KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 — Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has offered the public a glimpse of a Pakatan Rakyat (PR) federal government by outlining a common platform that includes an anti-discrimination law, abolishing the ISA and relaxing of legislation like the Sedition Act and press laws.
Zaid, who has been given the job of casting in stone common ground for the disparate alliance criticised for having no shared ideology, said a PR administration would also introduce an economic policy with safety nets and a new education strategy to produce more competitive graduates.
“Pakatan Rakyat must firstly unite all Malaysians. We must revive the dreams of Tunku Abdul Rahman and other independence leaders,” he wrote in a posting on his blog yesterday.
The PR alliance has come under heavy attacks from Umno in particular over its lack of a common platform.
Barisan Nasional’s (BN) lynchpin has taken full advantage of open squabbles between PR partners PKR, PAS and DAP to drive a wedge among the opposition parties.
Umno has also stepped up the rhetoric to paint Malay leaders in PR as traitors in well-worn attacks underscoring the right-wing appeal of the ruling party.
With some PAS leaders beginning to blow hot and cold in their commitment to PR, Zaid appears to be also in a hurry now to set down the opposition’s common platform.
In his blog post yesterday evening, the former Umno minister outlined four main areas for PR’s platform:
• To introduce anti-discrimination laws
• To introduce an economic policy with safety nets to protect the lower income group
• To introduce an education policy that will produce competitive graduates, especially among Malay and Bumiputeras
• To abolish the Internal Security Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act; to relax provisions which give excessive powers to the government in the Official Secrets Act, the Sedition Act and other legislation; to introduce sweeping reforms to the police, courts and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
“Pakatan must reject the practice of discrimination. This proposal (to introduce an anti-discrimination law) will not affect the special position of Malays under Article 153 of the constitution.
“Do not listen to Umno’s lies. The non-Bumiputeras have never asked for Article 153 to be abolished,” said Zaid.
He said the proposed legislation would ensure non-Malays are not discriminated against, and that Malays are not discriminated against by the non-Bumiputera community. Article 153, he pointed out, would be maintained.
The former minister, who recently joined PKR, said PR should also introduce an economic policy with a safety net in place for the lower-income group.
“We are not a poor country. In fact we should all live in prosperity if we reduce wastage and leakages because of corruption. Pakatan is committed to wiping out graft.”
PR’s education policy, he said, would also be aimed at making Malay and Bumiputera graduates in particular more competitive by revamp the system to ensure quality teachers and identification of key subjects for improvement.
Another key area Zaid identified for reform if PR came to power was to curb what he said was excessive powers that had been given to government institutions.
“A Pakatan Rakyat government must be free and not instil fear in the public. It must have an open attitude and accept criticisms. This can only be done by establishing a free and democratic government,” he said.
He singled out the ISA and the Printing Presses and Publications Act for abolition.
Other laws like the Sedition Act and the Official Secrets Act would also have their provisions relaxed in a PR administration, he said.
Zaid said widespread reforms were also necessary for the judiciary, police and MACC.
“I believe that when Pakatan Rakyat agrees with these basic aims, the confidence of the public will increase. It will ensure the leaders are busy with these aims and have no time to argue over trivial matters,” he said.
Zaid said that if PR were to concentrate on such a common platform, the public would no longer perceive the alliance as just an “anti-ISA party” but as a coalition with substance.