Selangor Journal: Six months on, Selangor a prime example of an effective unity govt

SHAH ALAM, Feb 22 — In the current challenging sea of Malaysian politics, where former foes have turned allies to form a unity government, the Selangor administration stands as a fine example of how parties from different backgrounds can come together to govern effectively, according to political observers.

Despite the inherent trials posed by this unique coming-together between Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional (BN), the state government has managed to forge ahead with progressive policies and effective governance in the first six months of its tenure.

Implementing numerous people-centric programmes, rolling out new policies, fulfilling election pledges, and a greater focus on environment and sustainability, are just a few examples of how the state jumped right into action and delivery.

Selangor, as it stands, has set a precedent which could serve as a model for other states to emulate.

For analysts, however, one hurdle remains — the Selangor unity coalition continues to grapple with persistent perceptions and misconceptions propagated against national leaders in Putrajaya, which has somewhat hindered its ability to garner better public support on the state level.

To address this, Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research senior fellow Azmi Hassan suggested that Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Amirudin Shari play a more pivotal role in showcasing effective leadership, especially in fostering dialogues between Harapan and BN lynchpin Umno.

These include discussions surrounding the positions of local councillors and village heads.

“The Selangor government has a greater opportunity to showcase the benefits of a Harapan-BN cooperation, compared to the Federal government. Amirudin can begin by mediating with Umno regarding the current issues involving the local councillors and village leaders, for instance.

“Cordial relationships and a commitment to fairness must be demonstrated,” he told Selangor Journal, adding this is crucial in laying the groundwork for further mature political discourses.

Previously, Selangor Umno chief Datuk Megat Zulkarnain Omardin was reported as requesting for all 373 Village Development and Security Committee (JPKK) chairman posts in the state to be given to the party after declining the 20 local council positions offered by Harapan.

Megat, however, rebuffed the notion that Umno was “greedy” and “demanding”, clarifying instead that such a move would allow the party to oversee villages in the state while Harapan focuses on urban areas.

Mediations are still ongoing between Amirudin and Selangor Umno to resolve the issue.

Focus on welfare, revenue

Yesterday marked the sixth-month mark since Amirudin and his lineup of state executive councillors were sworn into office on August 21, 2023, with the former returning as Menteri Besar for the second term.

This follows the Harapan-BN victory in the state election nine days earlier, respectively securing 32 and two out of Selangor’s 56 seats, allowing the political alliance to form the government via a simple majority.

Since then, he has hit the ground running, reiterating the state’s commitment to prioritise the execution of plans and projects introduced in his previous term, including the five-year First Selangor Plan (RS-1).

Another key focus is to position the state as a major investment hub, not only within Malaysia but also across Southeast Asia.

Amirudin has also announced plans to engage with the Federal government on the possibility of fiscal decentralisation, including allowing some of the tax revenues collected to be channelled back to the state.

The idea is to increase revenue streams beyond just land sales and issuing petty business licences.

For National Council of Professors’ senior fellow Datuk Jeniri Amir, such an approach is possible as the political dynamics on the state and Federal levels are more cordial, since both are from the same ruling parties.

“Politically, there is the capacity for both governments to discuss the matter equitably as both are from the same parties.

“The same issue is also being discussed among the Sabah and Sarawak state governments. At the Federal level, there is a need to engage with all relevant parties and discuss in good faith for the benefit of the people,” he said.

Moving forward, Jeniri also urged Amirudin and his administration to focus on implementing more welfare initiatives, apart from realigning state policies to match those at the Federal level.

“They need to focus on helping to ease the people’s burden in dealing with the rising living costs as this remains a hot-button issue.

“Implementing welfare policies is also crucial, and they should reconfigure what is best regarding subsidies and people-oriented initiatives,” he said.

Going above and beyond

While the issues of high living costs and other economic challenges remain true, the Harapan-BN Selangor government has shown great commitment throughout the past six months to ensure the well-being of its citizens and the state.

Amirudin, for example, has stressed his administration’s focus on offering high-impact jobs, prioritising emerging industries like artificial intelligence (AI) to further optimise the manufacturing sector.

The state is also engaging with moonshot projects and catalytic economic initiatives, including the Integrated Development Region in South Selangor (Idriss), the Sabak Bernam Development Area (Sabda), and the Selangor Maritime Gateway (SMG) project.

Other new policies introduced include the MamaKerja incentive, which provides RM1,000 in financial aid to 5,000 working mothers to subsidise childcare costs.

This aims to boost women’s workforce participation and to acknowledge their crucial role in Selangor’s economic development. Various other new initiatives are also in the pipeline.

One is the plan to roll out the Selangor Care Economy Action Framework 2024-2028 in April this year, the first of its kind in Malaysia, which will serve as a reference document on the care economy for all stakeholders in the state.

To ensure all these policies align with its fiscal and policy planning, the state is also expected to table the RS-1 mid-term review soon, including the need to continuously improve the quality of services provided at the local authority level.

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