• Soo Wern Jun, FMT

A 2018 wish list

PETALING JAYA: Everyone is saying goodbye to 2017. Some have had a good year, some not so.

While individually people are praying for a better 2018, many Malaysians are wondering what the New Year will bring especially with the much-anticipated 14th general election (GE14) taking place in a matter of months, as the last possible polling date falls in August.

Malaysia has gone through much ups and downs, 2017 being a year that kept the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission busy, lawyers and witnesses busy with the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) hearing, the fire department aiding flood victims, activists and non-governmental organisations continuing to fight on various human rights issues as well as trying to ensure a clean and fair GE14.

While the future stays uncertain, there is always room for wishes and hopes for changes. That is, the changes that will hopefully make 2018 a better year.

FMT spoke to a mixed bag of personalities, activists and academics, all of whom are hoping for a brighter and better 2018, and shared their wish list of hopes and desire for the year ahead.

Omar Abdul Rahman Academician Professor Emeritus

“On the face of increasing polarising rhetoric and actions from certain quarters which threaten our national cohesion and unity, as chairman of the organising committee of the Dialog Rakyat for National Cohesion and Unity, I urge Malaysians to strive for a more harmonious and less divisive 2018 and beyond, for our country.

“This can be done, by adopting the Dialog Rakyat code of ethical conduct as our New Year Resolution.

“The code includes the following statements:

“To adopt a set of behavioural patterns that embodies moderation, respect, understanding, trust, transparency, tolerance and accommodation that reflects respect for one another regardless of ethnicity, religion, geographical region, status or political leaning and recognition of our similarities and acceptance of our differences.

“To respect the Federal Constitution and uphold the Rukunegara so as to preserve the independence and sovereignty of our nation.

“Advocate justice and fairness, transparency and integrity in all aspects of management and governance, resolve contentions and differences through constructive engagement always seeking for equitable, mutually beneficial outcomes and fight corruption and kleptocracy at all levels and in all its manifestations.

“The above is the outcome of the first Dialog Rakyat held in December 2016. Since then three other dialogues have been convened to translate the code of ethical conduct into ‘actionable practices’, respectively for individuals, for universities and for community groups such as residents associations and ‘rukun tetangga’.”

Eric Paulsen Lawyers for Liberty executive director

“2017 must be known as a year of epic failures, the ongoing 1MDB scandal and billions paid out from the rakyat’s pocket, the sham RCI on the forex losses 25 years too late, the unconstitutional appointments of the top two judges in the judiciary, Felda’s fraudulent land scam and to top it all is the cover up and impunity of the Wang Kelian human trafficking mass graves expose.

“So for 2018, there is really nothing to look forward to except the same old scandals and massive corruption. Unless of course there is a change in government. That is the only way.”

Cynthia Gabriel Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) executive director

“My wish is for the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) to press charges on those involved in the grand larceny of the 1MDB and for Prime Minister Najib Razak to come clean on the 1MDB scandal before he strives for a fresh mandate in GE14. A near impossibility but that appears the only way to move forward as a nation.

“For freedom of information and a new asset declaration law at federal level to be implemented as a priority whoever wins GE14.

“For a two-party system to finally emerge from the outcome of the next general election.”

Ivy Josiah

Activist and Proham secretary-general

“Free and fair general elections! Gender Equality Law!”

Steven Sim Penang Institute board member

“Better wages for the working class to cover the rising cost of living. Greater understanding and commitment to stand together as a people.

“And a change in the federal government!”

Chang Kim Loong National House Buyers Association (HBA) secretary-general

“It is HBA’s hope for PR1MA (1Malaysia People’s Housing Scheme) to focus on affordable properties and not lifestyle properties.

“In our opinion, PR1MA, as the government agency tasked by the prime minister to deliver affordable properties to first time house buyers, has totally lost its focus by partnering with private developers to sell “Lifestyle Properties” where up to 50% of the land available is for commercial and high-end properties.

“Further, PR1MA is allowing owners of existing properties to buy when there is already not enough supply to satisfy first time house buyers.

“HBA hopes for the prime minister to order PR1MA to stick to its core objectives to build “Affordable Properties” and not to allow owners of existing properties to buy PR1MA properties.”

Tan Kok Liang Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president

“My wish list includes better air connectivity to Kuala Lumpur and other cities from China, India, Asean, and long haul destinations.

“Lower cost of doing business, more options for operators to use luxury vehicles, funding for technology development.

“Concerted efforts to curb illegal tour operators, unlicensed transportation using social media and online platforms.

“I hope that the government will revisit enforcement policies and impose heavier penalties especially on ‘middleman’ cheating Umrah pilgrims.

“To liberalise and review outdated laws, including one on tour guides being mandatory for domestic tourism.”

Noor Azimah Abdul Rahman

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman

“The number of Dual Language Programme (DLP) schools should be allowed to expand in 2018. As it is there is a hiccup especially with the current case of the suspension at one of the DLP schools.

“The purpose of DLP is to provide a radical approach towards English as provided for wave two of the Malaysian Education Blueprint (MEB) 2013 to 2025.

“On the teaching of English in Malaysia, generally there are efforts to improve across the board. It takes time. But more needs to be done. Hence, our call for English medium schools so as to produce specifically English language teachers.”

FMT

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