FEBRUARY 7 — A voter's choice of party or candidate is akin to a boss assessing the performance of his employees. Whoever that scores the highest marks will get more votes from the voters.
For the past five years, both the ruling and opposition alliances have been performing below public expectations.
BN is at the helm of the federal administration and has the most powers in hand. As such, voters naturally have much higher expectations from them as power comes with responsibility.
In the 2013 general elections, BN was using the 1Malaysia concept and national transformation agenda as chips to win broader voter support, but these are no longer convincing today.
BN leaders always claim that the country's economy has improved vastly, including impressive GDP growth, a stronger ringgit, an equity market at three-year high, relatively low inflation and jobless rates. However, the public do not seem to feel the euphoria. Instead, market sentiment which has taken a beating since the introduction of GST in April 2015, has yet to recover.
Ringgit's recent strength has stemmed from higher international oil prices and a relatively lethargic US dollar, not because of any stimulus package by the government.
By the way, the drastic fall of the local currency in previous years has remarkably debilitated the health of the national economy.
The plummeting consumer sentiment has sent a chill across many industries, culminating in shop closures, declining vehicle sales and a stagnant real estate market.
As if that is not enough, goods prices have gone through the roof with the December CPI expanding at 3.5 per cent, a 0.1 percentage higher than the previous month.
Luckily we have been able to jump on China's “One Belt One Road” bandwagon. Alibaba is giving us a lift in developing our digital economy, while Chinese Ambassador Bai Tian announced that his country would purchase unlimited quantities of Malaysian palm oil.
That said, the economic effects of Chinese investments will need time to manifest. As such, BN may not win the hearts of voters by chanting its economic achievements alone.
The benchmark verdict by the Federal Court over the conversion of Indira Gandhi's children is a manifestation of judicial independence, but at the same time, it also reflects the fact the ruling coalition has indeed done too little on this matter.
Last August, the government withdrew the critical Section 88A on the last minute from the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2017, reneging on its earlier promises.
After GE13, BN leaders said the government would introduce a “national reconciliation” measure, abandon extreme and unhealthy race elements and set up a National Unity Consultative Council (MKPN) while drawing up a national reconciliation blueprint.
Unfortunately, national reconciliation has since taken the back seat following a string of racially controversial incidents and the introduction of Bumiputra empowerment economic policy, among other things.
Muslim organisation have differing views over the Federal Court ruling, and it is therefore unlikely for the government to reintroduce Section 88A to the Law Reform Bill.
The BN government has also launched seven National Key Results Areas (NKRAs) in a bid to lower crime rate, battle corruption, improve public transportation system, provide quality education opportunities, improve the living standards of low-income families, enhance rural infrastructure and lessen the financial burden of the people.
The government has performed somewhat acceptably in reinforcing urban public transport and rural amenities, including the Klang Valley MRT system and Pan-Borneo Highway. Nothing much elsewhere.
For example, the head of Perlis irrigation and drainage department allegedly received 10 per cent commission from contractors, and poor job execution could be the reason for perennial floods in the state.
According to Australian media reports, the former Felda leadership was the culprit behind massive property investment losses in that country. No follow-up reports on this matter to this day.
With corruption still rampant and serious, it is impossible for the BN to try to woo voters by bragging about its corruption-busting successes.
Perhaps TN50 could win the hearts of some young voters, but again this whole thing is nothing more than a conceptual plan without any substantial policies or strategies to bring it to fruition.
The country has seen little progress in the last few years. According to the EIU's 2017 democracy report, Malaysia was categorised as a "flawed democracy" and was ranked a pathetic 142nd in electoral integrity out of 158 countries and territories worldwide.
Summing up BN's performance over the past five years, it has done reasonably well in infrastructure development but has made practically zero progress in policy adjustments, putting the overall grade at an “F.” — Sin Chew Daily
* This commentary was first published here.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.