Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Make promises, not threats

The final outcome of the Hulu Selangor by-election on April 25 was rather shocking if not disturbing especially for those who kept themselves updated by the minute on the vote count. Zaid Ibrahim's re-entry into active politics hit a brick wall when he eventually lost to MIC's P.Kamalanathan by a majority of 1,725 votes. That said, I rather not divulge into conspiracy theories lest I be questioned by the you-know-who but the Hulu Selangor by-election was never short of controversies.

The run-up to the by-election saw the usual antics of Malaysian politics - character smearing, unconvincing fiery speeches, grinning politicians, you name it. But as a Malaysian, I have every right to feel distressed (and maybe lose some sleep over) about what Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said to a crowd of concerned parents in Rasa, Kuala Kubu Bharu.

There, an 81-year-old Chinese vernacular school, SRJK (C) Rasa, was apparently not in the list of Chinese schools that would receive financial aid from the federal government. The money was allocated under the government's second economic stimulus package. The Prime Minister told the Rasa crowd that he cannot ignore the community's appeal for a new building. He said in Chinese-accented Malay (as featured in the evening news and reported by The Malaysian Insider):

“Kalau kita menang ini election, lu datang KL carik gua (if we win this by-election, you come to KL to look for me,"

"I will write a personal letter to approve the money (RM3 million) and it will be transferred to the school board’s account," he added.
But of course, to The Star it sounded very much like this:

“I hear you loud and clear, and now I am pleased to announce an immediate allocation of RM3mil for a new building."
To me, the if-we-win-you-get-your-goodies kind of promise sounds more like a threat than a typical election guarantee one might be used to hear. What if Barisan Nasional did not emerge as winners in the Hulu Selangor by-election? Would SRJK (C) Rasa be forfeited of the monetary aid, it and hundreds of other vernacular schools so rightfully deserve?

A promise to an obligation is not a promise at all. Whether there's a by-election or not, the government has the inherent responsibility and obligation to provide any possible form of assistance to all school systems in the country - both vernacular and national.

Perhaps, it is high time that our politicians learn to make promises like policy changes and social commitments rather than cheap if-we-win threats.

Good thing the people of Rasa turned in a 82.4% support for PKR's Zaid Ibrahim instead. Could it be Najib's poor attempt at speaking in Chinese-accented Malay? I wonder.
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