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Manifesto, oh manifesto!

  • BN's manifesto is laden with financial promises which according to Mahathir's calculations runs into some RM300 billion.

By Mohsin Abdullah

Few weeks ago, Pakatan Harapan unveiled its GE14 manifesto.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak,the BN chairman mocked the manifesto, calling it "unfeasible" and claimed it would increase national debt because of its promises to abolish tolls and GST.

When Najib announced the BN manifesto a few nights ago, Pakatan leader Tun Mahathir Mohamad tore into it, asking the BN chairman, "Where will the money come from to fund the pledges?"

"You (Najib) don't even have money to pay for medicine or give scholarships," said Mahathir at a rally in Muar, with the crowd roaring in agreement.

According to online reports, government hospitals have been substituting medicines with "cheaper" ones. This cannot be independently verified.

And as the scholarships go, it is said the BN administration has tightened its purse strings if not stopping giving it out completely. The government responded by saying this only involved studies abroad.

As we know, the BN manifesto was laden with financial promises which, according to Mahathir's calculations, ran into some RM300 billion.

How Mahathir came up with the figure is not known but this much I can say: BN's pledges involved big amount of money "for the rakyat".

Yes, there are other aspects naturally, but the main draw is big money handouts.

So much so BN supporters in "explaining" the manifesto point to Najib's announcement on the "doubled BR1M" payments as the "best thing about our manifesto".

That say it all!

However, I read at least one commentator in social media asking whether "a caretaker government can do such a thing".

I leave it to the legal eagles to address that.

As Najib's announcement on the manifesto was carried live on national television and reported widely by the media, I feel it's not necessary for me to repeat all that and give breakdown or details, lest I be accused of being unfair.

I humbly suggest to those who insist they need details to google, or wait for manifesto pamphlets to be delivered to their doorsteps.

Nevertheless, to Najib's deputy Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the BN manifesto "showed that the country has strong financial reserves and not bankrupt".

According to Zahid, the manifesto took into consideration the national income coffer especially in Khazanah Nasional Berhad.

Still, such assurances have not allayed concerns, at least among some of our fellow citizens.

A veteran financial journalist commented that he's worried about the impact on the country.

Anyway, a journalist friend of mine sums it up nicely with an old saying, "You give a poor man a fish, you feed him for a day. You give him a fishing rod and teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime."

(Mohsin Abdullah is a veteran journalist who writes about this, that and everything else.)


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