Malaysiakini has published a damn good article titled Opposition pledges yet unfulfilled by Baradan Kuppusamy.
Don’t worry too much about the 1st impression the title projects – no one’s expecting every pledge by each Pakatan Rakyat (PR) component party to be fulfilled in just 100 days. They still have almost 5 years to come up with the goods.
However and unfortunately, a large number of our voters cannot distinguish between an absolute pledge and a conditional pledge ... absolute and conditional being kaytee's choice of words.
In Australia, more than a decade ago, John Howard wrestled the right to form government from the Labour Party in an election where one of his pre-election pledges was that no civil servant in Canberra, the Australian equivalent of Putrajaya, would lose his/her job.
But once he won the election, he reneged on that pledge and sacked some 20,000 of them (or some other but equally draconian figure).
He spun it as his pledge being not a ‘core’ promise, which from that day became a well-known Aussie sarcasm that whenever he or his colleagues had no intention of honouring a promise, it would automatically be ‘non-core’.
In fact, after that incident, when he made a promise, pledge or promised policy, reporters/journalists would pointedly asked him whether it was ‘core’ or ‘non-core’ ;-).
Howard started a fad because the dodgy cynical meaning behind 'non core' became rather popular in Australia that it (including 'core') has been adopted for use in various context, apart from qualifying 'promises'.
Most politicians around the world are the same – they are generally liars. The Asian/African pollies are just more crude and blunt or, if you like, more 'honest' about their lack of honourable intention to keep their promises, whereas Western pollies use sophisticated words like ‘core promise’ and other equally well-dressed nonsense to hide the same dishonourable intent.
So, we could say that our Malaysian absolute pledge and conditional pledge would be equivalent to John Howard’s ‘core’ and 'non core’ promises. Of course the brilliance of Howard’s 'flexible' intent was that he didn’t pre-brand which promise was what. He made the classification only after he saw fit ;-)
Examples of absolute pledges would be like what Lim GE, Nizar, Nik Aziz and Khalid Ibrahim have been fulfilling as best as they could – eg. open tender, curtail government extravagant wasteful spending, transparency, accountability and competency (even unto head hunting expertise who may be BN members).
Khalid has had a few minor stumbles thus far but, except for the case of Anwar Ibrahim's brother (isn't this a wee worrying), were not serious enough to fret over ... yet.
The sole exception to the PR's MB/CMs is the new PAS Kedah MB who has reneged on his pre-election condemnation of and thus opposition to BN’s scary environmental-harmful projects, by adopting every one of them - see my post PAS Kedah menjadi Raja Go-starn. Such sheer double-face hypocrisy!
He even wants to approve a water catchment area for timber logging – Lim GE is now so pissed off with this potential environmental vandal who could possibly jeopardise the drinking water for 5 million Malaysians in the next 5 years. PAS Kedah has f* even its absolute pledges.
Then we come to conditional pledge …
Baradan wrote on what I would term conditional pledge: “It is clear now that it was easy to make election pledges, but next to impossible to fulfil some of them, especially the promise to lower the price of petrol to pre-2004 levels, world price then was about US$20 a barrel. The price of oil is now hitting US$150 a barrel.”
“In 2004, pump prices in Malaysia were under RM0.92, but today the price is RM2.70 and set to rise to RM3.20 by year-end.”
Today I heard the station price per litre of unleaded petrol in Australia is $1.75 (roughly RM5.30) and continuing to rise, with $2 (RM6) per litre expected very shortly.
Obviously a PR pre-election pledge on petrol price has to be conditional on winning majority rule at the federal level to form government.
But the success of the PR in many states had actually come as a surprise to the PR themselves, as acknowledged by Lim GE, his father and many PKR and PAS pollies ….. for one simple reason, while they had expected to pick up some extra seats, they didn’t expect to win so handsomely as to form state governments in places like Penang, Perak and Selangor.
Because of the belief that they might not even break the 2/3 majority control by the BN, I imagine that someone felt a certain freedom or lack of responsibility in making extravagant unachievable promises to lower fuel prices below even RM1.92.
I am sure you know who made those wild pledges. Either it was, as stated, with the abandonment of a person who thought it would be unlikely he would be required to honour those pledges, or he had no clue as to what was then happening to the price of oil globally – the latter hardly surprising when he showed himself to be a lousy Finance Minister as articulately researched and enunciated by the Jebat Must Die blog.
But post-election when he kept on harping on his ability to lower fuel prices in the face of all the facts, he had gone too far and driven a Universiti Malaya economist to lament to Baradan in sheer exasperation, stating: "I cannot understand how Anwar is going to lower pump prices when world price is set to cross US$200 by year end."
"I think he has to tell his legions of supporters soon that petrol prices will only rise and not drop because the commodity is limited but usage is increasing.”
Hardly likely – where there’s no likelihood of ‘responsibility’ (in the need to make good a promise), some people would act with even greater ‘authority’ ….. because such authority or promises are cheap (no need to fulfil).
It is not easy to identify Anwar’s stubbornness or recklessness in continuing to pledge the same impossible promise, to lower oil prices in the face of all the global evidence, except to offer what I reckon would be some possible multi thread thoughts in making his ‘non-core’ promise, namely:
(1) He doesn’t have to worry as he won’t be a PR PM to ever need to fulfil those extravagant promises – which supports my contention that his froggy tauntings have never been a genuine campaign to take over the government but merely a ploy to destabilise the UMNO-led government and allow himself to pry his way back into UMNO through frightened UMNO decision-makers, who thus far have proven to be rock-steady, either by cool deliberate control or just by nature ;-);
(2) If he becomes a PR PM (highly unlikely though), he’ll blame the previous AAB government for pathetic piss-poor management which was 'so horrific' that will make it impossible for him to fulfil his promises, as that would be economically irresponsible (basically the Howard explanation for his non core promise);
(3) Ho hum, no worries man, man man lai, Malaysian mudah lupa lah;
(4) He’ll do it anyway, after all he is the ‘world’s greatest economist and Finance Minister' – read Asia Sentinel Anwar’s False Promise on Fuel Prices by Joe Fernandez who lambasted Anwar’s attempt to reintroduce fuel subsidies in Malaysia as grossly irresponsible.
Fernandez also commented: "This is not the first time that Anwar has grossly misled the public in making pledges by referring to his 'credentials' as a former Finance Minister for so many years."
"In the run-up to the March 8 general elections and in its aftermath, Anwar promised the oil-producing states of Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak that he would increase up their current royalty of 5 percent to 20 percent, and at one stage even 40 per cent, if and when his Opposition Alliance was to seize the reins of power from ….... "
(5) Or, as Kian Min and Oon Yeoh of Malaysia had suggested in one of their articles, he’ll lower it from RM2.70 to RM2.50 and then claim he has ‘fulfilled’ his promise (which was actually made to lower the fuel price even less than RM1.92) - all very smoke and mirror.
And Tian Chua was quoted by Malaysiakini as stating: "As the opposition we promised the sky to win but as the government now we have great difficulty to deliver because we don't have the power, our power to effect change is limited. But we are doing our best and the people understand it ... they are with us."
… though Tian Chua didn’t explain why his boss keeps on promising the impossible.
Additionally, Tian Chua mustn't assume voters are like party acolytes, loyal, steadfast, ideological, even fanatical, and prepared to accept sacrifice, etc.
In reality most voters are essentially very selfish and very fickle minded people ... so don't think they will be with PR or PKR forever.
In the end, I wonder how anyone with open-ears, open-eyes and a functioning brain, with powers of full reasoning, and presented with all the facts and details of global oil prices, can ever condone, let alone believe, Anwar’s recklessness about lowering fuel prices.
If we want a 1st world political mentality as preached by Lim Kit Siang, we should hold each and every one of our politicians including Anwar Ibrahim to account. Let's start off with his fuel price promise.