Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Malaysia PM Woos Non-Malays In Election Manifesto

Malaysia's ruling coalition promised on Monday to soothe growing anger by minority Chinese and Indians over education and religious rights.

In its election manifesto, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's coalition also pledged to create two million new jobs, encourage one million new businesses and rein in the fiscal deficit over the next five years.

"We have managed the economy well, we have ensured that Malaysia is on the right track," he told some 500 supporters at his party headquarters. "We will deliver our promise."

The Barisan Nasional coalition is considered certain to be re-elected in March 8 polls, but risks a backlash by Buddhist ethnic Chinese and Hindu ethnic Indians who have complained of religious and racial inequality in the mainly Muslim nation.

The opposition, aiming to deny Barisan a two-thirds majority, the level needed to change the constitution, also hopes to draw a protest vote over rising food and fuel costs, street crimes and an influx of cheap foreign labour.

In the manifesto, Barisan said it would keep Chinese and Indian schools, extend use of Mandarin and Tamil at national schools and offer university scholarships for poor students, irrespective of race.

It will also form a "special mechanism" to facilitate the setting up and relocation of temples, mosques and churches, an issue that has sparked a bitter complaint especially by Hindus.

The government will also step up inter-faith dialogue and ensure that developers set aside land for places of worships in their townships, it said.

More than 10,000 Indians staged their community's biggest anti-government protest in November, braving water cannon, tear gas and arrest to accuse the government of discrimination.

Ethnic Chinese, too, have aired growing complaints about the government's decades-old affirmative action policy, which gives Malays perks such as share allocations and cheap housing loans.

Politically dominant Malay Muslims form about 60 percent of Malaysia's 26 million people. (Reuters India)

***** How much of the pledges made are genuine remains to be seen. But I think that the assurance to
step up inter-faith dialogue is an outright lie. The present crop of Umno leaders have neither the intention nor the will to foster better ties between the disparate religious groups here. It is to Umno's advantage to maintain a certain tension and disagreement between them.
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Anonymous SM said...

He has looked us in th eye & lied so many times.
We have yet to see anything from the last Elections' promises.
How can we believe him now? How stupid does he think we are?
Sorry PM, once bitten twice shy!
Just Change It! Vote the BN out!

8:06 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Chauncey Gardener said...

I agree that the issue to step up inter-faith dialogue is a lie.

He has had 4 years to do something about it but so far what has he done? And this is not a complicated matter - just get all parties to establish a regular forum to discuss issues relevant to all Malaysian's faiths.

But he has sidestepped many opportunities such as being OIC Chairman to promote multi-ethnic Malaysia.

And if leaders of any faith do not want to be part of an inter-faith grouping, the PM should ask if that group is part of Malaysia !

6:14 AM GMT+8  
Blogger Billy said...

Noticed something missing from the manifesto - CORRUPTION!!!!There is no mention at all about his desire to tackle the problem. Well, I guess it will be party time again into the nation's coffers after the GE. God save this nation!!

8:35 AM GMT+8  

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