PETALING JAYA, Dec 4 — Space for discussion on the nation’s reform agenda is more encouraging under Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s government compared to the previous government, although more efforts need to be carried out to ensure more substantial reforms are implemented.
The CSO Platform for Reform, in its ‘One Year of the Unity Government Report’, said the finding is based on their engagements with Anwar’s government from Oct 2022 to Oct 2023, where the platform was able to engage better with the government at 36 per cent, compared to 17 per cent for 12 months (Oct 2021 to Oct 2022) under Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri’s government.
“This is a 19 per cent increase in strategic activities, which showed that the space for reform agenda discussions is more encouraging, thus showing that this is a better time for civil societies to engage with stakeholders,” said the chairperson of CSO Jerald Joseph, during the report launch here today.
A coalition of more than 60 civil society organisations (CSO) based in Malaysia, CSO Platform for Reform is a reform-focused group that monitors the government performance the whole year through the four core focuses, namely governance leadership reform, institutions reform, parliament and state legislative assembly reform, and key laws and policies reform.
Jerald said the four core themes will guide the report analysis in addition to the collective recommendations, in the hope of supplementing and informing the government’s work through the aspirations of people on the ground.
“CSO Platform for Reform hopes to continue the uptrend in strategic engagements with the MADANI government and government agencies, to organise capacity building, advocacy and community outreach programmes to ensure that institutional reform is not just discussed at the policy making levels, but to be inclusive and uphold the people’s voices to ensure that no one is left behind,” he said.
Meanwhile, on more positives notes, COS’s national coordinator, Beverly Joeman commended the government’s efforts, among others, in advocating for more women to be assigned decision-making roles in the corporate sector in response to having more women in decision-making positions at all levels.
She also praised the government’s commitment to improving the quality and accessibility of existing legal aid programmes, particularly for the B40 group, by saying Malaysia is now proposing a Public Defenders Act, which seeks to improve criminal legal aid services and empower legal aid services for those who may not be able to afford legal representation.
For institutions reform, Joeman said, the CSO Platform for Reform also views that placing the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) under the purview of the Malaysian Parliament for the purpose of accountability and transparency as staying consistent with the Prime Minister ‘s aspiration to ensure transparency and independence of the MACC.
Anwar was sworn in as Prime Minister on Nov 24 2022, five days after the 15th general election (GE15), before announcing the appointment of two Deputy Prime Ministers and 28 cabinet members in the Unity Government on Dec 2, 2022.