Highlight: Pakatan pledges economic reform from elite to rakyat

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SHAH ALAM (Feb 25): Pakatan Rakyat today unveiled its election manifesto with promises to reshape the Malaysian economy from one dominated by the elite to a more equitable economy for the people. In presenting the manifesto's economic plans, PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli said the federal opposition's will broadly seek to end unfair economic practices and place more disposable income in the hands of working Malaysians. "Malaysia's economic approach will be changed toward improving the people's income regardless of race instead of aiming for 30% corporate equity ownership," Rafizi said alluding to the aims of the New Economic Model of the 1970s. The manifesto promises include: * Each Malaysian household will have a monthly take-home income of at least RM4,000 to reduce income disparity. This will be implemented within the first term of Pakatan rule; * A package to create one million new job opportunities for Malaysians and progressively reduce foreign workers in sectors like plantation, construction and service industry; * Minimum wage of RM1,100 per month compared with the current RM900 for Peninsular Malaysia and RM800 for East Malaysia; * The creation of a RM2 billion Minimum Wage Implementation Facilitation Fund to provide automation incentives and implementation grants to help small and medium enterprises deal with onset of minimum wage; * Income tax band will be broadened so that only those whose income exceeds RM400,000 will be taxed the maximum rate of 26%, compared with the present rate for those earning RM250,000 annually; * Allocation of RM500 million for military veterans to participate in entrepreneurial activities, increase government contribution to the Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) savings fund. Rafizi also announced the opposition's plans to stimulate economic competition and put an end to monopolies which has burdened the economy. The manifesto pledges include: * Establishing a powerful Anti-Monopoly Commission and amend existing laws relating to competition in a bid to stop unfair business practices; * Establishing a Public Contracts Commission to oversee all agreements between the government and the private sector; * Abolish monopolies in telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, civil aviation, food and other key sectors; * Dissolving 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) so that only Khazanah Nasional Bhd remains the state's sole investment arm; * Dispose government holdings in GLCs that are not involved in sectors of national importance; * Granting direct taxi permits to drivers to put an end to unfair taxi licensing policies; * Halting the controversial Lynas rare earth processing plant in Gebeng, Pahang; * Reviewing the implementation of the RAPID petrochemical hub project in Pengerang, Johor; * Legal reform of all existing legislation related to logging activities; * Stop building hydroelectric dams which damage the environment. "Malaysia is a country with an immense potential. The people and the country deserve much better than what Barisan Nasional has been offering for the last 55 years," Rafizi said. Pakatan's fourth convention is currently underway where the opposition's election manifesto is being unveiled ahead of the 13th general election that is expected to be called in the coming months. The manifesto builds on Pakatan Rakyat's Buku Jingga (Orange Book), a common policy framework should the three-party political coalition come to power at the federal level. In December 2010, the federal opposition's Buku Jingga outlines a slew promises, including to free national institutions; achieve a fairer mode of income distribution; increasing the people's disposable income; transparency in governance, focus on education; fighting corruption and recognising Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners in the Malaysian federation.

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