KLANG - Opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) on Wednesday unveiled an election manifesto that emphasised multiculturalism, pledging to help all Malaysians with rising living costs and to recognise a controversial certificate issued by independent Chinese secondary schools.
PH chairman Anwar Ibrahim also promised that a PH administration will have two deputy prime ministers – one from the peninsula and another from Sabah or Sarawak in east Malaysia.
When announcing the manifesto ahead of the general election on Nov 19, Datuk Seri Anwar said the narrative adopted by PH detractors, which has always been about Malay supremacy and religion, goes against humanity and what is truly preached by religion.
“We are united as a force more than before. We will move forward with confidence together,” he said.
PH’s colour-blind manifesto aims to help all Malaysians with the rising cost of living, among other challenges, he said.
The coalition will rebuild Malaysia, which has been devastated by Barisan Nasional and Perikatan Nasional in the past 30 months, according to Mr Anwar.
“With our strong will, leadership and clear manifesto, we can redevelop Malaysia again with a big turnout on Polling Day on Nov 19,” he said.
Mr Anwar also promised to make public higher education institutions recognise the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) – the equivalent of the A-level certificate for independent Chinese schools – on the condition that applicants had at least a credit for Malay language in their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) exam results. SPM is the equivalent of the O-level exams.
“I want to emphasise that we are confident and do not apologise for our stance, as we stand with all races. The multiculturalism we have in this coalition, which our rivals want to racialise, will not deter our fight for the people,” he said.
“I implore the people to vote for us so that we have a clear majority after GE15 and get rid of this flip-flopping government, bloated Cabinet with 70 ministers, and stop the appointment of special envoys who get paid for doing nothing.”
The UEC is for Malaysia’s 300-plus independent Chinese secondary schools. Its official recognition would allow certificate holders to apply to local universities. Currently, they can apply only to private colleges and universities.
Recognising the UEC was one of the election promises made by PH in 2018, but the coalition faced hurdles in getting it to materialise after coming to power as most Malay voters were against it because they preferred a single national education system for all students.
On the appointment of a deputy prime minister from Sabah or Sarawak, this would be a first for either state since Malaysia’s independence in 1957, as all 13 DPMs have come from Peninsular Malaysia.
PH also promised to introduce a Fixed Parliament Term Act to ensure that any dissolution of Parliament or state assembly would be made only at the end of the term. This promise comes amid political instability due to infighting within the ruling government.
Parliament was dissolved on Oct 10 by the King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, upon the request of caretaker Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob. The election was moved forward to Nov 19 from its original schedule of September 2023.
Datuk Seri Ismail has been locked in a power struggle with Umno president Zahid Hamidi, who pushed for the general election to be held during the flood season despite Mr Ismail’s best efforts to delay it for as long as he could.
Mr Anwar said PH also sought to vet the nomination process for the post of chief commissioner at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). This is to ensure a neutral candidate would be selected, following a controversial case involving Tan Sri Azam Baki, the current MACC chief commissioner. He purportedly bought a substantial number of stocks in two listed companies, using his trading account, for his brother in 2015.
The issue sparked a huge outcry, with calls for Mr Azam to step down while a full probe was carried out.
He refused to do so, and insisted that he had not broken any laws. He said the stocks had been transferred to his brother Nasir Baki’s account. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing.
Mr Anwar also said PH will continue the practice of asset declaration for all ministers, MPs, senior civil servants, chairmen of government-linked companies, as well as all spouses and close family members aged 18 years old and above.