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Penang, be special!

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The people of Penang should score another first by wiping out all ethnic-based BN political parties in the coming general election, says Tota.

I am a Penangite and a proud one at that. Penang is a unique state and lives up to its motto “Penang leads”.

A cursory look reveals that Penang’s civil society groups established internationally recognised associations such as the Consumers Association of Penang, a nature society, the Penang arts circle and Aliran.

The heritage enclave with its wall paintings in the inner city started a national trend. Even schoolchildren have been imbued with the spirit of valuing our heritage: the Methodist Boys’ School Heritage Centre helped to popularise this consciousness among the young and quite deservedly became the first school in the country to win the National School’s History Gallery competition in 2014.

Penang’s street food has won international recognition and appreciation and is second to none and equalled by few.

In politics, the people of Penang have consistently shown a maturity and an independent spirit not seen elsewhere in the country. But there have been periods when desperate politicians have pulled wool over the people’s eyes and conned them into supporting a political party.

The Alliance and later BN successfully used government-controlled print and electronic media to indoctrinate the people with propaganda. For example, in 1999, the people of Penang rejected Karpal Singh despite his outstanding record. But such lapses are rare.

Unlike now, during the time of the British, local council elections were held. Penang always elected an opposition party in such local polls. The Labour Party ruled Penang under DS Ramanathan, who was the first mayor. Later, the Socialist Front controlled Penang.

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In the 1959 elections, the Alliance won Penang and Wong Pow Nee was made Chief Minister until the 1969 elections, when Gerakan led by Dr Lim Chong Eu won the state.

For political expediency, Chong Eu took Gerakan into the Barisan. A dissatisfied Penang population later got rid of Chong Eu by voting for Lim Kit Siang in 1990.

Koh Tsu Koon took over as Chief Minister, but was then kicked out in 2008, when DAP formed the government led by Lim Guan Eng.

Again, Penang scored a first in the 2008 general election. The people kicked out MCA, MIC and Gerakan from the Penang State Assembly. Again, the people repeated their performance in the 2013 election, once again wiping out MCA, MIC and Gerakan.

If there is anything I hate, it is people intimidating, threatening and bullying other people – more so when it is done by politicians who are really our servants. The 2018 general election will be held on 9 May and BN is desperate to win back Penang.

The prime minister is a veritable desperado now. Contrary to election rules and the Constitution, a caretaker government is forbidden from approving vast sums under the guise of development funds. This is nothing short of electoral bribery. But the Electoral Commission and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil.

In 2008 and 2013, despite all the bribery, threats and lavish buffet dinners, the people of Penang proved that they are a special breed and could not be bought.

All independent institutions which are supposed to maintain checks and balances have been compromised; they are perceived to have become tools of BN. Najib is using public funds to entice the rakyat all over the country with impunity. On his recent visit to Penang, he threatened the people that there would be no funds for the state if BN does not win the state.

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Who does he think he is? The people of Penang must teach him a good lesson – that he is our servant, not our master. In terms of taxes and GST, Penang is the second largest contributor to the nation’s coffers and so, as taxpayers, we are entitled to enjoy the benefits. Najib’s threat is detestable and despicable and unworthy of a leader.

In the coming general election, let the people of Penang teach Najib and Umno-dominated BN an unforgettable lesson by wiping out all ethnic-based parties like MCA, MIC, and Umno. As long as these parties exist, national unity will be impossible.

The people of Penang should score another first and set the trend for the rest of the country to emulate.

Tota is the pseudonym of an occasional contributor to our Thinking Allowed section.

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