Let us look objectively at the manifesto offered by Pakatan. There are good points and there is salesman point with the intent of garnering short-term support. Most of the manifesto carries very little details. Like a bag of jelly, in my view the manifestos consist of palatable and unpalatable beans.
A. Shutting down Lynas plant. To close anything in this country is easy. What are not easy to handle is the repercussions of the decisions. There are mixed scientific views on the hazards that Lynas posed. A shortsighted decision will have an impact on FDI and how foreigners look at us in dealing with investment. It may send us backwards by 50 years and investors will look at Vietnam and other economic viable country. Closing the oil refinery project in Johor is probably the most dangerous decision. Billions of petro dollars will go down the drain and at the same time it will make us continue to be dependent on Singapore Bukom Island refinery. I agree many major projects have environmental impact. The manifesto is wrongly worded. It should focus on minimizing impact on the environment and making it safe for the surrounding community and ecosystem. If Pakatan is so concern about the environment, perhaps they should stop everyone from driving their cars. The amount of noxious gas produced by all cars in this country is far worst that Lynas and the oil refinery.
B. Abolishing AES. There are two major aspects of AES. The first refers to the lopsided business model that is unfair to the government and the second is related to site installation of AES. Abolishing the AES system is not a good idea. Instead one should focus on revisiting the contracts and positioning of the cameras in the high-risk areas.
C. Freeing ISA detainees. Are we prepared to have religious extremist, political extremist and terrorist living among us? Malaysian should visit Pakistan and experience the life of ordinary Pakistanis. A father can leave their wife and children and go to work with high probability of him not returning. A child cannot play freely in the streets. Bombs are blasting all over the country and does Pakatan wants us to move into this direction? I agree that there are people being held in Kamunting because of their political affiliation. That is unfair. The best approach would be that Pakatan would review all the detainees record and make appropriate decision on who should stay and who should leave. Freeing everyone is not a good idea. A fair system must be developed to ensure those are being charged with specific crimes must received adequate legal services. The system is in place currently and what are needed are further improvements.
D. Lowering fuel, electricity and water charges. These are probably the most popular goodies that are being dished out to the voters. Who doesn’t like the idea of lower cost of basic necessities? The bigger question is how does the country finance the cost subsidies while maintaining a balance budget? As it is there is subsidies in all elements proposed and the government wants to reduce further. Can the government lower retail fuel cost if the global oil price goes up? I don’t think it is wise to make such promises especially when it cannot be done.
E. Affordable housing. It does sounds nice that PR wants to provide affordable housing. The fact remains affordability is a very relative. It is tied up to the cost of housing, weakening income value and rising cost of living. I think there is a need to revisit the entire housing system in this country.
There are over 100,000 families affected by incomplete housing (delayed, sick and abandoned). There is over supply of houses in this country where people own multiple homes. The cost of housing becomes expensive and unaffordable because people buy houses for investment purposes and not for own occupancy. House prices escalate because of the speculation. A clear policy with taxation scheme will flush the market with houses.
Those who maintained more than one house should pay certain property taxes. Property price will become affordable overnight. Low cost houses can only be owned by the poor and should be for own occupancy. Those who rent out their low cost houses or leave it empty shall be confiscated and given to those that deserved them. It is not difficult to implement such policy.
F. Policing, reducing foreign workers by one million and promoting media freedom. These are some commendable measures and I believe it can be done and would certainly have impact on the people’s lives and democracy. On Free education and abolishing PTPTN, it will good to have but like anything else that cost money, I want to know how does the government intent to manage this and at the same time maintains a balance budget and reduce the financial deficit of the country.
In general, this is a populist manifesto. I don’t blame PR for coming out with such a manifesto because BN has been doing the same. However I must express my disappointment that the manifestos are looking at micro measures and not the big picture. Clearly the strategist that plans for such manifesto is of a poor quality. This worries me as it creates a negative environment for the whole nation. Which part of the manifesto shows that the country comes first? It raises serious concerns of allowing PR to rule at the Federal level.
In my opinion Hindraf statement on the manifesto are nothing short selfish and shortsighted? Are the Indians the only marginalized group in Malaysia? One would expect that Hindraf ask for Pakatan to champion the interest of all marginalized group. No one in this country should be marginalized. The poor irrespective of ethnic background deserves to be helped. No effort should be spared in ensuring all Malaysians should be documented as Malaysian and deserves a Malaysian IC. Those people who had obtained Malaysian IC in rogue manner should be sent back.
Malaysia as a country is at a crossroad. Unemployment is increasing, the dependency on foreign workers are high. Local wages are low. The number of urban poor is increasing due to the rapid increase of the cost of living. The gap between the poor and the very rich is becoming wider. Human resource policy of the country is at worrisome level. Businesses are relocating to Vietnam and other competitive market. National debt is at an unprecedented historical high and yet the politicians cannot come out with a vibrant and simulating manifesto. Where are we heading?