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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kita unveils manifesto

Zaid Ibrahim’s party makes pledges similar to those found in Pakatan Rakyat’s Common Policy Framework, which he helped draft

PETALING JAYA: Kita, the new political party led by Zaid Ibrahim, launched its election manifesto today, vowing to fight for “social justice, freedom and liberty” for all.

Many of the pledges in the 10-point manifesto are essentially similar to the agenda of Pakatan Rakyat, which Zaid helped to draft when he was still a member of PKR.

The ten points come under the rubrics of responsible leadership, social justice, transparency governance, institutional reforms, educational reforms, economic reforms, political reforms, unity, talent boost and freedom and liberty.

The party promises to channel government revenues into key sectors that can help realise some of the promised policies.

Under its social justice policy, for example, it pledges to channel 5% of GDP into public health services in order to narrow the gap in treatment and patient care between the private and public sectors.

Kita also proposes to create an “Equal Opportunities Commission” to address issues of preferences and special privileges and to “bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots”.

The commission will be responsible for defining the scope of special preferences and privileges required and overseeing implementation.

“We support policies to protect Bumiputera rights, but we want them to be shared and enjoyed by Bumiputeras in need, not cronies,” Zaid told a crowd of about 50 at the manifesto launch here.

Many of the similarities with Pakatan Rakyat promises lie in the economic, educational, political and institutional spheres. These include pledges to establish a police complaints commission and to ensure independence of the Attorney General’s Chambers and other public offices.

Other highlights of Kita’s reform pledges are limiting the terms of the prime minister and state chiefs to two five-year terms, introducing age-based progressive tax rates, preserving vernacular schools and opening up the MARA junior science colleges to all races.

Kita also proposes the enactment of a Race Relations Act to deal with “issues of discrimination and bigotry”. It also seeks to establish a body to promote inter-faith dialogue.

Fighting for the same thing

Zaid said he was not concerned about novelty when asked to comment on the similarities between Pakatan’s and Kita’s pledges.

“What we are fighting for is the same,” he told a press conference after the launch. “I am not too concerned if there are allegations that I stole the idea for my manifesto from theirs.”

Zaid was the law minister before he quit Umno to join PKR. He was the brains behind Pakatan’s Common Policy Framework (CPF).

“When the CPF was made, wasn’t I there?” he said. “Wasn’t I the man working on it?”

Zaid left PKR after a fallout with the party’s top leadership. He has alleged that there is a cartel under de facto PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim and deputy president Azmin Ali to dominate the party.

He was Azmin’s leading contender for the number two post in the last party election. He is among many who allege that there were regularities in the chaotic polls.

The PKR leadership called Zaid a “sore loser” but admitted there were “weaknesses” in the administration of its maiden direct party election.

Asked about preparations for the general election, Zaid said his party was not “really that ready” but was doing its best to gear itself towards it.

“I think the election will come not come so soon,” he said. “We are not that ready. We are a small party but we are working towards it.”

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