Time & LocationSession 5
Thu 09:00–10:30 Room 1.404
- Azmil Tayeb University of Science, Malaysia
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- Pakatan Harapan’s First Year in Putrajaya: Reform and Resistance Muhamad Nadzri Mohamed Noor National University of Malaysia
On 9 May 2018, the long-standing ruling party in Malaysia – the Barisan Nasional (BN) – was defeated for the first time by the opposition. Through a pragmatic and strategic political approach as directed to win the 14th General Election (GE-14) and reform the state, Pakatan Harapan (PH or Harapan) ousted BN, albeit by a slim majority. In the subsequent months, numbers of reforms were made largely by changing the heads of the key government agencies apart from reviewing the role of those agencies towards the process of democratisation. Although the standard of reforms in Malaysia during the first year of Harapan’s rule was arguably a low-level restructuring, it has attracted a substantial amount of resistance from certain quarters – from within and without the new ruling party. This paper contends that the reform’s project implemented by the Mahathir-led Harapan government in its first year in Putrajaya was somewhat constricted due to the nature of the new ruling party and the current state of Malaysian society. For these reasons, the objectives of this paper are two-fold. Firstly, it shall make a concise survey of the reform projects that have been implemented by Harapan from May 2018 to May 2019. Second, it will identify the sources of resistance that have significantly limit the potential for a fuller level of democratisation by the Mahathir-led Harapan government.
The present Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, in actual fact, did not expect to win the 14th Malaysian General Election (GE14) and overthrow the Barisan Nasional (BN) government under Najib Razak. BN has been ruling the country for over 60 years and had in place all the laws, infrastructure, institutions, etc. which were favourable to them. Most of all, BN had the financial capacity to ensure that it would continue to rule the country. However, two main factors emerged that spoiled the opportunity of BN, i.e. Najib’s 1MDB and the return of Mahathir. When PH took over the administration of the country, the new cabinet under Mahathir had only around four experienced Ministers and Deputy Ministers out of 55. These new appointees had no experience running their ministries, planning and executing government policies, dealing with the press, etc.. The mistakes they made became fodder for the opposition BN to criticize them. This panel will discuss the “report card” of the PH government in September 2019 after coming into power for more than a year, challenges the various ministries had to face and whether the PH government is able to sustain its position in the next general election, i.e. GE15.