KUALA LUMPUR: The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) would like to congratulate Malaysians who voted in the six state elections for exercising their democratic right to elect their representatives in a generally fair, clean, and peaceful election. We also congratulate all coalitions that have won the rakyat’s mandate to govern their respective states for the next five years.

“We urge all sides of the political divide to get back to the business of governing. We ask that all political parties should now focus on institutional reforms, policy making and good governance. Both government and opposition at federal and state levels play a pivotal role in ensuring the proper governance and administration of Malaysia and the respective states. Most importantly, there must be compromise, cooperation and synergy between both the federal and state governments in the formation and implementation of policies. The way forward for a true Malaysian federation is for all states to receive their fair share of allocations and resources, regardless of the coalition that governs the state,” comments Dr Tricia Yeoh, CEO of IDEAS.

There is now greater electoral contestation in Malaysian politics, which is positive in a healthy democracy. Preliminary analysis of election results suggest that even though there are some areas where some parties can claim victory, the overall results show that no party can rest on their laurels. Voters are now more willing to transfer their votes to a different party if their preferred party has failed to deliver. Gone are the days of single party dominance.

However, we note with concern that there is no opposition bloc in the Terengganu state legislative assembly (DUN). To ensure check and balance, we welcome Terengganu Menteri Besar YAB Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar’s call to implement the backbenchers system, where backbenchers must exercise greater vigilance in keeping the state government accountable.

Furthermore, we recommend that Parliamentary Select Committees be formed and institutionalised at the DUN level in all states. PSCs add another layer of check and balance, and can be a platform for civil society organisations (CSOs) and experts to provide inputs. This is a good time for state governments to demonstrate leadership in good governance.

“Given the current fluid and dynamic nature of Malaysian politics, all political parties should enact institutional reforms to minimise incumbency advantages. Regardless of whichever political party or coalition is in government, opposition representatives must be treated equitably as those in government. IDEAS urges all political parties to commit to passing the Political Financing Act (PFA) to ensure transparency and accountability in political financing. We would also like to see the enactment of the Constituency Development Fund Act (CDFA) at the state level to ensure transparent and equitable distribution of CDFs to all parties. Additionally, state governments should also commit to a more transparent budgeting process,” adds Dr Yeoh.

The greater need is to bridge the increasing divide between Malaysia’s different races, religions, regions, social classes, economic backgrounds and beliefs. Taking concrete action in this respect is challenging and complex, but must be committed to by all Malaysians. IDEAS remains ready to contribute in any way we can.