Aliran roundly condemns Information, Communication and Culture Minister Rais Yatim’s recent indefensible justification for the Barisan Nasional’s blatant use of government machinery for its election campaigning in the run-up to the general election.
What was done had nothing to do with the functions of the caretaker government. The three Information Department vans were there to assist the BN coalition to prepare for the opening of the BN’s election command centre for the Batu parliamentary constituency on Sunday. Government machinery was definitely used for party purposes.
It is crucial that all parties concerned must acknowledge and respect the demarcation line between party and government use to prevent abuse of power and to ensure a level playing field between the incumbent coalition and its contenders.
Surely, it doesn’t take a legally trained person to realise that it is immoral for a caretaker government to take undue advantage of its incumbency in this callous manner.
The BN must emulate instead the fine and praiseworthy example shown by both the Selangor and Penang caretaker governments that recalled all official cars from their respective state executive councillors recently in keeping with ethical behaviour.
Similarly, it is politically indecent of the BN caretaker government to offer only a one-off 10-minute pre-recorded slot over Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) to the opposition coalition during the election campaign period. To ensure a level playing field, the opposition coalition deserves and must be given equal access to the broadcasting station, funded by taxpayers, who, in turn, deserve to know better the policies of the competing parties.
It is therefore understandable that the Opposition coalition had no option but to reject the pathetic offer by the BN government, an action which Rais considered an attempt to ‘mock’ RTM. He fails to realise that without doubt he is mocking the democratic process.
To be sure, the caretaker government’s misdemeanour in this matter is itself sufficient to mock the broadcasting station without the help of anyone outside the ruling coalition.
Dr Mustafa K Anuar
Honorary Secretary, Aliran
10 April 2013