Hornbill Unleashed

December 22, 2009

The Pakatan Rakyat common policy platform got substance

By Sim Kwang Yang

 

The Pakatan Rakyat inaugural convention was finally held last week in Shah Alam with 1,500 delegates agreeing to accept their common policy framework.

I pored through their policy paper, covering four areas: 1. Transparent and Genuine Democracy; 2. Driving a High Performance, Sustainable and Equitable Economy; 3.Social justice and Human Development, 4. Federal-State Relationship and Foreign Policy.

Policy documents are by nature very boring stuff, and I endured the boredom of going through all that political rhetoric.  But the person who drafted this policy paper (Zaid Ibrahim I think) has done a good job.  He has covered most areas of nation-building, and has struck a useful balance between brevity and scope.  Still, I find the statement on foreign policy really too brief and too anaemic.

Under section four State Federal Relationship, the common policy framework has this to say:

“The Federal System

The rights of states to make decisions according to their own requirement on development strategy must be respected. The foundation of this right is an adequate financial allocation to states that is based on their contribution to the Federation and the people’s needs.

Pakatan Rakyat will:

  1. Guarantee to the state governments, a royalty of 20% from petroleum income with an aim to eradicate poverty.
  2. Return part of the tax collection from each state based on an equitable distribution.
  3. Increase the capitation grants for states.

Sabah and Sarawak

The spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 will form the foundation for a just relationship between the Federation and Sabah & Sarawak. By restoring the balance of power that has been concentrated with the central government, Pakatan Rakyat promises to make a fair and open assessment of the principal issues that are preventing political and socio-economic progress in both states in East Malaysia.

Pakatan Rakyat will:

Guarantee Sabah and Sarawak’s wealth are enjoyed fully by their people by the provision of 20% royalty from their petroleum income.

  1. Set up a Royal Commission to find the best resolution of the immigrant issue.
  2. Guarantee the Native Customary Land Rights are not violated by any party.
  3. Stop immediately the oppression against those living in the interior areas caused by unethical economic activities.”

These are pretty sound official policies and if they can implement them after taking power, they will make critical and dramatic changes to Sarawak and Sabah.  I wish there were provisions about weeding out corruption in Sarawak and Sabah though.  The corruption there is one kind one, and deserves special mention.

By and large, the PR common policy framework is vastly different in form and substance from the ancient political statements and election manifestoes that Malaysians have been fed by the BN’s 3 M –money, media, and machinery – for well over 5 decades.  It really offers us an alternative vision of how to go about building a new Malaysia.

In launching the common policy framework, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim hailed this as the movement to liberate Malaysia from 50 years of BN and UMNO misrule.

Freedom and liberation has always been the central concept in the historical evolution in the West, but somehow they have never touched our Malaysian national conversation much.

Datuk Zaid is partly right, to want to liberate Malaysia from BN misrule of five decades, but after that, when we are free from BN, what are we free to create, out of the new Malaysia?

In his article in Malaysia Today entitled On the 2009 PR Resolution: new Malaysian identity emerging, Dr.Azly Rahman explored further the complex question of freedom, and suggested areas for post-modern Malaysians to explore in the new liberated Malaysia.

I doubt if many active practising politicians would be interested in the things talked about by Zaid Ibrahim or Dr Azly Rahman.  Politicians are interested in winning votes and winning elections only, and to do so, they love to do a lot of posturing, like calling for a ban on beer sale, and arguing over caning ladies in public for drinking beer, and that sort of thing.

In fact, I wonder how many of those PR members and leaders go through their new common policy framework with a fine toothcomb, with a view of applying them and referring to them in future dispute over any single issue.

Again, the common policy framework is necessarily vague.  When specific issues pop up in the future, their common broad platform may not be able to help out in any internal dispute among the DAP, PKR, and PAS.

Now that they are officially a political coalition, they should set up internal mechanisms for them to settle these disputes, instead of airing them in public.

I think any Malaysian politician is addicted to newspaper publicity as a rule.  When a mike is thrust in his face, and a question is put to him, he feels so flattered that he must give his knee jerk response, no matter how silly it is.  Sometimes, questions from the press do not deserve any answer.

Then again, there are those who say that the more important thing with the PR common policy framework is to implement the plan rather than to talk about it, especially in the PR held states.  A Gerakan nitwit even gave them one month to implement their policy to prove their sincerity.

They probably have not bothered to read the document in detail.

True enough, the PR should implement those policies in the four states where they hold power.  But the full implementation of all their promises cannot be done unless they also hold power in Putrajaya.  At least this list of their promises allows us to hold them accountable by the standards which they have set for themselves.

Well done, Pakatan rakyat.  Just stop quarrelling among yourselves in public.

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3 Comments »

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