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Vicious competition

  • We cannot afford to remain contented with just "development and freebies". We ought to seek a determined lift in policy-making and spiritual aspects to stop the country from falling into the trap of stagnancy. Photo courtesy: Bernama

Sin Chew Daily

Pakatan Harapan's election manifesto unveiled on March 8 has exerted much pressure on the BN, and as such, the ruling coalition has introduced even more people-friendly measures in its election manifesto. But, it is still not a good one.

Well, where there is competition, there is impetus for improvement. Given the aggressive onslaught of PH, BN can never afford to take things in stride.

Consequently, BN for the very first time incorporated UEC recognition into its election manifesto. However, it never made any pledge on institutionalized allocations fro SJKCs and independent high schools.

Comparing the two manifestos, they are all about who is the most generous in distributing goodies to the voters.

PM Najib claimed that the PH manifesto would hike the government's debts from RM680 billion to RM1 trillion, and could even sink the country to bankruptcy. He also told the opposition not to use such publicity to cheat voters.

Meanwhile, PH chairman Tun Mahathir said BN's manifesto was a big "election candy" that would cost an estimated RM300 billion. He also questioned how this amount of money is going to be sourced.

This means that both their manifestos will involve at least RM300 billion each, a sum that is way too heavy for this country to shoulder.

PH has pledged that Malaysians eligible for BR1M will continue to get the assistance, and BN is not going to be outdone, announcing that BR1M will be expanded to include also the beneficiaries' children, with RM1,500 one-off giveaway for each of the children studying at tertiary institutions.

In the meantime, BN has pledged doubling of assistance to be released in July and August, along with a new category of BR1M recipients: households with monthly salaries between RM4,000 and RM5,000 to get RM700.

BN and PH share a great deal of similarities in measures to help relieve the burden of the rakyat. For instance, PH pledges to introduce RM100 monthly season passes for unlimited use of public transport in major cities, while BN pledges TN50 public transport passes between RM50 and RM150 per month for students, young workers, senior citizens and specific groups of people.

PH has proposed to halve the Internet subscription cost and double the speed. So has BN.

PH plans to increase the minimum wage to RM1,500 during its first term, while BN promises to increase it to the same level in stages over five years.

The thing is, BN is obviously not doing enough to lower the cost of living. It will be wonderful if the GST rate can be brought down to 3%.

Even though BN has upped its BR1M offerings, GST alone for purchasing a new vehicle will be in the region of several thousand ringgit. The increased assistance will not offset the additional expenses.

On stimulating the national economy, PH hopes to create one million quality job opportunities against three million in employment opportunities planned by BN.

PH plans to reduce the number of migrant workers from six million to four million during its first term, while BN pledges to lower the percentage of foreign workers to 15% of overall workforce.

Unfortunately, neither side has proposed more positive policy reforms, such as abolishing the racist policies in a bid to maximize the country's economic potentials.

We can see that BN is trying very hard to consolidate its fundamental support base to prevent the drain of its support in favor of the opposition.

Consequently, Felda settlers understandably will get the most generous handouts, including RM5,000 special incentives, write-off of debts from the purchase of FGV shares, and a special RM300 million fund to write off extraordinary or extreme debts.

Prior to this, the PM had offered generous giveaways to the country's 1.6 million civil servants and 800,000 pensioners, and salary increments alone sum up to a whopping RM1.46 billion. This, coupled with the bonanza for Felda settlers and increased BR1M, will constitute an astronomical sum which BN has failed to state clearly. This is absolutely necessary to prevent the national coffers from drying up post-election.

As a matter of fact, the rakyat are more eager to see structural reforms such as PH's pledge to restore the dignity of national institutions, limit the tenure of the prime minister, restructure the prime minister's department, reform the electoral system and repeal draconian laws.

By comparison, BN's manifesto is short on structural reforms, but it notably promises to respond to public online petitions supported by at least 30,000 individuals.

More than 60 years now. We cannot afford to remain contented with just "development and freebies". We ought to seek a determined lift in policy-making and spiritual aspects to stop the country from falling into the trap of stagnancy.


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