Pakatan Pact: Ties that Bind?

Malaysians are a strange lot. When promises are made, some express skepticism. When none are offered, many rant and complain endlessly. The same reaction can be seen to the announcement of the Common Policy Agenda with its promises of sweeping reforms and equality which was revealed today at the First National Convention of Pakatan Rakyat.

By Masterwordsmith

It is commendable that 1500 delegates from PKR, PAS and DAP assembled at the MBSA hall for this inaugural convention. Despite being in power for 52 years, Barisan National has never brought its component parties together in the same manner; neither have they asked other parties both in West and East Malaysia about their vision and mission for our country. However, we must remember that it is one thing to group together and be fired up by plans, rhetoric and strength of numbers but it is another thing to be able to execute those plans and to let them bear fruit.

Click HERE to read The Policies of Pakatan Rakyat

The Positives

1. This is the first time a national convention has been held to discuss and finalise the ideas from three parties with differing ideologies but a common goal. The fact that the three parties willingly set aside irreconcilable differences to draft a plan for the country in a common mission to topple the BN government is a miracle by itself.

2. This convention is a public announcement that Pakatan Rakyat means business and are intent on forging stronger bonds that it can be a powerful singular political force for the next elections.

3. Unlike UMNO assemblies, the leaders in PR did not play any race cards. In fact,PR
promises to reduce race-based policies and enacting a Race Relations Act. PR has publicly pledged to practice needs-based affirmative action and to enact an Equal Opportunity Act and other merit-based policies, such as in the case of government scholarships.

3. In recognition that East Malaysia command about a quarter of the total number of parliamentary seats, PR promises greater access to oil royalties and resolving long-standing problems faced by natives. To this end, Pakatan has guaranteed Native Customary Rights to ensure that they are not violated by any party and will set up a Royal Commission to find the best resolution to the immigrant issue. The also guaranteed a 20 percent oil royalty for the two states and pledged to immediately stop the unethical economic activities that have oppressed those living in interior areas.

4. The Opposition Coalition also pledged to establish a “comprehensive mechanism” to resolve cases where there is an overlap of civil and syariah law.

5. The leaders pledged to ensure full independence and transparency of the Judicial Appointment Commission to restore public confidence in the judicial system.

6. Unlike what is practised now, the Election Commission, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), Petronas and other major government institutions will be directly accountable to Parliament.

7. The coalition also pledged to decentralise state economic management to boost efficiency, productivity and balanced geographical development.

Please CLICK HERE to read the rest in greater detail.

The Negatives

1. A main issue was the disagreement regarding local elections. During the last general elections, local elections was on the election manifesto of PR parties. PAS has been said to be opposed to the idea. There was no consensus over this matter but DAP leader Karpal Singh expressed optimism that differences will be resolved in time to come.

2. While many in MSM and new media have expressed that the Common Policy is a well-written document, the fact remains that it is just a blue print.

3. Some argued that it was a vague, watered down commitment to provide better social justice, uplift the judiciary and be less corrupt. 

4. Others accused PR of not utilizing the whole of the original Common Policy Agenda but one has to bear in mind the time constraints of the convention and that not every single item can be discussed. In fact, it is better to have a shorter policy agenda than to have none at all!

There are many more negative issues that are obvious but to me the positives outweigh the negatives. What is more important is that PR has to convince the rakyat that they have the gumption, machinery and manpower to ensure that these plans come to pass. We are a more mature electorate and a detailed plan like this cannot convince us that easily – the same way many are not impressed with the 1Malaysia campaign.