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Sakmongkol ak 47

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The Garbage in Political Manifesto


We attach too much weight to political manifestos. They are created to win votes and influence people. Manifestos make promises they can’t keep. But they are sufficient to win elections.

In 1981 and 1982, when I was still studying in Manchester, there was a case brought before the great Lord Denning. It was Bromley London Borough Council v. Greater London Council. The GLC( not our government linked company ok) was headed by Red Ken Livingstone. At that time, I remembered Ken Livingstone was closely associated with Tony Benn. ( gulty by association- haha).

The GLC promised to reduced transport fares by 25%. The Labour people under Red Ken won and they subsequently reduced the fare of public transport by 25%.

Red Anwar said if his party wins, he will reduce the price of petroleum by whatever percentage that suits him to win debates. He has not done so because he has not won. We on the other hand continue paying RM2.70 for our petroleum.

The point is, we must not attach overdue importance to political manifesto. It’s just a gimmick. It is not a gospel.

Lord Denning in his judgement said:-

In giving such weight to the manifesto, I think the majority of the council were under a complete misconception. A manifesto issued by a political party- in order to get votes- is not to be taken as gospel. It is not to be regarded as a bond, signed, sealed and delivered. It may contain-and often does contain- promises or proposals that are quite unworkable or impossible of attainment. Very few of the electorate read the manifesto in full. A goodly number only know of it from what they read in the newspapers or hear them on television, many know nothing of what it contains. When they come to the polling booth, none of them vote for the manifesto. ..

It seems to me that no party can or should claim a mandate and commitment for any one item in a long manifesto. When the party gets into power, it should consider ant proposal or promise afresh- on its merits-without feeling of being obliged to honour it or being committed to it.

In the end Lord Denning’s judgement which was upheld by the House of Lords , created a ruckus. The public wanted to pay reduced transport fares without caring as to how their council will finance that reduction. Anwar Ibrahim’s election manifesto on the price of oil, should be treated just like Ken Livingstone’s fare reduction plan. Unpractical and ill-conceived election verbal diarrhoea . The Government’s position in the matter of oil price may be right, but it, like Denning’s judgement created widespread uneasiness.


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