Voting by manifesto | Selangor Times
Tuesday
26·09·2017
Issue 118

 

Senedi
Voting by manifesto
Writer: Lee Hwok Aun
Published: Fri, 22 Mar 2013

I REALLY want to compare two election manifestos, but as I write only one exists.

Pakatan Rakyat projected The People’s Manifesto on Feb 25. We are still waiting for Barisan Nasional’s.

A few weeks at most to the general elections, we are unable to evaluate the contending coalitions’ plans side by side.

In a way, there is nothing new here. This is democracy, BN style.

In 2004, it produced a manifesto 12 days before the rakyat went to the polls. Prior to 2004, the ruling regime hardly saw any need to outline its visions and priorities heading into general elections, at best slapping together a slew of platitudes.

But all will be explained after BN gets these elections out of the way and returns to power.

Technically, the practice is not entirely wrong. Elections do not commence until the dissolution of Parliament, so manifesto appearances before are in that sense premature.

In our system of unscheduled election dates, there is hardly time to prepare such documents.

Of course, the Election Commission is also technically free to decide whether campaigning will run for the minimum 10 days or the maximum 60 before voting day.

With a longer period, contenders could formulate credible manifestos.

The EC has traditionally chosen the minimum, and BN has said OK to that. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
But the last time was different.

In March 2008, Malaysian voters showed a wariness to the habits of fixing the election date at the incumbent’s perceived advantage, launching a two week self-praising blitz, then parading to receive the applause and retake the keys to Parliament and Putrajaya.

The brief campaign period did not lopsidedly favour BN as in the past.

This time, you would think, is even more different.

The rakyat has signalled that baiting votes by extracting gratitude or instilling fear does not work like it used to.

Timing wise, the window of tormenting uncertainty grows narrower by the day. General elections could be held as soon as three weeks, as late as… eight? High time for us to know what are BN’s plans if it wins, no?

Whatever the technical compliance and traditional practice, our elections still mournfully lack democratic spirit.

Prime Minister Najib Razak insists we still wait until the whole shebang of programmed transformation touches our lives. That’s why elections have not been called.

Besides the transformation of pockets through Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) or transformation of opinion through mainstream media bombardments, it’s hard to see much else happening within a month or so.

At this stage it’s better to simply and honestly tell us what has worked and what hasn’t, and what the future would hold under another BN government.

We can only extrapolate that BN will supply more of the same, or speculate on what might be different.

That’s just too bad, for everybody. But we do have one side’s manifesto, and that deserves recognition and comment.

Pakatan’s manifesto covers the bases and clearly targets specific issues and groups – corruption, democracy, healthcare, Orang Asli, Sabah and Sarawak, youth, taxi drivers – which have been marginalised, downtrodden or uninspired by BN.

It is refreshingly bold in committing to tackle difficult and entrenched problems, notably monopolies, environmental protection, public transportation, electricity tariffs, and car excise taxes.

However, while offering generous allocations and tax breaks, with measures to cut cost, the manifesto needs more attention to the revenue side and the overall balance.

From a professional standpoint, I heartily welcome the prospect of the UUCA’s abolition and guarantees of academic freedom.

These are necessary, though far from sufficient, conditions for rebirthing a culture of curiosity, critical thinking and fearless learning.

As a citizen, I also gladly receive the manifesto’s commitments to combatting corruption and conducting clean, fair and transparent elections.

The idea of a Heritage Fund for managing oil and gas revenues, and long term trust funds in general, could have been further developed.

I was quite impressed to see this new institution in the manifesto’s closing fictional letter written in 2023, but disappointed that it only appeared there and not in the main body.

Malaysia should certainly be managing natural resources more systematically and productively, incorporating both social spending and investment.

“The People’s Manifesto” provides a considerable platform for governing, although it does not satisfy on all fronts.

At least we have an idea of what to expect of one coalition, which has also given us time to read and criticise.

Of course, it remains a manifesto – a package of promises. It’s also important for electoral candidates and party leaders to be tested and scrutinised through debates, mandated asset declarations, funding rules and other good practices.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

Heading into our pivotal 13th general elections, the incumbents haven’t even told us if and how they are committed to maturing our democracy.

 

 

 Selangor Times

 

 

Also by Lee Hwok Aun:

The bounteous taking before generous giving

Sunnier days for workers?

Guarantee or speculation?

COME Dec 31, if Planet Earth continues orbiting the sun and twirling on its axis, 2012 will run its full term.

Dr Syed Husin – Justice For All

Don’t address him YB. If there is one who deserves to be honoured by us the rakyat, it’s him. But Dr Syed Husin Ali prefers not to be called Yang Berhormat, especially outside of the parliamentary chambers where he is Senator. You will not find a whiff of false modesty in his words. 

Education blueprint falls short

At last, some official confession of how bad things really are in our schools. 

Janji Dinanti

My secondary schoolmates gathered recently for a reunion. Many of us hadn’t met in 20 years, and in some cases couldn’t match names to faces.

Poser over NEP exit

Are we ready to exit the New Economic Policy?

Stop bullying tactics

Is Vision 2020 delusionary?

Looks like Vision 2020 is riding back into the limelight. With elections around the corner, as they have been for about a year, and destiny’s date now just eight years away, UMNO-BN fires a cocktail canister of pleas: so little time, so much to do, and only they will get us there, only they know how. It almost brings tears to my eyes, tears of…

Good conduct Bill for MPs?

Let’s say we table a Members of Parliament Proper Conduct Bill, and inserted sub-section 15(4) of the current Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) Amendment Bill. Why not? Both are institutions meant to pursue truth and generate debate.

Minimum wage still in infancy

It looks like we are rather conscious these days of lowly incomes and lofty inequalities.

What educational reform?

You might think, as we get closer to the promised reforms to the University and University Colleges Act (UUCA), that public authorities and education institutions would want to show some change of heart and mind. Think again.

Why settle for minimum wage?

THE lowest- paid workers in Selangor’s state agencies stand to gain from a wage boost next year. The state government’s recently announced RM1,500 minimum wage moves us in a fair and progressive direction.

Landing softly, hardly taking off

So the teaching of maths and science in English, and acronym of the year PPSMI, has been piloted to a soft landing. There’s a bit for all interested parties in the final give and take.

Malaysia should focus on education

2011 will have to go down as the year of the occupied square. The Occupy Wall Street month-long encampment at Zuccotti Park in Manhattan follows a motif painted from Tunis’ Kasbah Square to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, among the more epic places of revolutionary gathering.

Subversion and division

A subversive document lies before me. Brazenly, some Malaysians think “only those countries that undertook a systematic programme to transform the underlying structure of their economies … were able to rise from middle-income status to become high-income countries”. And these people say we should do likewise.

Whither BN’s logic?

When Nick Leeson, the infamous rogue trader, was convicted in 1995, his lines of defensce did not include “I lost money, how could I have committed fraud?” When professional cyclist Bernard Kohl was found guilty of doping in the Tour de France, he did not plead: “I didn’t win the race, how could I have cheated?”

Wither minimum wage bill?

In my last column I wrote about our rush to meet grandiose targets and end up with partial or delusional solutions. Right on cue, Datuk Seri Idris Jala disclosed on April 26 that Pemandu is expecting do deliver a modus operandi and quantum of minimum wage by the end of this year.

Country in a hurry

We are a country in a hurry: we want high-income status by 2020. We are also a KPI-driven nation: we speedily devise and monitor a litany of key performance indicators. And we are an ambitious lot: we set high targets and want fast results.

Malaysia’s "Me, too!" mentality

Murderously deforested Sarawak goes to their state polls soon. The world remains transfixed on the frenzy to cool down Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plants. And the Malaysian government refuses to impose a moratorium on its plans for nuclear energy.

The right answers or the right questions?

Did you hear a collective groan last week, emitting from the likes of Pantai Dalam, Serdang and Bangi? It's back to the semester grind for students at Universiti Malaya, Universiti Putra, Universiti Kebangsaan, and Malaysia's public universities and their now synchronised calendars.

 

 

VIEWS

 

 

MEDIA

 

 

 

TECHNOLOGY

From Windows to a Mac: A guide

 

 

FOOD

In for a sweet treat

 

 

TRAVEL

A Majestic presence

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Selangor Times. All rights reserved. Designed By Senedi
Twitter