WHEN Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister under Pakatan Harapan (PH) stated that the manifesto is not the Bible, it was a big mistake.
Manifesto according to Kamus Dewan means a declaration to the public about the policy and purpose of a political party before an election. Simply put, it is a promise that will be fulfilled if a government is formed, after winning an election.
It is true that it is not the Bible or the al-Quran per se. But a manifesto is a proposal that will be manifested or needs to be implemented to the people, if victory has been obtained by a political party.
Because of that, when Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) announced its manifesto on Monday night, it was seen as a promise to the people.
“It’s not empty promises,” said its Chairman, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg while speaking to the media on Nov 5.
Interestingly, the 64-page manifesto is a summary of the party’s intentions after the 15th General Election (GE15) which it encapsulated in five main pillars and 25 thrusts.
Themed ‘Ensuring Sarawak is stable, developed and prosperous’ the manifesto is filled with the party’s 215 commitments to the people of Sarawak over the next five years.
This manifesto which focuses on Sarawak prepares the state and its people to achieve the status of a developed state by 2030.
The main thrust of this manifesto is of course to guarantee the stability and strength of Sarawak’s politics, drawing lessons from what happened to national politics. This is because only with political stability, the state and the country can be developed smoothly, without facing any constraints.
The second thrust is to defend Sarawak’s rights within the Federation of Malaysia in accordance with the Malaysia Agreement (MA63), the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report as well as the Sarawak and Federal Constitutions.
The Sarawak government has proven that it is serious about this matter, and when Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, followed by Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar became Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Parliament), they succeeded in helping Sarawak realise this agenda.
This effort has succeeded in guaranteeing and defending the rights of the people of this state in accordance with the Federal Constitution, until the state successfully introduced a service and sales tax on gas and oil that is on its land – thus becoming one of the main contributors to the state’s economy.
GPS also assured that they will preserve the sovereignty and security of Sarawak, while empowering government services based on integrity and good governance.
The establishment of the first Integrity and Ombudsman Department in Malaysia (now led by the Deputy Minister, Datuk Dr Juanda Jaya) has proven Sarawak’s commitment to this matter.
Successfully completing 12 bridge projects worth RM4 billion, which should be the responsibility of the Federal Government, is proof that the next core is being put into practice, and not mere promises and talk.
GPS is committed to developing the basic infrastructure of road transport, bridges, ports and airports, in addition to expanding the coverage and quality of water supply, electricity, telecommunication towers and Internet services.
Water and electricity coverage throughout the state is expected to be complete and comprehensive by 2025, while in order to ensure the internet and broadband coverage are expanded, more than 600 telecommunication towers have been and will be operating throughout the state.
Another thrust of the GPS manifesto is to transform rural areas, villages and longhouses into new forms of buildings, with the first model being in the Darul Hana village area in the Santubong parliamentary area.
At the same time, the party is also committed to developing prosperous, comfortable and safe modern cities and towns, including those equipped with modern and smart features.
The establishment of Centexs and various other skill centres is in line with the core of developing human capital through quality technical and vocational education and training.
The core of the next undertaking is to expand access and quality of health services. And this is done with commitment to upgrade and build new hospitals and health clinics, as well as field hospitals in rural areas.
Also given focus is the effort to boost the manufacturing, service, tourism and creative industry sectors to drive Sarawak’s economy to a broader form.
The agriculture and food sector will be modernised and commercialised, including digitalisation to help increase the income and living standards of farmers, ranchers and fishermen.
Lately, in order to increase its income, Sarawak introduced the green economy and the hydrogen economy, and in line with that, it explored new industries based on green technology.
Because of that, Sarawak is now starting to be highly regarded in the eyes of the world, so much so that Abang Johari himself was invited to present his views on this matter at various world forums.
The GPS manifesto this time also does not neglect business and job opportunities that can increase the income of the people of Sarawak.
As for entrepreneurs, infrastructure, grants, market access and entrepreneurial training are provided for them, especially for small and medium entrepreneurs, traders and hawkers.
In terms of improving the quality of life, GPS promises to continue to implement inclusive policies, freedom of religion, practicing customs, culture, heritage arts for the sake of harmony and social unity.
And the welfare of the elderly, people with disabilities and children continues to be taken care of while it also helps the B40 group continue living well.
GPS will also continue to recognise Native Customary Rights (NCR) land and continue the work of land surveying, while affordable houses are provided to the people of Sarawak, through increasing resettlement schemes and village expansion, home improvement programmes and assistance in building longhouses.
GPS also promises the empowerment of women’s involvement and the active participation of the youth in the development of Sarawak. In addition, it is also committed to developing the field of sports to produce a healthy society and distinguished sports champions, in addition to preserving and caring for the environment for the present and future generations.
Given the success and experience of the GPS government in ushering a new era for Sarawak by obtaining 13 items from the Federal Government (MA63) and implementing 120 strategic initiatives since 2017, this manifesto is not just mere promises.
It is something the people can hold on to, knowing the direction the state’s Members of Parliament will take on being elected.