Penang Forum congratulates the Pakatan Harapan governments—both state and federal—on their success in winning the general election. We also offer our heartfelt congratulations to YB Chow Kon Yeow on his appointment as Penang’s Chief Minister.
As we usher in a new era for the nation, listening to the new Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad putting the rule of law above all else, we anticipate, with hope, governments that will place priority on upholding good governance, respecting institutional processes and independent checks and balances, and being responsive to public and civil society participation, both at the federal and state levels.
We call on the incoming federal and state governments to seriously tackle urban and rural poverty and the wide socio-economic disparities in our society. We appeal to all elected representatives to jointly work for the empowerment and welfare of the people, and to set aside their personal and party interests in making decisions that will have an impact on people’s lives not only now but also in the future.
In this regard, we call for a halt to the destruction of our environment and for the care and rehabilitation of coasts and hill slopes that have been neglected, compromised or destroyed.
The new government must put an end to crony capitalism and wage a war on corruption, particularly when it involves senior politicians and government officials. We hope there will be a reversal of the concentration of powers at the top of executive government both at state and federal levels.
To promote greater participatory democracy and accountability at the local level, we call for the revival of local council elections throughout the nation.
As for Penang, we reiterate civil society’s desire to engage with the state government on the pressing issues of the day and development plans for the state. Now that the state is likely to have greater access to federal funding, there is an urgent need to review the Penang transport masterplan (which should promote sustainable mobility, moving people not cars) and reevaluate the need for environmentally damaging large-scale reclamation plans.
There will also be less need to rely on property development as an engine to drive the Penang economy. Instead, we should focus on building more genuinely affordable housing for the people and raising the quality of life through the provision of adequate open green spaces.
We look forward to greater dialogue with the state government on these and other issues.
Penang Forum steering committee
14 May 2018