Madani government: 11 ministries that stand outKHAIRIL ANWAR MOHD AMIN
SHAH ALAM - One year into the Madani government leadership, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had to deal with many challenges including issues of economic disparity between races, promises of national administrative reform and political stability.
As the 10th Prime Minister's (PMX) administration approaches its one-year anniversary, the majority of the Unity Government's objectives, which were based on the six fundamental principles of 'Civilisation' are still unfulfilled.
Nonetheless, the government was able to bolster economic growth even more with the creation of a number of new economic initiatives including the Progressive Wage Policy, the New Energy Transition Roadmap (NETR) and the Civil Economy Initiative.
This was expected to be achieved through trade cooperation and the transfer of new technologies from the world's leading companies such as Tesla and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Optically, the Anwar administration's release of different new initiatives, programs, and policies might signal to Malaysia's 32 million citizens that the national administration's course is now on the right track.
However, after more than 365 days in power, the people started to question the significant achievements of the PMX-led government compared to the previous Prime Ministers.
Thus, after the cabinet reshuffle expected to be made after the anniversary celebration, Anwar must ensure that the new Cabinet of Ministers can carry out his goals for national transformation.
Sinar Premium found a minimum of 11 ministries out of Anwar's 27 government portfolios that really stood out and showed outstanding potential in driving change for the people.
Here are the current performance analysis of the 11 ministries throughout the year of the PMX administration with Ilham Center Executive Director Hisommudin Bakar and Malaysia Academy of Science Fellow Professor Datuk Dr Jayum Jawan.
HISOMMUDIN: One of this ministry's proudest accomplishments is presenting Budget 2024 as the nucleus of the country's economic catalyst post-Covid 19.
The budget was characterised as a 'bold' budget because of its higher allocations than before. As the head of the ministry, Anwar also took several important but controversial choices, such as initiating the first steps toward streamlining diesel and power subsidies.
Furthermore, the focus is on several key ministries that receive large distributions such as the Education Ministry, Defence, Home and several other portfolios.
Meanwhile, the ministry is providing more aid to the public through programmes like the Rahmah Cash Scheme to lessen the burden of the people in need and expenditure will cause a money cycle in the domestic economy.
The government believes that this program can directly boost the national economy by encouraging individuals to spend money.
In an attempt to revive the economy, the government through the Finance Ministry adopted defensive measures in response to the dire state of the global economy.
The current issue is the ringgit's devaluation against the dollar over the past few weeks.
Even though other nations are dealing with the same issue, the government needs to look at more proactive measures to raise the value of the ringgit again.
In response to the problem, the Finance Minister and the PM highlighted the idea of dealing with nations like China, Thailand, and Indonesia through the direct conversion of the Malaysian Ringgit into their respective national currencies.
This approach, known as de-dollarisation, was the Finance Minister's own idea when faced with the crisis of Ringgit depreciation in currency trading.
The upcoming challenge for this ministry is to ensure that the expenditure management of the national pocket planned through the 2024 Budget is spent prudently.
JAYUM: In the beginning, it was seen that the government was trying hard to save the national money that was lost due to the various financial scandals that happened during the previous government.
However, there are a handful of scandalous cases where the punishment is seen as disproportionate to the amount of lost national money that has been misappropriated.
For Sabah and Sarawak, the two states may feel that they receive a larger amount of development allocation in the 2024 Budget.
However, the allocation is still considered to be insufficient compared to the total amount of funds received by the 11 states in Peninsular Malaysia as a whole.
Nevertheless, Anwar's large allocation and commitment to fully implement the agenda enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) deserves to be praised, thereby setting aside the sentiment of the interests of the East Malaysian states often being sidelined by the Federal government.
HISOMMUDIN: In my opinion, the Transport Ministry is one of the outstanding ministries.
Through the leadership of its Minister Anthony Loke, second time minister for this portfolio, he seems to know how to steer this ministry this term.
The reality is that the challenges faced by this ministry are not small, including facing the issue of broken flyover structures on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) route, the LRT system frequently being disrupted, the air crash in Elmina, accidents involving overloaded lorries, and even the image of the country's aviation being tarnished by the irresponsible actions of the MyAirline company.
The Transport Minister seems to be handling things quite well, even in such tight circumstances.
He took immediate action, handled the situation swiftly, and gave the authorities under his direction the go-ahead to take firm, uncompromising action if it affected the safety of customers and citizens.
Despite the difficulties, the ministry was committed to implement technologies to serve public transport users better.
The replacement of electric-powered (EV) buses was one of the best examples of the ministry's innovation.
Digitisation measures were also introduced. Now the road tax sticker no longer needs to be affixed to the vehicle mirror. Small effort, but big impact.
The ministry's focus on increasing efficiency through digital innovation in upgrading the Malaysia Maritime Single Window (MMSW) system to empower the country's logistics ecosystem is commendable.
For the public transport network, I see that this is the focus of Anthony Loke's leadership in this ministry.
He seemed serious about putting together a strategy to improve the public transport system to be more efficient and meet the growing demands of users.
JAYUM: In the beginning, there were some 'innovation' matters that the ministry seemed to be working on.
However, the initiative is still small-scale and does not really have an impact on the convenience of road users. An example is the introduction of the digital road tax.
Furthermore, in every toll plaza, especially in the capital, road users are still burdened with different toll payment systems according to lanes, resulting in traffic congestion at peak times.
Why not just implement an integrated toll payment system combining various payment methods such as Touch 'n Go, Smart Tag, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or more recently, debit card and credit card in all lanes?
DOMESTIC TRADE AND COST OF LIVING MINISTRY (KPDN)
HISOMMUDIN: This ministry became the focus when led by former minister, the late Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub who introduced the Rahmah Menu.
The concept of offering affordable food prices for those in need without cost from the government, instead of encouraging traders to share profits for charity through the Rahmah Menu, was well received by the people.
The Prime Minister, who was attracted by the positive reception of the people, saw that the name Rahmah was closer to the conscience of the people. Accordingly, the government acted to brand the welfare policy of the Unity Government with the name Rahmah.
Now under the supervision of KPDN, nine items have been identified and named under Payung Rahmah.
Payung Rahmah which was introduced was certified by the beneficiaries as a good effort from the government to reduce the cost of living for the people.
For basic food supply assistance, Bakul Rahmah is also very meaningful for those who receive it.
However, after the deceased's demise in July of this year, it appears that the Rahmah brand has sunk a bit.
In response to concerns about the growing expense of living and the escalating food supply, the populace promptly called on the Prime Minister to exercise his discretion in designating a KPDN Minister as soon as possible.
JAYUM: I believe that the ministry has not had much luck since the late Salahuddin left, especially following the unfilled ministerial vacancy.
The unity government is working hard to address the issues of the growing cost of living and other issues, thus, it is not hyperbole to say that this situation sends a negative message to the people.
With the position of minister previously allocated to Amanah, there should be no problem for any Member of Parliament or party leader to be chosen to carry out the heavy task.
However, the move to delay the appointment of ministers is feared to indicate that PMX is not very confident in Amanah's ability to hold this important portfolio.
HOUSING AND LOCAL GOVERNANCE MINISTRY
HISOMMUDIN: This ministry is also one of the most responsive ministries. The leadership of Minister Nga Kor Ming and Deputy Minister Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir who heads this ministry were often seen on the ground, without protocol and quick to act in dealing with every related issue.
One clear proof was the ministry's fast and aggressive approach in dealing with the issue of the increasing of 'birdcage' rental rooms in the Klang Valley as exclusively reported by Sinar Premium last month.
After nine days of exposure about the issue, Nga through the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department (JBPM), Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and the police force conducted a surprise inspection related to public complaints against the premises.
He also guaranteed strict action and efforts to crack down on the parties to combat the issue.
The speedy action and firmness to protect the people received good feedback from the people.
The effectiveness of the ministry was also evident through the role of the Deputy Minister who acted as the head of a 'task force' to identify abandoned housing projects or those deemed to be sick projects.
This initiative was very helpful especially to ensure that the welfare of the people to get shelter was given attention by the government.
JAYUM: Despite the good achievements shown by the minister, there was no major reform plan highlighted by this ministry.
In Sarawak, longhouse residences continue to face serious fire problems with the ministry seemingly lacking ideas to resolve the crisis.
This long house residence seems to still not be equipped with appropriate security fa