Gobind: Lack of Experience, Financial Constraints Reasons for “Flip-Flops”

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Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo has attributed an overall lack of experience by government ministers, coupled with financial constraints faced, as reasons behind what has been perceived as “flip-flops” in Pakatan Harapan’s election promises.

In a media interview ahead of Harapan’s one-year anniversary in power next month, he admitted there have been times where decisions were made and later perceived as backpedalling on earlier promises or contradicted earlier decisions made.

“In those circumstances, I think we have to explain why those decisions were made.

“Quite often those decisions are made because we find that we have got problems in terms of implementing those policies, be it because we have financial constraints, legal constraints, or because of existing structures that cannot be changed overnight,” he said during the one-hour interview at RTM in Kuala Lumpur today.

With no prior experience of leading a federal government, Gobind said much time had been spent learning about functions of the various agencies and its challenges.

“In the past 11 months, there have been a lot of things to do. We did not have the experience.

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

“Maybe most of the ministers and I can say for myself as well… It has taken us time to study and subsequent to that, develop new policies to bring about change,” he said, although declining to directly rate his ministry’s performance on a scale of one to 10.

Gobind further reiterated Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s view on financial constraints faced by the government to fulfil its election promises.

At the same time, the Puchong MP also urged critics to give Harapan more time beyond its first year in power to fulfil their promises.

“Of course, all the promises are important, but in term of priorities, we can see that some of the things needed to be done first and the others later,” he added.

Beyond the government’s allegedly inconsistent policies, individual ministers have also come under fire for their reported contradictions on major issues, including an initial decision earlier this year to cancel the East Coast Rail Link project.

Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali in January said the cabinet had decided to cancel the China-backed project due to the high annual interest.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in an immediate response, however, expressed shock over Azmin’s announcement, leading former premier Najib Abdul Razak to cynically claim that Pakatan Harapan ministers do not communicate with each other.

This prompted Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to say that cabinet members do have their own WhatsApp group.

In admitting that improving communications is another learning curve for Harapan, Gobind said an additional challenge includes dealing with decisions made across several ministries.

“When that happens, if not managed well, there will appear to be contradictions, backtracking or this and that. This is where we have to learn,” he stressed.

As the minister in charge of the Information Department, Gobind noted criticisms over its functions and reassured that efforts are being carried out to improve the agency.

“RTM is working well. They are trying their level best and Bernama has also improved a lot.

“Penerangan is now operating quite well. I’m quite confident that the information arm of this ministry will be able to overcome this issue,” he said.

In the past 11 months, efforts have been ongoing to transform RTM, Bernama and other agencies under the ministry, including through introducing changes to its management.

During their time as part of the opposition coalition, Harapan leaders had often accused various government-linked media of denying them the right to be heard or engaging in alleged politically motivated attacks. – Malaysiakini