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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pakatan touts Buku Jingga has political will, unlike BN’s plans


July 30, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, July 30 – Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders charged that their Buku Jingga reform plans are backed by political will, which is what Malaysia needs to restore competitiveness and the economy in light of increasing living costs.

PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli (picture)compared the Buku Jingga to the Najib administration’s Government Transformation Plan (GTP), Economic Transformation Plan (ETP) and New Economic Model (NEM), which has been in action since 2010.

“GTP, ETP took approach of economic grandstanding, long term plan, whereas Buku Jingga is based on what people on the ground want.

“There must be institutional reforms to increase investor confidence, we need to quickly lend a hand to the public especially when dealing with rising living costs, and that is what Buku Jingga is about,” Rafizi said during a dialogue on public policy organised by Malaysian Student Leaders Summit (MSLS) here.

Among the other panelists present were DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua, Pemandu CEO Datuk Seri Idris Jala and MCA central committee member Datuk Ti Lian Ker.

While admitting that BN policies such as the GTP and ETP were “fairly well-written” and had some solid points in managing the economy, Rafizi said that the policies lacked political will because it failed to include “immediate” measures which could help towards reforming the economy.

Issues like the direct tender awarding of the Kuala Lumpur (KL) Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project, the current toll system and the government’s subsidising of Independent Power Producers (IPPs), according to Rafizi showed that the Najib administration had its limits in implementing political and economic reform.

“It shows that there is a certain threshold to the government’s political will, these are quick acid tests people want to see,” said Rafizi.

Using the example of reducing fuel subsidies as an example, Pua stated that if the government wanted to implement something like that, alternative measures must also be in the place so that the backlash or effects are kept at a minimum.

“You cannot increase petrol prices without first improving the transport system...when these things happen, people start to doubt the government’s political will,” added Pua.

The Petaling Jaya MP said the Buku Jingga was a preview of how PR’s policies would be like should they assume federal power in the next general elections.

In response, Jala defended the measures introduced and enforced by the government, and even said PR’s Buku Jingga’s plans were impossible and unrealistic.

“I think it is very populist, if you were to say that you would for instance reduce oil royalties.

“(Looking at Buku Jingga), its impossible. I do not know how you do the math. Money does not grow on trees.

“I am not a politician, we have to reduce subsidies. We have to live in the real world, (where) Goods and Services Tax (GST) is needed,” he said.

Among the reforms promised by PR in its Buku Jingga manisfesto – within the first 100 days of taking over Putrajaya is to implement a special RM500 monthly allowance for teachers that would cost RM3.2 billion annually, according to Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

PR also promised to repeal the Internal Security Act (ISA), abolish the toll system by instructing Khazanah Berhad, Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and other government bodies to take over highway assets from the concessionaires, as well as offer free wireless Internet access to those in urban and semi-urban areas.

PR defacto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had said that it would only cost the country RM19.2 billion to implement PR’s reform plans.

Prime Minister and BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak has however derided PR’s promises as “too good to be true” and claimed that they would bankrupt the country.

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