The manifestos shaping Malaysia’s economic future

Reading Time: 3 minutes

With Malaysia’s “historically close” 13th general election in all-out campaign mode, by the end of April incumbent Prime Minster Najib Adbul Tun Razak’s Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition is now due to face off against the rising tide of Pakatan Rakyat (PR), headed by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

By Justin Calderon

Both BN and PR have since released their own party manifestos, with the challenging PR party mooting its policies some six weeks beforehand, leaving room for BN to scrutnise their opponent, which has lead to outcries that Najib’s team has made some adjustments by copy and pasting.

While not without cause, this claim is almost expected in a country where stereotypically controversial issues over political reform and racial policies play out as the raging elephant in the room.

Malaysia’s next election has put forth two parties that have committed to a great deal of economic reforms that voters need to scrutinise for themselves – no matter creed or race.

Below are a few of the more salient economic reforms proposed by the competing parties, starting with those that are the most similar, then those individually supported.

Armed forces

BN and PR have both committed to extending the capability of the country’s armed forces in the wake of the Sabah crisis, which involved the invasion of the most Eastern Malaysian state by Filipino rebels staking claim to their ancestral homeland in early March. Under a new supportive policy for the military, Malaysia will allocate a significant increase to the Armed Forces Fund Board, as well as introduce a remuneration programme for non-pension veterans.

Transport infrastructure

The upgrade and provision of transport infrastructure is featured prominently in both manifestos.  However, there are stark differences at the same time. The incumbent BN party has committed to expanding the North-South Expressway, as well as building a 2,300-kilometer Pan Borneo Highway from Sematan in Sarawak to Serudung in Sabah. BN also plans to extend the East Coast Highway and build a new West Coast Highway. PR has focused more on urban infrastructure in its manifesto, listing the intention to “initiate steps towards building the first inter-city high speed rail system in Southeast Asia,” as well as remodeling the Klang Valley public transport system to be more MRT-centric while dedicated RM2 billion in the first year to double the number of buses in the same area.

Similarly, BN has gone a step further to promise the creation of a new ministry tasked with the development of urban centers, stating that over 70 per cent of Malaysians now live in urban areas.

Low-income housing

Promises to invest in low-income housing are flourished in both manifestos. PR has dedicated RM 5 billion in the first year to build affordable housing, followed by RM2 billion in the following years. BN is playing its traditionally more populist hand by increasing its one-off cash payment to low-income households from RM500 to up to RM1,200, while committing itself to constructing 1 million new affordable homes, including 500,000 houses priced at 20 per cent below market rates.

Individual taxi permits

Of all the new policies, the competing parties seem to have mirrored this idea the most. Instead of granting permits to selected companies that profit from taxi driver labour, individual taxi permits will be given directly to drivers in an effort to produce entrepreneurs. Fuel subsidies for these individuals will also be extended.

BN: Cheaper Internet

Najib’s ruling coalition has begun to set itself apart by promising to lower broadband internet fees by at least 20 per cent. The party has also committed to ensuring that high-quality and reliable wireless internet access is provided for the whole country, as well as mobile phone coverage.

PR: R&D spending upped

Along with his core philosophy to push the social sectors, Anwar is planning for a more competitive Malaysia by promising to boost the country’s spending in R&D to reach 5 per cent of GDP. His party will also create investment incentives for successfully commericalised Malaysian R&D products, as well as offer tax relief for R&D goods and services derived from universities.

This initiative also coincides with the revamp of the education sector, which PR’s manifesto will further augment with 25 vocational schools and five technical universities (the latter occurring over the next 10 years) to match economic requirements. However, this task will have to be further examined from multiple economic policy angles to address the oversupply of educational institutions that already exist in Malaysia’s “diploma mill” context.

PR: Anti-Monopoly Commission

Anwar’s party is looking to combat Malaysia’s behemoth conglomerates and entrenched business practices by establishing an Anti-Monopoly Commission. At the top of the list, companies with overtly advantageous control in telecommunications, essential foods, pharmaceuticals, civil aviation and other key sectors will be broken up to boost competition. PR also plans to dissolve 1MDB, leaving Khazanah as the only state investment body.

 

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

With Malaysia’s “historically close” 13th general election in all-out campaign mode, by the end of April incumbent Prime Minster Najib Adbul Tun Razak’s Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition is now due to face off against the rising tide of Pakatan Rakyat (PR), headed by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

With Malaysia’s “historically close” 13th general election in all-out campaign mode, by the end of April incumbent Prime Minster Najib Adbul Tun Razak’s Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition is now due to face off against the rising tide of Pakatan Rakyat (PR), headed by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

By Justin Calderon

Both BN and PR have since released their own party manifestos, with the challenging PR party mooting its policies some six weeks beforehand, leaving room for BN to scrutnise their opponent, which has lead to outcries that Najib’s team has made some adjustments by copy and pasting.

While not without cause, this claim is almost expected in a country where stereotypically controversial issues over political reform and racial policies play out as the raging elephant in the room.

Malaysia’s next election has put forth two parties that have committed to a great deal of economic reforms that voters need to scrutinise for themselves – no matter creed or race.

Below are a few of the more salient economic reforms proposed by the competing parties, starting with those that are the most similar, then those individually supported.

Armed forces

BN and PR have both committed to extending the capability of the country’s armed forces in the wake of the Sabah crisis, which involved the invasion of the most Eastern Malaysian state by Filipino rebels staking claim to their ancestral homeland in early March. Under a new supportive policy for the military, Malaysia will allocate a significant increase to the Armed Forces Fund Board, as well as introduce a remuneration programme for non-pension veterans.

Transport infrastructure

The upgrade and provision of transport infrastructure is featured prominently in both manifestos.  However, there are stark differences at the same time. The incumbent BN party has committed to expanding the North-South Expressway, as well as building a 2,300-kilometer Pan Borneo Highway from Sematan in Sarawak to Serudung in Sabah. BN also plans to extend the East Coast Highway and build a new West Coast Highway. PR has focused more on urban infrastructure in its manifesto, listing the intention to “initiate steps towards building the first inter-city high speed rail system in Southeast Asia,” as well as remodeling the Klang Valley public transport system to be more MRT-centric while dedicated RM2 billion in the first year to double the number of buses in the same area.

Similarly, BN has gone a step further to promise the creation of a new ministry tasked with the development of urban centers, stating that over 70 per cent of Malaysians now live in urban areas.

Low-income housing

Promises to invest in low-income housing are flourished in both manifestos. PR has dedicated RM 5 billion in the first year to build affordable housing, followed by RM2 billion in the following years. BN is playing its traditionally more populist hand by increasing its one-off cash payment to low-income households from RM500 to up to RM1,200, while committing itself to constructing 1 million new affordable homes, including 500,000 houses priced at 20 per cent below market rates.

Individual taxi permits

Of all the new policies, the competing parties seem to have mirrored this idea the most. Instead of granting permits to selected companies that profit from taxi driver labour, individual taxi permits will be given directly to drivers in an effort to produce entrepreneurs. Fuel subsidies for these individuals will also be extended.

BN: Cheaper Internet

Najib’s ruling coalition has begun to set itself apart by promising to lower broadband internet fees by at least 20 per cent. The party has also committed to ensuring that high-quality and reliable wireless internet access is provided for the whole country, as well as mobile phone coverage.

PR: R&D spending upped

Along with his core philosophy to push the social sectors, Anwar is planning for a more competitive Malaysia by promising to boost the country’s spending in R&D to reach 5 per cent of GDP. His party will also create investment incentives for successfully commericalised Malaysian R&D products, as well as offer tax relief for R&D goods and services derived from universities.

This initiative also coincides with the revamp of the education sector, which PR’s manifesto will further augment with 25 vocational schools and five technical universities (the latter occurring over the next 10 years) to match economic requirements. However, this task will have to be further examined from multiple economic policy angles to address the oversupply of educational institutions that already exist in Malaysia’s “diploma mill” context.

PR: Anti-Monopoly Commission

Anwar’s party is looking to combat Malaysia’s behemoth conglomerates and entrenched business practices by establishing an Anti-Monopoly Commission. At the top of the list, companies with overtly advantageous control in telecommunications, essential foods, pharmaceuticals, civil aviation and other key sectors will be broken up to boost competition. PR also plans to dissolve 1MDB, leaving Khazanah as the only state investment body.

 

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