Hurdles to overcome

By Lim Sue Goan, Malaysian Mirror

I have exchanged views with a few people who are interested in politics recently and they believed that the next general election might be held in May or June next year as the government is expected to announce a series of good news early next year. It is the best timing for the general election when the people can still remember them.

In January next year, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak will announce the progress of the entry point projects (EPP) under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). He is scheduled to announce the results of the six National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) under the Government Transformation Plan (GTP) in February.

At the same time, Najib is expected to announce various plans during his national tour. To prevent the Pakatan Rakyat from storming Sarawak, the Sarawak state election would be held simultaneously with the general election and the Tenang by-election will serve as an indicator.

If their projections are accurate, the BN will meet the general election with its ruling performance over the past year. Under such an overwhelming publicity, it is time to make comparison. What kind of performance would the Pakatan Rakyat show us? The Pakatan Rakyat will inevitably at a disadvantage and therefore, they should start thinking of a good strategy now.

Although Pakatan Rakyat’s common policy framework (CPF) unveiled on Dec 19 was magnificent and has committed many measures benefiting the people, it has also exposed the its weaknesses. The alternative coalition lacks a core principle and value. The BN has the 1Malaysia concept but what is the ultimate goal of the Pakatan Rakyat? Is it the “popular sovereignty” of the PKR? The “Malaysian Malaysia” of the DAP? Or the welfare state or Islamic supremacist of PAS?

Its weakness of lacking a common ideology will be attacked during the general election. Due to the contradiction, component parties of the Pakatan Rakyat do their work separately. The Penang state government is planning to meet the Election Commission in court to restore local elections but to PAS, restoring local elections is not a main issue as it is worried that it might be distorted by Umno as an act of marginalising Malays.

Also, the policies of the four states ruled by the Pakatan Rakyat have not been standardised. Kedah practises the 50% Bumiputra housing quota system and Kelantan implements the woman clothing regulations. And these policies are not in line with the spirit of Freedom of Information Act advocated in Selangor and Penang.

In view of the bottleneck, the CPF proposed various benefits, including abolishing the toll system, increasing teacher’s remunerations, distributing cash to senior citizens, extending the retirement age to 60 years old, increasing the oil royalty for Sabah and Sarawak by 20%, imposing zero interest on the Higher Education Loan and allowing borrowers to start repaying the loan six months after they start working. It is trying to please voters of all levels and it is too populist.