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Malaysia’s Progress Since the New Government 

by Natasha Christopher

Image via TIME Magazine 

9th May 2018 is when it all changed for us Malaysians. The 14th General Election(GE14) made a hugely significant impact on all of us. Not only was it one of the most suspenseful moments since Lee Chong Wei’s final at the Olympics but Malaysia’s opposition party, Pakatan Harapan won a majority of the seats and thus, overthrowing the previous ruling party, Barisan Nasional (BN). At stake were all 222 seats in 12 out of the 13 State Legislative Assemblies of Malaysia.  
The people’s tsunami did indeed change the course of history, ending over 60 years of BN ruling. With the new government, comes new responsibilities. On March 8, 2018, Pakatan Harapan unveiled its manifesto if they should ever win the GE14. With the theme of Rebuilding The Nation, Fulfilling Dreams, the 194- page manifesto expands upon with five main thrusts. The manifesto also has five commitments which are to modernise Felda and return it to its former glory; to ensure equitable rights, fairness and harmony for the Indian community; to take care of the welfare, health and rights of women; to develop the talents of youths and create opportunities for them as well as to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices of senior citizens. (source: The Star Online, 8 Mar 2018). 

One of the main manifestoes Pakatan Harapan  gave in the first 100 days if they won was; 

  1. Abolishing Goods and Services Tax (GST) 
  2. To introduce the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) scheme for housewives 
  3. Standardized monthly minimum wages of employees 
  4. To review all mega projects 
  5. Stabilise the price of oil 
  6. Give back the status of Sabah and Sarawak 

14697989 - male hand refilling the black car with fuel on a filling station
However, instead of GST, Malaysia implemented the sales and services tax (SST) to replace GST. The SST is a single stage of consumption tax which businesses cannot recover the tax paid on their purchases. The biggest difference between the Sales and Service Tax (SST) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is that SST is more of direct taxation.  In turn, it is now treated as another added cost to the business. (source: Juice Online, May 21st, 2018). 

That is just some of the many promises they gave the rakyat. However, newer progress has also been made since their victory on May 9th 2018. From transportation, education to even food and beverages eateries, here are some of the amendments made. 

1. All Interns Needs To Get Paid 

Recently, the Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman made it a public service announcement that all interns are required to be paid or given allowances. The policy would be introduced and implemented in all ministries and government agencies. According to Syed Saddiq, the payment scheme for the trainees will be assessed based on several criteria that will be set and implemented for the convenience of the students. At the end of the day, experiences/exposure doesn’t pay the bills. 
2. Youngest Minister in Asia  
cover 2 syed saddiq
As we’re on the topic of Syed Saddiq, so far he’s not only walking the talk but he’s also the youngest cabinet minister in Asia at the tender age of 25. Hailing from Muar, Johor, he was sworn in as the Youth and Sports Minister even after having completed his law degree. What’s amazing about Syed Saddiq was the fact of how much he loves Malaysia. He turned down two scholarships worth roughly RM 400,000 from Oxford University, England just so he can focus on building the ultimate Malaysian dream for many. Now, that’s what we call a patriotic Malaysian! 
3. More Female Minister Appointed 

(left) Dato' Seri Dr Wan Azizah binti Wan Ismail , and (right) Yeo Bee Yin

(left) Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah binti Wan Ismail , and (right) Yeo Bee Yin

With the Pakatan Harapan’s promise to deliver at least 30% representation as to the highest policy-making body in Malaysia, Malaysia makes history of having the first female Deputy Prime Minister and Women & Family Development Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. She is set to lead a line up of 13 cabinet ministers. She first thrust into politics after her husband, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sacked as deputy prime minister and was jailed in 1998. She then founded the Parti Keadilan Nasional and now becoming one of only a few female politicians in Southeast Asia to hold such post. 

Besides that, Federal Court judge Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat was appointed as the new Chief Justice, making her the first woman to take on the role. In a press conference at her office in the Palace of Justice she said “honestly, I don’t feel the pressure just because I’m a woman. Gender is not a factor at all.  “It (pressure) is due to the position, as it carries a huge responsibility. Whether you are a woman or a man, it is the same for me. “You must carry out the responsibility as best as you can,” (source: The Star Online, 6 May 2019) 

Another prominent face is Ms Yeo Bee Yin, Malaysia’s Minister for Energy, Science Technology, Environment and Climate Change made a significant change when she ordered trash and plastic dumped here to be shipped back to their respective countries. The cost would be borne by the companies responsible for the export. Due to this, many cases were successfully resolved and received fewer complaints of illegal plastic recycling plants.  
4. Grab Drivers To Obtain PSV Licence 

Image via The Malaysian Reserve

Image via The Malaysian Reserve

If you’re a driver for the e-hailing service, Grab and other e-hailing platforms, you are required to register for Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence. Effective since 12 July 2019, Grab driver-partners will have to comply with a set of regulations laid out by the Ministry of Transport, Anthony Loke Siew Fook. One of the tests you’re required to do to obtain the PSV licence is to sit for online training test, go through medical check-up, take a written exam, and add on e-hailing insurance. Plus, vehicles which are more than three years old will be required to undergo inspection at Puspakom. 

In Malaysia, a PSV license costs RM115/year. However, Grab Malaysia has announced that the company will be offering cash reimbursements to e-hailing drivers as they go through the process of applying for the PSV Licence. 

5. Subside for Public Transportation 
public transport
For those who commute to places via public transportation, Malaysia’s Transport Minister offers a great deal by the unlimited travel pass. You can use the unlimited pass for 30 days on LRT, MRT, KL Monorail, BUS, and BRT Sunway lines for better convenience. This can only be used via MyKad, MyTentera and MyKid card. What entails from this is you have MY 100 and MY 50. The difference between both of them is that you can use them based on their respective platforms of RapidKL. KTM is excluded from this travel pass. 

In the tabling of the 2019 Budget, the government announced the unlimited travel pass initiative with an allocation of RM240 million, which is in line with the current administration’s move to boost public transport usage. (source: New Straits Times, November 15, 2018). Saves your transportation cost per month if your usage is more than RM 100. 

6. Travelling tax 

Image via Business Insider Malaysia

Image via Business Insider Malaysia

According to the Budget 2019, a departure levy for travellers leaving from Malaysian airports starting from June 1st, 2019. The rate will be RM20 per head for those departing to ASEAN countries, and RM 40 to other countries. Passengers of domestic flights will be charged RM5.00.

According to Ask Legal.my, the airport tax is not collected by the government and the Passenger Service Charge (PSC) which will be paid to Malaysia Airports Holdings BHD to keep the airports running. However, Transport Minister Anthony Loke has explained that the departure tax is separate from PSC. The main reasons for the tax are stated as to encourage domestic travel and raise money for the government. 
7. Smoking Ban 
cover 7 smoking
The smoking ban that took place in every part of at all eateries and restaurants started January 1st, 2019. The health ministry will start issuing summonses to smokers who continue lighting up at eateries despite the nationwide smoking ban. According to Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye, the reason behind this ban is to urge the public to cooperate and obey the ban in hopes to change their way of smoking or perhaps reduce smoking in the future.  If you get caught smoking, an individual can be fined a maximum of RM 10,000 or jailed up to two years. Restaurant operator who even failed to put up no-smoking signs risks a fine not exceeding RM 3,000 or jail of up to six months. (source: Free Malaysia Today, April 10, 2019).

 However, you can still smoke when you’re dining at a restaurant, just make sure you’re smoking more than three metres from the restaurant.

8. Plastic Straw Banned 
cover 8 straw image via Eater Chicago
To tackle the environmental issues that the world is going through, Malaysia is doing its part in banning plastic straw in Selangor eateries. Effective since July 1st, 2019, this ban was aimed at eliminating single-use plastics, which could pollute the seas and endanger marine life. Selayang Municipal Council, Anfaal Saari called on the public to adopt a sustainable and green practice for a better planet. 

Departments and agencies are to replace plastic water bottles with glasses or water jugs, to stop using plastic wraps for sauces, and to refrain from providing plastic plates, cups, cutlery and straw; as well as providing water dispensers. Civil servants as well visitors are urged to bring reusable food containers, cutlery and straws for personal use and to use woven bags to store food and beverages bought from the cafeteria. (source: the New Straits Times, June 30, 2019) 

9. Voting Age to 18 years old 
cover 9 voting
Malaysia MP’s approved a legal amendment to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 years old. The amendment also included provisions for voters to be automatically registered on electoral rolls and for candidates to be eligible to stand for election from 18 years of age. 

“The government estimates that for the next five years if automatic voter registration is concurrently implemented with lowering of voting age to 18, as many as 7.8 million new voters will be added into the electoral roll by 2023”, said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in his speech in Parliament on Tuesday. (source: Straits Times, July 16, 2019).
10. Micro Housing for Single M’sians 

Image via R.AGE

Image via R.AGE

Youngsters from the lower-income (B40) – for unmarried Malaysians – will now stand a chance to own their house at an affordable price via Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) upcoming micro-housing facilities. The first phase can start applying in August 2019, will house 190 tenants while the second phase, to be completed in the first quarter of 2020, is expected to cater to an additional 135 people. It can house three to seven people, and be rented as low as RM 100 per person inclusive of bills. (source: New Straits Times, April 16, 2019). 

There is a catch for this, tenants are allowed to stay for a maximum of 18 months and areas are only in Kuala Lumpur city for now. To be eligible for this housing scheme, you need to be a Malaysian citizen, 18-35 years old, earning less than RM2,000 a month, work in KL and do not own a house or a car.
11. Broadband Speed Increased 
cover 11 internet image via Mediasat English
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has made it a point where Malaysia’s broadband speed has made a massive three-fold jump from a 23 megabytes per second (Mbps) in January this year to 61.97 Mbps in October. The global average is 50.88 Mbps. It has made an impact so much so that an Internet speed survey showed that Malaysia becomes the 26th fastest country in the world after it rose 10 spots. 

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said he wanted local telcos to increase internet broadband speed while reducing the price as well. 

 12. Freedom of the Press 

Image via Malaysia Journal

Image via Malaysia Journal

Media and press are our mediums of information and an instrumental foundation to the right to freedom of opinion and expression, especially in Malaysia. Ever since the newly elected government started ruling, it would not restrict press freedom or take action against any inaccurate news reports unless it is a threat to national security. This implementation brought Malaysia 22 places to 123rd in the latest World Press Freedom Index. Malaysia is at the top of the rankings among countries in the South-East Asian region.

As for the anti-fake law that was approved by the former prime minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir – Malaysia’s prime minister – would be given proper definition, as to make it clear to the media and the public what is fake.

Tell us your thoughts. Are you satisfied with the implementations done so far? Why?

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