Chong: Better governance, accountability since PH took over federal govt

Chong (front row, fifth right) taking a group photo with DAP members during the 2019 DAP Sabah Annual Convention.

KUCHING, Nov 24: National governance and accountability has improved significantly under the PH government, according to DAP national vice-chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

The Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman pointed out the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition has made 12 major achievements in 18 months after taking over from the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government, despite challenging and trying times.

When the rakyat voted the coalition into government, they wanted to see institutional reforms and to clean up the country, he said in his speech during the 2019 DAP Sabah Annual Convention, today, according to a press statement.

Chong highlighted that among the achievements and reformations of PH government are curtailing the power of the Prime Minister to ensure better check and balance within the system.

Under BN previously, the prime minister was also the Finance Minister, and had unlimited term of office and a total of RM15 billion allocation for 2017, while the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) also controlled 92 agencies, he pointed out.

“For PH’s prime minister, he does not hold any other ministerial post, the PMO only controls 41 agencies, including RM7.4 billion allocation in 2019, and (we set) a maximun of 2 terms of office.

“Moving towards meritocracy in the appointment of important positions in the government, a non-Muslim was appointed as the Finance Minister, a Sabahan non-Muslim was appointed as the Chief Justice of the country, and a non-Muslim was also appointed as the Attorney-General of the country,” he added.

Chong also noted that an Opposition Member of Parliament was also appointed as the chairperson of the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to decide on the agenda of enquiries and investigations to be carried out on all ministries’ policies, projects and programmes, thus providing more effective and stringent check-and-balance on the executive.

“Our promise to review the mega projects entered into by the previous BN government has also saved the country tens of billions of ringgit so that the money can be put to better use in other programmes and initiatives.

“Examples of such reviews are the re-negotiation of the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) project which reduced the contract price from the initial RM65.5 billion to RM44 billion — a saving of RM21.5 billion — and the re-negotiation of the MRT2 project (for both above and underground) which reduced the contract price from the initial RM39.35 billion to RM30.53 billion — a saving of RM8.82 billion.

“The re-negotiation of the LRT3 project reduced the contract price from the initial RM31.65 billion to RM16.63 billion — a saving of RM15.02 billion — and the termination of Lebuhraya Utara Borneo Sdn Bhd (LBU) as the Project Delivery Partner (PDP) for the Pan Borneo Highway project in Sarawak resulted in saving an estimated RM1.2 billion,” he continued.

Chong also reminded delegates that the PH government is also intensifying the fight against corruption whereby several high-profile personalities are now being prosecuted in court for corruption or money laundering.

Among the examples he cited were Datuk Seri Najib Razak (ex-Prime Minister), Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (ex-Deputy Prime Minister), Datuk Seri Utama Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor (ex-Federal Territories Minister), and Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor (ex-PM’s wife).

He also pointed that it was compulsory for all cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and Members of Parliament to declare their assets to make all elected representatives accountable to public scrutiny, including the implementation of open tender systems for government procurement.

“Apart from that, we successfully traced the money trail of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) thus resulting in the return of a total sum of RM1.45 billion from the embezzled 1MDB fund and there are still ongoing efforts to trace the other embezzled funds of 1MDB,” he added.

In his speech, Chong who is also the Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, highlighted PH had abolished the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which brought relief to many businesses as well as delivered the full refund of RM37 billion in GST and income tax which was wrongfully withheld by the previous BN Government for years.

He pointed out this included maintaining the inflation rate at below 1 per cent for the past 18 months as compared to BN’s era when the inflation rates hovers around 2-3 per cent.

He also said that the PH government had increased the allocation for the Chinese schools to RM117 million in 2020 with a more systematic and efficient disimbursement, including RM15 million allocated for Chinese Independent Schools in 2020.

Other initiatives highlighted by Chong include stabilising RON95 and diesel prices at the respective ceiling prices of RM2.08/litre and RM2.18/litre for the past one year, and providing free healthcare protection scheme PeKa B40 to low-income B40 Bantuan Sara Hidup recipients aged 50 and above, which will be extended to those B40 BSH recipients aged 40 and above in 2020.

“In addition, there is also the free MySalam Takaful insurance programme for the B40 and in year 2020, all those earning below RM100,000 annual income will also be covered by the MySalam Takaful programme,” he added. — DayakDaily