THE Barisan Nasional election manifesto launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Saturday is being well received by the public.
Those interviewed by MetroPerak say the pledges would surely provide much needed boosts in many areas in the state should they be implemented.
Many also lauded the focus on ensuring that women are provided more opportunities.
Other areas of focus in the manifesto include strengthening academic excellence, enhancing infrastructure and boosting the economy.
Administrator Sharon Kaur, 40, welcomed one pledge in particular – the promise to allocate seven days of special leave per year for women who are caregivers to their children or immediate relatives who are ill.
“This is a good idea. If it really comes through, then I will not need to use my annual leave on days where I have to take care of my son when he falls ill,” she said.
Sharon said currently, many of her annual leave days are usually used for taking care of her seven-year-old son.
“Not only would it help my son, it would help me as well so I can get the rest I need before going back to work,” she said.
Titled “Bersama BN, Hebatkan Negaraku” (With BN for a Greater Malaysia), the 220-page manifesto contains 364 pledges that the ruling coalition has promised to deliver over the next five years.
Felda settlers, women, youth, orang asli, the people of Sabah and Sarawak, the bottom 40% of households, the Chinese community and other non-Muslims – almost every segment of society stands to benefit from the various measures that Barisan has committed to implementing.
Another move meant to help women gain access to loans is the suggestion that single women applying for financing be allowed to combine their incomes with their siblings or parents in order to meet eligibility requirements.
Sales and marketing manager Alyz Yap, 41, said the suggestion should also allow for friends and partners as well instead of only parents and siblings.
“Anything that helps single women like myself gain access to financing, to for example build a business, would be a wonderful move,” she said.
Retiree Siti Khadijah Khairuddin, 69, a recipient of the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M), said she was happy to learn that those who are single with a household income of RM3,000 and below will have their BR1M payment increased by RM150 in June, making it RM600.
Siti, who also holds a People with Disabilities (OKU) card, said she is looking forward to it because she will be able to buy more personal necessities.
“Currently, most of my BR1M money goes to buying diapers, which I need because of my walking disability.
“Now with this increase, I can also keep some money in the bank. Otherwise, my family would have to fork out more to buy these necessities for me,” she said.
However, Siti said she wishes that many of these necessities, such as diapers, could be exempted from GST.
The manifesto also stated that broadband subscription costs will be reduced by 50% while broadband speeds would increase twofold.
Eric Leow, 28, who works as an e-content merchandiser, said he would be more than happy to pay half the price and get twice the speed for his broadband service.
“I am currently paying RM130 for 30Mbps. I do not have a choice because there is no cheaper option for me.
“I know there are other Internet service providers that offer better speeds and prices, but I am staying in a place that does not fall under their coverage,” he said.
Under the human capital and education portion of the manifesto, one of the pledges is to improve English proficiency in schools through the Dual Language Programme (DLP) and High Immersion Programme (HIP).
English teacher K. Alan, 55, lauded this, saying it is in line with the 21st century concept of globalisation.
“As English is a global language, it is high time that more is done to promote the language so that students are equipped to succeed,” he said.
Alan said exposing students to English when learning science and mathematics should increases their confidence, especially among those who do not use the language at home or with friends.
“Their knowledge of the language would not be restricted to just a few words
“They would also have no fear when the teacher asks them to do a task in English because they already have prior exposure to the language,” he said, adding that the success of DLP and HIP will require more involvement and commitment from English, science and mathematics teachers.
Ipoh City Watch (ICW) president Prof Richard Ng said the manifesto looks promising and inspiring.
He said several items caught his eye, including the introduction of online services for all government transactions to help reduce corruption among civil servants and improve services.
“Online services for public petitions and complaints, the live telecast of local council meetings and the publicising of annual audit reports will certainly improve efficiency, while an ombudsmen to investigate unfair treatment by government agencies will certainly reduce wrongdoings,” he said.
“ICW is glad to note that the government wants to make our local councils more transparent. All this is crucial if we want our local governments to be world-class,” he added.
Real Estate and Housing Developers Association Perak Chairman Tony Khoo said the special bank to facilitate housing loans for affordable homes and low-cost homes costing RM300,000 and below suggested in the manifesto will help a lot of first-time buyers, especially those from the low-income group.
He said those who want to obtain homes in PR1MA or other government housing projects would most likely benefit from the setting up of this bank.
Khoo said the main issue for potential home buyers is still the stringent requirements set by banks.
“Many potential home buyers are still facing problems getting loans for homes above RM300,000.
“I hope the government can ease the criteria for banks to approve loans in the future,” he said.
“It would also be great if the government could provide some incentive to stimulate the property market, such as waiving stamp duties or development charges for property developers,” he added.
Khoo welcomed the plan to take away the bumiputra discount for properties valued at RM1mil or above.
“Depending on the developers, the discounts given are between 7% and 10%. This will help the developers,” he said.
On the plan for the new airport to be built in Seri Iskandar, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir said it is something the state values greatly.
“This is something important to Perak. The airport will be a game-changer for the state in the future.
“It will have a longer runway to allow larger planes to land in the state and we also have big plans around the new airport’s vicinity,” he said.
“We have also just got confirmation from the Cabinet that a free trade zone will be built around the airport and this will have a big impact on our economic growth,” he added.
“This is the government’s commitment and we want the people to know that it is not an empty promise,” he said.
“More than 99% of the 13th General Election manifesto has been fulfilled. This shows Barisan can fulfil and implement its promises,” he added.