Sunday, May 5, 2013

GE13 is Finally Here – What's Your Choice?

The Choice launched at the end of 2011 with little fanfare but an important mission: To cut through the online political debate and make readers aware of what is truly at stake for the future of our country, and to force us to think about the hard choices we need to make.
"The decisions we take now will determine what Malaysia achieves in the 21st century," we said in our About The Choice section on day one; a sentence that is even more important today than when it was written.
That's because of what is now at stake. Malaysia stands on the cusp of greatness, and we are set to join the top table of fully developed nations with a high-tech economy, enviable social mobility and respected regional influence. Choosing the right leadership to get us to the finish line is critical given what we have learned since 2011 about the contenders and the issues involved.
For example, during the short life of this portal, the success of Malaysia's economy has become a global good news story against a backdrop of the faltering economies in places such as Europe. And it has happened, say global bodies like the World Bank and the IMF, because of policies and long the long-term thinking of a Government that gave rise to the Economic Transformation Programme.
This success should have been a challenge to Pakatan Rakyat to come up with an alternative team capable of articulating an alternative vision for a prosperous Malaysia. It has done neither.
Putting aside the lack of a shadow cabinet, its manifesto is remarkable for its lack of macro-economic detail. The seven-page section called "The People's Economy" says much about government giveaways but nothing about economic targets during its first term, let alone the milestone year of 2020.
BN, by comparison, makes it clear about where we are now, where we need to be by 2020 and the fact we will get there if we stay the course.
But aside from the policies The Choice has also been interested in the people asking for our trust. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak tells us that with the right team, he can step up the pace of transformation and his GE13 candidate list, with a third new faces, is evidence he has backed up his words with action.
In the area of personnel, Pakatan Rakyat has not only failed to evolve, but has gone backwards. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's acquittal on the Sodomy II charges in January 2012 was perversely, a huge set-back for him and his party. Robbed of his mantle of victimhood, and frequently challenged by an alternative candidate as Prime Minister by PAS, he diminished in stature and has never recovered.
Thus he has been unable to unite his disparate coalition into a fighting unit and his MPs and candidates identify only with their own separate parties. There is no Pakatan common identity, save a vague notion of being the antidote to BN.
Take the test yourself: Name one speech delivered by a senior Pakatan figure during this campaign that suggests they believe in an idea that is bigger than the sum of the parts? The best Anwar has managed is BN-bashing.
Pakatan has distinguished itself by the politics of negativity rather than by offering a united and coherent vision, with it be on hudud or jobs or anything else.
Pakatan's manifesto ends with a fictitious letter, dated 2023, penned by a happy citizen under Pakatan's decade of rule. This citizen works at an advanced-technology manufacturing plant, the kind of industry presently nervous about Pakatan's flip-slopping on large foreign investments.
He salutes land-owners "once called settlers", which means they didn't lose their land (as Pakatan suggested) from the Felda IPO; and he pays tribute to the "national welfare safety net" which experts say would have crippled the nation's finances long before 2023.
Missing from this letter is the account of his son being arrested by PAS' Islamic patrol on spurious grounds like holding hands with his girlfriend in a cinema, his struggle to pay the new taxes needed to fund this socialist paradise, or the celebrations being organised to honour Prime Minister Hadi's ten years in office.
The tagline for The Choice is "Because every Malaysian has to choose". Well, now is your chance, and if it is any consolation, the choice has become easier, not harder.
GE13 is the time to vote for stability, prosperity and the future. But it's not up to us to tell you what to do.
It is your choice.

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