Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

BN and UMNO Don't Care About Their Own People

Written by johnleemk on 9:58:41 pm Mar 15, 2008.

It was just a few days ago that the leader of BN and UMNO in Penang, Azhar Ibrahim, was trumpeting the fact that the new coalition state government must act for the good of all. It was not difficult in the least to show his hypocrisy in declaring this when just a few states south of Penang, the Chief Minister of Malacca was declaring that the state government would act for the good of only whoever voted for BN. It turns out I should have waited a few days, because now Azhar himself has come out to proclaim his own hypocrisy.

Yes, Azhar Ibrahim has indeed decided that although the coalition government in Penang should be a government for all Penangites, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the federal government being a government only for Malaysians living in states which voted in BN governments:

The BN government has promised all these to the people but the people had rejected the BN government by voting for the DAP and PKR. So, we won't give them all these mega-projects. Let them see what DAP and PKR can do for them.
Azhar has gone as far as asking the federal government to stop RapidPenang bus services and "give" them to other states.

As the Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng, has said, this is basically cutting off your own nose to spite it. Penang is not DAP, PKR or PAS territory any more than Negri Sembilan is BN territory. Regardless of our political affiliations, we are all Malaysians. The government is responsible to all of us, not to just the people who voted for it; if this were not so, the only people allowed to vote in elections should be people who voted for BN in the previous round.

UMNO leaders seem not to notice the logic in this, since according to the New Straits Times, Mohd Ali Rustam, Malaccan Chief Minister and UMNO Vice-President, has agreed with Azhar, perversely saying:
We have to stop all major projects to Penang as this is what the people wanted. If we continue with the project it would be almost impossible for us to regain control of the State in the next General Elections. ... The people in Penang have clearly rejected development and they want a change.
(This is, of course, the same chap who a few days ago said he would not be providing the same services to opposition constituencies as he would to BN-represented constituencies, because the people in these areas voted against development.)

It is unbelievably petty and foolish of Mohd Ali Rustam to suggest that people who vote for the opposition parties voted against development, or wanted a change from development. If you read their manifestos (as Selangor opposition leader Mohd Khir Toyo has insisted all UMNO assemblymen in the state do) you find that all opposition parties strongly support economic development, making it the cornerstone of their platforms. (I have dealt with this issue to some extent — at the time I wrote specifically on the issue, PKR had not yet published its Economic Agenda.)

All these are just smoke and mirrors; Mohd Ali Rustam must be as stupid as Hishammuddin Hussein if he actually believes that the people of Penang, Kelantan, Perak, Kedah and Selangor do not want development. The true reason that BN and UMNO leaders want development to end in areas where people voted for PKR, the DAP or PAS is precisely because they want to win the next election. Perversely, these men seem to think arrogance and vengefulness will win them more votes than it did this time.

I don't pretend to be an expert on why the surprising results of 8 March turned out the way they did, but undoubtedly one huge factor was simply arrogance on the part of our leaders in BN, especially those from UMNO. The attitude that you can threaten violence against your fellow Malaysians, the attitude that it is perfectly all right to punish Malaysians if it enhances your own power and prestige — these are precisely the attitudes many of us sought to reject on the 8th of March.

If BN really wants to change and reform itself, it has to look back to the Prime Minister's original pledge that he would be a Prime Minister for all Malaysians, four years ago. We did not vote BN out because he made this pledge; we voted it out precisely because Abdullah and his followers failed to make good on this pledge. The attitude that Gerakan, led by Koh Tsu Koon, has adopted is the one we want to see. Regardless of who supports it, the government must act for the good of all Malaysians. If all it thinks about is how to enhance its own power and wealth, it can expect an even more astounding rout when Malaysians next go to the polls.

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