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Malaysia’s General Election: What are Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan promising voters?

Parliament has been dissolved and preparations are well underway for Malaysia’s 14th General Election slated for Wednesday May 9.


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Updated: April 13, 2018

Parliament has been dissolved and preparations are well underway for Malaysia’s 14th General Election slated for Wednesday May 9. Dubbed the “mother of all elections,” GE14 will see opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan attempt to topple the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition which has been in power since independence.

Key to any campaign is the manifesto, and both coalitions have presented their plans for the future of multi-ethnic Malaysia should they be elected. Here is a closer look at some of what the two rival coalitions have to offer.

 Barisan Nasional

Najib rolled out a 364-initiative manifesto on April 7, assuring Malaysians that the 220-page document was a comprehensive promise that left “no Malaysian” behind, The Star reported.

Divided into 14 thrusts, the manifesto promises goodies for almost every group in Malaysia, from women, to the bottom 40 per cent of households, to the youth.

Under the section titled the “Rakyat’s [people’s] economy,” BN promises, among other measures, a hike in the minimum wage from USD257 to USD387 to be raised in several phases over the course of five years. Should the party be elected, a Fair Work Commission may also soon be in the pipeline in order to make private sector workers’ salaries more equitable.

Much attention has also been given to the Felda settlers, who may well prove “kingmakers” in the upcoming election, according to The Star.

The manifesto offers a generous slew of measures to ease the burdens of Felda settlers, including a promise to write off any debts incurred through the purchase of FGV shares, the allocation of a fund worth up to USD77,317,213 to write off extraordinary or extreme debt of all qualified Felda settlers for the next 5 years starting in 2018, and a USD1,289 incentive to all settlers.

Each qualified settler will receive a special grant for replantation worth up to USD1,933 per hectare in the next 5 years starting this year.

Sabah and Sarawak, two other crucial vote banks for the BN coalition, will also be getting their share of goodies, with a pledge to realise their rights under the 1963 Malaysia Agreement.

The manifesto also pledges to put “mothers and women first,” promising, among other things, to allow single women secure loans by permitting the combination of incomes with siblings or parents who fulfil eligibility requirements, as well as extending tax incentives to 24 months for women who return to the workforce.

Single mothers with household incomes in the bottom 40 per cent have been promised an income boost through training provided under the PERMATA Child Care Course, while all Malaysian women stand to benefit from a pledge to enact a Sexual Harassment Act.

The manifesto also includes an ambitious pledge to create three million new jobs, a goal which BN hopes to achieve in part by accelerating the development of Malaysian Vision Valley, a 150,000ha area that is projected to create 1.3 million job opportunities.

Pakatan Harapan

The opposition’s manifesto, released last month, comes in five main thrusts.

Described by Pakatan secretariat chief Saifuddin Abdullah as a manifesto of “a government-in-waiting,” it pledges to ease the burden of the public, to reform the nation’s administrative institutions and politics, shape the nation’s economy in a fair and just manner, reinstate the rights and status in Sabah and Sarawak as enshrined in the Malaysia Declaration 1963 and to build an inclusive, moderate and bright Malaysia in the international arena, The Star reported.

Under the five main thrusts, the manifesto also has five commitments which are to modernise Felda and return it to its former glory; to ensure equitable rights, fairness and harmony for the Indian community; to take care of the welfare, health and rights of women; to develop the talents of youths and create opportunities for them as well as to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices of senior citizens, according to The Star.

Among its proposed reforms are tax incentives for employers who pay for National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans without salary cuts and allowing repayment of PTPTN loans to be delayed until the recipient’s monthly wage is at least USD1,031.

It has also promised to build one million affordable homes by 2020 and to expand the rent-to-own scheme.

The manifesto includes the bold pledge to abolish GST within the first 100 days in office, as well as to do away with highway tolls in stages.

Should it be elected, Pakatan Harapan pledges to limit the terms of the Prime Minister and Mentri Besars to two, and bar future Prime Ministers from taking charge of other portfolios, especially the Finance Ministry.

It also plans to restructure the Prime Ministers Department and Cabinet.



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Nadia Chevroulet
About the Author: Nadia is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

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