Who has the better manifesto – the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) or Pakatan Rakyat?
the build-up to election day on May 5 continues, some voters might want
to consider this before they go to the polls while some will not bother
because they have already made up their minds anyway.
topic of conversation surrounding BN’s manifesto has been its promise of
more cash handouts. Critics have been running it down as blatant
vote-buying while simple-minded people may be swayed by the offer of
more BR1M (Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia) with higher cash values and yearly
To be sure, giving free handouts annually is a
negative sign. It is an admission that BN has not been managing the
country’s economy well from Independence till now to ensure that a huge
proportion of Malaysians are earning enough to be self-sufficient.
is also sending out a negative message to the people, telling them that
they can get money without working for it. This reinforces the culture
of dependence emerging from the implementation of the New Economic
voters fall for the promise of more BR1M, it will show they are willing
bribe-takers, that they are people who are prone to being dependent.
woo Indian voters, BN pledges RM500 million in seed funding towards
raising the equity of the Indian community to at least 3 per cent.
Pakatan, however, does not pander to any ethnic community, preferring to
take a broad multi-racial approach in its plans for the country’s
future without favouring any particular race. This augurs well for a
better Malaysia and shows up once again BN’s attempt at blatant
On the whole, the BN manifesto is nothing new. As a
veteran economist who has served in the civil service notes, it is
structurally the same BN manifesto that has been used in past general
elections for decades. It is superficial and short-term, particularly in
its focus on cash handouts. He would have wanted BN to tackle the key
issues of improving education, for instance, and removing the fixation
on the NEP and the accompanying idea of Ketuanan Melayu. Both of these are comprehensively addressed in the Pakatan manifesto.
BN’s promise of a 20 to 30 per cent gradual reduction in car prices is
lifted, ironically enough, from Pakatan’s manifesto. And the increase in
taxi permits being granted to individuals is another Pakatan-inspired
promise. The difference is, Pakatan offers a better deal – it will
abolish the current system of granting permits to selected companies and
give these permits directly to all taxi drivers.
There are other ideas borrowed from Pakatan, including the
uniformisation of the prices of essential items so that Sabahans and
Sarawakians don’t have to pay more for them. This goes to show that
Pakatan is the one that is much more the mover while BN is the follower.
may say that it came up with these ideas on its own, but the fact that
Pakatan unveiled its manifesto a few weeks earlier gives the impression
that BN copied from the latter. More important to note is the other
well-known fact that this is not the first time BN has adopted Pakatan’s
Even as early as last year, political observers had noted
that the BN-led government was carrying out reforms that Pakatan had
originally proposed, like the repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA)
and the Sedition Act; the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the issue
of illegal immigrants in Sabah; and the review of oil royalties.
Saiful Wan Jan, chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and
Economic Affairs (IDEAS), pointed out in August 2012 that the Government
“should be the ones leading” because “copying is not really
He added that “it shows that it’s good for a country
to have a strong Opposition” because it was Pakatan’s pressuring that
made BN copy its ideas, but that it was risky for BN to continue doing
“People may start questioning who is the real leader,” he said, and BN might “lose leadership status and become a follower”.
On election day, voters will have to decide whether they want in government a coalition that is the mover or the follower.
the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections, has invited BN Chairman
Najib Razak and Pakatan Leader Anwar Ibrahim to take part in a public
forum to let the people hear which side has the better vision for the
next five years. So far, Anwar has agreed to it, but Najib, as expected,
On previous occasions, Najib has turned down
invitations to engage in public debates, saying that such debates were
“not part of our culture”. It’s the same fallacious excuse given for
Funnily enough, even when it comes to a
simple thing as a public forum, Malaysians can see which side is quick
to seize the initiative. Anwar is ready, but Najib is hesitant.
Which one is the leader and which one the follower?
Prime Minister Najib's afraid of losing his job
Gift or nightmare for Najib?