I refer to the statement made by newly installed Menteri Besar of Johor, Dato Osman Sapian, that Pakatan Harapan Johor will “think about it” as to whether the role of the state opposition leader will be recognised; PH Johor would not be giving development allocations to opposition members as BN did not give to the opposition before; and that the new MB will also hold the finance and land portfolios.
We view these remarks with grave concern as they are not in keeping with the promises made in Pakatan Harapan’s election manifesto and the standards set by the PH governments in Selangor and Penang over their last two terms.
Firstly, it was promised in the Buku Harapan, the PH manifesto, that the leader of the opposition (in Parliament but should be similar for State Assemblies) will be accorded the same status and allocation as that of a Federal Minister (State Exco).
This was also the practice in the Selangor State Legislative Assembly, where the state opposition leader is fully recognised and funded. To give the excuse that there might not be enough finance is unacceptable for a state whose income is approximately RM1.5 billion annually.
The new MB must prioritise state legislature reforms so that we can fulfil the principles of parliamentary democracy where the voices of all Rakyat are heard through their elected representatives.
Secondly, Constituency Development Funds are meant for the people of the constituency, to allow their elected representatives to serve them. The voters of constituencies that elected Barisan Nasional representatives are as much entitled to the CDF as those who voted for PH simply because they are as much Bangsa Johor as the rest.
Are you the Menteri Besar for all Johoreans or just to those who supported your coalition? Such punitive politics (politik balas dendam) should have no place in a mature society.
Lastly and most importantly, even though it is usual for the Menteri Besar to be in charge of both finance and land matters, we hope that Dato Osman will keep to the spirit of the promise made in the Buku Harapan.
It was clearly stated that the Prime Minister (which would also apply to the Menteri Besar or Chief Minister for States), shall not hold more than one portfolio in the Cabinet, especially the Finance portfolio.
The 1MDB scandal took place because the Prime Minister was also the Finance Minister. Please learn from this painful and shameful episode in our nation’s history and let all transactions be done with full transparency and accountability.
Please be reminded that Johoreans who overwhelmingly voted in Pakatan Harapan have high hopes that this government would not only serve the needs of the people but also set higher standards in integrity, transparency and magnanimity towards the opposition and those who disagree with you.
We want you to be different from the previous Government, we expect you to be better.
Thomas Fann is chairman of ENGAGE, a reform movement.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.