Walski's pre-post note: With the 12th General Elections only 3-plus days away, Walski figured this would be a good time to review what the various parties are fighting for. Hopefully it won't take 3-plus days for you to digest all the information presented here...
A totem pole, for all practical purposes is an ornamental post.
But the post you're reading now, is more than just ornamental. However, like a totem pole, which has layers of complementary but distinct scuptures one on top of the other, this post looks at layers of a different kind.
And being the smart cookie you probably are, you've probably figured out that it's a layering of election manifestos that have been released by the various political parties. Specifically, we'll be lookiing at the manifestos presented by Barisan Nasional, DAP, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), and PAS. Oh, and one other manifesto... but Walski won't let you in on whose just yet.
One thing to remember about election manifestos is that they're not meant to be detailed road maps. Rather, they're a macro look at what a particular party promises to offer the people. The way Walski looks at manifestos depends on whether a particular party is the incumbent, or if they're the challenger. For the incumbent, Walski also looks at what was promised previously (in this case the manifesto for the 11th GE in 2004), and determines if the incumbent has indeed fulfilled the promises made. This is a benchmark in determining whether or not what's being promised now can be delivered, or if they're simply promises.
As DPM Najib has quipped, "anyone can make promises". Anyone, to be fair, should also include BN.
So, being that they are the incumbent, we'll look at BN's manifesto, first of all. The first thing that struck Walski was... "Gee... they sure spent a load of money on printing these".
But nevermind, they've got the means and resources (which hopefully didn't come in part from the tax payers). Let's first of all look at what was previously promised.
(BN's promises track record, and more manifestotempole, in the full post)
Unfortunately, Walski couldn't find a pdf document detailing BN's 2004 manifesto anywhere. As buddy blogger Howsy had reported, the website containing the 2004 manifesto is no more. But what Walski did find, however, is a partial transcription, at Politics 101 Malaysia. Which does the trick just as well... Let's take a few point items and see how far BN has fulfilled their 2004 promises. To refresh your memory:
Everyone has a stake and a voice in Malaysia under BARISAN NASIONAL.
BARISAN NASIONAL will continue to promote peace, stability and harmony among all Malaysians.
- BARISAN NASIONAL is strongly committed to Parliamentary democracy, which gives each citizen a say in the administration of this nation.
- BARISAN NASIONAL safeguards the interests of all citizens. We listen to and act on the hopes and aspirations of all groups regardless of age, gender, ethnic background and religion.
- BARISAN NASIONAL calls upon all groups to participate in nation-building. Young people, women and rural folk in particular, make up a large proportion of the population. They must be given the opportunities to participate and contribute.
Your opinions and views continue to matter as BARISAN NASIONAL endeavours to implement peoplecentred policies. To address your need for better services and more accountable government, BARISAN NASIONAL will:
- All ethnic groups are represented in the BARISAN NASIONAL. Power sharing is genuine, along with a strong spirit of togetherness and ‘give and take’.
- Islam is accorded its rightful position as the official religion of Malaysia. We believe in a tolerant and progressive Islam. Freedom to worship other religions is guaranteed by the Constitution.
- There will be one system of government for all people. We will not tolerate divisiveness from extremism.
- We respect the separation of powers provided under the Constitution, with each institution – the Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary – playing their respective roles to ensure a system of checks and balances and the rule of law.
- We believe in fair and equitable sharing of the fruits of economic growth. Development must benefit all areas of the country and all groups. Those in need will continue to receive support. No group will be left behind.
With this resolve, we will convince the people, through example and concrete proof, to continue to support the BARISAN NASIONAL government towards realising the hopes and aspirations of the Malaysian people.
- Continue the all-out campaign against corruption, without fear or favour.
- Make National Schools the school of choice through quality improvements, including better teaching of mother tongue languages, as well as safeguard the position of national-type schools today.
- Foster student interaction to enhance national unity.
- Improve the working environment for teaching professionals.
- Enhance higher education institutions to produce highcalibre graduates.
- Improve the application of Syariah law in the country, and ensure Muslim women have recourse to a fair and just legal system.
- Continue to promote a culture of zero-tolerance for corruption.
- Introduce a code of ethics and integrity for the public and private sector, political parties and civil society.
- Nurture a more open and participative society, working together with NGOs.
- Improve the gender sensitivity of the police force.
- Improve responsiveness to the publicís complaints and concerns.
(source: Politics 101 Malaysia)
The above, of course, is not the manifesto in its entirety, but suffice it to say that BN, in the last 4 years hasn't quite fulfilled it's promises. And Pak Lah has even come out and say that he needs more time, and a fresh mandate (via The Star).
Which brings us to BN's current manifesto, for the 2008 General Elections. Essentially, this manifesto looks at what's been achieved between 2004 - 2007, then the promise for the next 4 or 5 years. Some of it sounds like a broken record, some of it projecting incredibly bizarre economic facts - like the 18% growth in GDP (2004 - 2007), based on the annual growth of between 5 - 6% between 2005 to 2007, according to official statistics (hat-tip: Tony Pua). Go figure...
In fact, some people have tried to got figure, as reflected in this letter to Malaysiakini. Unless, of course, the new method of measuring growth is to add the growth rate of successive years... the new BN economics and post-modern math, must be.
And then you have the promised IPCMC vs. what was delivered - a less than independent board of inquiry. In fact, crime has risen at a very alarming rate in the past 4-plus years. Perhaps if the police weren't too busy cracking down hard on peaceful dissent, more legs on the street would've helped curb the crime.
So, if you read thru the BN manifesto - critically - is it going to be the same 'ol, same 'ol lacklustre 4 years, or is BN suddenly going to outperform itself? Rational thought says the former... And it's not just Walski alone that has this doubt of BN delivering their new set of promises. As early as July last year, The People's Parliament made it clear that we shouldn't be falling for BN's sweet talk anymore.
Which brings us to the challengers: DAP, PKR and PAS (plus a few others). The main thrust of all three manifestos: a cleaner, more effective, more transparent and more accountable government.
- Return Malaysia to a truly constitutional state
- Create a vibrant economy for all, via The Malaysian Economic Agenda
- Make Malaysia safer
- Make Malaysia more affordable for all
- Increase the standard of education
PKR has chosen a path of moderation, where not only Islamic values are adopted, but also universal good values of all religions. In other words, it's trying to be inclusive of the real societal make-up of Malaysia. Juxtapose that against what BN is offering, which pits us between Hadhari and a hard place. One interesting thing proposed by PKR is the return of local and municipal elections - which we used to have, but was abolished during Dr. M's time. Much needed change, Walski thinks - the council-by-appointment method we now practice has led to all kinds of inefficiencies and less-than-transparent practices.
PKR's manifesto also calls for greater liberties and rights for the Malaysian people, as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution, in an attempt to return Malaysia to becoming a real democracy. If actually carried out, this will make obsolete Walski's 3rd Law of Governmental Physics - which is actually a good thing.
The manifesto also outlines what the Malaysian Economic Agenda is all about. Summarizing, it is about, among other things, dismantling the monopolies in place that are affecting our competitivenes and benefits to consumers, instituting a more transparent way of dealing with Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), market liberalization, and replacing the NEP with a policy based on need, not race (which is something Walski has been harping on for a long time).
The other thrusts are pretty much self-explanatory. As Walski indicated earlier, don't expect a detailed roadmap, but rather macro directions that PKR would adopt.
The Less-is-Best Award for Shortest Manifesto prize, hands-down, has to go to DAP. Unlike the other manifestos, DAP's consists of one single sheet. But the one-sheet manifesto is crammed with a lot of things DAP would like to achieve, categorized under 8 headings:
- Safer Streets for our Family
- A Healthy Environment for the Future Generation
- Better Living Standards
- Gender Equality & Youth Empowerment
- A "Malaysian First" Economic Policy
- A Clean Government
- Quality Education for our Children
- Democracy and Freedom
Differently stated, perhaps, but not too far off from their challenger-buddy PKR. Some have criticized DAP's manifesto as being unrealistic, particularly when it comes to the Malaysia Bonus, which aims to give households with an income of RM 6,000 or less per year outright money of RM 6,000. The critics say that this could be abused. Perhaps. But then again, the manifesto only outlines this idea, and not all the qualification details. It is, after all, a manifesto, not a master plan.
But looking at the manifesto overall, the aim is pretty much the same as PKR's - a cleaner government, and one that can take the nation to greater heights. Obviously, in DAP's view (as with the other challengers), the current incumbents simply don't cut it anymore.
While DAP's is the shortest, PAS's manifesto is the longest (in terms of pages). Also, it appears as if it was generated as a PowerPoint slideshow, and is written in not the most elegant of English (the English version, anyway). But what it lacks in appearance it makes up for in content.
The PAS manifesto's preamble, detailing the problems facing the nation, from their viewpoint, is similar to PKR's and DAP's. However, it has more key thrusts, compared to their other two challenger-buddies manifestos. Twelve, in total, consisting of:
- A Trustworthy, Just and Clean Government
- A Prudent Financial and Transparent Management of the Economy
- Defend the Safety of Lives and Dignity and Security on Property Through Waging War-On-Crime
- Empower a Total Education as a Transformational Force
- A National Health Care System that caters for all
- Well-being of Workers both in the Public and Private Sectors
- Project a Policy of Care and Service to the entire rakyat, by advocating and implementing
- Special Offers to the Women of the Nation
- Pro-Farmers and Pro-Fishermen Policy of Defending their Rights and the Nation’s
- Ethical, Fair and Clean Mass Media Policy Prescriptions
- Environmental-Friendly Policy
- National Integration and Unity Policy
A couple of interesting things related to PAS's manifesto that are worth pointing out. First, they certainly have toned down their demands for an Islamic state, like they have in previous elections. Second, there are a few thrusts that are quite niche (like the ones for women and farmer/fishermen).
Smart move, on the part of PAS, actually. The situation we have today of Islamization wholesale has its roots in UMNO and PAS fighting it out in the Islamic sandbox, with the fight inadvertently spilling out to the entire playground. Walski sees the tone-down as a form of PR damage-control. And what of their previous stand on Islamic statehood?
Realistically, PAS, even if it wins all the parliamentary seats (60, out of 222) doesn't have the critical mass to form a government on their own. The same applies to DAP and PKR, for all practical purposes. Therefore, PAS has no choice but to make their messaging more inclusive this time around. And so far, Walski has not seen them take the UMNO bait of the Islamic state challenge. Things being the way they are, Walski feels there is less to fear from PAS, compared to UMNO.
As Azmi Sharom has stated in his video interview with Malaysiakini, political parties during campaign periods are usually more firebrand-ish, than when they eventually get elected, when reality sets in. And the reality here is, if BN doesn't get any majority whatsoever, the new government will be a coalition government, consisting of all 3 challenging parties. In which case, some ideological compromises have to be made. PAS, in all likelihood, is probably well aware of this.
~ ~ ~ o O o ~ ~ ~
One last thing before Walski caps off this post, since you've bothered to read this far.
A totem pole, while having a multitude of sculptures stacked on top of each other, usually has a capping piece. The same goes with our Manifestotempole.
Remember that Walski mentioned another important manifesto earlier on? Well, that manifesto belongs to the one and only political party Walski truly endorses, without an qualification - Siber Party of Malaysia (M), or SiPM.
A couple of days ago, they released their own manifesto, called The Power of 4G. It's even shorter than DAP's, but has far reaching impact on ensuring that Malaysia is a happier nation.
LEGALISE THE POWER OF 4G - SiPM'S MANIFESTO FOR THE 12TH MALAYSIA GENERAL ELECTION
Legalise IT: Parties of all kinds - political and festive, sexual and tupperware!
Legalise IT: Marijuana. We may not be able to stop the rise in fuel or food prices. But we sure can make you laugh about it!
Legalise IT: Carnal Knowledge. How else can we create truly united Malaysians, without knowing how to do it right and like of course with pleasure! ;)
Legalise IT: Football Pools. If we can't win with our national team let's just bet on the sport! With rising prices, this is another way for you to score some C-notes!
LEGALISE IT: The power of 4G.
"PARTI.HISAP.MAIN.JUDI. UNDILAH SIPM (M)!"
Well, today, SiPM released their campaign logo. A logo that couldn't be any simpler, but at the same time relays a very deep meaning.
The message here is: by showing up at your polling station, and marking X on the ballot paper, you are, in effect, voting for SiPM. What good is it to just deny BN the 2/3 majority, when real change can only be realized by a totally new government that is able to exact real change?