Monday, February 25, 2008

BN launches manifesto -

Barisan Nasional's promises in its manisfesto are realistic and responsible. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says the government's plan is people-centred during the launch of BN's manifesto and campaign website Monday.

BN Confident With Strong Track Record - Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 (Bernama) -- Armed with a strong track record in the past four years that shows the country's impressive economic, social and technology advancement, the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) is seeking a fresh mandate for continuity with promises to take the nation to greater heights.

BN, which started the 13-day campaigning for the March 8 general election by winning seven parliamentary and two state seats uncontested on the nomination day yesterday, unveiled its progress report and election manifesto today, with the theme "Security, Peace and Prosperity".

A day after nomination, more than 1,500 candidates have begun the gruelling 13-day campaign period with house-to-house visits and endless "ceramah" to canvass for votes and win the hearts of over 10.9 million eligible voters.

Launched by Prime Minister and BN chairman Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the manifesto contains among others the 14-party coalition's pledges to raise the country's productivity, revenue and competitiveness, as well as generating more than two million jobs in five years.

Abdullah, who took the helm in 2003, also reiterated BN's promise to address the people's concern over price increases for essential goods, citing the RM43.4 billion spent in the form of subsidies last year alone.

"We promise to continue to work with the people. We promise to manage and expend the country's finances prudently," said Abdullah, adding that BN's promises were realistic.

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Rights for all, match-making and housing discounts in PAS manifesto - The Star

KOTA BARU: PAS launched its general election manifesto promising development, rights for all races, match-making for women marrying late and a 20% discount in housing for the poor. Entitled, “Development In Line With Islam – Spearheading Changes For Blessings”, the manifesto pledged to make Tumpat its window to global trade by making it a business and tourist city through joint ventures.

The Islamist party also promised to develop Bachok as a tourist centre and create a knowledge centre in Gua Musang.

It said it planned to develop 2,000 acres in Gua Musang and Lojing for science, technology, economy, tourism and an Islamic centre.

For agriculture, the manifesto also identified the expensive agawood and biofuel for cars as a potential income generator.

To overcome the problem of women marrying late, the party pledged to use a matchmaking approach and lower the amount of mas kahwin (dowry).

The party also said women would be given 90 days' maternity leave and that there would be women village heads representing women's affairs in all districts and constituencies.

While the manifesto was silent on hudud law and the Islamic state concept, PAS said it would improve its anti-vice programmes by strengthening the enforcement agencies in the state. The party also said it would have village heads to represent each ethnic group.

For non-Muslims, it pledged that their rights were guaranteed without discrimination, as said in the Federal Constitution.

The party also promised that there would be no illegal clearing of land that would affect dams and clean water supply, while also promising to build parks and recreation centres in every town and housing estate.

It would also ensure that low-cost houses have three rooms and use the syariah system to formulate government policies on entertainment, culture, tourism, youth and women.


BN's Manifesto Promise Security, Peace And Prosperity - Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today launched Barisan Nasional's (BN) progress report and election manifesto, themed "Security, Peace and Prosperity", which contains a clear mission and vision to bring Malaysia towards a more glorious future.

Eight main topics form the thrust and pledge of the manifesto which was accompanied this time by a progress report outlining what the coalition has done from 2004 to 2007.

The topics are economy, balanced development, education, law and public safety, public service,
combating corruption and enhancing administration, religion and unity and foreign policy.

Under economy, the BN pledged to:

* raise the country's productivity, revenue and competitiveness;

* tackle price increases to ensure quality of life for the people;

* enhance the role of the private sector as the primary engine in generating economic growth;

* Nurture and help one million small- and medium-scale companies and entrepreneurs in five years;

* generate more than two million jobs in five years;

* reduce the country's fiscal deficit to enable more funds to be used for development, without raising taxes;

* implement development plans for all the five economic corridors to generate growth, investments and job opportunities nationwide;

The progress report for the economy, entitled "Generating Strong and Sustainable Growth", for 2004 to 2007 says that:

* The gross domestic product (GDP) grew from RM427 billion to RM504 billion;

* All sectors showed growth including new activities like modern agriculture, biotechnology, ICT and Islamic banking. Visit Malaysia Year 2007 recorded the highest number of tourist arrivals of 21 million people;

* International trade rose 26 per cent from RM881 billion to RM1.11 trillion;

* The average monthly household income rose from RM3,249 to RM3,617;

* Price control on essential goods was maintained and RM43.4 billion was spent in the form of subsidies (2007) to tackle price increases;

* 1.3 million jobs were created;

* Programmes to transform government linked companies (GLC) succeeded in increasing profits and giving higher returns to unit trust shareholders and Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributors;

* Over 204,000 SMIs had been developed since 2005 involving the disbursement of RM107 billion in loans and the implementation of 402 programmes;

* Five economic corridor development plans were launched to generate and bring growth to all corners of the country;

* The Malaysian Bourse Composite Index rose to its highest level in history and there was a 161 per cent increase in capital market from RM460 billion in 2003 to RM1.2 trillion in2007;

* Foreign exchange reserves rose 130 per cent from US$44 billion to US$101 billion;

* Malaysia's ranking in the Global WEF Competitiveness Index rose from 25th in 2005 to 21st in 2007;

Under Balanced Development, the BN pledged to:

* eradicate hardcore poverty and reduce overall poverty to 2.8 per cent by 2010;

* increase incomes and opportunities for quality jobs in the rural areas;

* improve service and facilities for low-income households in urban areas, including for migrants from the villages to the towns;

* enhance the provision of quality houses at affordable prices;

* increase access to modern and quality health services;

* improve public transport service in the towns and reduce traffic jams;

* improve road development in rural and other less developed areas;

* Upgrade rail and air services;

* Increase coverage of electricity supply in the rural areas in Sabah from 81 per cent to 90 per cent by 2010;

* Increase coverage of water supply in rural areas in Sabah and Sarawak to 70 per cent by 2010;

* Continue with efforts to narrow the digital divide and enhance the penetration of broadband Internet service through the National Broadband Plan;

* Continue with the implementation of the New Villages Development Master Plan;

* Ensure balanced distribution of quality chances that can generate income, employment, business and education nationwide;

* The "New Kelantan, Progressive Kelantan" approach aims to ensure quality development and a better life for the residents of Kelantan;

Under the same topic, the progress report from 2004-2007 underlined the topic on Narrowing the Gaps:

* Reduced hardcore poverty from 1.2 per cent of population to 0.7 per cent and reduced overall poverty from 5.7 per cent to 3.5 per cent;

* Reduced rural-to-urban income ratio from 1:2.11 to 1:1.99, exceeding the 2010 target;

* Increased agriculture incomes; e.g padi farmers mean monthly income increased 27 per cent to RM1.549; rubber smallholders increased 34 per cent to RM1,727;

* Delivered 178,000 low-cost homes;

* Opened 14 new hospitals, 22 new `Klinik Kesihatan' and 64 new `Klinik Desa';

* Expanded electricity supply to over 74 per cent in Sabah and 83 per cent in Sarawak;

* Built 12,190km of village roads;

* Built three new airports, including a low-cost terminal, and upgraded five existing airports.

BN's pledge in the education sector is to:

* Raise teachers' minimum qualifications and provide more training opportunities;

* Continue to make national schools the school of choice by, among others, expanding the teaching of Mandarin and Tamil;

* Safeguard the position of national-type schools;

* Enhance national unity by fostering student interaction;

* Provide more scholarships at the undergraduate level for poor but deserving students regardless of race;

* Identify apex universities and provide more autonomy and resources for public institutions of higher learning to attain world-class standards;

* Raise investment in science and technology particularly in indigenous R&D.

In the education progress report for 2004-2007, BN has enhanced access and standards by:

* Launching the Education Blueprint 2006-2010 and the Higher Education Strategic Plan to raise education standards;

* Expanding `Skim Pinjaman Buku Teks' to all primary and secondary school children;

* Removing school and examination fees;

* Allocating RM3 billion for scholarships and essential items to lower-income group students;

* Providing RM12 billion to improve rural schools;

* Raising special allowance for 12,000 teachers and teaching assistants serving in rural areas;

* Allocating RM174 million for fully-aided Chinese primary schools and RM65 million for fully-aided Tamil primary schools under the 9th Malaysia Plan;

* Allocating RM100 million for partially-aided Chinese and Tamil primary schools under the 9th Malaysia Plan;

* Ensuring at least one public university or one UiTM branch in every state;

* Expanding community colleges from 34 o 53, doubling enrolment to over 115,000;

* Increasing number of JPA undergraduate scholarships at local universities from 5,000 to 10,000 annually; raising allowance for JPA students in overseas universities;

* Raising investment in science R&D, including sending the first Malaysian into space.

BN's promise in the implementation of law and order:

* Bring down the country's crime index;

* Tackle drug abuse and other social ills;

* Address the issue of illegal immigrants;

* Add 60,000 police personnel by 2011;

* Set up more than 150 new police stations and beat bases to increase presence in more neighbourhoods;

* Improve safety in schools, playgrounds and public areas;

* Enhance community policing via partnerships with non-governmental organisations, the private sector and local community;

* Upgrade police communications technology, armaments, vehicles, technical aids and training;

* Focus police operations and resources in crime hot-spots across the country;

* Redelineate police districts to better match police resources with community security needs.

Efforts to make the police more dynamic and the progress attained from 2004 through 2007:

* Established the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Police, leading to over 85 per cent of the Commission's proposals being carried out;

* Increased salaries of police and armed forces personnel by 9 to 42 per cent;

* Doubled development allocation in 9th Malaysia Plan to RM3.8 billion and allocated an additional RM5 billion in PFI funding to modernise the police;

* Increased recruitment of police personnel, brought back newly-retired police officers, set up more police stations and expanded use of CCTVs;

* Launched more intensive police surveillance and operation in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang, the Kinta Valley and the Iskandar Development Region;

* Established an Independent Commission in response to public concern on police body search procedures;

* Raised road user awareness and enforcement, notably reducing injuries and deaths per population from road accidents.

BN's promise on Public Services:

* Speed up implementation of e-government initiatives;

* Complete overhaul of all land offices and district offices;

* Speed up issuance of licences and permits;

* Establish rating system for local authorities to improve performance;

* Tie civil servants' promotions, rewards and penalties more closely to performance targets;

* Increase ethnic diversity in the public sector;

* Have a three to seven-day response time by all government agencies to all public queries and complaints;

Progress in the public services from 2004-2007 takes on the topic "Moving Towards World-Class Levels":

* Automatic refunds for overpaid income taxes; refunds paid within 14 to 30 days for online tax submissions;

* Passports issued within three hours at major Immigration Department branches;

* MyKad issued within 24 hours at major National Registration Department branches;

* Cleared 70 per cent of backlogged land cases via "flying squads";

* Reduced time taken for payments to government contractors and suppliers to 14 days;

* One hour to register business and 15 minutes to renew business registrations;

* One-stop centres at local authorities to reduce time to approve building plans;

* Replaced Certificate of Fitness for Occupation (CFO) with industry-issued Certificate of Completion & Compliance (CCC);

* Set up PEMUDAH, a public-private task force to reduce the cost of doing business in Malaysia;

* Increased civil service salaries, reintroduced cost of living allowance and allocated more than RM6 billion for government quarters.

BN's promise in reducing corruption and improving governance:

* Continue to enforce anti-corruption measures without fear or favour;

* Strengthen monitoring and enforcement by agencies such as the ACA, Customs, Inland Revenue and local authorities;

* Establish an effective Special Complaints Commissions to act on complaints of misconduct in enforcement agencies;

* Continue to foster a culture of integrity and high ethical standards through the National Integrity Plan.

The progress report for 2004-2007 for "Creating First Class Institutions" in reducing corruption and improving governance:

* Raised awareness on fighting corruption, leading to a 25 per cent increase in the number of reports lodged (2003-2007);

* Increased number of corruption-related arrests by 72 per cent from 318 arrests (2003) to 546 (2007);

* Increased conviction rate for corruption-related cases from 50 per cent (2004) to 74 per cent (2007);

* Doubled the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) operating budget to RM154 million and committed RM372 million for development under the 9th Malaysia Plan;

* Increased the number of ACA officers including specialists such as forensic auditors, and established the ACA Academy;

* Launched the National Integrity Plan and established the Malaysian Institute of Integrity;

* Established and enhanced eight Parliamentary Select and Special Select Committees to increase checks and balances;

* Enhanced transparency and accountability in the annual Auditor-General's Report;

* Established a Commission of Inquiry into the video clip of alleged interference in judicial appointments.

BN's pledge on religion and unity:

* Build a better understanding of Islam among Muslims and non-Muslims through Islam Hadhari;

* Enhance appreciation for diverse cultures among Malaysia's multiethnic people;

* Expand the teaching of J-QAF to more schools;

* Ensure provision of reserve land for places of worship in newly-developed areas in accordance with developed guidelines;

* Facilitate construction, consolidation and relocation of all places of worship via state government mechanism, co-ordinated at federal level, that will protect the interests of all communities;

* Increase dialogue on inter-faith issues through the Department of National Unity and National Integration;

* Improve unity programmes, especially in schools and institutions of higher learning.

The progress report on religion and unity from 2004-2007 under the topic "Building Bridges, Deepening the Faith":

* Established 10 principles of Islam Hadhari, an approach of progressive Islamic civilisation;

* Upgraded Islamic education in schools by introducing the Jawi-Quran, Arabic and Fardu-Ain (J-QAF) Programme;

* Improved welfare of religious officers, including provision of RM450 allowance for imams;

* Maintained cost of Haj pilgrimage despite rising prices;

* Guaranteed the right to worship for all Malaysians;

* Develop guidelines that ensure the provision of reserve land for places of worship of all communities in newly-developed areas;

* Encouraged inter-faith understanding via forums such as the National Unity Advisory Panel;

* Promoted inter-ethnic unity via the School Integration Programme and National Service Training Programme.

BN's promise on foreign policy:

* Continue to play an active, principled and impartial role in international affairs;

* Expand trade and investment linkages;

* Advance the economic agenda of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) through capacity-building programmes in less-developed OIC countries;

* Promote strategic partnerships between the West and the Muslim world to advance the economic agenda of the Makkah Declaration 2005;

* Continue to build bridges between the Muslim world and the West through continuous dialogue;

* Contribute towards a development agenda for the world's poorest countries.

The progress report on foreign policy from 2004-2007 under the topic: "Demonstrated Strong Malaysian Leadership":

* Showed steady leadership in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and OIC;

* Hosted the historic first East Asian Summit, providing the platform for closer co-operation between ASEAN and China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand;

* Secured new markets and enhanced linkages via high-level visits. Trade with all major trading partners expanded rapidly, with fastest growth recorded for China (65 per cent increase), OIC countries (54 per cent) and ASEAN (29 per cent);

* Strengthened Malaysia's voice in the international arena by championing the developing world's economic and social interests;

* Highlighted international injustices, in particular Israeli aggression in Palestine;

* Enhanced NAM's role, including establishing the NAM institute for the Empowerment of Women and NAM News Network;

* Put an economic face to the OIC via the Capacity Building Programme to reduce poverty and through the World Islamic Economic Forum to enhance trade and investment;

* Played a key role in promoting dialogue between the West and the Muslim World;

* Continued to promote cooperation, peace and stability in ASEAN.


Azalina and Ghapur win for Barisan without contest again - The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional made a good start in the general election, taking seven parliamentary seats and two state seats uncontested on nomination day.

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said retained her Pengerang seat uncontested for the second time, as did former Sabah deputy chief minister Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh in Kalabakan.

PAS won a state seat without a fight when Wan Ubaidah Omar took Kijang in Kelantan after Barisan candidate Mustopha Ahmed was disqualified because he was an undischarged bankrupt.

In 2004, Barisan had a better start when it won 21 seats uncontested.

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