Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Do You Love BN, or Do You Love Malaysia?

Written by johnleemk on 11:26:16 am Jan 4, 2008.
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Either you support me, or I will be unkind and inconsiderate towards you. A friend sent me a helpful notice about this threat made by the Prime Minister early last month. Amidst the perfunctory propaganda in the 8 December 2007 issue of The Star, Abdullah Badawi said:

The Government has been kind and considerate towards the people for the past 50 years. It will continue to do so for as long as the people give their support to the Barisan Nasional.
This statement tells us two interesting things about how this government thinks: first of all, it can only govern well when it is supported, and secondly, those who do not support it do not deserve kind treatment.

Now, this is really one of the more stupid things any politician in a democracy can do. In a democracy you don't win votes by punishing those who do not vote for you. The exception is if you can win power — in which case, you did the right thing (since though you offended some, you seem to have pleased the majority), or you're a tyrant who can manipulate the democratic process to ensure a win regardless of the true situation.

In a dictatorship, of course, it doesn't matter. People you don't like can rot in hell for all you care. There are no votes to be won; you stay in power as long as you like.

If we truly are a democracy, why do we vote for a government that promises to be nice to us only if we support it? Isn't the government's obligation to govern prudently and act for the country's best interest, regardless of public support? In the first place, if a government is doing badly in the polls, shouldn't it be trying to win support by improving its policies, as opposed to cracking the whip?

This statement betrays very clearly the fact that in the eyes of the ruling party, if you do not support it, you do not deserve to reap the benefits of its governance. It is not a party for all Malaysians; it is not a party for Malaysia. It is a party for itself alone. Its sole interest is to perpetuate itself, the country be damned.

Now, from an economist's point of view, everyone is self-interested, so this is not prima facie a bad thing. But if we as voters are self-interested, we ought to give this government the boot. A party that is too stupid to see that it is best served by serving the nation is too stupid to be running our country. The surest way for BN to stay in power is to keep people happy, come what may. That it refuses to do this indicates that its interests do not align with our own, and thus we are better off voting it out.

A government that threatens its own people is a pathetic government — surely undeserving of our support, you might say. But in spite of this, many of us will continue to find excuses to keep BN in power.

Thankfully, Pak Lah has indirectly given us a simple formula to decide once and for all how to vote. Do you consider yourself a BN-supporter first, or a Malaysian first? If you owe your allegiance to BN, then vote for BN. But if you owe your allegiance to your country, then for the country's sake, for your sake, don't check that box next to the dacing.


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