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BN: Hollow and hypocritical

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When it became increasingly apparent that tilting arch at the Penang Botanic Garden would topple before long, the Barisan government suddenly became people-friendly. P Ramakrishnan exposes their hypocrisy.


The controversial development project at the Penang Botanical Gardens has been in the news for sometime. This project was objected to and opposed by Penangites and NGOs as something that should not be undertaken as it tends to destroy and violate the serenity of its natural environment and pristine beauty.

Dismissing all objections and criticisms, the project went ahead: two monstrous arches that stood out like sore thumbs were erected. Soon one of the arches reminded us of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It started to tilt and the controversy erupted once again.

It looked as if it was a matter of time before the tilting arch would pose a hazard to the safety of the public. When this possibility became very apparent, the Barisan Government became people-friendly.

Out of the blue, the Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen announced that the Cabinet voted unanimously to have the arches costing RM150,000 demolished. She said, “We listened to all views before reaching this decision. The beautification project was meant for the people and if they are not happy, we should not force them to accept it.”

It is unfortunate that her statement sounded hollow and hypocritical. If the BN had been in the habit of heeding the wishes of the public, then we need not have squandered the RM150,000 in the first place. This huge sum of money has gone down the drain.

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From the very beginning, the proposed development was not popular with Penangites. They rejected it from the onset but the BN government just ignored their objection and went ahead with the project. It would have completed the project but an embarrassing development threw it off-track.

It was the tilting arch that saved the day for Penangites. The engineering defect in the erection of the arch posed a grave danger that could not be ignored. At some point in the future, the arch would have certainly collapsed.

When that were to happen, the BN would be derided and ridiculed. The writing was on the wall and the political cost for the BN would have been enormous. Whatever said, the BN is not that stupid not to take that into account. So the wall has to come down. We have to say good-bye to RM150,000 – a complete waste of good money.

So there you have it. It has nothing to do with the BN listening to the people’s grouses. Circumstances have forced the BN to come to its senses. If it is a caring government, as it pretends to be, let it prove its sincerity.

Malaysians want the BN government to grant allocations to the Opposition MPs and be treated the same as the BN MPs who regularly receive allocations annually for the benefit of their constituents. After all, Opposition MPs are also elected by Malaysians to serve their interests. Why should these Malaysians be penalised for exercising their democratic rights guaranteed by the Federal

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What is the rationale for denying the Opposition MPs their allocations, which ultimately are channelled to benefit Malaysians. Why should the BN deprive these Malaysians their due and deny them benefits that are enjoyed by other Malaysians who voted for BN candidates?

The Federal Constitution does not make a distinction between BN and Opposition voters. Their votes carry the same weight and have the same effect in determining the results of the election. As Malaysians, we are treated equally without any discrimination.

If the Cabinet truly listens ‘to all views before reaching a decision”, why is it that in this instance it  failed to listen to the views of the Malaysian public? Can the Cabinet kindly clarify, what is the rationale for the BN government’s decision to discriminate against Opposition MPs?

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P Ramakrishnan has been an Aliran member since its inception in 1977, serving on our executive committee for 36 years, half of that period as Aliran's president (1994-2011). He continues to serve as an Aliran member, highlighting issues of public interest to a larger audience
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