The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has opened up the democratic space by allowing people to openly speak, unlike the previous culture of fear, said Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah.
Citing it as one of the key things PH has done in its first year in power, she said there are more debates about issues leading to a much more open, inclusive democratic atmosphere.
Another achievement is its move to end corruption, which was the first issue that was tackled by PH and it continues to be addressed because “the problem is so big”.
“We have been solving issues like Tabung Haji and Felda – big institutions which are very important to our economy and people,” Maria said in an interview with The True Net.
She said institutional reform is being brought to some of the key institutions, adding that it is an ongoing process of correcting, strengthening, restructuring, bringing in new people with expertise, reorganising and talking to people who are there in the institutions how to improve and be better.
She believed every ministry is committed to making sure it runs well and is representative of the people because “it’s actually the people who brought us into power”, she said.
“So we really have to do things that will reflect the needs of the people.”
As to whether PH is on track in terms of its manifesto, Maria felt that there has to be a much longer time span but the government is working on it.
“PH is not perfect but it is trying its very best to make things better and the confidence of the people will come,” the first-term MP said.
She said that with the change in government, the expectation is very high to make things happen immediately.
“When you become the government you start to realise that certain things can happen but will take some time to make it happen,” Maria said.
She acknowledged that toll is a big issue with everybody and the public want to see the promise to remove toll charges fulfilled immediately.
What PH is doing is to abolish toll charges gradually and in stages.
Maria said it cannot be done immediately because there are costs and contract penalties involved in abolishing toll, and it has to be done step by step.
Responding to the question of there being a risk the ruling coalition may not get re-elected for a second term if people felt it fell short of expectations and took too long to deliver, the MP said it is the people’s right if they feel PH has not performed.
She said the people have given PH a five-year mandate to produce results, and if it fails then the rakyat will have every right to change the government.
As for false narratives and disinformation about what PH is doing, Maria said they have the next four years to correct that.
“Do you leave it to the government only to do it?
“No, I don’t think you should. As a citizen and I see that something is wrong and there are lies out there, I should take the leadership to correct it.
“But people leave it to the government…the expectation is that we elected you, you are supposed to do the work,” Maria said.
She admitted that three-quarters of the work falls on the government but the people too have to take up one-quarter of the responsibility and stand up and fight.
“The people will have to take charge and say, ‘Well, we are fed up of the lies, stop it’, but not many people are saying that.
“We need that quarter of the population to say, ‘Stop all this nonsense about race….’
“You have to voice out as an individual and not just leave it to the government to do it because the government will have to also deal with a large machinery that has got a certain thinking for the past 60 over years. So, changing thinking is not going to happen within the five years,” Maria said.
She said everyone has to see themselves as trying to make a difference to Malaysia.
“Say that this is the Malaysia we want, no more nonsense about corruption, using race to divide us, using Islam to shut people up.
“No, we don’t accept that anymore. So, more people have to say that. Many, many more people. Then we can actually move the society forward.”