Massive defeat in by-election reflects people’s discontent Government should make public council of eminent persons’ report

In the wake of the massive defeat in Tanjung Piai by-election, i urge the government to declassify the Council of Eminent Persons’ (CEP) 100-day report so that the findings of the report and its recommendations are accessible by all members of parliaments, state assemblyman as well as the general public. This effort will allow us to reflect on the progress on national and social reforms that the government has made thus far and to improve the quality and efficiency of governance as a means to allay public anger.

After PH took over the government in May 9, as many leaders lack experience in government, the Prime Minister announced that five prominent Malaysians are appointed to form the CEP in order to discuss economic issues in our country and put forth recommendations to the government in 100 days. The five eminent persons are former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin, former governor of Malaysia’s central bank Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former CEO of Petronas Tan Sri Hassan Marican, prominent economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram, as well as Malaysia’s richest man Robert Kuok.

According to CEP chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin, this report has compiled the analysis of views in various fields and incorporated 70 topics of recommendations for reform. However, ever since the report was submitted to the Prime Minister on August 7 last year, the Prime Minister has said openly several times that this report will not be made public. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin also said that the report is placed under the Official Secret Act (OSA) and will not be made public. Therefore, the report has been submitted to the Prime Minister alone and even PH’s members of parliament are not permitted to access it.

Such a decision is very unreasonable as even elected representatives of the government have no knowledge about the findings of the report and could not brainstorm the recommendations. Moreover, we have no clue as to whether the recommendations incorporated in the report are adopted by the Prime Minister and could not play a check and balance role.

If the government is worried about the repercussions on national security, the government can prioritise recommendations that are not directly related to national security and diplomatically sensitive matters, particularly recommendations that are relevant to improving livelihood, economy and governance.

Although PH has been the central government for a year and 6 months, our lacklustre performance, particularly the massive loss in Tanjung Piai by-election with a whopping 15 thousand-vote margin, has strongly and clearly reflected the public opinion and anger.

The Cabinet and all members of the government must reflect on the chastening defeat and accept the verdict delivered by the people. The discontent of the people is not only due to PH’s failure of fulfilling all promises in the manifesto, but also very much related to the low efficiency of the government that, at times, created even more hindrances and inconvenience than the previous BN government to the people in their daily life.

In the next three years, the PH government must solve all problems and inconvenience faced by the people. Hence, making the CEP report public as a means to encourage the general public to debate and reflect on the findings as well as to examine and monitor the progress on reforms made by the government should not be delayed.

Chiong Yoke Kong
Media statement by Chiong Yoke Kong in Cameron Highlands on Tuesday, 19th November 2019