GEORGE TOWN: Human Rights Party (HRP) is finalising a 15-point election manifesto to face a possible snap general election this year.
The manifesto, among other things, will demand a minimum monthly wage of RM1,300 for all local workers.
HRP secretary-general P Uthayakumar said the demand for minimum wage was not unreasonable given that even unskilled foreigners were earning more than RM1,300 per month in the country.
“A local worker cannot sustain a reasonably comfortable living standard under the current rapidly escalating cost of living.
“Our minimum wage demand is conservative,” Uthayakumar, a former ISA detainee, told FMT today.
The manifesto will also demand a round-the-clock social security (Socso) coverage for all contributing workers.
Currently, Socso only covers injuries or deaths that occurred to workers during working hours and when travelling between their homes and working places.
Uthayakumar said that Sosco was a poor man’s insurance policy and the workers regularly contributed to the scheme from their hard-earned monthly income.
“Hence, its coverage should be 24, not limited, hours,” he added.
HRP will also demand that Socso policy include a pension scheme for all workers in the private sector, similar to the one enjoyed by ethnic Malay-dominated public sector.
Uthayakumar said that Socso should pay half of the last drawn monthly salary as a monthly pension to retired workers.
HRP also wants the Socso pension benefits to be extended to the widow or children under 21 of any deceased retirees.
“Socso shall be another retirement scheme, apart from the EPF (Employees Provident Fund), for local workers,” he said.
HRP believes that by expanding the coverage and benefits of Socso policy, private sector workers would not lose out due to the government privatisation policy on public enterprises.
Uthayakumar said the manifesto would demand the government convert the loans given out by the National Tertiary Education Fund Corporation into scholarships for all deserving students irrespective of their ethnic or religious backgrounds.
HRP will also demand a gazetted area to build places of worship for any religious ethnic community that has a minimum of 500 people residing in a particular residential area.
“HRP believes that each ethnic community has equal rights to co-exist and practise their respective religious beliefs.
“The government is duty-bound to legalise this right,” Uthayakumar said.
HRP has formed an eight-man election manifesto committee chaired by a ne Dr S Paraman to formulate and finalise the manifesto.
The manifesto will be unveiled officially after its central executive meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 22.
HRP predicts that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will call for only a snap parliamentary election, not state polls, within the next five months.
The party has already shortlisted candidates for 15 parliamentary seats that it planned to contest in the polls.
The seats are Padang Serai, Sungai Siput, Alor Gajah, Lembah Pantai, Batu Kawan, Ipoh Barat, Teluk Kemang, Rasah, Kota Raja, Cameron Highlands, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor, Klang, Bagan Datoh and Tebrau.
Uthayakumar urged Pakatan Rakyat to pave the way for his party candidates to face BN in straight fights in its designated federal seats.
Given that Umno and BN were the common enemies, he said it was inevitable for BN opponents to combine forces, and pool and mobilise their resources together to face the next general election.
He pointed out that no governments in the world, except in Malaysia, Singapore, communist China and military-ruled Myanmar, have survived for over half a century.
HRP has already sent letters dated Dec 19 to Pakatan leaders Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang and Abdul Hadi Awang, offering an olive branch of cooperation in the next election.
But Pakatan leaders have not responded to it.
“People want change. I am sure Pakatan would not want to let slip the golden chance to displace Umno and BN.
“But if Pakatan refuses cooperation, we will contest on our own… there will be no more free lunches from us,” said Uthayakumar.