After one year of the unity government, Bersih says more reforms need to be done

KUALA LUMPUR: The unity government’s performance after a year is still below expectations, said the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih).

Its Steering Committee said despite Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional joining forces to form a federal government after the 15th General Election, this was no reason for both coalitions to abandon the respective pledges they made in their election manifestos.

He said these pledges needed to be fulfilled soon.

While acknowledging that the unity government achieved some commendable progress, Bersih said some overlapping election pledges made by PH and BN needed to be ironed out.

He said a clear timeline of its implementation was needed.

“Voters were promised these reforms in their election manifestos just a year ago, but progress has been very slow. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim must expedite these reforms,” it said in a statement today.

It said the four overlapping pledges for reforms were the separation of powers for the Attorney General and Public Prosecutor, renewal of the civil service appointment process as vetted by the Parliamentary Special Select Committee , introduction of the Political Financing Act, and the devolution of powers from the federal- to state-level.

“We acknowledge and commend that three reform commitments are currently being implemented, namely the separation of powers of the Attorney General and Public Prosecutor, the Parliamentary Service Act and Government Procurement Act. But a clear timeline for implementation has not yet been announced by the prime minister.”

Bersih said among the unfulfilled pledges were the enactment of the Parliamentary Service Act, constitutional amendments to limit terms in office as well as the parliamentary committee review of the Sedition Act 1948, Official Secrets Act 1972, Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, Printing and Publishing Act 1984, Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 and the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA).

“Based on our matrix for assessing the unity government’s performance in electoral and institutional reforms, they only scored 11 out of 51 points or 21.6 percent in a year of governance.

“Although the unity government has not met expectations, Bersih will continue to engage and urge the government, Parliament and stakeholders to advocate for reform, and monitor, scrutinise and provide checks and balances on ongoing developments.”

Bersih pointed out that while the unity government have another four years to fulfil their election pledges, and any drafting or amendment of laws required time for negotiation, drafting and presentation.

“Our hope is that we can see more reforms being delivered,” it added.

Earlier today, it was reported that Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) supreme council member Datuk Wan Saiful Wan Jan claimed that voters were “cheated” by the government, citing the findings of Merdeka Centre on Anwar’s approval ratings.

He said this indicated that Malaysians are unsatisified with the current administration led by Anwar.

(First published by New Straits Times on 23 November 2023: