KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 – Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders today accused Barisan Nasional (BN) of copying from their election manifesto that was launched more than a month ago, and added that the ruling pact’s promises of more cash handouts would not fix flaws in the country’s system.
PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali said that many items in the BN manifesto launched yesterday had been copied from PR’s manifesto.
“What was presented by BN has many similarities, not a coincidence but taken from PR,” he said today.
His colleague Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad pointed out that the similarities in BN’s manifesto – including lower car prices – proved that PR’s electoral promises were actually feasible.
The PAS strategist then attacked BN’s cash handout scheme to the low-income group under the Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) initiative, saying: “BR1M is the people’s money, not BN.”
Yesterday, caretaker prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said BR1M – which had already been given out twice nationwide – would be continued and gradually increased to RM1,200 for each low-earning household, with the manifesto saying that young singles with low wages would eventually get RM600.
Dzulkefly said PR would be able to offer more than BR1M by stopping corruption and rent-seeking practices in the country, alleging that BN had failed to resolve them, before saying: “Lower wastage means more government revenue to be shared.”
Dzulkefly contrasted PR’s manifesto, which includes a pledge to introduce a needs-based economic policy to benefit all races, with BN’s approach of handing out money.
“BN – it’s about giving more money. PR’s offer is giving the nation a ‘new deal’ that the rakyat deserve,” the Kuala Selangor MP told The Malaysian Insider.
PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar also highlighted the BN’s lower car price pledge which her party had promised to implement by slashing excise duties on cars, saying: “The best form of flattery is when people plagiarise your ideas.”
Nurul Izzah expressed her disappointment over BN’s failure to address the problem of monopolies in Malaysia, where key assets are seen to be controlled by and only benefit a small group of individuals.
“That is why for me it doesn’t address Malaysia’s problems,” the Lembah Pantai MP said of BN’s electoral promises.
She said that PR had successfully forced BN to enter a discourse to improve the people’s disposable income, but lamented that BN’s approach does not address the flaws in the system.
“Their approach which really does not go anywhere near in addressing the flaws, why prices increase, why inflation takes place.”
“I believe the rakyat will be able to judge and compare and see that PR’s offering is far better,” she told reporters today.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng (picture) highlighted several striking similarities with the opposition’s manifesto with BN’s which he labelled as a “copycat” manifesto.
He listed a few examples, including the increase of the police force size to combat crime, building a 2,300km pan-Borneo highway from Sarawak to Sabah, and doing away with the cabotage policy in east Malaysia.
Lim then went on to say that the ruling coalition had neglected macro-economic issues in its pledges.
“BN’s manifesto clearly overlooks the 4Ds problems of Deficits, Debts, Deceit from corruption and brain Drain which has caused Malaysia to be caught in a middle-income trap,” Lim, who heads the Penang state government, wrote in a statement today.
He pointed to corruption allegations against families of national and state leaders, while saying that the country’s national debt and budget deficit had continued to increase.
He said that PR had managed the finances of the four states it rules well, showcasing Penang as an example – which he said was administered in a transparent manner.
In a generous manifesto titled “A Promise of Hope”, BN appears to be gearing at helping voters cope with the high cost of living by spending heavily on goods and services that will benefit them, even as the country tries to trim its huge debts.
Najib, the BN chairman, yesterday said the increased spending in BR1M was possible because of the country’s strong economic growth, saying that the scheme would boost private consumption and contribute to the local economy.
He also said that the coalition would seek to attract investments worth RM1.3 trillion that would in turn create 3.3 million jobs, with two million of them in the high-income sector.
The leader who took over the country’s reins in 2009 reminded voters of Malaysia’s impressive economic growth at 5.6 per cent last year, a relatively low inflation rate of 1.6 per cent and an unemployment rate at three per cent, adding that hardcore poverty has been virtually eradicated.
The BN election manifesto covering 17 areas including rural development, fulfilling the aspirations of the youth, education and the fight against corruption and crime can be found online at www.manifestopru13.com.