Have you heard this story before? At the launch of a new book, a visitor jumped up and down, screaming: “This is plagiarism. I have read every word in this book before.” When he was asked ‘Where?’ he replied with a chuckle: “In the dictionary”.
I was reminded of this joke when I read in the newspapers about Pakatan Rakyat’s allegation that Barisan Nasional had‘plagiarised’ its manifesto. PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar claimed that parts of the Barisanmanifesto were ‘lifted’ from the Pakatan manifesto.
I have read the Barisan manifesto and I have re-read the Pakatan manifesto. I find instead that the reverse is true. Every policy in the Pakatan manifesto is a rehash of Alliance/Barisan policies which have been in existence since Malayan/Malaysian independence.
No, this is not an exaggeration. All of its overarching policy statements, ranging from eliminating discrimination to promoting culture to better education to job opportunities, have been the guiding principles of the ruling party these past 55 years.
There is not a single policy guideline that is new in the Pakatan document. As a specific policy, Nurulsingled out the ‘reduction of car prices’ as her example of BN piracy. Let’s look at this claim closely.
The BN Government had introduced the National Automotive Policy in 2006 with the following as one of its aims: “To safeguard the interests of consumers in terms of value for money, safety and quality of products and services”.
Inherent in this clause is the promise to not only review car prices but more importantly, to look into the whole question of making the total cost of transportation more affordable for all Malaysians.
If reducing the price of cars is to make them more affordable, one must remember that the national car project was launched almost 30 years ago, making car ownership affordable to a larger section of the Malaysian population than before.
Pakatan proposes to ‘restructure the automotive policy’. The Automotive Policy is a dynamic instrument which has already been restructured over the last seven years. So, who is copying whom?
Another Pakatan proposal, to abolish tolls, is also not new. The BN government had in the past abolished tolls in selected areas and will continue to review toll collection on the expiry of toll concession periods. The Pakatan manifesto does not promise to abolish tolls immediately.
Its stated policy is to ‘gradually’ abolish tolls. The word‘gradually’ is not defined, and it could take 10, 15 or 20 years. It must also be remembered that collecting tolls is not anathema to Pakatan. In Penang, the State Government is proposing toll collection in its proposed undersea tunnel project. Again, who is copying from whom?
Yet another Pakatan proposal is to abolish monopolies. But isn’t this the same purpose for which the Competition Act 2010 was introduced by the ruling government? So again, who is copying from whom?
Other copycat policies of Pakatan include the following:
• Building affordable houses for all.
• Basic health access
• Social safety network
• One million new jobs
• Minimum wage
These issues have always been the cornerstone of BN government’s policy thrusts.
So, once again, who is copying whom?