If you rely on the MSM (mainstream media – not men who have sex with men) to get your news, it’s a very good chance that you may not have heard about the first Pakatan Rakyat (PR) convention, which was held yesterday, December 19, in Shah Alam.
But not surprisingly, nothing on the convention by either Utusan or Berita Harian. Instead, both Malay language dailies not only ignored the convention, but also published less-than-positive reports about the component parties.
Arriving at a common ground, as simple as it may sound, is no mean feat, particularly between three political parties that have, at times, very disparate views on certain issues.
To Walski, this is a very positive step forward towards having a common Pakatan Rakyat voice. The real test henceforth is to live up to the common ground agreed upon.
Since none of the MSM (as far as he knows) has outlined what the common framework actually is, and since not everyone has a paid subscription to Malaysiakini (which published the contents of the framework document), Walski felt it incumbent upon himself to publish them here. He thinks that it’s important you are adequately informed.
The chief architect of the framework is none other than former Law Minister, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, who apparently has been working on it for the past few months, ever since he joined Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) back in June this year (via The Malaysian Insider).
The Common Policy Framework (CPF), as reported by Malaysiakini yesterday, has three main thrusts:
- Economy, and
- Social Justice
While there were some shortcomings in terms of expectations (like the issue of local council elections [via The People’s Parliament]), Walski personally feels that it’s a good start – provided that PR can live up to what they’ve put down on paper.
(the Common Policy Framework, in full, and more, in the full post)
The following, constituting what Walski thinks is the complete gist of the policy, was published yesterday by Malaysiakini. Each of the three thrusts is explained and expounded upon, and gives a clearer picture of where PR stands as a single political entity.
Pakatan Rakyat’s Common Policy Framework
A. Constitutionalism and the rule of law
The federal constitution is the manifestation of the aspirations and hopes of the independent Malaysian people.
Within it, the fundamental rights of every citizen including rights to religion, language, citizenship and culture are fully guaranteed.
Therefore, Pakatan commits to uphold the spirit and provisions of the federal constitution.
- Defend the federal constitution, Islam as the religion of the federation while other religions can be practiced peacefully anywhere in the country and protecting the special position of the Malays and the indigenous peoples anywhere including Sabah and Sarawak, and the legitimate interests of other races in accordance with Article 153.
- Defend the role and responsibility of the institution of constitutional monarchy.
- Uphold the use of Bahasa Melayu in accordance with Article 152 of the Constitution and promote Bahasa Melayu as the regional lingua franca, while protecting and strengthening the use of mother tongue languages for all races.
- Abolish the Internal Security Act and other laws that allow for detention without trial while simultaneously propose that all existing emergency declarations be rescinded.
- Abolish or amend all other oppressive laws and regulations that are repressive and contravene fundamental rights.
- Guarantee the spirit of federalism and a just relationship between the federation and the states, especially Sabah and Sarawak.
B. Separation of powers
The effectiveness of the democratic system is dependent on the proper implementation of separation of powers.
The integrity of a government is dependent on the independence, credibility and legitimacy of its institutions that have been entrusted with the responsibility to ensure checks and balances among the branches of the executive, judicial and legislative.
- Restore the integrity of the judicial system and guarantee transparency and full independence of the Judicial Appointment Commission.
- Restructure the workings in Parliament to make it more transparent, democratic and able to perform its role to check and balance.
- Guarantee the direct accountability to Parliament of bodies such as the Election Commission, Anti-Corruption Commission, Human Rights Commission, Petronas, Khazanah and others.
- Ensure that the appointment of positions such as the inspector-general of police, the attorney-general, the anti-corruption commissioner and the auditor-general require the approval of Parliament.
- Create a National Ombudsman Department.
- Strengthen local government democracy and democratically enhance the competency and effectiveness of the delivery system and guarantee transparency at all levels.
- Free all media, amend the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, enact a Freedom of Information Act and ensure Internet freedom.
- Enhance the performance of public service sector and ensure the welfare of its members. Ensure that the institution remains independent and able to perform its responsibilities competently.
- Empower and enhance civil society. Increase the participation of people through dialogues and consultations.
C. A clean, free and fair electoral system
The tarnished electoral system must be restored its integrity.The sovereign power of the people to choose the country's leadership must be defended from any defects that allows for manipulation.
Therefore it is important for us to review all the relevant electoral laws.
- Enable all citizens age 18 and above to vote via automatic registration.
- Eliminate all weaknesses in the electoral system by cleaning the electoral roll; abolish postal votes for voters within the country, ensure all citizens outside the country can vote; and introduce the use of indelible ink.
- Ensure the media provides political parties fair and just space, reasonable campaign period and a clean and free election process.
- Re-delineate constituencies to mirror the principle of one citizen, one vote in order to guarantee a more fair and just representation.
- Grant political parties campaign expenditures based on the percentages of votes in general elections.
- Enact more effective laws to punish candidates or political parties that are involved in corruption or vote-buying practices.
Pakatan is determined to create a national economy with high performance and sustainable growth.
To ensure national competitiveness, it is critical that effective distribution of national resources and wealth in key and strategic fields or sectors of the economy is ensured.
Stimulating local investment and generating strong domestic demand as well as attracting continuous foreign direct investments will foster an economy that is progressive and resilient.
Pakatan is committed to creating a 'People's Economy' to ensure that the prosperity and wealth generated will be reaped by people of all classes whilst reducing the gap between rich and poor, as well as overcoming the disparity of development between regions, as a consequence of mismanagement that failed to prioritise the interests of the majority.
A. High-performance economy
The basis of a high-performance economy is a workforce that is knowledge-based, competent and highly-skilled.
Pakatan will provide all necessary investment to produce a high-productivity workforce in order to boost high-added value in national economic activities.
- Guarantee that opportunities of higher education and training based on competency are provided in all service, manufacturing and agricultural sectors.
- Ensure that every worker who wants to improve his or her skills is given an opportunity to obtain continuous training to enhance productivity.
- Encourage citizens who are professionals and skilled living overseas to return home by creating a professional and attractive working environment.
B. Democratic and transparent economy Pakatan is committed to implement policies to ensure that the management of the economy is free from corruption, abuse of power and cronyism in order to enhance accountability, transparency and good governance.
Corrupt practices and abuse of power has dissipated national wealth and prevented sustainable economic growth and weakened national competitiveness.
- Reform the tender system so that it becomes open, fair, transparent, and gives the best value for the people's money.
- Reject privatisation which burdens the people. Re-negotiate unfair concessions and contracts that profited cronies, including IPPs, highway tolls and water infrastructure.
- Implement a progressive taxation system and reject any taxes that burden the people. This includes putting a stop to the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) until the people and the country are ready for it.
C. Decentralisation and the empowerment of state economic management
In keeping with the spirit of federalism to improve the government's delivery system, effectiveness and efficient expenditure, the implementation of extensive development and economic policies will be needed to be devolved to the state governments according to respective priorities.
Decentralisation can motivate structural change in the economic framework to boost efficiency and productivity due to greater effectiveness in expenditure, besides higher multiplier effects for government expenditure in the national economy.
- Implement grants for development and equalisation based on a formula of total population, poverty rate, development area, cost, human development and gross revenue per capita indices that will ensure that the poorer states are not left behind.
- Redistribute economic and administrative power and the implementation of infrastructure works to the state governments, for example an equitable negotiation rights in ascertaining public transportation design and network.
- Generate a more balanced geographical development, thereby creating productive secondary cities nationwide in order to reduce development centralisation in the Klang Valley.
- Prioritising policies that generate high and long-term growth, based on an economic understanding where the state governments are in a better position to determine and implement socio-economic strategies.
D. Affirmative action policies based on need
Pakatan recognises that all Malaysians are entitled to assistance based on need regardless of background.
Pakatan is determined to make the national economy people-centred, so that the national wealth can be enjoyed equitably by all.
- Ensure equitable economic assistance and distribution to all based on need.
- Assist marginalised groups from all races.
- Provide cash assistance directly to target groups to end hardcore poverty.
- Provide education scholarships based on need and merit.
- Ensure social mobility by guaranteeing more equitable and equal economic opportunity for all.
- Use the savings from leakages and wastage and the fight against corruption as additional resources for programmes to eradicate poverty.
Labour is the foundation to the continuous prosperity of the nation. Pakatan will guarantee that all Malaysian workers will be treated justly and further ensure their welfare and prosperity be preserved.
- Introduce minimum wage for all Malaysian workers.
- Defend workers' rights to form trade unions according to their needs and choice; and ensure that they are given the same rights and protection in accordance with international standards.
- Introduce an Equal Opportunity Act to ensure that work opportunities are open to all.
- Support entrepreneurs and businessmen of Small and Medium Enterprises by providing access to loans, adequate infrastructure and further reduce bureaucracy.
- Facilitate assistance to fishermen and farmers to drive increased productivity.
- Re-structure an integrated foreign workers policy and reduce national dependence on foreign labour.
- Provide support system to groups involved in the informal economic sector such as small businesses, hawkers, farmers and those who are self employed.
F. Social safety net
All Malaysians are entitled to enjoy life with dignity at all times. Those who have lost their income, the elderly, the disabled and low-income groups must be protected and also given the opportunity to enjoy the economic benefits of development.
- Strengthen the Employees' Provident Fund system and introduce a pension scheme for private sector employees.
- Set up a National Retrenchment Fund to provide temporary financial support to those who have lost their jobs, subsidy for on-the-job training and retraining of workers
- Extend the retirement age to 60 years in order to provide opportunities to those who wish to continue contributing to society.
Housing is a basic human need. In reality, a large number of Malaysians could not, without assistance, afford their own housing especially those from the lower and middle income.
Therefore Pakatan will:
- Set up a Perbadanan Perumahan with the mandate to increase the number of affordable housing and achieving the goal of One Family, One House.
- Overcome the problems concerning 'squatters/urban settlers' as far as possible through in situ housing development and/or land sharing and through low interest loans to assist the squatters/urban settlers to purchase their own houses.
- Coordinate a negotiation system for' squatters/urban settlers', developers and the authorities to achieve a win-win solution for matters concerning housing and land;
- Provide assistance to upgrade low-cost houses and Projek Perumahan Rakyat in order to meet the increased number of household occupants;
- Invest in public amenities in the apartment surroundings to ensure a balanced and healthy environment.
- Encourage transparency and competition in the financial sector in order to make housing loans more accessible and affordable.
- Cooperate with state governments to safeguard housing policy and ensure that affordable housing is provided for those in need.
H. Infrastructure and public facilities
Providing and maintaining good public infrastructure is the government's responsibility.
The implementation should not burden the people or merely profit certain cronies.
Good public infrastructure and facilities can increase the people's disposable income and their productivity.
- Guarantee clean water and electricity at reasonable rates to every family in Malaysia.
- Review and re-negotiate all highway toll agreements and study the possibility of purchasing back the Plus highway with the objective to eliminate tolls in seven years.
- Improve the efficiency of the public transport system through the establishment of the Commission of Public Transport comprising government and community representatives.
- Introduce a half-fare scheme for elderly citizens, the disabled, students and retirees for all types of public transport.
- Re-assess the granting of taxi permits to large companies and prioritise individual entrepreneurs and their associations.
- Provide efficient broadband Internet service for free in order to reduce the digital divide.
Our environment is a national treasure that must be preserved for the sustainability of the future generations. Facing crisis of climate change, Pakatan resolves to:
- Entrench the practice of recycling as part of our culture by providing the necessary infrastructure and a comprehensive system.
- Ensure all logging activities and deforestation are carried out in a controlled and sustainable manner.
- Build the foundation and technological expertise to enable a smooth transition to the use of alternative energy resources.
- Restrict the development at hill slopes and hazardous areas.
- Reduce carbon emission rate to conform with international standards and increase the ability of the ecological system to absorb carbon.
J. Sustainable growth and green development
Pakatan is determined to make the green economy as the core of a new era of equitable and sustainable prosperity for Malaysia.
The provision of infrastructure and development of new industries in line with the transition to a green economy will become an engine for dynamic economic growth.
- Introduce modern, comprehensive and appropriate infrastructure for a low carbon economy, including a world-class, integrated public transport system and a comprehensive recycling programme.
- Develop industries based on green technology such as manufacturing solar panels and hydrogen cell fuels.
- Lead the development of alternative energy systems and renewable energy in the Asian region.
- Strengthen the agriculture sector with the latest methods and technology to ensure that the national food supply is secured.
3. SOCIAL JUSTICE
A. Unity and social justice
Pakatan resolves to foster understanding and unity among the people based on the principle of preserving our common interests.
National unity must reflect a genuine solidarity, understanding and togetherness among the races, cultures and religions.
Pakatan promises to rebuild a united multiracial society, where the different races can live in peace and harmony.
- Focus on efforts to mend the deteriorated relationships among the races and religions.
- Consolidate the efforts of all stakeholders in order to restore the good will, mutual respect and trust which have long been practiced by the multi-racial and multi-religious people of Malaysia.
- Enact a Race Relations Act to safeguard unity and harmony of the people and to eliminate discrimination among the races.
- Generate support from every level of the society so that it can hold fast to all the principles and norms that should be upheld by an open society.
- Strive to eliminate the practice of racial politics through various means including education, mass media, dialogues and consultations.
- Cultivate a Malaysian culture based on moral values and excellence that is accepted by all races.
This will require an open attitude towards cultural diversity that is practiced by the various races and ethnic groups in Malaysia.
Pakatan will do this whilst taking consideration the country's history and evolution.
- Improve the welfare of Orang Asli, Orang Asal and other minority groups in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak besides defending their fundamental, economic and social rights.
Religion and other beliefs practiced by Malaysians should form the basis of unity that is founded on good universal values.
Malaysians have almost fallen into the boiling pot of discord and tension that was caused by manipulation of religious differences.
This should not happen in a genuinely democratic Malaysia, with Islam occupying a special position whilst the rights of other religions are guaranteed.
Pakatan vows to:
- Defend the position of Islam as the religion of the Federation and guarantee freedom of religion for every Malaysian.
- Organise dialogues and consultations between cultures and religions in order to strengthen the understanding among them.
- Set up a comprehensive mechanism to provide just resolutions to cases which involve the overlap of civil and syariah laws, including a royal commission to deeply study all the relevant issues.
- Strengthen the management of Islamic institutions such as Baitul Mal and Tabung Haji to ensure that they are administered effectively and efficiently to achieve their objectives.
- Ensure suitable areas for places of worship and burial grounds for all religions.
Education should be aimed at creating a person who is balanced spiritually, physically and intellectually.
Through the national education system, Pakatan resolves to provide a system of education that is competent, of high quality and guarantees equal opportunity to the people.
- Make the national school system the foundation of the nation's education system.
Ensure the equitable support and funding to religious schools, Chinese and Tamil national schools, mission schools and vocational schools in a concerted effort to increase the standard of national education.
- Balance the emphasis from an examination-oriented system to a learning system based on critical and analytical thinking in search for the truth.
- Ensure that every eligible student will have an opportunity to be placed in public institutions of higher learning regardless of their backgrounds.
- Amend the University and University Colleges Act 1974 in order to create a conducive climate that guarantees academic freedom and university autonomy which increases the quality of education comparable with developed countries.
- Ensure the appointment of vice chancellors, rectors, and other high ranking academic officials are based on qualification and approval of the Senate Council.
- Improve the quality and facilities of disadvantaged schools in the interior parts of Sabah and Sarawak;
- Increase the quality of teachers' education at every school level and increase the number of trained teachers based on demand.
- Provide a high level of training opportunities for teachers and lecturers so that their knowledge and professional expertise are up to date.
- Re-examine the teachers' service scheme and increase incentives for those who teach in the rural areas.
- Provide scholarships based on merit and other financial aid based on need with priority given to poor students from the rural and interior areas.
- Emphasise the importance of students mastering various languages including English, Arabic and Mandarin as leading languages in the world and also other mother tongues.
- Provide places and training for those who drop out of school.
- Widen the scope of the National Accreditation Board to monitor and propose the recognition of certificates, diplomas and degrees both local and international which fulfill the acceptable academic standards including the UEC certificate and Diploma Muadalah (twinning).
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Needless to say, these are a very lofty set of principles. No, it’s not everything that Walski had hoped it would be, but he will reserve his comments for a follow-up post. Again, he would like to reiterate that Pakatan’s credibility going forward will depend on how well they live up to the policy framework that they, and they alone, have agreed upon.
In a sense, the launch of the CPF is somewhat historic and significant, being that the Pakatan Rakyat, as a single political entity, is infantile compared to Barisan Nasional, in terms of the number of years of being around. And yet, they (or at the very least their leadership) seem to be more committed towards coming to a common ground, from which they can proceed to fight for a common cause.
Walski takes it that now, you have been duly informed… and therefore in a position to decide for yourself – is this the foundational beginning for a better Malaysia?