Commentary Politics

A take on the book penned by the hopefuls in Pakatan

Book of Hope

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

March 9, 2018

A Youth’s Take – A column by Zaidi Azmi

The Book of Hope is the name of Pakatan Harapan’s latest manifesto.

It is the third instalment and is a 194-page thick document containing 60 outrageously creative promises.

However, those familiar with election manifestos in this country and elsewhere have described it to be the most ridiculous ever.

To find out if it holds water, The Mole decided to take a cynical but close look at some of the ideas penned.

IT was their third time revealing a manifesto for GE14 and yet Pakatan Harapan has once again failed to explain convincingly how it intends to implement its promises if it forms the government.

When this was asked, one of its erudite strategists who was tasked with working on the document, said that in-depth details and the how-to-do aspects of the manifesto were purposely excluded from the Book of Hope.

“We’re going to have a special press conference over this, you can ask us about it during that time,” said DAP lawmaker Ong Kian Ming following the launch of the manifesto yesterday.

Why they choose not to explain the fine-prints of their electoral promises in the book that was distributed to almost every members attending the launch was pretty much anybody’s guess.

Replace GST with a fine-tuned SST:

Expectedly, abolishing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) remains their number one priority and according to the Book, the consumption tax that was implemented in April 2015 will be discarded within Pakatan’s first 100 days in office.

In order to recoup the RM38 to RM41 billion loss of revenue collected via the GST, Pakatan will re-implement a fine-tuned version of the Sales and Services Tax (SST).

Not surprisingly, Pakatan did not elaborate on the tweaked and more just SST and it is also a tad interesting that despite removing the GST being their numero uno promise, the matter is only discussed in only four paragraphs.

Oh well, at least this is better than the abolish-GST-plan that was stated in Pakatan’s shadow budget last year, where no substitute will be introduced since it was said the lost revenue can be replenished via a post-GST-removal shopping spree.

Re-introducing fuel subsidy:

The pact will re-introduce a targeted fuel subsidy in order to ease the burden of those from the lower income bracket.

How does Pakatan define the low income drivers and motorcyclists? According to the Book, the subsidy is for those riding bikes less that 125cc and cars below 1300cc.

The only problem is that technology has made it possible to manufacture premium and powerful car engines with smaller power!

Such cars include Puegeot’s 2008 Puretech, Ford Fiesta Ecoboost and the Renault Captur and since these cars are below 1300cc, does this mean that their drivers are eligible for the subsidy? Stumped….

Also, do pump attendants need to inspect the cc of a car before every refuel? What if the driver decide to pay via a debit card?

Employers to help pay their employees’ student loans:

Pakatan will give an unspecified tax incentive to employers who are willing to help pay their employees’ student loans.

Although it is convinced that good hearted employers will surely help ease an employee’s burden, in reality there is a limit to how kind a person or a company can be.

Pakatan has also promised to postpone student loan repayment for those earning below RM4,000 a month.

This beckons the question: “Will this policy be made retrospective? Can diligent payers who earn below RM4,000 postpone their monthly payment once Pakatan forms the government?

Introducing an Employees Provident Fund scheme for housewives:

The pact plans to take two per cent of a husband’s monthly EPF contribution and deposit the money into the housewife’s EPF account. On top of that, the housewife will also receive a monthly allowance of RM50.

The one-million-dollar question is “Why on earth would anybody allow anyone to dictate what should and should not be done with his or her EPF money?”

It appears that one of Pakatan’s plan to empower women is basically a modern twist to the age-old practice of women getting money from men… that’s not women empowerment. That’s patriarchy.

However, not all promises listed in the manifesto are outlandish. In fact some are not half that bad.

Reduction of excise duty on imported cars for first time buyers:

In order to qualify for this scheme, the imported car has to be below 1,600cc.

In theory, this would allow young adults to be able to save more money as less excise duty equals to cheaper imported cars and cheap cars could translate to them having more disposable income.

That being said, Thailand has a similar scheme and boy did things quickly turn sour.

Not only did the scheme land many young adults in debts; the Thailand government also suffered RM10.48 billion loss of income from the lower excise duty.

Enrolling more students from lower income families into elite government boarding schools:

No complaints here as elite boarding schools such as the Maktab Rendah Sains Mara were originally founded to provide high quality education for underprivileged students, particularly those from lower income families.

If Pakatan forms the next government, it should also do the same for public university students.

Because any UiTM student will probably tell you that the number of students driving posh imported cars on campus continues to grow every semester.

Additional information by Ahirul Ahirudin and Nadhirah Sofea .




About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at [email protected]