By LIM SUE GOAN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
Fortunately, the debate title "Chinese at a Crossroads – Is a Two-Party System becoming a Two-Race System" for the second debate between MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng was remained, so that everyone could pay concern to policies, instead of chattering about dirty scandals.
It was indeed a very serious topic concerning public interest. However, the two coalitions have been pursuing populism to fight for votes and policies have not been mentioned for so long.
The Pakatan Rakyat Penang government allocated over RM50 million for cash assistance distribution, including RM100 aid for each senior citizen, disabled and single mother; RM1000 one-off contributions to the beneficiaries on the demise of registered senior citizens and RM200 for new born babies.
Meanwhile, following the BN government's pace, the MCA spent RM30 million to distribute RM100 each for its 300,000 members above 60 years old, RM200 each for members receiving newborn babies. In addition, there are also the 1MCA Medical Foundation, 1MCA Education Loan Scheme and 1MCA Micro Credit Scheme For Youth. It seems like the MCA and the Penang state government are equally resourceful.
The two parties have been barely talked about polices nowadays. Even when they mentioned about policies, they still stressed on how much money they would distribute. For example, Lim Guan Eng often said that once the Pakatan Rakyat rules the country, they would distribute RM1000 each for senior citizens annually. Substantial benefits seems more attractive than policies.
However, they cannot afford to distribute money, provide aids and subsidies forever. They must find a way to implement reforms, improve the overall economy and improve the people's income, to truly help the people and achieve the high-income economy vision.
Policies of the DAP and the MCA are in fact set within the policy scopes of the Pakatan Rakyat and the BN respectively.
The BN has clearly revealed its policy, namely the Government Transformation Plan (GTP) and the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). However, the transformation plans have failed to achieve the targets over the past three years. The efficiency of the administrative system has not been improved, corruption and crimes remain serious while economy has not been transformed from foreign worker-reliant into knowledge-based and creative, and the focus is still on large-scale projects.
As for the Pakatan Rakyat, its policy agenda has been written in the Orange Book. As it has not yet ruled the country and thus, we do not know whether its policy will work. However, there is nothing special about Pakatan Rakyat's state governments' policies either so far.
Regardless of whose policy is better, there must be room for implementation. Too much noise would divert attention while sharp U-turns made to safeguard votes would also affect the effectiveness of any policies. I believe that India showed us the best example.
When India was listed as one of the BRICs, it was hailed as a strong economy comparable with China. However, the myth shattered.
The depletion of reform momentum slowed down the economic growth of India while politicians were too busy fighting. Its government allowed foreign investment to enter its retail industry but the policy was suspended later due to the opposition of the opposition party and the trade union. The move had dampened investment sentiment. Politicians cared only about votes and the opportunities to make economic breakthrough were stifled.
Such a scenario has also been staging in Malaysia. Sharp U-turns have been made due to the fear of losing votes, causing the transformation plans neither fish nor fowl. They are just old wine in new bottles.
If the political struggle remains even after the next general election, there would still be no room for the implementation of good policies.
Everyone is talking about scandals and who is still interested in policies? Even the political debate between Chua and Lim is not able to change the political landscape.