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The Battle for Putrajaya

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DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has announced three promises that the Pakatan Rakyat would implement if the alternative coalition comes to power after the next general election.

The promises are (1) abolishing the controversial saman ekor (postal summons) scheme; (2) providing an annual ex-gratia of RM1,000 to each senior citizen aged 60 and above; and (3) providing free wi-fi or wireless broadband service throughout the country.

According to Guan Eng, the DAP central executive committee had agreed during its meeting on Thursday 12 August 2010 to issue a directive to all party leaders to publicise the three promises during all political functions.

He said the three promises proposed by the DAP had been accepted by its Pakatan Rakyat partners, and would duly be implemented should the alternative coalition win the Battle of Putrajaya at the next general election.

“These are the three policy initiatives that will bring benefit to the people that we are confident will be carried out by the Pakatan Rakyat should we win Putrajaya. We do not just want to harp on the corrupt practices of the Barisan Nasional, but also want to talk about what we can do for the people,” Lim told a press conference at the party headquarters in Petaling Jaya.

On the controversial saman ekor scheme, Guan Eng said that blacklisting vehicle owners was not only unfair but actually a violation of the principles of natural justice, and should be declared an illegal practice.

On the annual ex-gratia for senior citizens, Guan Eng said it would be a practical way of showing recognition and appreciation to them for their contribution to the country.

He said the exercise would merely cost the federal government RM2.1 billion annually, and “what is RM2.1 billion when the country squanders RM28 billion annually to corruption”.

Regarding the provision of free wi-fi service throughout the country, Guan Eng said the move is part of the impetus to take the nation to greater heights in the fast-changing world scenario.

“We must innovate and only when you do that, you are racing to the top. If not, you are racing to the bottom,” he said.

The three policy initiatives proposed by the DAP certainly deserve the support and endorsement of the people.

However, we should take an indepth look at each of these three promises and, perhaps, offer some inputs to augment and enhance their benefits and advantages.

First, the controversial saman ekor scheme. It is a blacklisting system which bars traffic offenders who fail to pay their summonses from renewing their licences and road tax.

Currently, more than 650,000 traffic offenders are being blacklisted, indicating the seriousness of the traffic situation in the country, especially that of speeding motorists.

This is reflected in the horror reports we often read in the newspapers and see in television, particularly during the festive balik kampung periods, of tragic road accidents when even whole families are wiped out, with many others suffering the loss of limbs.

No doubt, Guan Eng is right in saying that the saman ekor scheme is unfair and a violation of the rights of the vehicle owners, and should be done away with.

Nevertheless, the main issue is not simply the issuing of saman ekor per se, but the very critical matter of irresponsible speeding motorists who are often the cause of the loss of lives and limbs on the highways.

Abolishing the saman ekor scheme will protect the rights of drivers who should remain innocent until proven guilty, but how do we prevent motorists from speeding and driving recklessly? How do we curb those irresponsible lethal speeding drivers who are the cause of tragic fatal road crashes?

The saman ekor is meant to serve as a deterrent to deter and dissuade motorists from speeding, which is obviously a very critical problem on the Malaysian roads.

In abrogating the saman ekor scheme, the Pakatan Rakyat should come out with a feasible and viable option to resolve the sempiternal problem of thoughtless and foolhardy drivers on the Malaysian highways.

I have one suggestion which may sound bizarre, perhaps even weird and uncanny, but logically sensible and practical.

My outlandish suggestion is that to require all imported and locally-made vehicles to have engines which allow only a maximum speed of, say, 150kph.

I simply cannot comprehend why vehicles are built with speed limit of up to 250kph when they are not allow to travel beyond 120kph.

Making it mandatory to have vehicle engines capped at a speed limit of 150kph will resolve once and for all the perennial problem of speeding on the highways.

On the issue of an annual ex-gratia for senior citizens, instead of giving each RM1,000 a year, I want the Pakatan Rakyat to consider abolishing personal income for all senior citizens 60 and above, even if they are still in employ. Those earning less than RM36,000 a year should be given a cost-of-living allowance (COLA) of at least RM250 to RM500 a month. Senior citizens who have contributed to Sosco during their working life should be given free medical treatments, with Sosco footing the bills.

Senior citizens who have their own business or companies will not be qualified for these privileges.

Regarding the provision of free wi-fi service throughout the country, the Pakatan Rakyat should also consider abolishing tax on computers, especially laptops, and, perhaps, even offer financial subsidies for students from poor families to buy laptops.

If the Pakatan Rakyat is prepared to pledge that these people-friendly policies will be implemented if it takes over the federal government, then I am sure it will be able to mobilize massive support for the Battle of Putrajaya.

But, first it must get its acts together, and treat the invisible wounds from the civil war within the coalition, especially the PKR, with the same circumspect vigilance that is given to physical injuries displayed publicly, ala the knock out Khalid drama, the Tian Chua boycott Sin Chew fiasco, the Tee Boon Hock scandal, etc.

MySinchew 2010-08-13


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