Govt-PH MoU spells policy-driven competition between parties, but one condition raises concern — IDEAS

Govt-PH MoU spells policy-driven competition between parties, but one condition raises concern — IDEAS
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KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 14): The new cooperation pact between the government and Pakatan Harapan (PH) is a positive first step towards ensuring more policy-driven competition between political parties, said the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS).

In a statement, the think tank said it is hopeful that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on transformation and political stability signed yesterday will be the beginning of healthier bipartisanship in Malaysian politics towards a more mature policy-oriented parliamentary democracy.

IDEAS chief executive officer (CEO) Tricia Yeoh noted that the MoU comes after over a year of uncertainty in Malaysia’s political situation, which has greatly eroded the people’s confidence in the nation’s institutions.

“We are hopeful that the principles committed to by the government and PH today will not only be lip service, but will be translated into action.

“This also sends a strong signal that political goals and outcomes can be achieved through healthy policy competition and negotiations, which we greatly encourage,” she said.

However, Yeoh voiced concern over the condition where “only the MPs involved in the signing of this MoU are granted equal allocations for constituency development funds (CDFs)”.

“As argued in our joint statement with Bersih 2.0, all MPs should be entitled to equitable CDF allocations as they all serve Malaysians in their respective constituencies and should therefore be entitled to these funds regardless of their political affiliations,” Yeoh said.

Other reforms were lauded by the think tank, including the proposed 10-year limit for a prime minister which provides opportunities for young politicians to rise through the ranks and reduce personality-driven patronage within incumbent political parties.

IDEAS also welcomed the structured composition of the National Recovery Council to include private- and public-sector experts and opposition members, the RM11 billion cash aid for the second half of 2021 (2H21), as well as the opportunity for the opposition to contribute meaningfully to the contents of Budget 2022.

On institutional reforms, IDEAS hailed the commitment to hastening the implementation of Undi18 and automatic voter registration after many delays.

“Another important commitment is to reintroduce the Parliamentary Services Act in order for Parliament to exercise autonomy in its administration and finances.

“Lastly, the balance of representation between opposition and government MPs in Parliamentary Select Committees is important to ensure effective check and balance in the Committees’ deliberations,” IDEAS said.

The MoU, which was released by the government today, spells the first-ever collaboration between government and opposition leaders in a bid for a political ceasefire to allow the nation to focus on addressing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among others, the MoU will see PH supporting government bills including Budget 2022 after the relevant discussions, while the government has agreed not to propose the dissolution of Parliament before July 31, 2022.

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S Kanagaraju