Pakatan Rakyat’s one-man policy show Rafizi Ramli

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Pakatan Rakyat’s one-man policy show Rafizi Ramli is at it again, this time unveiling his coalition’s half-baked housing plans with his trademark lack of detail and plenty of good cheer.

It wasn’t a full policy document launch with pages of details and costings that journalists and experts can take away and scrutinise – but with the PKR Strategic Director it never is. Instead he held a press conference to make an announcement and then shoot the breeze with the assembled journalists.

In what soon descended into a muddled briefing he first attacked speculators for driving house prices up, saying “there is no denying that Barisan Nasional has been trying to counter this by controlling credit for housing but this textbook style in dealing with the issue is too late.” So, that was praise for BN, right?

But then, just as everyone was expecting him to come up with an alternative, Rafizi said there were a lot of “nitty gritty items” that need reviewing. That’s right, Rafizi, and when you have reviewed those “nitty gritty items” they could even become policy details. Until then the job is only half done.

Rafizi attempted to attack the Government’s My First Home Scheme without saying whether a possible Pakatan Government would abolish or support Najib’s landmark initiative to help young families. Rafizi admitted that any Pakatan Government would try to boost affordable housing stocks but that this wouldn’t happen overnight. Maybe not even until the “third year because this problem cannot be solved quickly”, he claimed.

Clear as mud, Rafizi. So why did you hold this press conference again?

This sums up the present state of Pakatan Rakyat. Yes, Rafizi seems to be the only one attempting to articulate anything close to policy ideas, but what he comes out with are snappy one-liners designed to wow the rakyat. He is, as ever, lacking in detail.

That’s because he is acting alone. The Pakatan coalition is far too dysfunctional to actually sit down and work through proper policies with him. Getting the key players from PKR-DAP-PAS into the same room is impossible, let alone extracting agreement on this important subject.

Again, as with the plan to scrap PTPTN loans and vehicle excise, the lack of details on Friday was alarming.

But from there Rafizi’s briefing became even stranger. He said Pakatan would look to Lim Guan Eng’s Penang administration to help it with its housing plan.

That’s right, Guan Eng’s Penang, where land set aside for low cost housing is sold off to developers such as the plot at Taman Manggis this year; where developers build more and more condos for the rich on denuded hillsides that are now subject to soil erosion and flash flooding; and where the federal Government has stepped in this year to boost house stocks in a state with the nation’s highest property prices.

Rafizi should also remember that many of these Penang developers are also the evil “speculators” that he seems so keen to crack down on. You might want to talk to Guan Eng about that, Rafizi, to see if they are also DAP donors.

To sum up his own triumphal policy announcement, Rafizi said Pakatan’s “greatest achievement to date” is to have forced the Barisan Nasional government to compete on policies. This is patently absurd. Two political rivals will only be competing on policies when they have comprehensive documents and achievements that can be put side by side and compared. BN has its own record in Government, but all Pakatan has are one-liners.

And after Pakatan has made its simplistic pronouncements, it leaves it to the likes of Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin to reveal the full horror of how much it all costs. That is no way to prepare for Government.

What we have seen from Pakatan so far via Rafizi simply nibbles at the edges of what it needs to be doing. If they are serious about convincing voters that they have a well-formulated vision for the nation, Pakatan needs to stop Rafizi making announcements on the fly and get Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, flanked by PAS and DAP leaders, to show that they are in support, and to release a comprehensive manifesto.

Only then can voters make an informed choice about what Pakatan offers at GE 13. So far it isn’t offering much. – The Choice