PKR electoral strategy – daydream election

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They cannot be serious.

PKR’s latest strategy for trying to win over undecided swing voters at GE 13 is to offer cheaper cars? If someone had told that as a joke a few months ago we would have scratched our heads, but Rafizi Ramli and Friends are apparently serious.

Faced with internal wars that put Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s family against his top lieutenants Azmin Ali and Rafizi Ramli, unable to settle hudud disputes between DAP and PAS, unable or unwilling to work with partners on either a shadow cabinet or a manifesto, and apparently unable to attack the Government’s economic policy because it is delivering 5.4 per cent growth, higher per capita income, and more international investment – all PKR can offer instead is… cheaper cars.

Yes, PKR’s electoral strategy seems to try and bribe undecided voters with a vague promise of cheaper cars. Unbelievable, but true.

PKR’s Rafizi Ramli claimed that taxpayers lose around RM3.5 billion annually through Approved Permits (APs) and said that these could be used to bring down car prices instead.

The party has promised a revamp of the National Automotive Policy (NAP), which will include the slashing of excise duties and the triple-tax burden on cars if it ever captures power at Putrajaya.

Rafizi constructed an economic mirage out of APs at a press conference Tuesday. He based his theory on a statement last week by Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, the deputy minister of international trade and industry, who reportedly said that selling APs to the highest bidder would make each AP cost RM50,000 to RM60,000.

“If the total APs issued each year reaches 70,000 as estimated, the country and the people loses around RM3 billion to RM3.5 billion each year because the ministry headed by Datuk Muhkriz now only charges RM10,000 when it distributes…without going through open tender,” Rafizi claimed.

He said an open tender system for APs would “allow car prices to fluctuate based on open market”, claiming that this would somehow promote competition among car dealers and encourage them to offer the best prices to the public.

This is poor economics and even worse politics.

Rafizi’s economic calculation is untenable because once all APs are available to the highest bidder the supply of APs will be so much that the premium bidders are currently ready to pay for an AP will be a lot less than the RM50,000-60,000 Rafizi assumed. His estimate of RM3.5 billion is therefore grossly exaggerated.

Secondly, all car-making countries have barriers against car imports in order to protect the local auto industry. This is not just a Malaysian phenomenon, Rafizi. Go to India, for instance, and you will find import duties of 102 per cent and a ban on second-hand car imports.

Whether Rafizi likes it or not, car prices never “fluctuate based on open market”. They are regulated in every car market, whether it is the United States or China.

So all Rafizi is offering voters is a pipedream: Vote Pakatan Rakyat, and you will live in a car paradise.

That is why the politics behind PKR’s latest populist promise is so cynical.

Instead of offering real policy alternatives that could improve the nation’s development or the daily lives of its citizens, all the Opposition is promising is a false claim based on economic jugglery.

The millions of hard working Malaysians who work hard are not interested in expensive foreign cars. They are simply making ends meet and planning important life decisions like educating their children and buying a home.

Barisan Nasional is making a huge difference in these areas, with the Government implementing a minimum wage policy, making sweeping changes in education, and promoting affordable housing.

Instead of thinking of the rakyat, Pakatan is busy mollycoddling the small minority who want foreign cars, trying to save them money by making these cars cheaper.

Just who is Pakatan trying to help with their cheaper car promise? Certainly not the man on the street.

Perhaps Rafizi and Friends should wake up and realise that the Opposition has to get its act together, and fast. GE 13 is almost upon us, and if all Pakatan can offer is cheap cars and fights over hudud, the election will probably be decided well before polling day. – The Choice