Mkini: Shared dilemma for BN and Pakatan

This country is at a crossroads. This is a crossroads which we cannot afford to pause for too long to decide which path to take. In the recent weeks, we have seen both coalitions, Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat, making their political agenda public.

By Khoo Kay Peng

Both coalitions are determined to convince the people that they are a better choice to be entrusted with the power to rule and govern this country.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s administration has announced its Government Transformation Programme (GTP) which contains more than 7,000 nationwide activities, over 2,000 projects and 100 programmes.

GTP aims to address teething issues such as gaining access to quality and affordable education, crime prevention, reducing corruption, addressing poverty, upgrading infrastructure in the rural areas and improving public transportation.

These are long-standing issues which have a direct impact on the people’s standard of living. His administration has asked to be given 12 months to deliver some significant results.

Najib’s main concern is the cooperation of the civil service to help implement the vast ranging activities and programmes. Past programmes and plans had hit the brick wall due to a lack of enthusiasm from the civil servants and a poor coordination and management from the executives.

Not to be outdone, the newly minted Pakatan informal coalition has unveiled its common platform which defines the coalition’s position on various areas e.g. education, economy, healthcare, women, labour, security, language, culture and others.

Most significantly, the Pakatan leadership has promised to implement the Equal Opportunity Act to address any potential victimisation and marginalisation. The coalition has vowed to move beyond the race affirmative policy.

Ketuanan Melayu vs Ketuanan Rakyat

The New Economy Policy which promotes selective treatment and special privileges based on race is a crucial and serious issue. This issue has not been properly addressed by both coalitions.

While BN has chosen to liberalise certain sectors which are not dominantly controlled by the Malays, it has steered clear of any suggestion to promote meritocracy in the country.

The coalition leader, Umno, believes that there is still some attraction in its propaganda as the anointed protector and defender of Malay supremacy.

The party has been using the federal resources to promote this agenda through the secretive and controversial Biro Tata Negara courses which are purportedly conducted to imbue nationalism and patriotism.

In actual fact, the courses were used as propaganda tool by the party to strengthen its position within the Malay-Bumiputera electorates which it sees as key to its electoral success.

The main problem with BN’s approach is that real wealth is not distributed to the vast majority of needy ones. Instead, the NEP has been manipulated and abused to enrich a selected few and fuelled massive corruption within the system.

Pakatan has countered with its pledge to do away with the race affirmative policy and move towards a need based policy. It argues that this policy will eventually help those who really it.

Naturally, its ‘ketuanan rakyat’ (people supremacy) approach is popular with the minorities.

However, it stops short of explaining how it intends to help build the confidence of Malay community especially the civil servants, rural folks and small business community that they will not be overwhelmed by competition and market forces.

It is rather naïve for the Pakatan coalition to expect their ‘ketuanan rakyat’ or need-based policy to be successful without successfully addressing the inferiority and psyche barrier of the Malays to accept such drastic changes.

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