and to set aside their personal and party interests in making decisions that will have an impact on people’s lives not only now but also in the future.
In this regard, we call for a halt to the destruction of our environment and for the care and rehabilitation of coasts and hill slopes that have been neglected, compromised or destroyed.
The new government must put an end to crony capitalism and wage a war on corruption, particularly when it involves senior politicians and government officials. We hope there will be a reversal of the concentration of powers at the top of executive government both at state and federal levels.
To promote greater participatory democracy and accountability at the local level, we call for the revival of local council elections throughout the nation.
As for Penang, we reiterate civil society’s desire to engage with the state government on the pressing issues of the day and development plans for the state. Now that the state is likely to have greater access to federal funding, there is an urgent need to review the Penang transport masterplan (which should promote sustainable mobility, moving people not cars) and reevaluate the need for environmentally damaging large-scale reclamation plans.
There will also be less need to rely on property development as an engine to drive the Penang economy. Instead, we should focus on building more genuinely affordable housing for the people and raising the quality of life through the provision of adequate open green spaces.
We look forward to greater dialogue with the state government on these and other issues.
Penang Forum steering committee
14 May 2018
And the following is a statement by CAP:
MPs must work for people’s empowerment, welfare
Congratulations to Dr Mahathir Mohamad on his appointment as the Prime Minister of Malaysia. With his past long and varied experience in leading the country, he will be able to take Malaysia to greater heights and prepare the way for a smooth succession.
I thank God and congratulate the people of Malaysia for participating peacefully and responsibly in the democratic process to elect a new government and to accept the results of the election. We have set a good example for other countries to emulate, particularly those Muslim states that are still ruled by dictators and absolute monarchs. We should be proud of our achievement.
I thank the police and other government agencies for maintaining peace and order throughout the elections, when, sometimes, emotions were running high among the supporters of the candidates.
The transition of power from the former government to the present one was smooth except for one hitch, the unnecessary delay in the swearing in of the prime minister. The results were confirmed by the election authorities by 5am on Thursday but the swearing-in ceremony had to wait over 16 hours, until 9.30pm last night, after repeated postponements.
Mahathir was made to wait from 5pm until past 9.30pm at the Istana before the ceremony started. It must be remembered that he is the elected leader of the Malaysian people and he must be given due respect. The delay gave rise to unwanted fears, tension, speculation and adverse international publicity.
Our Constitution is crystal clear on the appointment of the prime minister by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. He shall appoint a member of the House of Representatives who in his judgement is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the House. In exercising his judgement he can rely on the reports by relevant government officials.
In this case, there was no challenge to the request by Mahathir to be appointed as the Prime Minister, and his support from the majority of parliamentarians could have been easily verified within a short time. There is no requirement for parties in a coalition to agree on the appointment or, as happened in Selangor some years ago, to submit a list of candidates for the ruler to choose the Menteri Besar. The appointment of the prime minister must be done expeditiously in order to ensure continuity of government.
I call on the present government not to be obsessed with economic growth but to seriously address the issues of poverty and the growing disparity in our society, and the destruction of our environment to satisfy the greed for profits. It must put an end to crony capitalism and wage a war on corruption, particularly corruption among politicians and senior government officials. As the Arabic saying goes “A fish rots from the head down.”
I appeal to all elected representatives, both from the government and the Opposition, to jointly work for the empowerment and welfare of the people, and to set aside their personal and party interests.
SM Mohamed Idris is president of the Consumers Association of Penang.