KUALA LUMPUR ― The Pakatan Harapan government should stop finding fault with the previous administration and focus on bringing the country forward, said Council of Eminent Persons chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin.
Pointing out that the euphoria of Barisan Nasional’s crushing defeat in the May 9 general election was dissipating, the former finance minister said the people did not want mere rhetoric but to see real improvements to their lives.
“The government needs to move on with the many tasks ahead. Maybe, after six months, there is a need to stop pointing fingers, to stop the blame-game and just get on with the job,” he said at the Affin Hwang Capital Conference Series 2018 here yesterday.
Daim said the PH government must accept the fact that bread-and-butter issues have come back to the forefront, issues such as cost of living, inadequate housing, poor public transportation, an ill-functioning education system, crime and unemployment.
“It is time for the government to be more realistic. There is no doubt that the circumstances that the PH government has been left with are exceedingly challenging,” he said.
“However, in order to move forward, the PH government needs to show greater cohesiveness, greater cooperation, and a greater willingness to work with a myriad groups to find solutions.”
Daim said the government has put forth clearly what needs to be done to clean up the mess left by the previous administration and it has also fought to lay down the foundation to ensure that those abuses are never allowed to recur.
While he agreed that PH had inherited an administration that was fraught with faults and wrongdoings, he said the new government cannot afford to “throw the baby out with the bath water”.
He said the Cabinet must work with the civil service, which was subservient to the previous dministration and even willing partners in the abuses committed.
Confident that many civil servants were honest and hardworking, he said: “It is therefore incumbent on Cabinet ministers to lead by example by allowing the bureaucrats to be apolitical, independent and professional in discharging their responsibilities.
“We must depoliticise the civil service, statutory bodies and GLCs (government-linked companies) and allow the professionals who have been appointed to these positions of responsibility to function and discharge their duties without fear or favour or political interference.
“The civil service is the bedrock of the country’s administration and when efficient and reliable, is there to serve the country and her people.”
Daim emphasised that in the envisioned New Malaysia, economic policies are for the promotion of the wellbeing of the people and to create a comprehensive social safety net for the poor while addressing the needs of those who are disadvantaged
Touching on Budget 2019, tabled in Parliament last week, Daim hit out at the Opposition for their claim that it was a mere “cut and paste” budget.
He said he believed Budget 2019 had the right focus and strategies towards achieving a New Malaysia with governance and fiscal discipline becoming the new order of the day.
The budget also enumerated a few measures to raise the disposable income of all Malaysian, especially the B40 Group.
“It is imperative that in our drive towards a free and prosperous nation, no one is left behind. We all know that no one chooses to be poor, and those who need help must be helped,” he said.
Daim pointed out that the government needed the support of the people, the civil service and civil society groups, and to gain their trust, the government must show its sincerity and commitment to the reforms it has promised.
“The people have given the PH government a golden opportunity to leave a legacy of change — it must not be wasted. Remember, if the people do not believe in us, they can and will deliver their verdict and punish us in the next general election,” he said.