Well Wisher was surprised to receive a Chinese New Year sms greeting from “Najib Razak dan keluarga” but reckons that most people place more value on government concern for their welfare than on meaningless hype or slogans.
On the morning of 1t February 2011, I was surprised to receive a Chinese New Year cellphone text greeting from a “Najib Razak dan keluarga”, “salam-ing” me with 1Malaysia. My first thought was that this must be a hoax, it couldn’t be from THE Najib Razak.
On scrolling down the message further, I found it was delivered by the mobile phone service provider. So I realised that this was a genuine message from the PM. What did he and his family have to do with an insignificant citizen like me? For one who doesn’t exactly celebrate Chinese New Year, except for consuming the goodies that come with the celebration and perhaps giving some lucky relative a token ang pow (red packet), this seemed a rather grandiose gesture. This is the first time in 53+ years since Independence that any Malaysian premier has ever decided to send a personal greeting to the common citizen.
It was seen as an innovation by some, especially the non-Chinese interviewed on TV, who numbered only three out of several million, but others may have viewed it as a gimmick to get ‘up close and personal’ for the anticipated general election, possibly next year, depending on how good the ruling party feels its chances are of regaining a two thirds parliamentary majority.
On a personal level, it may be a generous gesture, a bit condescending, but still gracious. Perhaps it makes him feel more like Barack Obama on his walkabouts amongst the people or like Julia Gillard, the PM of Australia visiting the flood victims of Queensland. Do they – he and his political party – mean what they say by the slogan ‘rakyat didahulukan (people first)’? The only instances I know of people being put first is when it comes to tax collection and reduction of subsidies for fuel and basic goods. Service charges across the board are going up to around 6 per cent. The people are the first source of government finances. That’s when the people come first!
With the withdrawal of subsidies for fuel and other essentials, one wonders how the rakyat can be a priority with the current federal administration, especially those struggling to make ends meet. It was amazing that on Chinese New Year ever, when flood waters were still high, the PM and his wife who visited Johor flood victims said that the worst was over when flood waters seemed hardly to have subsided (ntv7 News, 2 February 2011). Moreover, no Chinese family amongst the flood victims was interviewed to express how they felt about their New Year celebration being disrupted by the floods. Floods affect everyone regardless of race, religion, gender or economic status.
If the BN hopes to woo the rakyat back to their fold, it will probably take more than a personal New Year greeting or a 1Malaysia slogan from the PM. The rakyat’s stomachs cannot be filled with festive greetings or slogans; they have to be filled with solid and nutritious food which should be made affordable. Tons of consideration for their well being – regardless of race, religion, gender or economic status – would help
In this day and age, people now need and value any government concern for the welfare of the people, far more than hype or slogans since these will not make any difference to their daily pressures of hunger and unfulfilled basic needs. Policies must sync with realities; otherwise, we’re living on different planets and 1Malaysia is merely a myth! So, thanks for the New Year greeting but no thanks for current federal economic policies that make the rakyat the first source of income for cronies in high places.
Happy Year of the Rabbit!
Well Wisher is the pseudonym of a concerned Penang resident.