FEB 3 — The federal government seems to have felt a sudden gush of generosity - tagged with the slogan, "Janji Ditepati" - towards the rakyat. There have already been three, four or more waves of BR1M distributions, and now flood victims in the east coast states are to expect another wave of RM500 aid distribution.
Laying it on thick, the government is also splurging on schools - a sudden windfall of millions or billions of ringgit is flowing into vernacular education, school maintenance and construction, as well as other neglected sectors of socio-economic development. Again we hear the same rhetorical phrase drip from the lips of PM Najib and DPM Muhyddin Yassin - "Janji Ditepati".
Small business successes deluge television screens with their intermittent broadcasts followed by bold words of "Bajet 2013, Janji Ditepati". All these sunshine stories appear to take place in a period of glowing economic highs, without regard to market conditions. The reality is, many new businesses open with optimism, but may eventually fold a few months down the road due to market saturation for particular products or services, lack of strategic marketing knowhow or simply an economic downturn when the purchasing power of the public is at an all time low. Even in the absence of these factors, mismanagement can be the downfall of a well intended business. Like kites, many can take off but how many will stay up?
Over these large portions of magnanimity are sprinkled discounts in fees for various government or semi-government services such as the 50 per cent discount on passport application or renewal fees for senior citizens and the 50 per cent discount on commuter train fares (citizens can apply for this scheme by submitting a photocopy of their identity card and they will receive a discount travel card with PM Najib's face on it!). But how many older senior citizens are inclined to travel to unfamiliar places in far-off lands? Not many and not frequently. So will such ‘discounts' facilitate significant savings for most of the rakyat? Hardly.
There are also goodies for the youth in the form of discounts for Smartphones and iPads and book vouches for those in education. Certainly, those who are not yet working and those unable to afford such items will join the queue to get them, free if possible. The latest UUM fiasco by Sharifah Zohra Jabeen, however, may prompt them to think about the motives for these ‘gifts'. If Umno and the BN think that the rakyat are too naïve or stupid to recognise vote buying, they could be in for a rude awakening, hopefully soon.
Yet, BN ministers seem to hint, that there are more such rewards in the offing - if they remain at the helm with the consent of the electorate. PM Najib even baldly stated, last year, that there was no need for a change of government to facilitate a change of system!
Why is it that only after 55 years does the current BN administration suddenly become aware of the rakyat's needs? Did the outcome of the last general election have anything to do with it? Will this miraculous shift of focus towards the economic needs of the people - away from the needs of large corporations, cronies and foreign investors survive another term of Barisan rule? Can a tiger change its stripes?
Despite the rhetoric, these magnanimous gestures, and hints - that the rakyat will prosper under a regime outstaying its welcome - sound increasingly hollow. When did the country have bottomless coffers into which federal leaders may dip at will to produce all these goodies called"Janji ditepati"? Is there an Aladdin's cave or a magic lamp with a genie to grant every wish commanded? Or a Fairy Godmother waiting in the wings? No, such fantasy is the stuff of fairy tales.
In reality, the hard cash must come from somewhere more mundane - the coffers of the East Malaysian "White-haired One", Petronas or even from the deep pockets of other cronies and political leaders with abundant vested interests? Or more realistically, harvested from higher taxes on ordinary goods and services like basic food items, fuel and service taxes paid by the ordinary rakyat? If the latter is the case, then the government's idea of spending taxes to benefit the rakyat is certainly a twisted one. It is clear to many that this is nothing but a short-lived election ploy, a covert election campaign tactic also named, guess what? "Janji ditepati", of course!
The vital question for the rakyat now is, if the Umnoputras and BN in general are defeated, then what are they going to do? They have so far shown themselves to be sore losers, resorting to certain underhanded tactics in attempts to undermine Pakatan state governments. Hitting below the belt without even a blush of embarrassment seems normal to them. The electorate has witnessed such practices within and outside Parliament. The ‘kataks' in Perak have not been forgotten over the past three to four years. The current BN Perak state government was not duly elected by the rakyat but forced on them.
The bigger the shady deals, the bigger the debt, and the payback will no doubt include a huge interest permanently fixed to it. The demon of corruption regularly and efficiently checks and updates its account books.
The only way to cancel the debt owed and stop borrowing from the Hell Bank is to give way to the inevitable flood of truth that will eventually burst its banks. The debt to the rakyat is still outstanding and must be repaid on demand. There are rumours that capital has flowed out of the country; so we can expect certain well known politicians to be doing the same sooner or later. What will it be in the guise of, this time? A holiday in Europe, a visit to the holy land, or the age-old excuse of "my relative has died, got married or whatever else, overseas"? The rakyat must be vigilant; such excuses must be taken with a big pinch of salt. It nearly happened before.
Now, the urgent business of the rakyat is to safeguard and ensure our own future as a united, harmonious, peaceful and prosperous nation, cleansed of corruption, graft and all other foul dealings that undermine the rule of law, democracy and justice in this land we call our home.
The time is drawing near, for the rakyat's clear and unqualified decision on whom the mandate to serve the country will fall on. Use your vote wisely. Don't be swayed by "janji kosong" (empty promises). We, the rakyat, must persist, single-mindedly for a better future, a better Malaysia! - Aliran
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.