Whose Government, BN's or the Rakyat's?
Amidst all the ink, excitement and furore spilled over the recent elections, it seems nobody has bothered to point out that Barisan Nasional is up to its old tricks again. Having lost their coveted 2/3rds majority in Parliament, as well as five state governments and the popular vote in Peninsular Malaysia, you might think they would emerge a little humbled, and perhaps more concerned now about how best to serve the people who have reelected them. Instead, it's more of the same old arrogance and bullshit.
The first stage is always denial. Around this time last year, one well-connected person I know was lambasting Tony Pua's chances at taking on Chew Mei Fun in Petaling Jaya Utara. Some eight months ago, a prominent opposition party member was talking down Elizabeth Wong's chances of winning a state seat in Selangor. Most of the men and women in line to form five of the thirteen state governments, and occupy 82 of the 222 seats in Parliament are simply not supposed to be here today. It's reasonable to expect BN to be bitter about how things can have reversed themselves so quickly and unexpectedly.
Bitterness or not, though, there is not much of an excuse for threatening and blackmailing the same people who have been kind enough to reelect you, and the same people you have sworn to serve. Opposition leaders have repeatedly pointed this out to no avail; those voting opposition have consistently been bypassed by the government when time comes to dole out juicy development projects.
Now that BN is in the opposition in five states, it knows what the shoe is like on the other foot. Only yesterday, Penang UMNO secretary Azhar Ibrahim made several remarks disparaging the new Penang coalition government, led by the DAP which he alleged could not represent all Malaysians because for some reason it won't support a policy Azhar's own party says has failed. Quoth the New Straits Times:
Since the party had been chosen by the people to lead the state, along with Parti Keadilan Rakyat, they should be responsible for each and everyone's well being, Azhar said.Well, cry me a river, Azhar. That's not what you and your ilk were saying a few months ago when Parliament was in session. When Malaysians demanded free and fair elections, or justice for a community which has never recovered from colonial rule, what did the BN government say? That we should shut up because Malaysians elected the BN government, and therefore our only right to complain about anything was at the ballot box.
Well, we certainly have complained — made our grievances starkly clear to an extent that nobody, nobody could have anticipated. It was not so long ago that former Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin was telling international media to pay opposition MPs no heed, because the elected government had a mandate from the people to ride roughshod over anyone and everyone else. Now that it is someone else holding the reins of power, we hear the pathetic squeals of people like Azhar. He makes a fair point, but if he expects anyone to treat his point seriously, he needs to explain why his party never did anything of the sort when it controlled 90% of the seats in Parliament.
Indeed, you need not look very far away to find yet another prominent UMNO leader saying exactly the opposite thing. Yesterday, the Star reported that the Chief Minister of Malacca, Mohd Ali Rustam, was "reconsidering" development plans for the state because of the election defeats his party had suffered. The Star was kind enough not to print his most foolish and explicit statement to this effect. Fortunately for us, the New Straits Times had no such compulsion:
New projects would continue to come but it would not be major ones. The people in these area do not seem to want development and they have indicated this during the polls.Of course, our propaganda institutions can't let people know how stupid Mohd Ali Rustam is, so they gave the suitably misleading headline: "Malacca CM assures projects to continue in DAP areas". This does not alter the reality that we have a major BN leader here saying, in effect: "If you want development, vote for us. If you don't want development, then don't vote for us. We sure as hell won't develop your area."
What ever happened to being the government of all Malaysians? We have already seen encouraging steps in how the Penang and Perak state governments are incorporating Malaysians of all skill sets and backgrounds into their executive committees and administrative offices. Why is BN so fixated on being the government of whichever bugger is frightened enough to vote for them? If BN wants to win back the five states currently governed by its opposing coalition, it doesn't sound like it at all. Threatening and blackmailing your own people has never been an easy way to win votes.