Appointed by Dr M, these ministers have managed to meet their 100-day deadline
By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS, MUHD AMIN NAHARUL & BERNAMA
THE 100-day agenda has become Pakatan Harapan’s celebrated deadline to reform the country after the alliance won the 14th General Election on May 9.
The deadline was mooted by Pakatan Harapan through its manifesto, which includes 10 promises of reforming the administration policies to be fulfilled within 100 days.
In fact, several quarters opined that the timeline is unachievable for the coalition to “rebuild” the country with new and enhanced policies that would benefit the people.
To do so, Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has appointed 26 ministers — comprising a long line of technocrats — to help him fill the seats in the Cabinet and implement the idea of having a “reformed Malaysia”.
Dr Mahathir’s mixture of senior politicians and young MPs seemed to have worked as Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng made headlines in local and international dailies through his revelations of the country’s economic state. Transport Minister Anthony Loke, on the other hand, seemed to put in his all to uphold the country’s state of transportation — besides being prepared with solutions each time he was put on the spot.
Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali looked rather busy managing the country’s investments and dealings, in addition to taking care of the government-linked companies portfolio.
While some may think reforming the country could be the task of a lifetime, these ministers managed to meet their 100-day deadline.
Here are some of the notable changes made by five ministers.
Gobind’s Media Merger, Lower Broadband Prices
Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo has been tasked with ensuring that high-speed Internet is accessible to each layer of Malaysia’s income groups.
The Puchong MP has proposed for Internet access to be recognised as a fundamental human right in the country, saying that the entitlement is equivalent to the right of education.
Gobind has upped the ante on the works for high-speed cable infrastructure in rural areas, while aiming for 95% coverage in populated areas by 2020.
“In order to have the Internet, especially in rural areas, we need infrastructure,” he said.
While securing connectivity in provincial towns, he also pledged to lower broadband prices — which had been ballooning compared to prices in other countries. In fact, Gobind has managed to do so.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission recently announced that the government managed to reduce more than 30% of broadband prices for entry level packages.
Malaysia’s telecommunications providers such as Telekom Malaysia Bhd, Maxis Bhd, Celcom Axiata Bhd and TIME dotCom Bhd subsequently announced their new fixed broadband packages for customers to enjoy.
Under Gobind’s administration, the government is also mulling over the merger of two state-owned media entities to enable cost savings in operating the organisations and allow additional funding for innovative and modern content creation.
The proposed merger between Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) and the Malaysian National News Agency would create a media giant with about 20,000 staff.
The merger plan is among the proposals considered within a six-month deadline — given by Gobind, for RTM to transform its services — which ends in December 2018.
Yeo Puts Scientists to Work
As some countries have different views on climate change, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin has gone all out to ensure Malaysia is kept safe environmentally and economically.
Yeo seems to have been pushing the reset button on the country’s power industry and return the sector to the black-and-white era.
One of the first things she did to “defend” the industry was cancelling four new independent power producer (IPP) contracts awarded by the previous administration due to vague negotiations, while continuing to review other IPP projects.
The four IPPs are among eight power plants suggested by Dr Mahathir to be reviewed, as they were “hastily awarded” through a dubious transaction of direct negotiation.
Tenaga Nasional Bhd has expressed their coherent views on the cancellation, adding that competitive bidding would be the best for the power industry.
The Energy Commission was given the mandate to manage the awarding of power plants — which has to be done via competitive bidding — in 2011.
Prior to that, the awards were given on a direct negotiation basis, which sparked rent-seeking and led to a higher cost of electricity.
While scrapping alleged “bad seeds” in the industry, the ministry is striving to achieve its aim of 20% of the country’s electricity being generated from renewable sources by 2030, an increase from 2% currently.
Yeo is confident the new Malaysia Energy Supply Industry transformation programme — with a focus on topics such as renewable and green energy — will propel the country.
Zuraida’s Plans for Affordable Housing
In a bid to revamp the public housing system in Malaysia, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin has placed affordable housing as the focal point of her ministry.
First, she rebranded the 1Malaysia People’s Housing Prog ramme (PR1MA), detached it from any political agenda set by the previous government and tweaked its focus to deliver affordable homes for the bottom 40% income group.
The housing schemes and projects are to be controlled by the National Affordable Housing Council, which comprises several stakeholders from the federal ministry level to local councils nationwide.
PR1MA, along with other affordable housing projects — such as Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd, the 1Malaysia Civil Servant Housing Scheme and the Federal Territories Affordable Homes Project, among others — is placed under her ministry.
Zuraida said the uniformity would allow the ministry to have better control of the projects, while the units would be demographically distributed in a fair manner.
Syed Saddiq Leading the Youth
The youngest of them all, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman has been a fully devoted supporter to the country’s empowering youth movement.
The 25-year-old has been all over town discharging his duty as the representative of youths during his five-month stint as the minister.
Recently, he addressed issues surrounding the RM85 million Mokhtar Dahari Academy in Gambang, Pahang.
Syed Saddiq visited the sporting facility, which had been completed two years ago, only to find that its gym was empty with a broken down hydrotherapy room.
The academy was built under the National Football Development Programme with the aim to help produce worldclass football players.
In addition, he has also worked on lowering Malaysia’s voting age from 21 to 18, following a decision by the Cabinet last month.
Hoping to include those aged between 18 and 20 in the 15th General Election, Syed Saddiq said he is working on getting a two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat for the decision to take effect.
Rina’s Huge Task to Revamp Mara
Rural and Regional Development Minister Rina Mohd Harun is shouldering several responsibilities of bridging the economic gap in rural and urban areas, as well as ensuring the revamp of Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara).
She has also been tasked with developing the country’s rural areas, which cover 70% of the total land size.
The first-term Titiwangsa MP said she is glad to have received the task of polishing Mara’s role within the Bumiputera community after the PM decided to put the agency under her ministry.
The government has recently announced the appointment of Dr Hasnita Hashim as Mara’s new chairman and six other Mara Council appointees.
Rina had also dismissed industry talk that linked the appointees as Dr Mahathir’s cronies, saying that the individuals were appointed based on their merit and expertise in education and entrepreneurship.
She is confident that the appointments would strengthen the new path for Mara in keeping its role to uphold the Malay and Bumiputera agenda.