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‘More promises blowing in the wind’

 | July 13, 2012

This year’s Merdeka celebrations theme is 'Promises Fulfilled' (Janji Ditetapi). The government is trying to dovetail the theme as a political message but it looks like a case of promises unfulfilled.

PETALING JAYA: If promises are meant to be broken, then the government seems to be doing a fine job. This year’s Merdeka celebrations theme is “Janji Ditepati” (Promises Fulfilled). But it looks more like promises unfulfilled.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has been on the election trail billed the “Jelajah Janti Ditepati (Promises Fulfilled Tour)”.

On his tour round the country he has said that for the past 55 years Barisan Nasional has kept its promises – the “Twin-3K” representing Keamanan dan Keselamatan (peace and security), Kestabilan dan Keharmonian (stability and harmony) and Kemakmuran dan Kemajuan (prosperity and development).

In stark contrast, he said that Pakatan Rakyat, particularly in Selangor, has failed to make good its promises since 2008.

But most Malaysians beg to differ.

Take 45-year-old business owner Zahir Musa, who bluntly states: “Umno loves to divide races and rule. What kind of unity is that? Come Aug 31, it will be the same thing.

“They will feel so proud of themselves and pat each other on the back for being in business for so long and will tout the 1Malaysia concept by saying that Barisan National is proof of this.

“Then they will say that they we are all living together in harmony. Both you and I know that this is not true to an extent.”

He then cheekily added, “Maybe a more appropriate slogan would be ‘Undilah Barisan National’ (vote for Barisan National) because it seems like they are going to need it this time round.”

Many other Malaysians were of the same opinion that Merdeka is perhaps the only day when everyone is united.

Some say the Merdeka Day theme (Janji Ditepati) does not do justice as it is the ruling party’s political slogan.

“Why is the theme focused on the ruling government? It seems more like a mass election campaign slogan than one which is supposed to cater to all Malaysians regardless of political standing,” says 35-year-old Latha Menon.

Like Latha, several Malaysians say that this is not the anniversary of the existence of a political party, but the birth of a nation and it shouldn’t have politics mixed into it.

Previous themes included “Muhibah dan Perpaduan”, “Bersatu Maju, Bersatu Menuju Wawasan” and “Perpaduan Teras Kejayaan”, which many feel was more appropriate in nature because it was inclusive to all.

However, after Najib took over in 2009, Merdeka day saw themes such as “Rakyat Didahulukan, Pencapaian Diutamakan” (People First, Performance Now) and ’1 Malaysia Menjana Transformasi’ (1 Malaysia Driving Transformation).

What promises?

Immediately after Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim’s announcement of this year’s theme, Malaysians began mocking the decision, and “Janji Ditepati” became a trending topic on micro-blogging site Twitter.

One user, @Hazrul_Basyen, posted: “I’m never (sic) expect that our #TemaMerdeka this year is ‘Janji Ditepati’. Tak dak semangatlah nak sambut Merdeka tahun ni (No enthusiasm to celebrate Merdeka this year).”

Kee Thuan Chye, author of “No More Bullshit, Please, We’re All Malaysians” rips into the theme when he says, “What promises? The ISA is being replaced by new laws. The Peaceful Assembly Act is restricting our democratic space.

”It bans street protests and prohibits gatherings within 50 metres of a whole list of designated places. Such designation had never been done before. The amendments to the Evidence Act is an attempt to censor us in cyberspace.

“The amendments to the Printing Presses and Publications Act are cosmetic. The Home Minister still has power to grant licences and to suspend and revoke them. The only difference is he can now be challenged in court. Try doing that with our judiciary being what it is. The police are still not being revamped.”

Kee also asks why hasn’t the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) been set up, adding that weeding out corruption has not been fulfilled.

“To help in that direction, how about repealing the Official Secrets Act? That has been instrumental in protecting corrupt officials,” he states, adding, “Of course, we can’t allow everyone to have access to national security and defence matters, but surely, other forms of official information don’t need to be classified.

“Otherwise, how do we get transparent and accountable governance? Is that why when we talk of exposing corruption in high places, we are mostly fooling ourselves? One or two cases have surfaced, yes, but where are the rest? And how is it that the biggest fish are spared? Shouldn’t we have the Freedom of Information Act to replace the OSA?”

Safe environment?

Incensed also by this year’s theme is entreprenuer Yandaro Al-Amien who says that when he first heard about theme, it brought to mind all the promises the government made about abolishing the ISA.

That aside, Yandaro says he prefers to share something a little closer to home and more personal in nature which he adds will also explain the reason why he will never voted for the ruling party.

“On May 16, 2006 my family lost everything they had after a government, which promised 1,001 things in regard to helping the Bumiputera entrepreneur to succeed, went and demolished the one and only Bumiputera Goodyear outlet in Selangor at that time. My family’s outlet was demolished to make way for the Ampang waterfront project.”

The Ampang Waterfront, Yandaro speaks of, comprises restaurants and other leisure outlets located along Jalan Bukit Belacan. It is developed by GMH Properties Sdn Bhd through a joint venture with the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ).

Yandaro adds that his family is currently struggling to rebuild the business. “To add salt to injury, we are also struggling in court. Why? Because apparently now the government wants to sue us for as much as RM300,000 for going against them. Because we dared to fight them. So much for helping the Bumiputera. At the end, it’s about who has the money and who has the power. Bumi or not, it doesn’t matter, if you are in their way they will bring you down hard,” he says.

For Ow Puei Keng, her disenchantment with the theme stems from the fact that the powers that be aren’t walking the talk.

“Give us a safe, green and secure country to live in. Many violent crimes have been committed recently , more than usual and the authorities have yet take it seriously to show us that some kind of action is being taken.

“Many of my girlfriends are worried about their safety, homes and rivers. Many Malaysians do not have the luxury to leave the country. They would rather stay in their homeland but they want to live in a safe environment.


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