KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Madani administration ushered in its first year in power with an anniversary event at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, the first time a federal government has held such a celebration in Malaysia.
Over 230,000 people attended the event, according to official figures provided by the organisers, who also called the three-day Madani Government One Year Anniversary Programme a success in spreading and promoting government initiatives and policies to Malaysians.
Throughout, Malay Mail observed thousands of attendees visiting at the booths to check out programmes and exhibitions.
Here are the things we learnt from the programme:
1. Winning the information war
While there were expectations the national unity government would try and use the event for political grandstanding after a year of running exchanges with the Opposition, the celebration was held with a clear goal in mind: to inform Malaysians about the real achievements and progress made in the 12 months since last year’s general election.
Anwar himself said the overarching objective of the three days was to showcase what the national unity government has been able to deliver in its first year, and what it plans to continue delivering over the next four.
To counter the allegations of its political rivals, the Anwar administration sought to inform and educate Malaysians to convince them of the trajectory that the national unity government was setting for the country.
A total of 102 government agencies have set up exhibitions at the stadium grounds.
By Malay Mail’s observations, the efforts worked, as some attendees said they were leaving with a better understanding of the government than with which they had arrived.
“Today, I discovered that we have a Rural and Regional Development Ministry. I did not know of its existence before. Thanks to the programme, I am now aware of it,” said 21-year-old Aisyah Akmalhisham.
The national unity government also appeared intent on maintaining the momentum of the programme, with Anwar saying that the success of the three-day festival has convinced his government to hold one in every district in the country, starting with those in Selangor next month.
2. Youth slowly coming around
During last year’s 15th general election, young and first-time voters enfranchised by Undi18 bucked expectations to go Perikatan Nasional’s way, bringing the coalition into serious contention to form the federal government.
The phenomenon also appeared to hold in the polls conducted since then, including the six state elections in August.
Despite this, however, the youths who attended the festival told Malay Mail that what they saw during the event was beginning to win them over, particularly the government’s plans to improve youth employment and implement progressive wage policies in the country.
Adlina Huda Zulkhairi, a student from Shah Alam, said that the Madani Government One Year Anniversary Programme changed her views about working for the government.
“People often have certain ideas about government jobs. It is great that they are shedding light on this so that people know that it is nothing like they thought,” she said.
The programme also showcased ministries’ efforts over the past year, particularly in areas related to improving public welfare and wellbeing.
Another student, 21-year-old Maria Madelina Anak Kiri, told Malay Mail she was especially impressed with the government’s efforts to address mental health in the country.
“The booths also showcased the activities that they have conducted over the past year,” she said.
3. Some help still needed
While the organising secretariat said the target of at least 200,000 attendees over the three days was reached, the figure was likely helped along by the incentive events held in conjunction with the celebration.
Among others, the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) offered discounts of up to 50 per cent for compound payments made to settle traffic summonses at the programme.
Bukit Aman Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department director Datuk Mohd Azman Ahmad Sapri said that in the first two days alone, a total of 12,300 traffic offenders made compound payments to settle 37,242 summonses.
He also said the encouraging response gave PDRM the opportunity to channel important information about traffic laws to the community.
While the Road Transport Department (JPJ) did not follow suit with its own discounts, it did hold a free helmet exchange to raise awareness of the need to replace the crucial piece of riding gear every five years for maximum protection.
Long queues for the exchange were seen from the morning of the first day, and about 3,000 helmets were exchanged in the three-day event.