Frankly Speaking: A good start

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on June 11, 2018 - June 17, 2018.
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Since Pakatan Harapan came to power slightly more than a month ago, it has made a number of strides in the right direction.

Last week, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub announced that the monopoly to import rice by Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) had been terminated.

“The Cabinet has agreed to end Bernas’ monopoly after hearing the arguments in support of it,” he was quoted as saying.

He added that all other forms of monopolies would also be reviewed.

Such a move looks good on the Pakatan Harapan government as Bernas’ controlling shareholder Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary is often said to be a crony of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Breaking Bernas’ monopoly makes it believable that the days of cronyism and rent-seeking are over, and a future with open competition and open tenders is here.

Barely had the dust settled on ending Bernas’ monopoly when the new government made another move in the right direction — the requirement for ministers, deputy ministers and political secretaries to declare their assets, as decided at the Cabinet Select Committee on Anti-Corruption meeting last week.

Apart from this, the Cabinet also limited a civil servant to hold no more than five positions in the government, its agencies and government-linked companies, from 68 under the previous Barisan Nasional government.

Considering that Pakatan Harapan only took over Putrajaya last month, it has made good if not great changes to the operating landscape. Let’s hope that the momentum continues.

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