Manifestos not the only yardstick this election

By TK Chua

The other day, I read a letter saying that Pakatan Harapan (PH) would probably be unable to find enough money to fund its manifesto. That is probably true.

To me, there will always be “over-promises” made in the manifestos of both Barisan Nasional (BN) and PH. But the issues we face in this election are not just about manifestos.

For BN, why does the coalition even want to put up a manifesto when the people can all judge its policies, programmes and performance over the last five to 10 years?

Similarly for PH, at the very least, we could get a glimpse of its policies and performance in Penang and Selangor even though the two state governments are quite restricted in jurisdiction over a wide range of issues facing the country today, in terms of both policy formulation and implementation.

As for PAS, I think it is not difficult to assess the capability of the party by looking at the manner in which it has governed Kelantan over the last 20 years.

Manifestos are promises. Why should the people spend valuable time arguing over whose promises are more realistic, enduring or attainable? Let’s cut the crap: all manifestos are at some point unrealistic, oversold, populist and unattainable. Politicians do this to win the election.

But we, the voters, have to be smarter than that. We have many other criteria to look at besides manifestos.

We can look at leadership. Which coalition has better visions and insight for this country? Which coalition has more capable and clean leaders?

We can look at character. Which coalitions are more susceptible to business interests and pandering of cronies?

We can look at track records. Which parties are more extravagant, prone to corruption and saddled with incompetence?

Choosing a coalition or a political party to govern the country is a “package deal”. Rarely will a single factor determine our final decision.

By now, the track records, characters and personalities of all leaders in the country are quite familiar to us. Most of them have been around for a long time. Each time a leader comes to mind, just do a simple test: ask how each of them fits into your standard of integrity, resoluteness and competency. Forget the sweet talk and manifestos.

Don’t let sentiment, race, religion and parochialism muddle our thinking and choices. Look at each objectively and rationally, and I am sure we can all make the correct decision.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed by the writer are not necessarily those of FMT.

Big promises from PH, but where’s the funding?