Academic tells how PH can avoid making a mess of public policies

UKM research fellow Denison Jayasooria at a public policy forum last night.

KUALA LUMPUR: In the midst of the khat controversy, Pakatan Harapan has been advised to avoid making “a political mess” of its policies by reviewing them before revealing them to the public.

Policy analyst Denison Jayasooria said there were major weaknesses in the ruling coalition’s internal process on policy formulation.

He suggested that a review committee be set up to scrutinise policies before they go public.

“You need to to formulate quite extensively and thrash it out among yourselves, because it is creating a sense of political insecurity as well as political immaturity, to the point that people are losing confidence in the policy process,” he said at a forum here last night.

He gave as examples the current controversy over plans to introduce lessons on khat (Jawi calligraphy) in vernacular schools, and a change of plans over two international treaties earlier this year.

Denison, a research fellow at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, said there were political repercussions to consider, especially with policies that touch on race, religion and culture.

“There needs to be an internal discussion where they are aware of the different sides before it goes to Parliament.”

The public, including civil society, grassroots groups, academia and the business community, should be consulted on a regular basis to discuss national policy concerns as well as delivery and implementation, he added.

“I know it takes time but if we don’t strengthen this process, we will be stuck with another controversy that you will have to firefight.”

Earlier this year, plans by the federal government to ratify two United Nations treaties were withdrawn after a public outcry. One treaty was for Malaysia’s accession to the International Criminal Court, and the other was acceptance of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.