Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had two days ago said the pre-election manifesto by Pakatan Harapan (PH) is not a bible but a guide.
He was responding to criticism after former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof was sworn in as Dewan Rakyat Speaker when PH had in its manifesto said one of its MP will be given the post.
And that set tongues wagging.
Many are scrutinising PH since its May 9 victory riding on a pledge of sweeping reforms within 100 days.
The clock is ticking as they have a long way to fulfill some of the promises before the first 100 days in Putrajaya is up.
In fact, on May 31, it was reported that the PH government had”postponed” several of its 100-day pledges, namely:
- Targeted petrol subsidy for cars under 1,300cc and motorcycles under 125cc.
- Raising the minimum wage.
- Expanding Selangor government’s Skim Peduli Sihat nationwide. The scheme offers RM500 basic treatment at registered private clinics for B40 households.
But here’s the thing – can manifestos or pledges by politicians be taken seriously?
Did the majority of the rakyat vote for PH because of their manifesto or because they were simply tired of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government?
Just like PH, other parties have also failed to live up to their promises and pledges in the past.
Here are just some of them:
In its GE13 manifesto, BN promised to ease the cost of living but besides higher BR1M allocation, the issue remained a bane for many.
The coalition also spoke about strengthening women’s participation in society. But the lack of will power was evident as acknowledged by former Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil. Shahrizat. She was quoted by a local daily on March 19, 2018 as saying: “Unfortunately, gender-related issues in Malaysia are taking longer (to be solved) than it should.”
Plans for a Cabinet with at least 30 per cent women were mooted by BN in 1998. Twenty years on, it has not been achieved. Even the new Pakatan Harapan Cabinet sees only nine women (or 18 per cent) out of 50 ministers and deputy ministers.
BN also pledged to fight corruption. We know what happened to that.
Its GE13 manifesto also included preserving natural resources but several developments approved then, including the controversial East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE), East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and Tanjung Aru Eco Development in Sabah, irked locals and environmentalists. The Sabah government is now considering downsizing the beach front project.
PAS had before GE13 promised a new stadium for Kelantan if it won the state.
On March 30, 2013, Datuk Nik Abd Aziz Nik Mat, who was then Kelantan Menteri Besar, performed the ground-breaking ceremony at Bukit Rembau in Pasir Puteh. Nothing has been done since.
It was reported in April last year that “an investor had shown interest in the RM3 billion project.” It remains to be seen if a new stadium or sports complex will ever be built in the state.
In fact plans for the stadium, including a sports complex for women and a mosque, were even documented in PAS’ GE12 manifesto.
We can go on and on but it is evident that manifestos have mostly been a means to an end, regardless whether the issue is micro/macroeconomic, environmental or gender parity.
It’s time for politicians to mean what they say or their pledges will be mere “guides” till eternity.