A hundred days into office, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is still finding ways to deliver his promises to the people, especially on cost-of-living and reform issues.
As the head of a unity government that was cobbled together at the behest of the king, Anwar is unlikely to have a free hand in policy-making and could be prone to making compromises with Barisan Nasional, the other major bloc in the coalition.
Here are the administration’s hits and misses, after more than three months in charge.
Anwar brought to an end to the hostilities between Pakatan Harapan and BN, who now share a common enemy – Perikatan Nasional.
He kept his vow of a smaller cabinet with only 28 members. With a global economic recession looming, Anwar agreed to forgo his prime minister’s salary and reduce the salaries of ministers.
He reduced the East Coast Rail Link project cost by RM11 billion, from RM86 billion to RM75 billion.
Nearly RM2 billion in public funds was saved after the government stopped direct negotiations for flood mitigation projects.
He allowed a confidence vote, which he won by a comfortable margin.
Bursa Malaysia and the ringgit rallied upon his appointment.
The 2022 National Action Council on Cost of Living was set up to quickly help the people.
Electricity tariffs were maintained for homes, small and medium industries (SMEs), agricultural companies and food producers.
Some 8,500 homes owners in Putrajaya will receive a 30% discount on their annual assessment rates next year.
Menu Rahmah was introduced and is available for as low as RM5 at more than 15,000 restaurants. It will soon also be served in the universities.
In February, Bank Negara Malaysia chose to keep the overnight policy rate at 2.75% following four consecutive increases.
He agreed to continue the cash assistance programme of the previous administration.
Civil servants in grades 11 to 56 received a RM100 raise. They will also receive RM700 in Raya aid. Pensioners get RM350.
Each household will receive RM300 and each single person, RM100 in aid.
Schoolchildren will get RM150 in school aid regardless of their economic backgrounds.
Monsoon-hit rubber smallholders received RM200 in January. About 320,000 rubber smallholders will get a combined pay-out of RM600 by the end of the year.
Fifty thousand contract jobs will be created for the youth, including 35,000 positions in government-linked companies, through the MyStep programme.
Following massive floods in Kelantan and Terengganu, Anwar’s government immediately approved aid of RM100 million for the two states.
Immediate assistance of RM10,000 was handed out to each family who had a loved one die in the landslide at the Fathers’ Organic Farm campsite in Gohtong Jaya.
Compassionate aid of RM1,000 was given to the heads of households of survivors.
Sabah and Sarawak
Anwar raised the special grant to RM300 million while neighbouring Sabah will receive RM260 million, from RM16 million and RM26 million, respectively.
Even in Anwar’s recently re-tabled Budget 2023, Putrajaya allocated RM12.1 billion for Sabah and Sarawak.
Sabah will receive RM6.5 billion while Sarawak will get RM5.6 billion.
Anwar has presented a RM388.1 national spending plan, the biggest-ever budget.
He allocated RM750 million to the People’s Income Initiative to grow the income of the poor. The scheme will enable participants to earn RM2,000-2,500 a month for two years, after which they are expected to use their earnings to generate future income.
The wealthy will now pay a higher income tax.
Umno chief Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is Anwar’s deputy. The appointment of Zahid, who is on trial for corruption, has not gone down well with the public.
Anwar’s selection of some ministers were also unpopular. PKR’s Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (home), BN’s secretary-general Zambry Abdul Kadir (foreign affairs) and Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz (international trade and industry) had lost in the general election.
Silence on Sosma
Anwar was opposed to the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) when he was the opposition leader but has barely uttered a word on the matter since taking office.
Civil society groups, human rights groups, lawyers and families of detained people want the government to stop using the draconian law.
Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution has indicated that Sosma will not be abolished.
Nurul Izzah was made senior economic adviser to the prime minister on January 3. Amid accusations of nepotism, Anwar said his daughter would work for free.
She stepped down soon afterwards after accepting an invitation to co-head a secretariat to supporting an advisory committee under Anwar.
Anwar is proceeding with the littoral combat ship (LCS) project, to which he was opposed when he was the opposition leader. It is reported to be Malaysia’s largest-ever defence procurement costing RM9 billion. – TMI