On the other hand, he defends the Pakatan Rakyat manifesto as being pro-rakyat.
KUALA LUMPUR: Anwar Ibrahim has accused Barisan Nasional’s manifesto 2013 of being beneficial to Umno cronies.
The opposition leader made this statement in response to criticisms against the Pakatan Rakyat manifesto which was deemed “populist” and would ultimately “burden and bankrupt the economy”.
“The biggest criticism (of the Pakatan manifesto) is that it is populist and irresponsible. Firstly, all manifestos and policies of a country must be populist… it must be pro-rakyat. We have been pro-crony for too long,” Anwar said yesterday during Bersih’s forum entitled “Manifesting the Hope of the Rakyat: A Common Conversation” here.
“We reject populism only if it’s rhetoric and irresponsible. But what is wrong if the policies are pro-rakyat?” he asked.
“Why don’t the critics criticise the policies now that are pro-family, pro-crony and pro-rich?”
‘Education is a major priority’
Anwar assured that “every big announcement we have made has taken into consideration the cost implications”.
“Take PTPTN (education loan) for example. We computed a cost of RM6 billion a year in addition to existing expenditure for the education and higher education ministries,” he said.
“This is not excessive because we are not building a township, or a 100-storey tower,” he said, referring to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s plan for the 100-storey Menara Warisan Merdeka.
Anwar pointed out that annual revenue from petroleum and palm oil produce from Malaysia “comes to about RM150 billion”.
“So spending RM6 billion on education would not lead the country to bankruptcy, but stealing money from the people and massive commissions would certainly be a drain on the national economy,” he said.
“If we can have a government that is prudent, transparent and not corrupt, I believe that we can resolve most problems and issues related to education,” he added.
Anwar also said that if given mandate by the people on May 5, Pakatan would start off their administration by reducing the price of petroleum and gas.
“We are the lead exporter and not an importer of oil and gas. We have the capacity to regulate the price of oil to ease the burden of the consumers,” he said. Anwar disappointed over Najib’s snub
Anwar then expressed disappointment over Najib’s absence during the debate which was organised by electoral watchdog group Bersih 2.0.
“Bersih is promoting a reason discourse which is clearly lacking in this country. It is imperative as prelude to any elections in democratic society,” he said.
“I was really looking forward to a reason discourse with my colleague,” he added.
Anwar also urged the rakyat to “trust and believe in” the Pakatan manifesto.
“We can draft a manifesto and programme but it can only be considered seriously if the people believe and trust in it,” he said.
“We take into consideration the people’s confidence and aspiration to form a new government for the people.”