Activist Kua Kia Soong says Pakatan must announce its defence, fiscal and education policies before embarking on its journey to capture Putrajaya.
Former DAP parliamentarian and Suaram adviser Kua Kia Soong said the coalition of PKR, DAP and PAS must reveal now on how it would be different from Barisan Nasional.
“We have still not seen Pakatan’s defence policy and the defence cuts they intend to make if and when they come into power.
“They have of course been vocal in pointing out irregularities and suspected corruption in the defence ministry’s arms procurements, but what is their defence policy and how much of the defence budget are they going to cut?” he asked.
He also said the national defence policy must be reviewed to promote a culture of peace and disarmament.
“The government in power should promote Asean cooperation in order to pool resources and slash arms spending in the Asean countries.
“We must also cut the defence budget to below 1% of GDP and apportioning a correspondingly higher budget for health, education and social services,” he told FMT in an e-mail interview.
Kua, the author of best-selling book “Questioning arms spending in Malaysia”, also proposed the setting up of a Parliamentary Defence Committee chaired by an opposition MP as well as an independent Ombudsman to oversee the defence budget.
Clear fiscal policy needed
The academician also bemoaned the fact that Pakatan had been reluctant to propose its fiscal policies in advance.
Kua added that BN too had fallen on this trap by not revealing its fiscal policies in advance.
He said the reluctance stemmed from its fear of losing support from the rich.
In most developed countries, he pointed out, political parties are expected to state their proposed fiscal policies months in advance.
“One of the world’s richest men, William Buffett, recently lambasted the US government’s socially unfair fiscal policy because he was being taxed at a lower rate than his low-paid staff.
“It is time our political parties declared how they intend to reduce the ever-growing income through a progressive fiscal policy,” he added.
He proposed that the ruling party – whoever it is after the next general election – introduce a 50% marginal tax rate on incomes over RM250,000 a year, and a progressive tax on vacant and third houses.
“There must also be an incremental Capital Gains Tax on property; a progressive inheritance tax; plugging all tax loopholes, and a review of capital allowances and tax holidays for foreign firms.”
He said the new fiscal policy should also regulate a tax on all international financial transactions, banks and hedge funds.
“And there should not be Goods and Services Tax, but a tax on all luxury goods,” he added..
Fair and far-sighted education policy
“Our education system and policies such as the quota system are holding back our nation’s development as well as creating racial polarisation.
“For example, while vocational and technical education is seen as a vital sector for our social and economic development, a former education minister declared at a recent Umno general assembly that as long as he was minister, he would not allow a single non-Bumiputera to enter UiTM,” he said.
Kua said that the national curriculum needed an overhaul from primary to tertiary level, adding that Pakatan must also show commitment to mother tongue education.
“Pakatan should declare, for example, how they intend to achieve these demands and the time frame for their resolution.
“They must also uphold the spirit of the Education Ordinance 1957 by supporting mother tongue education, building Chinese and Tamil schools in areas where they are needed, ensuring proportionate financial support and training of adequate teachers for these schools.”
He said a far-sighted education policy was needed to reform the national education system by promoting quality holistic education, equal opportunities, social justice, creativity, critical thinking as well as scientific and technological knowledge required for research and development, and vocational skills.
He also said that a new policy was needed to recognise the Unified Examination Certificate and to provide financial support for the non-profit mother tongue secondary schools.
“It is also important to preserve and develop the indigenous peoples’ mother tongue language and education,” he said.