Pakatan, BN start dash to power

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid (Malaysian Insider)
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 — The race for control of Putrajaya in the next general election appears to have begun with the recent unveiling of Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) common policy framework (CPF) and Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s National Key Results Areas (NKRAs).
Politicians from both Barisan Nasional (BN) and PR say the NKRAs and the federal opposition’s common platform give voters a clear choice and a measure to determine who they want to lead the country after elections widely anticipated to be in 2011 but not due until 2013.
Najib is staking his government’s future on delivering ambitious results set out in his NKRAs and to boost a flagging economy before he calls for elections.
Under the targets in his NKRAs, Najib is hoping to bring about reforms to ensure there is less crime and corruption, better schools and public transportation, more modern rural areas and a higher standard of living.
The plan covers six areas to reduce crime, fight corruption, improve education, upgrade urban public transport, raise the living standards of low-income groups and add to the infrastructure of rural areas.
On the other hand, PR has put down four major points to make the case to voters, by promising transparent and genuine democracy, a high-performance people-centric economy, social justice and human development, and better federal-state relationship and foreign policy.
DAP chief economist and Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua believes that PR can edge its political rivals in the race for federal power for several reasons.
“We have the upper hand simply because Najib will not achieve his targets,” Pua told The Malaysian Insider.
“You can see that his Cabinet is not united, even on the 1 Malaysia concept. The Cabinet is not in sync and this will filter through to other policies,” added the DAP leader.
Pua believes that Umno’s race-baiting tactics, with its “veto power” over the non-Malay component parties in BN, will be the major obstacle for Najib to implement an all-inclusive policy package or even for the prime minister to simply do his job.
“Which is unlike our CPF which has been reached on consensus from different parties with different ideologies,” said PAS leader and Kuala Selangor MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
“Our CPF, and the four-point fundamentals which I would consider as PR’s own NKRA, is more (racially) inclusive, open and pertinent to life as a whole and perhaps the most important point of all is that they are reached through a consensus,” he said.
But BN as the government of the day has the means to implement its targets while PR’s ideals as etched out on in its CPF remain as ideals, said a senior Umno government leader.
“At the end of the day it boils down to who is the government and has the means to implement these objectives, and we do and we will do it,” said the senior Umno leader.
The consistent public approval rating for Najib also suggests that voters are slowly warming up to his administration.
PR’s promise for a “revolution of a political culture” appeals to its party faithful but the message from voters now is that what they truly want is for the economy to start purring again.
Najib, through his economic reforms and policies, is now trying to convince voters that he is focused on getting the Malaysian economy back on track.
“Then again, what he has promised is not new,” said Ibrahim Suffian, director of the independent Merdeka Center, which has conducted a number of public polls showing a high approval rating for Najib.
“All this promise of economic reforms and his NKRAs have also been promised by his predecessors so what it says is that all this while, the BN government has failed to deliver,” added Ibrahim.
To him, the opposition’s CPF, to a certain extent, may lack concrete details, but it has all the necessary elements to charm voters.
But Ibrahim also points out that BN still has the advantage of incumbency.