Updated: Nov 13, 2022
*Disclaimer, this article is impartial and is not meant to influence the decisions in any shape or fashion. All information is taken from factual sources which are cited below. The Tapir Journal does not formally support any party
With GE-15 looming around the corner, three of Malaysia’s biggest coalitions have revealed their manifestos to grab the hearts of Malaysians to vote for them. The combined documents are about 200 pages. With the help of SAYS in simplifying the documents, let’s take a look at promises on issues that are most likely to affect the general public — Cost of living, education and healthcare.
Cover image via Malay Mail via The Borneo Post , Free Malaysia Today , Free Malaysia Today (Facebook)
The Candidates and Parties
We will break down who the parties are, their core values and who likely becomes PM should they win?
1.Barisan Nasional (BN)
BN consists of United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) and United Sabah People’s Party (PBRS).
Photo credits: CNA
Their ideologies are a mix of conservatism, social conservatism, economic liberalism with a small faction fighting for Malaysian Chinese interests, Malaysian Indian interests and the sovereignty of the Malay race. Therefore, it can be concluded that BN is a right wing alliance. Some analysts would label BN a centre-right wing alliance due to a faction in BN calling for reforms.
BN has elected Ismail Sabri, the incumbent Prime Minister, to continue his tenure should they win the next general election.
2. Pakatan Harapan (PH) + MUDA
PH is made up of People’s Justice Party (PKR), Democratic Action Party (DAP), National Trust Party (Amanah) and United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (UPKO). The coalition has also agreed a special cooperation with Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) for GE-15.
Photo credits: Berita Harian
Their ideology includes social democracy, social liberalism, civic nationalism, reformism and multiracialism. Based on the ideologies the alliance stands for, PH positions itself as a centre-left coalition.
If the coalition wins in the upcoming election, it is confirmed that Anwar Ibrahim will be the Prime Minister.
3. Perikatan Nasional (PN)
Member parties of PN include Malaysian United Indigenous Party (Bersatu), Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), Malaysian People’s Movement Party (Gerakan) with also Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and Homeland Solidarity Party (STAR) as counterparts from East Malaysia.
Photo credits: Agenda Daily
The ideologies they stand for are Malay Nationalism, Social Conservatism, Economic Nationalism and Right-Wing Populism. On paper, this coalition can be labelled right wing but some analysts have called PN a far-right coalition as PAS’ main political ideology is Islamism and Islamic Conservatism.
PN has agreed that Muhyiddin Yassin will be the Prime Minister should they win the election.
On the cost of living
Barisan Nasional (BN) plans to eradicate absolute poverty using monetary policies, one of which being through the Assistive Basic Income Scheme which is credited every month automatically to all households with a monthly income below RM2,208 by the year 2025, in addition to continuing other assistance programs for various eligible groups. They also hope to provide a 2% income tax cut targeted at the M40 group, for those earning between RM50,000 and RM100,000 per year, if given the mandate.
Pakatan Harapan (PH) provides an interesting perspective by lowering the price of basic goods. They plan to eliminate cartels in the food and essential supplies sectors to encourage competition and eradicate profiteering. They also plan to work closely with suppliers to ensure sufficient food supplies, especially during festive seasons to ensure continuous supply and low prices. PH also hopes to provide incentives to increase the production of food and basic essentials. This is a long-term solution to alleviate market pressures caused by rising prices.
Under the same goal they hope to continue their previous promise of eliminating tolls and returning PLUS highway to public ownership. PH is willing to make the populist-centric offering for the second time, when the promise could not come to fruition due to their tenure being cut short.
Perikatan Nasional (PN) has a mixture of policies, but it highlights targeted provision of services to the people that need it most. For example, they would like to make MyPrihatin (an organisation formed to help the urban poor in Kuala Lumpur) a one-stop centre and database for the delivery of financial aid to people in need. They also wish to introduce the Prihatin Nasional card initiative that gives people free access to selected health services,free bus services to schools and childcare centres for the poor, and targeted development schemes for the fishing and rubber industry.
Political analyst Professor Dr Ahmad Marthadha says that generally, there are certain parts of each alliance’s manifesto which could burden the country’s financial status. For example, BN’s Assistive Basic Income Scheme and PH’s removal of the National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) debt. This would require tax revenues from other sources of national income.
He also criticised BN’s promise to allow employees to get paid leave on holiday, saying that the manifesto should focus on the people that need it more (the poor).
In terms of education welfare, BN wishes to provide free national early childhood care and education for all children six years of age and under, to reduce cost of living for young families. They also wish to provide free higher education (possibly into public universities) for all individuals from B40 families, and introduce a flexible higher education program as a long-term poverty eradication plan.
They made interesting takes on education advancement too, with ideas such as introducing 21st-century smart skills, like coding and other ethnic communication languages (Mandarin, Tamil, Iban, Kadazan, Dusun), making schools textbook free and expanding 5G internet coverage and public wifi to all schools (this has been phrased vaguely by the coalition) within 18 months. They aspire to also encourage students to take a gap year to fulfil their personal aspirations and interests, including contributing to society.
A group of young children carrying their backpacks to school - New Straits Times
Syed Saddiq, president of MUDA criticised BN’s education promises, saying that it does not stimulate structural changes and only hopes pumping money into the system would solve the issue. “How will this manifesto solve the problem of employment?” He asks.
PH also has a similar approach to reduce education costs for B40 students, with PTPTN Loans Forgiveness initiative and introduction of more scholarships. They also have plans to provide fair allocation for different schools regardless if they are Sekolah Kebangsaan, Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina (SJKC), Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil (SJKT), Sekolah Berasrama Penuh, Maktab Rendah Sains MARA, Sekolah Agama Bantuan Kerajaan, and many more, which could be seen as a move to reduce racial tensions.
Like BN, PN also promises better and affordable internet reach in schools. An interesting group they are focusing on in their manifesto are students with special needs, with RM50 million to be channelled for the development of infrastructure and syllabus for the students. PN also hopes to improve the quality of teaching for the said students and establish a better system that helps disabled students enter the job market better.
Boo Su-Lyn from CodeBlue (a think-tank organisation on healthcare policies) addressed some interesting key points from each alliance to address the unsustainable healthcare system.
Source: Election manifestos by PH, BN, and PN | Graphic by CodeBlue
To her, both BN and PH’s proposal to increase public health care expenditure to 5 percent of the GDP in five years is unrealistic, although PH’s use of the word “expenditure” — as opposed to “allocation” by BN and PN — leaves room for financing outside general taxation revenue. PN’s manifesto sounds slightly realistic as they would like to do it in stages.
BN’s promise to build more hospitals too were criticised considering lack of staffing is the biggest problem due to insufficient funding. Questions are also raised of passing responsibility of affordable aged care towards NGOs instead of the government having a stake in the affair.
PN makes a different approach by only making use of existing infrastructure and support staff, such as expanding community nursing services, increasing mobile health services in high-density populations, upgrading health care facilities with support systems for patients’ families, and a scheme for doctor visits to senior citizens’ residences. PN is the only coalition to propose developing local pharmaceutical and medical device industries, likely due to Malaysia’s medicine shortage that occurred earlier this year as a result of China’s lockdown and the Russia-Ukraine war. Malaysia’s entire supply of finished pharmaceutical products are either directly or indirectly imported.
PN’s care economy proposal – listed under the women’s section of the manifesto – appears to have been copied from PH that released its manifesto earlier, but lacks details beyond simply proposing a “coordination” of the health care system for seniors, children, and people with disabilities (OKU).
Finally, PH plans to establish a Health Commission to monitor the execution of a National Health Reform Plan. PH explicitly mentions health care financing as one of the systemic issues that will be addressed in a National Health Reform Plan, even though the coalition avoids politically sensitive proposals like social health insurance or co-payments that would require an entire communications campaign and stakeholder and public engagement process.
PH’s care economy seems the most substantial on paper, with plans to table an Ageing Community Preparedness Plan, professionalise the caregiving sector and restructuring Socso to include eldery protection scheme.
How do you view the manifesto proposed by the three political alliances? Which ones seem feasible? Are there ideas which seem new and fresh to you?