by JUNE MOH / pic BERNAMA
THE length of time an individual holds the prime minister (PM) position cannot be used as a measurement of his ability in leading the nation.
Despite being named the shortest-serving leader, caretaker PM Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (picture) insisted that the achievements of the administration which he led for 14 months were the most important.
Ismail Sabri explained that after taking over the government amid a difficult situation, he focused all his energy in dealing with the still terrifying Covid-19 epidemic, the dire economic situation and political instability.
“I need to focus on these three issues. Although I was given a short period of time, those issues were overcome. Covid-19 cases were brought down so that we could reopen the national economy.
“The political situation was stabilised through the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the government and Pakatan Harapan (PH). I saw political disputes as pointless because we should only focus on solving issues related to Covid-19 and to restore the economy.
“The country’s GDP growth was also the best in South-East Asia during my administration. (Therefore), what is important is filling the void during that period.
“The period of governing is not important. A long time without doing anything for the benefit of the people is meaningless,” he was quoted as saying, recently.
After the government led by former PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin collapsed in August 2021, leading to the formation of a new Cabinet, Ismail Sabri said his administration used the opportunity to serve the interests of the people.
Despite facing challenges especially in managing the agreement of the parties under his leadership, Ismail Sabri said his administration implemented various initiatives to benefit all communities.
He said his administration would spend RM77.7 billion in subsidies in 2022, a double increase from before.
He said the government had taken actions on many issues under his leadership and understood that many were still struggling even though the economy had reopened.
“My administration also took strict measures to control the price of goods. Our food import permit (AP) has been cancelled.
“(We also) create a stockpile of necessary food items. We allocated RM1.1 billion to help chicken farmers reduce the price of birds and eggs. The export of chicken was prohibited for a certain period so that the supply for the people was sufficient,” he said.
To help the bottom 40% income group (B40) and middle 40% income group (M40) housing issues, the government spent RM8.2 billion on Bantuan Keluarga Malaysia (BKM) which benefited 9.6 million people, an increase of one million more recipients than in 2021.
“The government also spent RM2.3 billion to help flood victims at the end of last year,” he added.
Thus, Ismail Sabri, who is also Umno VP, is confident that he has done his best in a short period.
Therefore, he is certain that Barisan Nasional (BN) can create stability, prosperity and improvement for the country as promised.
Ismail Sabri will be the 10th PM candidate from BN if the coalition wins the 15th General Election (GE15) on Nov 19.
In GE15, BN is contesting in 191 seats and aims for a simple majority of 112 seats to form the federal government.
Commenting further, Ismail Sabri left it to the wisdom of more than 21 million voters to evaluate his performance in leading the previous government.
However, he hoped the public would take into account that his administration was a coalition government involving BN’s rivals, particularly Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
Ismail Sabri reminded voters that Bersatu was established in 2016 to take down Umno and BN.
“It is not easy to manage a coalition government, especially one that is made up of your competitors,” he said, adding that it was not what Umno wanted.
“Umno wanted a general election to be held after the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government fell, but it could not be held because of Covid-19,” he noted.
Ismail Sabri insisted that BN was not the cause of the PH government’s collapse.
It was, he said, due to the collaboration of Muhyiddin’s Bersatu leadership with Pas, the PKR group led by Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and Umno MPs to form the Perikatan Nasional government in March 2020.