Monday, August 17, 2009

Kerajaan BN or Kerajaan Malaysia?

The Barisan Nasional coalition has been in power for over 50 years. However, the political monopoly has created confusion among ordinary Malaysians and politicians alike of the difference between "party" and "government". This has open doors for abuse and propaganda by the powers that be which I believe every Malaysian should therefore be aware of. It is the very reason why a government should be impartial and not party-orientated when it comes to governance.

So what is the difference between party and government? Apart from the spelling, of course, a party is an entity of politicians who share the same ideology and is intended to run for election to govern. Government, on the other hand, is the administrative body of the nation and it should not discriminate any group of people based on their political beliefs, no matter how different they may be from the elected party.

The problem lies in the misconception or rather, the ignorance by certain quarters in acknowledging the difference between party and government. I believe, some politicians and local executive councillors are guilty for their failure to distinguish such things in public..

I am speaking from my personal experience and observation. And I believe, if we look hard enough (a challenge to whoever may be reading this), the proof of my point can be seen almost everywhere and anywhere. Below is a picture of a signboard which is quite ubiquitous. It is self-explanatory:

The signboard proudly exclaims, Projek Kerajaan Barisan Nasional (A Barisan Nasional government project). Is "Barisan Nasional" the name of our country? Or is the school building a 'gift' from the Barisan Nasional? No party should ever claim credit for a project that benefits the community if it is funded by taxpayers' money. Is this not political propaganda even when it is not election season?

Such signboards only mock every taxpaying Malaysian. Are supporters of the Barisan Nasional the only ones who deserve such perks and social benefits? Or are these signboards a cheap reminder to non-Barisan Nasional supporters that they are at the mercy of the ruling coalition? No. The government is obliged to serve every citizen regardless of their political affiliation.

They are also accusations of the federal government (led by Barisan Nasional) withholding crucial funds for states currently under the rule of Opposition parties. Taking Penang state for instance, in August 2008 Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng disclosed that the federal government is holding back RM1.1 billion worth of allocated funds for the urgent expansion of the Mengkuang Dam in Permatang Pauh. Penang’s growing population was bound to face critical water shortage in the next four years. Lim noted that the allocation has not been fulfilled even though it was originally confirmed in the 8th Malaysia Plan. The project was later to be financed fully by a loan from the federal government under the 9th Malaysia Plan. The people of Penang chose the Opposition as the state government but they are nonetheless Malaysians. Thus, it is the duty of the federal goverment is to serve the people of Penang no matter what.

And on August 17 2009, PKR Pahang Legal advisor Ahmad Nizam Hamid reported that Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO party vice president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had used a Nuri helicopter owned by the Royal Malaysian Air Force in Sabah while conducting party activities. The news about the abuse of government property for party affairs only came to light when the helicopter had to make an emergency landing in Tuaran. Just what right does Muhyiddin have to utilise the RMAF helicopter for UMNO matters?

Is the political psyche of Malaysians too accustomed to the Barisan Nasional 50 year dominance that such misconceptions of party and government have gone unnoticed? Political parties may debate and bicker over ideologies but a government should remain what it is and all politics are put aside for the sake of nationhood. Therefore, the Malaysian context that relates party with government and government with party is flawed. Because ultimately, the people of Malaysia come first, not party nor propaganda.