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  Media Conference Statement by DAP Parliamentary Candidate Lim Kit Siang at the DAP Ipoh Timur Election Ops Centre, Ipoh on Friday, 29th February 2008 at 12 noon:

I will not respond in kind and accuse the 2008 Barisan Nasional Election Manifesto as a Manifesto of Lies and Falsehoods although it is most regrettable that Abdullah is using intemperate language in accusing the DAP of spreading lies to undermine Barisan Nasional Unity 

I greatly regret that the caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has resorted to intemperate language in accusing the DAP of spreading lies in the 2008 general election campaign, as illustrated by today’s Sun front-page headline: “BN leaders on offensive – PM: Opposition Spreading lies to Undermine Barisan Unity” and Utusan Malaysia’s front-page headline “Pembangkang iri hati – Tabur tohmahan, fitnah kerana kejayaan BN tadbir Negara – PM”.

I do not want to respond in kind to reciprocate Abdullah’s intemperate language, or I will describe the 2008 Barisan Nasional (BN) Election Manifesto as a Manifesto of Lies and Falsehoods – with a very great difference, I will be able to prove my charge that the 2008 Barisan Nasional Election Manifesto is a Manifesto of Lies and Falsehoods while Abdullah will not be able to substantiate his ridiculous charge that the DAP is guilty of spreading lies to undermine BN unity.

I feel very hurt that Abdullah has accused me and other DAP leaders (who clearly fall under his strictures yesterday) of spreading lies to undermine him and the Barisan Nasional, when I had publicly expressed support for him to carry out his pledges when he became Prime Minister to create an accountable, efficient, incorruptible, people-oriented, democratic and just government.

I was criticized for not behaving like a proper Opposition leader in expressing support for Abdullah’s reformist pledges – but as far as I and the DAP are concerned, we are not in Opposition for the sake of Opposition but for what is good for the country, and we are prepared to praise the Prime Minister and the Barisan Nasional when they do right but will not flinch from out duty to criticize and even condemn the Prime Minister and the government for failures and wrongs to the people and country.

Immediately after the landslide Barisan Nasional victory in the 2004 general election, I was asked in a Malaysiakini interview how long I would give Abdullah to deliver his reform pledges – and I had said I would give him two years and would suspend judgment in the meanwhile.

Two years came and went and Abdullah failed to make any visible progress to deliver his reform pledges. I still withheld any expression of my disappointment, as I decided to give him another year.

This is why I feel strongly the injustice of Abdullah’s accusation that DAP leaders and I had told lies about him and the Barisan Nasional when I had bent backwards to be fair to him, giving him more time to fulfill his many reform pledges on becoming Prime Minister over four years ago.

I have said that I do not want to follow Abdullah’s intemperate language and describe the 2008 Barisan Nasional election manifesto as a manifesto of lies and falsehoods, although I am prepared to face Abdullah in a television debate to substantiate such a statement.

I have already highlighted the misrepresentation of the 2008 BN Election Manifesto with regard to the worsening problems of crime and corruption.

Let me refer to two points in an analysis of an economist on the BN 2008 Manifesto:

1. “Living standards even more directly correspond with individual earnings and household income levels. In fact, we already get a hint at the distribution of economic growth and the realization of benefits. The BN Manifesto reports that nominal household income increased from RM3, 249 to RM3, 617 over the period 2004-2007. That translates into an annual growth rate of 3.6%, and at an inflation rate of 2.6% over that period, real household income grew at 1.0% per year. One percent per year real income growth seems to correlate more closely with the struggle and anxiety of many households to make ends meet. Increases in civil servants' pay and allowances may alleviate the situation, but that is a one-off effect.”

2. “The Manifesto did not say 1.3 million jobs – it said 1.3 million job opportunities. So, then, what is a job opportunity? Is it a job that is envisioned and planned, or is it a real job that pays? How do more 'job opportunities' help unemployed graduates, alienated former plantation workers, dispossessed urban dwellers? Are we creating jobs too poorly paying that Malaysians are not interested, calling that opportunity, and then labeling those who do embrace such opportunity ungrateful?”

So what we have in the BN 2008 General Election Manifesto is a report card about real household income which increased by just 1.0% per year from 2004 to 2007 and the creation of over 1.3 million “job opportunities” instead of “jobs” – whatever that means!

* Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Candidate & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman


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