KUALA LUMPUR – Pakatan Harapan (PH) was overambitious with its election manifesto, which was exacerbated by its weak resolve in delivering some of its proposed reforms, the Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) concluded in a new assessment.

At the launch of its second bi-annual report card titled “Projek Pautan” on Putrajaya’s performance, the think-tank said the government must recalibrate these unrealistic goals to mitigate voter unhappiness with the non-delivery.

“One of their promises is to reduce the pressures causing burdensome price increases. When PH first came into power, prices dropped due to the tax holiday but when the SST came in, the prices increased again and stabilised.

“We also find that developing one million affordable homes in 10 years to be unrealistic. The same goes with abolishing PTPTN loans. It is unsustainable and unrealistic,” said IDEAS research director Laurence Todd.

He pointed out that after one year in power, the government has constructed just 35,769 affordable homes versus the extrapolated first year target of 100,000 affordable homes based on the pact’s pledge to construct one million units by 2028.

The British economic and foreign policy expert also added that the PH’s promise of increasing public health spending by four per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) is likely unattainable based on federal budget allocations for this year.

Looking at Budget 2019, Todd predicted that the government would only have increased healthcare spending by 2.74 per cent of last year’s GDP by the end of its full term in 2023.

At the same time, PH’s lack of political will in meeting some of their manifesto promises will also hurt its popular support heading into the next general election if left unaddressed.

“Increasing the governance of GLC to international standards, cut down the use of oppressive laws and achieving the true spirit of federalism… these are the things we think is achievable by the government but then they don’t want to do it.

“Another area is the government’s energy policy. If you look at Malaysia’s energy mix, the sector growing the most for power generator is coal.

“From what we see, they want to increase the use of domestically produced coal but what they should be going for is more gas to lower the carbon footprint,” said Todd.

Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Ong Kian Ming speaks during IDEAS forum ‘The Next Four Years: What Now for Malaysia?’ in Kuala Lumpur June 28, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Ong Kian Ming speaks during IDEAS forum ‘The Next Four Years: What Now for Malaysia?’ in Kuala Lumpur June 28, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Later at the same forum, International Trade and Industries Deputy Minister Ong Kian Ming admitted that the PH coalition overreached with its election manifesto pledges.

However, he countered that the coalition also discovered more off-budget items than expected after assuming power, which directly impaired its ability to deliver on some key pledges as well as introduce necessary reforms.

On legal reforms, he also said they also encountered more resistance from the public than was anticipated, adding that this was also inflamed by Opposition attacks.

“Of course, all of you are aware of the kind of pushback that occurred, especially on ratifying UN conventions. This is the larger political reality, forces against us use race and religion to attack the government.

“We have to be cognisant of this and the way to address this is categorised it into categories that IDEAS had outlined. So we are not pushing it aside but placing it in order of priority on what is it that the public wanted and take note of internal resistance that comes from within,” Ong said.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad previously conceded that the pact made some of the promises without thinking it would win the 14th general election.

– Malay Mail