7 issues to consider for GE13

Posted on 22 May 2012 - 08:26pm

http://www.thesundaily.my/news/386031

Last updated on 22 May 2012 - 09:24pm
Oon Yeoh


AT Umno's 66th anniversary celebrations, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak laid out seven principles to guide voters in the next general election.

I noticed that some of the points were repetitive. For example, point number four was about economic management and point number six was about change and reforms. Doesn't much of the latter have to do with the former?

Point number five was about preserving harmony in the country and point number seven was about preserving harmony to ensure the country becomes a high-income economy. Not only is the harmony part a repeat of point five, isn't the economic part a repeat of points four and six?

It's all very confusing because the points seem to blend into each other. So, I asked myself, as a voter, what would be the seven points that I would consider in an election?

ECONOMY

Malaysia's economy is not exactly in the doldrums but everyone agrees we need to move up the value chain. Najib has articulated that we need to transform into an innovation economy. Some say the reforms are too slow. Others argue that such transformations take time. As for Pakatan Rakyat, some say Penang and Selangor are indications of how well PR can manage an economy. But what about Kedah and Kelantan?

RULE OF LAW

This point covers everything from the police and judiciary to adherence to the constitution and the role of the monarchy. The government contends that the police are professional, the judiciary is independent, the constitution has been adhered to, and that BN is the defender of the monarchy. The opposition claims the opposite is true. That the police need reform, the judiciary has been compromised, the constitution is often breached and it's BN that went against the monarchy in the 80s. Which side of the story do you believe?

MULTICULTURALISM

Both sides promote the multicultural message. BN has its 1Malaysia slogan and its approach to multiculturalism is to have parties representing different ethnic groups come under one coalition. PR's parties are non-ethnic based although DAP is still very much Chinese-based and PAS is Malay-based (by virtue of the fact that it's an Islamic party). PKR is the most multiracial of the lot although the majority of its members and its top leaders are Malay. The real question is not so much the formula but which side is more sincere about multiculturalism.

ANTI-CORRUPTION

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad used to lament the corruption that everyone knows exists in our country, yet he would say at least it's not as bad as in Indonesia. But why should we benchmark ourselves against a more corrupt system. Why not benchmark against one of the Scandinavian countries? The key question here is who do you believe would do a better job of fighting corruption, BN or PR?

CIVIL LIBERTIES

BN argues it has done enough, abolishing the ISA and offering something else in its place, passing a bill that allows public assembly but with strict conditions, and looking to remove the annual licence for media companies but still preserving the right to withdraw the licence at any time. PR, which has the backing of civil society, says not enough has been done. But it's still uncertain whether PR would go as far as civil society would expect it to do, if it should come to power.

ENVIRONMENT

The environment is not a fringe concern any more. As Malaysia comes of age, more and more of its citizens are keenly aware of the importance of sustainability issues. Lynas is not the only environmental issue around but it's the one that's got the most headlines. And on that front, BN and PR are at loggerheads. BN says it's safe. PR rejects it outright. Where you stand on this issue might play a crucial factor in who you vote for.

EDUCATION

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that Malaysia's education system is better than that of the US, UK and Germany. The government has also decided to roll back the decision to have maths and science taught in English. But it is allowing more students (who can afford it) to enrol in international schools. Is our education system on the right track? Even if you don't think so, the problem is PR has not articulated much on what its education policies would be.

Oon Yeoh is a new media consultant. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com