“Actually, we did not expect to win, we made a thick manifesto with all kinds of promises… We need to make sacrifices to fulfil our promises. If we can’t fulfil them, we will need a good reason that is acceptable to the people,” said Mahathir Mohamad at a closed door meeting with MPs last week.
Critics are railing hard on Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) as it slowly becomes clear that PH is falling short on its ambitious campaign promises. PH had boldly claimed to meet 10 unique promises to the public by the 100th day of being in government, and while promises such as abolition of the goods and services tax have materialised, many haven’t. For instance, PH is finding it challenging to accept an opposition leader into government on an equal rank as a minister, according to Mahathir.
In his defence, Mahathir claims that he did not know that some of the problems in the state of government ran so deep. “The more we look into the previous administration, the more bad things we find.”
What can we learn from this?
We have been following the state of Malaysia politics pretty closely, and as Singapore’s own politics is slowly heating up (re: opposition leaders are talking about a coalition), we wonder of the likelihood that most campaign promises are too good to be true. However, Mahathir is no newbie to politics, and credit ought to be given where it is due. While he might have underestimated the amount of effort needed to truly enforce the changes he promised, his government has achieved milestones. Some notable accomplishments are the introduction of the Employment Provident Fund (EPF) scheme for housewives, and the review of the costs involved in some of Malaysia’s high profile mega-projects such as the high speed rail linking Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. If anything, Mahathir is honest in admitting his inflated promises, and has reinforced to his MPs the need to deliver on his words, otherwise risk being voted out in the next General Election.