Friday, 8 March 2013

People’s hope: Pakatan’s manifesto

People’s hope: Pakatan’s manifesto
 | March 9, 2013

The manifesto will be financed from money saved by curbing corruption, money saved by plugging wastage and leakages, thrifty-spending and priority-spending.


The Pakatan Rakyat People’s Manifesto (Manifesto Rakyat) launched on Feb 25 has elicited the usual response from Barisan Nasional leaders such as “not feasible”, “not workable”, “impossible to achieve”, “not realistic” and “will bankrupt the nation”.
The statement of former prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad that Pakatan’s People’s Manifesto will bankrupt the nation was labelled as a “photocopied statement” by PAS vice-president and Pokok Sena MP, Mahfuz Omar, who is of the view that BN leaders always sing the same old tune about Pakatan’s budget or manifesto.
PAS Kuala Selangor MP, Dzulkefly Ahmad, as a member of the manifesto committee, has thrown a challenge to BN to send its representative to debate with Pakatan leaders over each and every point in the manifesto which is divided into several key sections as outlined below:
A. Points for the people’s economy:
1. To introduce a holistic programme to ensure that one million jobs will be made available in the agricultural, construction and service sectors and to decrease the number of foreign workers by one million in stages in the space of five years.
2. Implement a minimum wage of RM1,100 per month in line with the principle that every worker should be paid sufficiently as gainful employment to commensurate with the current cost of living so that he will not be living below the poverty line.
3. Pakatan will set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to make improvements on the nation’s education system in line with the plan to overhaul the nation’s education system.
To break up the monopoly in the services sector by setting up an Anti-Monopoly Commission and to revamp existing law in regard to competition in order to stop unfair trade practices.
4. To break up the monopoly in the services sector by setting up an Anti-Monopoly Commission and to revamp existing law in regard to competition in order to stop unfair trade practices.
5. Dissolve 1MDB in order for Khazanah Nasional Bhd to remain as the sole body in charge of overseeing the nation’s investments.
B. Points for the people’s well-being:
1. Reduce price of petrol, diesel and utilities. Abolish tolls and monopolies to create healthy competition.
2. Revamp the National Automotive Policy to lessen the people’s burden by getting rid of the excise tax and to ensure that the lowest car price will be RM25,000. Affordable and comfortable housing will be built for all.
3. Abolishing PTPTN (student loans) with the public university fees being borne by the government and a cost-of-living allowance will be given to each and every student.
4. Pakatan will immediately put a stop to the implementation of the AES (Automated Enforcement System) as it is a crony-enrichment project.
5. Revamp the share structure in Felda Global Ventures (FGV) with the aim of returning the operations and landownership of Felda lands to the Felda settlers and Felda staff.
Points for the people’s government:
1. Free the civil servants from being in the grip of their political masters and provide them with a good remuneration package in order to attract the best talent into the civil service.
2. Implement Bersih’s eight demands, automatic voter registration at age 21 and to clean up the electoral roll within 100 days in power.
3. Free the national institutions such as the Judiciary, Attorney-General’s Chambers, MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) and the police force from being in the grip of politicians.
4. Ensure that Parliament is the voice of the people to check and balance the Executive powers. To set up Parliamentary Select Committees for important sectors such as finance, national security, education, defence and Petronas in order to increase the effectiveness and efficiency in the implementation of programmes and projects.
5. Abolish laws that curb media freedom.
6. Abolish the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) within 100 days in power.
7. Review and revamp or abolish all laws that are against the principles and spirit of justice and people’s freedom within the first year in power.
8. The Pakatan federal government will enforce the Restoration of Democracy Act to empower the people. All the ISA (Internal Security Act) detainees will be released and a public apology will be tendered by the government.
A nation at the crossroads
PKR strategy director, Rafizi Ramli, mentioned that Pakatan will focus on efficiency-spending and all the programmes in Pakatan’s manifesto will be financed from three sources, namely: money saved by curbing corruption, money saved by plugging wastage and leakages, thrifty-spending and priority-spending.
“If BN claims that Pakatan’s manifesto is not workable, then it needs to furnish its [manifesto] in full. We want to see how BN’s MRT [Mass Rail Transit] project can incur a cost of up to RM80 billion when other countries can do it at a much lower cost. And also, for the cost of building railway tracks. We want to see each and every detail so that this can be presented to the people and debated in full,” said Rafizi.
He also said that all the programmes in the People’s Manifesto will cost RM45.75 billion.
Financing the manifesto will come from subsidies given to the IPPs (Independent Power Producers), re-negotiation of monopolies and transferring expenses incurred by the Prime Minister’s Department and less important sectors to the important sectors of the economy.
“Under BN’s tenure there is a lot of wastage. The Prime Minister’s Department itself incurs expenditure amounting to RM14 billion yearly and Pakatan can make use of this amount well for the programmes listed in the People’s Manifesto,” said Rafizi.
Hu Pang Chaw, the chief of PAS Supporters Wing (for non-Muslims in PAS), is optimistic that the People’s Manifesto will be welcomed by all and sundry as good financial management and curbing of corruption and cronyism will lead to a healthy economy for everyone’s well-being.
According to him, Pakatan’s approach is vastly different from Umno’s whose financial management only enable the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer thereby causing a massive wealth and income gap between the rich and the poor.
“The situation will deteriorate if BN continues to be the federal government,” said Hu.
Therefore we are a nation at the crossroads. Will we vote wisely for the betterment of all? In the meantime, where is BN’s manifesto? Are the BN leaders still cracking their heads for ideas? Or is it stuck at the printers?
Selena Tay is a DAP member and a FMT columnist.