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Handouts, free makan: Madu di tangan kanan mu …

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The BN right hand gives to the lower income community, whilst the left hand of the BN rakes it back from them, into government and crony coffers, observes Rakyat Jelata.


I’ve heard Najib Razak twice say to the electorate, “No need to change the government to change the system.” This rhetoric probably has been repeated more than twice and implied in so many ways through the gushing distribution of ‘goodies’ coupled with promises of more in future. In the brief period of the run up to the GE13, the cash flow has been turned on full blast.

The free flow of food in Penang in ubiquitous dinners around the island, tagged “1Malaysia Dinners”, were not equally available for all who went there, as an attendee said there was no food, when she reached the dinner venue in her neighbourhood, and had to be content with only a drink. People armed with tiffin carriers and food containers, prepared for the big grab, were seen in the crowds. Well, what can we expect of BN organisers who are in the habit of cronyism, allowing some a larger portion than others. It doesn’t come as a surprise that some people got nothing from this exhibition of pretentious generosity.

Even the distribution of BR1M payouts is selective, again contradicting this widely publicised ‘generosity’. All this sudden gushing magnanimity is probably by nature only a flash flood that will subside and dry up once the polls are over. This won’t be because of the Pakatan Rakyat but, possibly due to the unsustainability of this so-called “free-for-all” Santa-Claus-ism.

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There seems no ordered or logical long term plan, except for the widely advertised ‘Bajet 2013- Janji Ditepati’, but those are only advertisements, the details of which are speculative. There is so much fluff around, so much posturing and posing, so many breezy promises, doubtfully substantiated.

Najib harps on the Umno-BN track record of 56 years governance. Yet, what does that track record also show? Despite, the superficial impression of glowing economic developmental achievement, allegedly equal to none, it is shadowed by rising corruption, cronyism and nepotism. This so-called wonder of Umno-BN’s economic and financial management is the result of the suppression of human and democratic rights, exploitation of migrant and local labour, and an increasing concentration of wealth among elite and upper-middle classes. It ignores the widening gap between rich and poor, communal division, and increasing religious and cultural discrimination.

The Rakyat pay the price of this prosperity exhibition, with credit for it going to the autocrats and technocrats holding the reins of governance. In what way, then, have the Rakyat benefited? The BR1M payouts seem to encourage price hikes of basic necessities. School students are known to give away the RM100 book vouchers, preferring to pay cash for books, as books bought for cash are cheaper than those obtained with the vouches, so-called low-cost housing must still be purchased with bank loans that must be repaid over time.

In the same way, PTPTN study loans ultimately have to be repaid by parents and/or students without private means or scholarships for higher education. The Rakyat are expected to believe that easier repayment terms from banks will cause a debt to vanish. A debt is a debt. It will not be transformed into anything else, unless completely repaid or written off.

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Was free education or subsidised house prices ever mentioned by Najib? Did the Umno-BN ever utter a word on the abolition of GST or its cancellation? Did BN promise subsidies for food and other basic necessities e.g. fuel?

All that is obvious here is, the BN right hand gives to the lower income community, whilst the left hand of the BN rakes it back from them, into government and crony coffers.

So, before going through the motions of a so-called democratic process, ask the question, “Can that tiger ever change it’s stripes?”

Selamat Mengundi!

Rakyat Jelata is the pseudonym of an occasional contributor to our Thinking Allowed Online.

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