Yes, but the question is how? (UPDATED with Chinese Translation)

Let us discuss the salient points in these two Election Manifestos, though not in order of priority or importance (since each person will have different priorities on what they expect from life). And the first item would be the issue of abuse of power, corruption, cronyism, nepotism, mismanagement of the country’s wealth, and so on.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

I have been observing with interest without much comment since the announcement of the dissolution of Parliament and thought that maybe today I would write something as food-for-thought for Malaysia Today’s readers.

You may have noticed that I like to write controversial pieces and would usually take the opposing side in a debate or argument just so that, as I always say, I can throw the cat amongst the pigeons. For example, when people take a stand opposing the Islamic Sharia law of Hudud, I take a stand supporting its implementation and when people take a stand propagating that law I take a stand opposing it.

People ask me why I do that. Well, I suppose it is in my genes. It is what I do. More importantly, however, it teaches people to think and if they disagree with my stand then they would be forced to argue their case in defense of their stand. No doubt this does not always work as planned. In some instances, when people do not have the ability to debate with decorum and civility, they resort to name-calling, swearing and cursing.

I suppose we can only blame these people’s parents who did not bring them up the right way. I remember my teenage days when I visited the homes of my Chinese school-friends. The whole family would be playing mahjong and the children would scream tiu niamah in front of their parents whenever they got a weak ‘card’.

Hence, when children scream tiu niamah over the mahjong table in front of their own parents you can imagine why they are so coarse and rude when they comment in Malaysia Today. It is the way they were brought up by their parents.

Anyway, that is not the point of what I want to say today. What I do want to talk about is the promises made in the run-up to the coming general election, which some call Election Manifesto and some call Akujanji (I promise).

There appears to be some confusion or misunderstanding about the meaning and implication of an Election Manifesto. In the past, the Bahasa Malaysia translation of Election Manifesto was Manifesto Pilihanraya. Now that it is being called Akujanji makes it even more confusing, especially since Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, the Selangor Menteri Besar, said that an Election Manifesto is not a promise.

The voters need to be told whether this is a firm commitment or merely an aspiration. And they also need to be told that there is a difference. For example, I aspire to become rich but since I am unemployed and am surviving on welfare that aspiration will remain unrealised. However, if I borrow a million dollars from the bank and I invest this million together with another million of my own money into a business that can turn water into oil, then definitely that aspiration will become reality.

The thing is, I may aspire, but the question is how do I plan to meet that aspiration? That is what appears missing in these election promises being made by both sides of the political divide.

Hindraf says that Pakatan Rakyat stole their Manifesto while Pakatan Rakyat says that Barisan Nasional stole theirs. In that case I need not address the Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional Election Manifestos separately since both are duplicates of each other.

Let us discuss the salient points in these two Election Manifestos, though not in order of priority or importance (since each person will have different priorities on what they expect from life). And the first item would be the issue of abuse of power, corruption, cronyism, nepotism, mismanagement of the country’s wealth, and so on.

Now, while everyone claims that reducing or eliminating corruption is going to be one area of priority, can we be told how this is going to be done? The aspiration of attacking corruption is commendable. How we are going to achieve that is more important.

For example, are we going to send convicted corrupt government officials and politicians to the firing squad like they do in China? Or are we going to execute them by chopping off their heads like in Saudi Arabia? Or maybe cut of their hands like in Afghanistan?

You see: corrupt people do not fear God. In fact, they may not even believe in God. Hence it is pointless to try to put the fear of God in them. We need a stronger fear factor. And a bullet in their head or their head chopped off or their limbs severed may be a stronger deterrent to corruption.

And how do we gain a conviction? Most times, just from their lavish lifestyle, we know these people are corrupt. But to prove it in court is another thing. Less than 1% of corrupt people actually get sent to jail. Can we, therefore, do what they do in Iran (or used to do back in the days of the Revolution of 1979)? In Iran, they torture (or tortured) suspects to gain a confession and after they confess to these crimes these people are executed.

So you see, we need to know the modus operandi that is going to be applied. Having an aspiration to reduce or eliminate corruption is one thing. Being able to achieve it is another thing altogether. So we need to know how this is going to be achieved. And that is missing from the election promises.

The next thing is about the people’s welfare. This, of course, would involve a few things such as education, health, safety, quality of life, and so on. We will need details on how the people’s welfare is going to be taken care of. And if we talk about change then we need to be brave (plus honest) and talk about a paradigm shift. And if we are not brave enough in committing ourselves to this ‘revolutionary change’ then nothing much is going to change.

I have written about all these issues more than once in the past so I do not think I need to repeat myself here. Nevertheless, at the risk of boring you with the ‘same old story’, allow me to summarise the issues as briefly as I can (and being brief is not something within my nature, as you may well be aware).

Will all Malaysian citizens irrespective of race, religion and gender be guaranteed a place in school, college and university?

Will all Malaysian citizens irrespective of race, religion and gender be guaranteed financial assistance to attend school, college and university if they deserve and require financial assistance?

Will the poverty level be reset at a more realistic level — say RM2,000 for the big towns and cities and RM1,500 for the rural areas — and will all those families living below this poverty level be guaranteed financial assistance to attend school, college and university if they deserve and require financial assistance?

Will a National Health Trust be set up so that all Malaysian citizens can receive good and free healthcare even in private hospitals, the cost to be borne by the National Health Trust?

Now, these are just some of the issues and certainly not the only ones. However, to me, education, health and the safety and welfare of our citizens take priority over all other issues. Hence we need a strong welfare, education and healthcare system to achieve this. And of course someone has to pay for this ‘welfare state’, if that is what you would like to call it.

Petronas brings in billions in revenue. The states receive only 5% of this while 95% goes to the federal government. Say the states’ share is increased to 20%, as what Pakatan Rakyat promises. Can, say, 5% be paid to a National Health and Education Trust so that all Malaysian citizens living below the poverty level can receive free education and healthcare without exception?

A law can be passed in Parliament, say called the National Trust Act, where Petronas, by Act of Parliament, pays 5% of its oil revenue to this Trust. This National Trust then pays for the cost of education and healthcare to those registered with the Welfare Department. They are then given a National Trust Registration Number where with this they can qualify for free education and healthcare.

Of course, we need to fine-tune the mechanics to weed out those who do not qualify or who no longer qualify because their income has already exceeded the poverty level. Whatever it may be, the system must be colour-blind. If you deserve it you get it, never mind what race, religion and gender you may be. And that would automatically make the New Economic Policy irrelevant without even needing to officially abolish it.

Note that the points above are just examples of some of the issues and in no way make the list complete. If I want to cover every issue then this piece needs to run into 20 pages. Nevertheless, I trust this demonstrates the point I am trying to make in that the aspirations in the Election Manifesto is only the skeleton and what we now need to see is some meat on that skeleton.




原文:Raja Petra Kamarudin





話説回來,這不是我今天的重點。我今天要講的是大選宣言(或有些人會稱爲 Akujaji)内的承諾。

很多人誤解了大選宣言的目的。之前大選宣言的馬來文翻譯是Manifesto Pilihanraya,但現在的Akujanji 這個翻譯把它的意思搞得更加亂(尤其是在雪蘭莪大臣Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim表明大選宣言並不是承諾后)。



Hindraf 已説明了,民聯的宣言是抄他們的,而民聯則說囯陣的宣言是抄民聯的。因此,我並不需要個別説明,因爲無論是民聯或囯陣,他們的宣言都是一樣的。