What do Malaysians hope to see in an election manifesto?

FOR a healthy democracy in a multi-racial and diverse country like Malaysia, an election manifesto of political parties serves as an indicator of commitment made by a party to voters.

It also helps voters make informed choices about which party to vote for, who to vote for and who not to vote for.

Manifestos outline in detail the contested parties’ priorities and policies on a wide range of issues as well as specific action points that they will pursue in case they form the Government to govern the country over the next five years.

It is very important for the voters to hold parties accountable for promises made during the campaign; after all, voting for that party and candidate means that the voter is effectively endorsing their election manifesto and giving them the mandate to govern.

Manifestos usually cover a wide range of political, economic, social and business issues and give some broad explanations as to how to execute and deliver the outcome and what is good for Malaysia and its voters.

The issues include the following:

  • Federal Budget
    • Responsible and fiscal discipline and good governance to minimise wastage and contain leakages.
    • Fiscal and debt sustainability should remain the key policy priority.
  • Reforms:
    • Political, institutional and economic reforms, including those related to fiscal governance, the labour and product markets, easing of doing business and conducive business regulations.
  • Economy
    • A national reset for a better Malaysia – sustainable and quality development, better governance, jobs and income for Malaysians as well as good policies based on needs and income.
    • In the near term, there are concerns about weakening economic growth and business investment prospects due to the risk of a global recession in 2023. As such, responsive short-term measures to counteract the disruptive impact of global growth slowdown and extreme financial volatility on domestic demand are needed.
  • Inflation and high cost of living
    • Measures to mitigate the impact of rising prices and high cost of living on vulnerable households, such as price controls, targeted subsidies and the rechanneling of resources for more productive purposes and sectors.
  • Education, jobs and skillsets
    • Quality education and training, jobs and skills for youths, promotion of entrepreneurial culture, productivity-linked wages for employees, enhanced Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for future work, supported investment in skills, lifelong learning and reformed apprenticeships, more flexible training and greater investments and innovations in key areas of lifelong learnings.
  • Social and community services
    • A vibrant, inclusive, self-confident community. A society that strives to reduce income inequality and help ensure the equality of opportunities for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion and background.
    • A relook at our social protection system to ensure that social safety nets are comprehensive to mitigate vulnerable people from the impact of economic and financial shocks.
  • Housing
    • The housing problem is one of affordability. Housing costs have risen to an unacceptable level because of building materials, compliance costs and statutory contributions.
    • The problem needs to be tackled from both the demand and supply sides by helping builders and buyers meet housing costs. Home buyers should be helped to pay for housing by income support to meet rental payments and expanded schemes to help first-time buyers.
  • Business environment
    • Enhance public delivery services and efficiency, reduce regulatory and compliance costs and enhance competitive tax regimes and costs of doing business.
    • Provide clear strategies for all key economic segments and industries (vertical and horizontal).
  • Healthcare
    • An affordable and efficient national healthcare system that covers everything from prevention to long-term care.
  • Environment and climate change
    • Protection and enhancement of the natural environment is an essential part of this, and it also has a role to play in achieving zero carbon.

Political stability is an important driver of economic growth and private investment. Political stability encompasses many aspects, including the strength of institutions and the rule of law as well as good governance.

We must always have good sense and strong political will must prevail to reset our national development agenda. A stable political condition will enhance the confidence of both domestic and foreign investors in terms of policy continuity and the country’s sustainable development path.

While credible macroeconomic management and political stability are essential to ensure sustained economic growth, it is important to see policy continuity and meaningful reforms as well as avoid policy flip-flops.

Thus, the Government must continue to implement credible economic policies and institutional and political reforms, as well as ensure fiscal discipline and responsibility, political stability and institutional quality.

Diversities are our strength, pulling all Malaysians together. An inclusive Malaysia is crucial to rebuilding trust towards the Government and among us (Malaysians).

Therefore, the Government should focus on promoting an inclusive Malaysia to ensure that growth and development should be shared by all Malaysians.

While populist measures help vulnerable households, they are unsustainable policy measures and not a permanent solution. Policies should focus on empowering them to be competitive and not over-dependent on cash assistance. Good policies should be continued and further enhanced.

It is also of the utmost importance to strengthen monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure that policies are implemented effectively and efficiently in achieving the outcomes. – Oct 16, 2022


Lee Heng Guie is the executive director at Socio-Economic Research Centre (SERC) Malaysia.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Main photo credit: Bernama

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