Anwar has missed low-hanging fruit in reforms, says Bersih

PETALING JAYA: Bersih said the unity government has missed many low-hanging fruit it could have picked as reforms to fulfil election promises in its first 100 days in power.

Although it lauded a handful of reforms the government had carried out, the electoral watchdog named a number of missed opportunities and gave Anwar Ibrahim’s administration another 100 days to fulfil them.

At the top of the list was the denial of equal constituency funding for all MPs, despite the government under Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s administration providing full funding to 93% of the opposition MPs.

The other downers, for Bersih, included the lack of transparency in key government appointments, such as the attorney-general as well as members of the Election Commission and Public Services Commission.

It also said the failure to quickly push through the promised 10-year limit for the prime minister’s post and the lack of laws concerning political financing, despite having a Bill ready, was disappointing.

“No parliamentary committees have been set up more than two months after the 15th Parliament was sworn in,” it said in a statement.

The NGO, however, lauded improvements to Parliament — time given for questions to the prime minister, and the maximum number of motions in the special chambers being increased from two to four.

Bersih said in the next 100 days, it wanted the government to deliver more reforms and this may require more parliamentary sittings to be held.

The reforms it is asking the unity government to make, among others, include:

  • Setting up parliamentary special select committees and parliamentary permanent select committees, including one on elections and multiparty democracy;
  • A Parliamentary Act to provide for equitable constituency development funds for all MPs;
  • Recognition and empowerment of Perikatan Nasional’s “shadow cabinet” with allowances, research officers and information access;
  • Enacting the Parliamentary Services Act and Political Financing Act as well as tabling amendments to the Election Offences Act.

Bersih also demanded a parliamentary review of the Sedition Act 1948, Official Secrets Act 1972, Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 and the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).

(First published by Free Malaysia Today on 4 March 2023: