Who is the Leader, Who the Follower?

by Kee Thuan Chye
MSN Malaysia

If voters fall for the promise of more BR1M, it will show they are willing bribe-takers, that they are people who are prone to being dependent.

To woo Indian voters, BN pledges RM500 million in seed funding towards raising the equity of the Indian community to at least 3 per cent. Pakatan, however, does not pander to any ethnic community, preferring to take a broad multi-racial approach in its plans for the country’s future without favouring any particular race. This augurs well for a better Malaysia and shows up once again BN’s attempt at blatant vote-buying.

On the whole, the BN manifesto is nothing new. As a veteran economist who has served in the civil service notes, it is structurally the same BN manifesto that has been used in past general elections for decades. It is superficial and short-term, particularly in its focus on cash handouts. He would have wanted BN to tackle the key issues of improving education, for instance, and removing the fixation on the NEP and the accompanying idea of Ketuanan Melayu. Both of these are comprehensively addressed in the Pakatan manifesto.

Moreover, BN’s promise of a 20 to 30 per cent gradual reduction in car prices is lifted, ironically enough, from Pakatan’s manifesto. And the increase in taxi permits being granted to individuals is another Pakatan-inspired promise. The difference is, Pakatan offers a better deal – it will abolish the current system of granting permits to selected companies and give these permits directly to all taxi drivers.

There are other ideas borrowed from Pakatan, including the uniformisation of the prices of essential items so that Sabahans and Sarawakians don’t have to pay more for them, and the giving of discounts to PTPTN (National Higher Education Fund Corporation) borrowers in response to Pakatan’s promise of totally writing off the loans. This goes to show that Pakatan is the one that is much more the mover while BN is the follower.

BN may say that it came up with these ideas on its own, but the fact that Pakatan unveiled its manifesto a few weeks earlier gives the impression that BN copied from the latter. More important to note is the other well-known fact that this is not the first time BN has adopted Pakatan’s ideas.

Even as early as last year, political observers had noted that the BN-led government was carrying out reforms that Pakatan had originally proposed, like the repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the Sedition Act; the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the issue of illegal immigrants in Sabah; and the review of oil royalties.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan, chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), pointed out in August 2012 that the Government “should be the ones leading” because “copying is not really leadership”.

He added that “it shows that it’s good for a country to have a strong Opposition” because it was Pakatan’s pressuring that made BN copy its ideas, but that it was risky for BN to continue doing so.

“People may start questioning who is the real leader,” he said, and BN might “lose leadership status and become a follower”.

On election day, voters will have to decide whether they want in government a coalition that is the mover or the follower.

Meanwhile, Bersih, the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections, has invited BN Chairman Najib Razak and Pakatan Leader Anwar Ibrahim to take part in a public forum to let the people hear which side has the better vision for the next five years. So far, Anwar has agreed to it, but Najib, as expected, is silent.

On previous occasions, Najib has turned down invitations to engage in public debates, saying that such debates were “not part of our culture”. It’s the same fallacious excuse given for street demonstrations.

Funnily enough, even when it comes to a simple thing as a public forum, Malaysians can see which side is quick to seize the initiative. Anwar is ready, but Najib is hesitant.

Which one is the leader and which one the follower?

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 9:49 am

    BN cannot lead due to poor quality leadership.

    • #2 by cemerlang on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 10:13 pm

      If people are the bosses, they are the leaders. The chosen one has to listen to the leaders. But there can be only 1 leader. Not 2 because everything will go haywire.

  2. #3 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 9:59 am

    Asking if Najib is leading is oxymoron. Obviously its Mahathir the one who is suppose to be leading. BUT Mahathir is not taking the responsibility for leading. He is trying to keep his cake and eat it too – just too far..So in reaility, NEITHER is Mahathir leading..

    Its not about the Manifesto anymore – Malaysian may be famous for buying pirated goods but if the price is the same, who does not buy original? In this case, the original is even cheaper. No brainer.

    The issue really is simply Machinery Vs Self-Determination. Can Malaysian be free self-dertermining? The urban folks largely assumes they are and hence most of them, if pushed to question if they free and independent, will chose PR, The rural folks don’t ask these question, that is why they take BR1M and don’t consider it a bribe and extension of UMNO/BN culture of money politics. The urban folks know it is and even if they take it, they won’t vote UMNO/BN, the issue is does the awareness get spread out to the rural areas.

    I chose to give the rural people in our country more credit for awareness and being more socially in-touch than UMNO/BN does.

    • #4 by cemerlang on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 10:11 pm

      Who is doing all the dirty work then ? Who is eating all the shit ?

  3. #5 by SENGLANG on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 10:24 am

    What BN doing now to woo the potential voters are low class, no standards and simply treating the people as school children who will rejoice by promise of a sweet.

    It was sad in need BN which has ruled this country will confronting with a challenger resort to song singing, super star entertainment to woo the people to attend their ceramah instead of political recourse where they should talk about policies. They always chicken out when challenge for political, policy public rebate. And people simply ask why they are so afraid to rebate on policies matters.

    BN will sure lost its grip coming next election. If they do hang on it is simply many voters are still happy with instant sweetener instead of long term visionary change that was so much needed by this country.

    Let not be short sighted and easily be cheated by the instant sweetener spiked out by BN and their agents and cronies who has spent big on behalf of BN. If BN wins it will come to a square one where projects will be inflated with its price as a give back to these agents and cronies who has trough their monies in to gamble for BN wins

  4. #6 by balance88 on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 10:55 am

    BN’s manifesto has always been superficial. It is just a marketing piece to get elected. Take for example the issue of Chinese education and UEC recognition. This issue has always been an issue BN promised to look into once elected since time immemorial and is always never addressed after election and continues to crop up at every election! And it is even more mind boggling that some Chinese voters are actually sold on it and continue to vote BN.

    And there are many more other such issues that affects all communities. Ever since we had a strong opposition, BN has been copying PR’s work. Before the last election, the ruling govt has never given money or rice to the people until PR started the ball rolling. They were just interested in planning how to take more from the people and indeed if they do give something to the people, it was all done as a public relations exercise.

    So, BN’s manifesto doesn’t really mean anything because it is just lip service. They are happy to retain the AP system for cars and the promise to decrease car prices is just an attempt to neutralize the PR’s manifesto. What you have, we too have got. Once elected, there will be lots of excuses as to why a price reduction can’t be implemented or there will be lots of committees formed just to look into this and quietly everyone will have forgotten about it and before we know it, the next election is due and the whole cycle repeats itself.

    Time for change.

  5. #7 by lauksnatlks on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 10:56 am

    Debates, u must be joking, Najib will be torn to pieces. BN can only play with race, money and copy cats. Nothing new under the sun. ABU ABU..

  6. #8 by cinaindiamelayubersatu on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 11:18 am

    pemandu teksi KL selama di bawah Barisan Najis adalah antara yang terburuk di dunia…diharap di bawah Pakatan Harapan Rakyak akan ada perUBAHan…

  7. #9 by pwcheng on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 7:51 pm

    Debates can only take place when both sides can lay open their cards and have good points to put forward. But in this case where can you expect any good points from UMNO. They have such heavy baggages and tainted reputation that they can only hit and run.
    They cannot face an open warfare as they will be blown to smithereens.

  8. #10 by Noble House on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 - 3:23 am

    I have absolutely no idea what Malaysians really did to enrich our democracy all these years. We dropped the ball. We entered a period of complacency and closed our eyes to the public corruption of our democracy. When a nation loses through complacency, its leaders will constantly search for new and more intricate explanations to explain away defeat. All too often, we underestimate ourselves!

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