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Kampung A Relevant Life What is the value of an election manifesto to a voter?
What is the value of an election manifesto to a voter? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Haris Ibrahim   
Monday, 27 August 2018 14:16

What is the value of an election manifesto to a voter?

Posted on August 27, 2018








I think there are two, depending on the kind of voter you are.


  • First, it might help a voter decide which party to give his or her vote to.
Second, to measure the performance of the party he or she chose, when the next election comes along.

Whilst attitudes to general elections are wide-ranging, I am going to turn my attention to only two types of voters.

First, the voter who does not himself have a detailed idea of the kind of government he wants, or the policies he wants put into place. Sure, he or she wants a clean, efficient and trustworthy government, but gives little thought or consideration to the requisite nuts and bolts in national administration to achieve that clean, efficient and trustworthy governance. Market talk and gossip on the best party to vote in may impact his choice. He may well judge the outgoing government on issues like cost of living and corruption, if the latter is seen as so endemic as to affect his own living conditions. Civil liberty issues and breach of fundamental rights considerations may play little or no part in his choice on voting day.


Such an individual may scrutinise the various manifestos, most of which he or she may find too voluminous to wade through, and in any event all will be promising all kinds of goodies so that choosing between them, for this voter, becomes next to impossible.

Such a voter will cast his ballot on polling day, go back to his daily routine, and, come the next election, will do exactly the same as he did the last time.


Then you have a voter like me.


Not cocooned in his own little corner of life, but has been to ground to see the lives of some of the most marginalised of our people.


Has worked in a system that was intended to serve justice to the people, seen that system fail dismally when it was most needed, and has walked away from such a system, with the fullest realisation that short of a complete overhaul of all the institutions of state that were meant to serve the people, the nation is doomed.


And has for some time come to the conclusion that, if the nation is to be saved, UMNO and BN had to be removed from federal power. And yet, also fully understanding that removing UMNO and BN would not, in itself,  guarantee that everything that is wrong about this nation would be put right by the new incoming regime.

And so, unlike the earlier voter I described above, my “Anything But UMNO” stance meant I did not need to go through BN’s pre-election promises in the run-up to the 14th GE. I was not interested in anything BN had to offer. BN had to go.


It meant that I was going to vote Pakatan Harapan, regardless of what was in their manifesto, but nonetheless, I still needed to identify what they were offering, so that we would have a platform to push for our demands if they formed the government.

The Pakatan Harapan manifesto therefore needed close scrutiny and evaluation.


What measure did I use in this evaluation?


My friends and I, after some 3 years of working the ground, had come to our own views on the reforms that was much needed.

In 2011, we came up with our own reform agenda for the nation. You may wish to read about it HERE.


In summary, this was what we mooted :

1. resolve the matter of the legitimate grievances of Sabahans and Sarawakians by reason of the failure, until now, to honour the Malaysia Agreement, 1963 and the 18 / 20 points agreements

2. restore and return the institutions of state back to the rakyat

3. repeal all draconian laws

4. replace the NEP with a comprehensive and needs-based social inclusion program

By the time the 14th GE was upon us, I had further refined our reform agenda to now include one more very important reform : No more race politics.


And so, using this 5-point reform agenda, I measured the PH manifesto, looking to see what could be achieved in the short, mid, and long term.


More, importantly, I tried to identify which of those reforms we, the rakyat and voters, could expect the new government to readily deliver without need of pressure from the us, and which, we would have to take the lead if we wished to see those reforms become a reality.


I have written on the repeal of the draconian laws yesterday.

As for the restoration and return of the institutions of state back to the rakyat, the Committee for Institutional Reforms has submitted its report to the Council of Eminent Persons and to the government. I have written about this HERE. Let’s wait a while and see what comes of this.


That leaves three of my five point reform agenda.

  • No more race politics
  • honouring the Malaysia Agreement to give to Sabahans and Sarawakians what is due to them
  • replace the NEP with a comprehensive and needs-based social inclusion program

Time permitting, I hope to address these last 3 in my following posts.

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Last Updated on Monday, 27 August 2018 14:56

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