I seek to reproduce here for the sake of record my rather partisan take on the Common Policy Framework, some reactions to which I read about, just.
“The Policies of Pakatan Rakyat.” THIS IS PROJECT NEW MALAYSIA !

Dr. Francis Ngu, member Parti Keadilan Rakyat, in Sarawak. Dec.21st, 2009

As the most serious nation-building document that has emerged for some time, the document now deserves responsible critique from the Malaysian community, partisan allegiance aside. This critique hopes to spur constructive public debate on the policies in the new found spirit of democratic participation ushered by the birth of Pakatan Rakyat.

This is an attempt to bring about far reaching reforms which the people are now anticipating. A fresh new national consensus is sought by Pakatan Rakyat which will be worthy of a progressive nation facing the challenges of the globalised scene of the 21st Century.

It is wide-ranging in scope, covering major political, governance and social-economic areas, and is thus necessarily in an outline or summary form. Based on the “People’s Rights” values underpinning, it is now the role of civil and political society to fill in the details over time. Wide indeed are the spaces open up, in a new spirit of freedom, equitable rights and social compassion, to advance efficient and effective administration, infrastructure development, green economic progress, service delivery, etc. The agricultural sector however, deserves direct attention by itself.

Civil and political rights built upon a freely informed citizenry, will be guided by the Constitution and backed up by an independent judiciary and other effective criminal- justice institutions.

Beginning with a fresh Peoples’ Consensus, the Policy Paper not only calls for all to abandon ethnically and religiously divisive orientations, but to marshal all the strengths available from the fine values found in all religions and cultures to overcome the ills of society and nation. A humane market-based economy with more equitable wealth distribution will sustain a united people living in social harmony.

Under the part on Constitutional Democracy, the youth above 18 will be automatically given franchise. Malaysians will implicitly have to mature earlier, and the education, must among others, emphasize critical thinking and abandon rote-learning. The energies and creative imagination of Youth will be tapped earlier, as is the case in developed countries. The one- man one-vote principle will be enhanced, but part proportional representation is not as yet considered.

The spirit of Federalism (not just the letter of) is not only promised but guaranteed for Sabah and Sarawak by the Policy Paper. This, read together with the policy of administrative decentralization and Federal devolvement, holds hope for the 2 component States to explore a much higher level of State Autonomy as more and more strongly desired by Malaysians of the 2 States. Compelling political and historic considerations aside, greater devolvement of governance to the 2 states separated from the Peninsular by the South China Sea would be technically and logistically more efficient.

Notwithstanding, wide devolvement of Federal functions and state funding realignment are by themselves giant steps forward for a united and progressive Federation. Guaranteed representation in Parliament by the smallest ethnic minorities of the nation in Parliament should be an added desired feature.

Attention is paid to regional disparity, and regional resource realignment is featured. Sabah and Sarawak can become the new engines of growth and progress for the nation, if the just guarantees of Federalism capture a new found sense of national commitment from Sabahans and Sarawakians at home and abroad.

Pakatan must remove a pervasive sense of despair and hopelessness of Sabah and Sarawak people facing decades of political and economic marginalization in the Federation. Pakatan “promises to make a fair and open assessment of the principal issues---”, but has not decided on whether the assessment is to be an administrative or academic research exercise, or of a more authoritative form, that of a Royal Commission on Sabah and Sarawak.

Thus Pakatan will be expected by Malaysians to make the first really serious national thrust in addressing regional imbalance and truly unite all Malaysians of Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.

Based on the principle of People’s Economy, there is to be a beginning for Economy By the People, Of the People and For the People. This addresses a needs-based affirmative action policy, a social safety net for marginal groups, labour rights, minimal wage, housing for the poor, assistance to small private entrepreneurs.

Pakatan will thus put Malaysia on the road of social democracy, as practiced in advanced countries. The funds for social welfare will come from massive savings from prudent government spending and high financial integrity in government. Social welfare will itself boost domestic consumption and the retail and services economy.

Not mentioned, but needs-based affirmative action, and welfare benefits would require quite a large initial outlay in a sound means-testing mechanism to award eligibility, and periodic reviews of such eligibility. Introduced step-wise, cash welfare measures need not spark too much inflation, but be a small stimulus to an economy in 3 quarters of negative growth.

It is only possible to consider GST and withdrawal of fuel subsidies many years down the line, contingent upon broadly increased personal incomes and backed by a sound social welfare system.

On Infrastructure, broad-band internet must rank on par with other infrastructure, for both economic competiveness as well as environmental considerations. It is even said that before major highways are planned, the digital infrastructure must be assessed first. For one, work and other economic activities may be carried out from the home, reducing traffic on highways of large cities significant enough to slow highway development as well as reducing carbon footprint.

There will be belated but strong investment in public transport which is integrated and efficient; the public transport investment should cover smaller townships other than major cities to cover the day when fuel subsidies have to be wound down, and carbon auditing is enforced by an international regime.

On Environment, Pakatan should do more and set a step-wise timetable towards a future date by which to stop logging in all native-growth forest (primary jungle), and log only secondary and planted forests. This could be built into the international carbon trading schemes, and future international assistance in reforestation. The remaining living Habitat must be preserved for the welfare of the indigenous peoples, other environmental and ecological considerations not forgotten.

Environment education and consumer behaviour, human rights should feature strongly in the civics subject in schools, but no cramming for examinations please!

On Education, the challenges of the global village, may require the national education system, to be defined not as a conformist monolith, but to embrace diverse streams of education, including mission schools, mother tongue schools and even private schools.
A high level of autonomy for mission and mother tongue schools, even if government funded, should be assured to best bring out their time-tested dynamism, in healthy competition with fully national schools.

The growth of the services economy will derive essential strength from multi-culturalism;
opportunities should be widely available to learn several other foreign languages.

Critical to the nation, education must move away from rote learning for examination, to critical thinking, mental creativity, formation and articulation of ideas, communication of ideas, personal development, lifetime learning, appreciation of the arts and heightened social consciousness. Upon these are to be built, science, technology and material progress.

Malaysian people have a repertoire of artistic talents in their blood, but locked away under the stress of a materialistic and authoritarian society. How will their artistic and cultural talents be fully unleashed to add to both the spiritual and material wealth of society?

Greater attention needs be given to education in culture, and training in visual and performing arts from nursery to university. Music is acknowledged to promote neuro-linguistic development, benefit mental, even physical health. Social experiments among the poor enclaves in a Latin American country is said to have reduced crime among juveniles. Would music and arts be a relatively cheap instrument in addressing social problems in Malaysian youth?

Clearly, Pakatan is holding up public health sector as the mainstay of health policy, with implicit increase of both infrastructural provision and service funding. The Malaysian Health Services Commission will arrive, only a few decades later than advocated by the medical profession!

Conceivably with its inauguration, there will promptly emerge a National Health Plan with a national health financing mechanism to back it up long term. Health care is an extremely complex field; Pakatan should consider stepping up Health Services Management and Planning training to prepare management personnel conversant with issues facing modern health care delivery.

The excellent policy paper has not however mentioned Science and Technology Development so essential for Malaysia to free itself from the “middle income trap” or “the resource curse”, as so eminently addressed by an UMNO veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. There needs to be a further policy statement on Research and Development.

The Barisan federal government is now challenged with a serious and quite comprehensive policy paper from Pakatan Rakyat, to which now it would do well to give a meaningful response; such would be expected by people living under a two-party system.

No document is perfect, this included. For now, Pakatan joint policies put forward are certainly adequate to pull Malaysia out if its deep doldrums, even its terminal crisis. Fullest credit must be given to its brain-child, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.

For the future, the document will surely be continually refined and improved with the participation of all Malaysians, partisanship notwithstanding. This must stand as a central and historic document, a living document whose narrative will steadily grow to meet the continually progressing aspirations of a nation whose citizens are seeking liberation from tyranny and authoritarianism.

This is Project New Malaysia, belonging as much to the people of Sabah and Sarawak as to people in Peninsular states. This is the tough project which all Malaysians have to work on for the next several generations. Until then, Malaysians will not be able to stand tall and equal. God-willing, and Insyallah, it shall succeed!

Upon Project New Malaysia, the health of the nation will be restored, its place in ASEAN and the international community enhanced. A New Malaysia in a New Dawn deserving of the commitment of every Malaysian!