Malaysia’s opposition coalition on Thursday promised to provide 1 million new jobs and affordable houses if it wins the 14th general election later this year.
In its 200-page manifesto, “Book of Hope: Rebuilding our Nation, Fulfilling our Hopes,” Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) also declared that, if elected, it would abolish the much-hated, two-year-old sales tax and limit the prime minister to two five-year terms in office.
The goods and services tax (GST) introduced by Prime Minister Najib Razak at a rate of 6 percent in 2015 is unpopular because it is perceived as having an inflationary effect on prices.
The manifesto focuses on alleviating the high cost of living, instituting political reforms; spurring economic growth, restoring Sabah and Sarawak to the status accorded in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and creating an inclusive, moderate country that is respected by the world.
Sarawak together with Sabah, another state on Borneo island, as well as Singapore gained independence from Britain and joined the Federation of Malaya to form Malaysia in 1963 under certain conditions.
Singapore left Malaysia in 1965 but Sabah and Sarawak remained, occasionally complaining since that their powers are being eroded.
“The manifesto of a political party is to inform the Malaysian about what will be done by the party in future,” said Pakatan Chairman Mahathir Mohamad, who served as prime minister from 1981 to 2003.
“This book contains many promises that we will implement when we make it to Putrajaya,” Mahathir said, referring to the seat of Malaysian government.
If elected, Pakatan said, it would immediately work on several issues, including scrapping the GST, streamlining minimum wages and investigating scandals. It also promised to guarantee free education at public universities.
Najib, who leads the United Malays National Organization and who is expected to announce the election date before August, is seeking his third term in the office he has held since 2009.
Mahathir has said he will serve until his former deputy, Anwar Ibrahim, could take over.
Anwar, who is jailed on a sodomy conviction, is to be released from prison in June and would need a royal pardon to serve. Without the pardon, he would be barred from public office for five years.