By Karamjit Gill
I read Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) election manifesto in great detail as the time to decide on my vote is fast approaching. The teaser leading up to its release was remarkably exhilarating. The end product on the other hand, didn’t live up to the hype.
The manifesto is exhaustive and the promises made are unrealistic. Period. Numerous promises in the manifesto can only be possible with constitutional amendments that would require a two-third majority in Parliament. Realistically, the coalition is not going to have that luxury in time to come. Therefore, the promises made are far-fetched.
PH’s manifesto is very much a document that pins the blame on Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government, completely ignoring the fact that it was Dr Mahathir Mohamad that planted, fertilised, and harvested the mess. While we have seen Najib acknowledging limitations and faulty administration with 1MDB, Mahathir is yet to genuinely embrace his dark past.
Until today, Mahathir still defends his Project IC. He still insists his sons are self-made billionaires and that no element of nepotism was practised. In 1999, PKR Youth chief Mohd Ezam Mohd Noor revealed secret documents of a meeting chaired by Rafidah Aziz, then international trade and industry minister, on approving shares to Mahathir’s son. Rafidah admitted that Mahathir forced her to ensure the sitting committee approved the shares to his son. Ezam was later slapped with a two-year jail sentence under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
The late Tunku Abdul Rahman is mentioned multiple times in the manifesto when chiding the government. In actual fact, Tunku never favoured Mahathir in the first place. Tunku held a nationwide tour pleading with the people to reject Mahathir. Hence, if the words of Tunku are highly respected, Mahathir should be rejected.
In the manifesto, PH has pledged to highly value the opinions and suggestions of the Duli-Duli Yang Maha Mulia Raja-Raja Melayu, abiding by the constitution. Several respected sultans have publicly voiced disgust over Mahathir and have rejected the idea of him ruling again. In fact, Selangor and Kelantan recently revoked the royal awards conferred on Mahathir. Meanwhile, the Johor sultan has openly criticised Mahathir.
The current king is from Kelantan, and this is a clear indication that he is no fan of Mahathir. If the manifesto is really true, the opposition should withdraw Mahathir as its prime minister candidate and come up with another name soon.
The manifesto stressed the fact that an international publication, The Economist, has ranked Malaysia second (after Russia) in the Crony Capitalism Index 2016. Singapore was at fourth place in the same index. Does that mean Singapore is administratively the fourth worst and corrupt country in the world?
Whether crony nepotism actually impedes economic growth is the topic of international debate. Alan Beattie in his book “False Economy” said Indonesia prospered under a crooked leader while Tanzania remained poor under a clean one.
The opposition also mentioned tackling corruption in its institutional reforms. DAP’s Wong Tack quoted a Chinese proverb, “If the water is too clear, no fish can survive”, while saying that some amount of corruption is acceptable. This directly contradicts PH’s own manifesto.
A significant promise was made on eradicating toll charges nationwide, with a special mention of PLUS. This same agenda has been on previous opposition manifestos. Has anything effective been done at the state level? How many toll charges have been cancelled in the opposition states? What about the Damansara-Shah Alam Highway (DASH), Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex), East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE), and Petaling Jaya Dispersal Link (PJD Link)? Ironically, the Selangor state government owns shares in these highway concessionaires through their state-linked firms.
In one of the promises, a special commission will be formed to investigate scandals involving institutions such as 1MDB, Felda, MARA, and Tabung Haji. What about the forex scandal, Carrian scandal, Maminco affair, Perwaja Steel scandal, Pan Electric crisis, North-South Highway scandal, and Penang undersea tunnel? Why only mention scandals that involve Najib? Humongous public funds were allegedly lost in all scandals.
Everything wrong irrespective of political ideology should be thoroughly investigated. The late Karpal Singh did not shy away from castigating anyone who was faulty. He even tongue-lashed his party member, Ramasamy. PH today seems to blindfold itself from the wrongdoings of its own members.
Adolf Hitler started the Second World War because he felt Germany was shamed after the First World War and tried to prove that his country was also a great superpower. Hitler always believed that victory mattered more over reality and truth.
Having no principles and ignoring reality is never commendable. I would any day rally behind the old Pakatan which held on to its principles rather than the new Pakatan which is led by an internationally acclaimed dictator.
Karamjit Gill is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.