Wednesday, March 10, 2010

'Pakatan better than BN, but should do more'

Pakatan Rakyat marked the second anniversary of its electoral victory in Kedah, Kelantan, Penang and Selangor by launching a report card on its achievements on Monday.

Selangor and Penang were ranked first and third nationwide respectively, in terms on industrial projects. Penang turned a budget deficit of RM35 million in 2008 to a surplus of RM88 million last year.

azlanAll four states extensively expanded welfare benefits for the people, ranging from aid for the poor to funding for NGO-sponsored schools.

However, BN was not impressed, charging that Pakatan was not just blowing its own trumpet, but has also manipulated data to give a positive impression.

Malaysiakini turned to local experts for their views. The content has been edited for clarity and language.

James Chin, political analyst

Government finance is not normal finance, so a deficit or surplus does not mean much, since it is only for accounting purposes.

Overall, Penang and Selangor had done better than Kedah and Kelantan because they are industrial states, but they can do more.

In Penang, the government needs to attract more foreign direct investments so that it will not get stuck in the middle-income trap. Penang has limited land, so getting high-technology investment would be more profitable for the state.

If Penang cannot move up to higher-technology investments, then it will be caught in the same dilemma as the last state government.

Comparatively, (menteri besar) Khalid Ibrahim had done a good job in securing foreign investments for Selangor. However, this could be due to geographical reasons as Selangor is close to Kuala Lumpur and the state has more land to spare.

Penang has eradicated corruption completely and political parties' involvement in government projects has decreased.

Previously, Umno had created a disturbance when (chief minister) Koh Tsu Koon attempted to implement big projects.

Khoo Kay Peng, political analyst

Penang's poverty eradication policy is quite questionable. I do not think that it is sustainable. The state government's concern should be about policy direction to really alleviate poverty and to enable the poor to participate in the economy.

Take the RM100 aid for everyone above 60 years, for example. I do not think everyone needs that kind of money. The state should not be keeping such a large surplus, but should spend the money to improve public and social amenities, especially times like this.

malaysiakini discussion 050208 khoo kay pengOf course, in terms of financial management, there has been a great deal more transparency. In terms of corruption, there is now stronger political will to resist temptation (as seen in the way Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng recently stood up to) Zahrain Mohd Hashim.

The claim on Selangor's crime rate reduction is questionable. We need to know if it is really due to efforts of the state government or the police. Speaking for myself, I spend my own money to secure my neighbourhood.

The Pakatan state governments are not on the wrong track, but this is not good enough. There has to be transformational leadership.

Por Heong Hong, welfare policy researcher

It is understandable that this (release of the Pakatan report card) is a publicity strategy in conjunction with the anniversary (of the 2008 general election), but as a political coalition, it has to do more.

Generally Pakatan is doing better than the previous BN government, but it should not be satisfied with this.

information rights forum 211206 por heong hongIt needs to identify the key issues, for example, public transportation needs in Penang and Selangor.

The report card mainly deals with numbers, but there has been poor coordination in a few aspects. Take the announcement on local elections - do they have a Plan B since the federal government disagrees?

Pakatan state governments need proper and comprehensive planning, and also better coordination in their policies.

There have been some good policies that were not mentioned in the report card. The 'no plastic bag' campaign is a good environmental decision.

courtesy of Malaysiakini

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