Badawi seeks ‘peace and prosperity’ vote in Malaysia

February 26th, 2008 - 1:49 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, Feb 26 (IANS) Malaysia’s ruling coalition the Barisan Nasional (BN) has adopted an inclusive approach in the election campaign, promising “security, peace and prosperity” to the people of the multi-ethnic Southeast Asian nation. The opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP), on the other hand, emphasises on the need for “equality for all” in its manifesto entitled “Malaysia Can Do Better!” released Monday.

“The priority lies in helping the poor. Don’t use it to say as if only the Malays are poor because there are Indians and Chinese who are poor too. We want it to be equal for all races,” said Lim Guan Eng, DAP secretary-general.

Launching the BN’s manifesto, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the BN did not make “empty promises like the opposition”.

“We are not irresponsible and do not make promises which are unrealistic,” Badawi said, describing the opposition as “an alliance of convenience”, The New Straits Times said.

Malays form a 60 percent-plus majority in Malaysia’s 27-million population that has 33 percent Chinese settlers and an estimated 2.5 million ethnic Indians.

The BN has ruled Malaysia uninterrupted since the country’s independence and has representation of all major ethnic components. Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) represents the Indian component.

The situation in MIC headed by S. Samy Vellu, who is also the Works Minister, is “not pretty”, The Sun said in an analysis, calling for a leadership change.

It noted that Vellu and other MIC leaders were being booed since problems of ethnic Indians got highlighted through protest rallies organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).

Steering clear of such issues, the all-in approach, called “Malaysian”, as different from emphasis on various races, is the flavour of the elections scheduled for March 8.

For the next five years, the BN’s manifesto emphasises programmes in eight areas - the economy, balanced development, education, law and order, public services, reducing corruption and improving governance, religion and unity and foreign policy.

Unlike the previous BN manifestos, The Star newspaper noted, the document outlined the progress Malaysia had achieved under the BN since its last mandate in 2004.

These include sustainable broad-based growth, narrowing income gaps and reducing hardcore poverty.

Others include enhancing access to education such as providing funds for free textbooks, making the police more dynamic and moving the delivery system towards world-class levels, such as getting passports issued within three hours at major immigration department branches.

Also mentioned are the measures to create first-class institutions and to demonstrate strong Malaysian leadership through groupings like the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

A former NAM chairman, Malaysia is the current OIC chairman.

Badawi said no obstacle was big enough for the BN, which would overcome all challenges for the good of the people and country.

“The basis of our struggle is our commitment, which cannot be defeated by challenges. It has worked for 50 years,” the prime minister said.

“We will face the future with greater commitment,” he added.

The BN also launched its website for the upcoming polls, “www.bn2008.org.my”.

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