KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's opposition Pakatan Harapan launched its 60-point election manifesto on Thursday (Mar 8), pledging to abolish the goods and services tax and investigate scandal-plagued state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad within its first hundred days in office.
With general elections due by August, the 194-page "Book of Hope" outlines Pakatan's five main policy goals: Reducing the burden of the people, reforming administrative and political institutions, accelerating a just and equitable economy, returning the rights promised to Sabah and Sarawak during Malaysia's formation in 1963, and building an inclusive and moderate nation.
"This book contains so many promises that we will fulfil once we get to Putrajaya," said Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the chairman of the opposition coalition, at the manifesto launch in their state, Selangor.
"Some are now calling us a government in waiting ... but that won't happen if we don't work for it."
Dr Mahathir is set to be prime minister should the opposition win polls until his protege-turned-rival-turned-ally, Anwar Ibrahim, is released from prison in June and can take up the post.
The 92-year-old is no stranger to the top office, having helmed the country for more than two decades. However, Pakatan's manifesto would ensure no repeat of this with their pledge of a two-term limit for any prime minister.
Within its first 100 days in government, the opposition also plans to reintroduce fuel subsidies for targeted groups, increase the minimum wage, reconsider the awarding of mega projects to foreign countries, as well as set up a task force to study how to return autonomy promised to east Malaysian states Sabah and Sarawak.
Over a five-year term, the opposition is pledging to review tolls, eliminate laws considered cruel and return the dignity of ethnic Malay institutions while ensuring economic progress of all other communities in multi-ethnic Malaysia.
REALISTIC PROMISES OR "PURE RHETORIC"?
Ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) has yet to release its own manifesto but they have already critiqued the feasibility of Pakatan's plans.
BN's strategic communications director and the minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan called the plans "false hopes".
"Pakatan's 10 promises in 100 days are no more than pure rhetoric," he tweeted.
"There are no new promises that are fresh and realistic and could benefit the people."
In a media briefing ahead of the manifesto's release, however, Pakatan's secretary-general Saifuddin Abdullah had said their manifesto was practical.
"There are populist pledges that we could just put in there if we wanted to, but we won't because we are responsible," he said.