To hoodwink the people by a mere RM500 under the BR1M is not the solution to the problem at hand.
The March 11, 2011 tsunami that hit Japan brought with it “priceless” lessons; for one, the Japanese no longer take anything for granted. And despite the shattering devastation, they refuse to despair and are determined to get on with life, the odds regardless.
That goes for the Japanese. Back home, after having tasted defeat in the 2008 general election, decency would have dictated that the federal government led by Barisan Nasional eat the humble pie, pull up its socks and genuflect and vow never to take the rakyat for granted.
However, humility and the willingness to accept defeat is not part and parcel of the BN psyche.
There has been no sign of “lessons” learned by BN post-2008. If there is anything that BN has decided to take note of, it is that more money has to be squandered for the coalition to win the hearts of the voters and subsequently their precious votes.
Had BN been gracious enough to admit defeat in the true sense of the word, its leaders would not have indulged in all things wrong in the book.
The strange truth is that swindling the rakyat in so many ways is what has been keeping BN busy since losing the 12th general election. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak himself has yet to come clean on various allegations concerning graft and cronyism.
Among others, he – during his time as the defence minister – has been implicated in the purchase of 12 helicopters meant for the Royal Malaysian Police and which the Defence Ministry had excessively overpaid for to Eurocopter.
A formal complaint by Pakatan Rakyat against Najib claimed that Malaysia signed a letter of intent to acquire 12 Eurocopter EC725 Cougar helicopters for the sum of RM2.3 billion while Brazil paid only US$1.2 billion for 50 units of the same model.
Then there were accusations of commissions for the purchase of two Scorpene submarines and 18 Sukhoi jet fighters in a deal worth RM3.2 billion.
Never-ending political debauchery
The premier recently blared to the rakyat that the opposition under Pakatan Rakyat can only “talk” and has failed to “walk the talk”. In his weak attempt at exciting the rakyat, Najib forgot that his very own misdeeds remain unrepented.
It was Najib during his defence minister days who awarded an inexperienced PSC-Naval Dockyard the delivery consignment of six patrol boats for the Malaysian Navy. Those were supposed to be the first of 27 offshore vessels that were to cost a massive RM24 billion which included the right to maintain and repair all of the country’s naval craft. While full delivery was due in 2008, only two barely operational patrol boats had been delivered by mid-2006.
It was reported that there were 298 recorded complaints about the two boats, which were also found to have 100 and 383 uncompleted items aboard them respectively. The original RM5.35 billion contract ballooned to RM6.75 billion by January 2007.
The auditor-general reported that by December 2006, the ministry had paid out RM4.26 billion to PSC although only RM2.87 billion of work had been done, an overpayment of RM1.39 billion or 48%.
PSC-Naval Dockyard, it seems, had no experience building anything except trawlers or police boats.
Then as prime minister, Najib decided to throw his political weight around by meddling in the Perak state crisis in 2009. The opposition figures accused him of having secured the defections from Pakatan.
They further alleged that it was unconstitutional for the Perak Sultan to act on the advice of Najib as under the state constitution, the ruler was duty-bound to heed advice only from the menteri besar.
What about accusations linking Najib to Mongolian native, Altantuya Shaaribuu? Or for that matter allegedly bribing private detective P Subramaniam who confessed to online site Malaysiakini that he was offered RM5 million and his family threatened to retract his original statutory declaration linking Najib to Altantuya.
Does Najib really think the rakyat has forgotten the above scandals?
To hoodwink the people by a mere RM500 under the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) is not the solution to the problem at hand, which is the distrust the rakyat now has of Barisan Nasional under Najib’s leadership.
Not popularity, but redemption that matters
A recent poll says Najib’s popularity is on the rise, all thanks to the various aids the premier has been doling out, especially the BR1M monetary assistance.
The poll by Merdeka Centre revealed that Najib’s approval rating has soared to 69% from 59% in August 2011.
The survey, encompassing 1,022 respondents, also showed that 78% of Najib’s support came from the lower-income group, especially those earning below the RM1,500 mark.
“In terms of ethnic breakdown, the Malays and Indians were most in favour of Najib, standing at 74% and 80% respectively,” the survey stated.
However, the survey also showed that the majority in favour of Najib were above the age of 50, at a rate of 73%.
“The findings also show that one-third of the respondents were in favour of Pakatan, indicating the approvals may not translate into votes for the ruling coalition,” the survey finding read.
With many loopholes, the survey, which leaves behind more questions than answers, is best regarded as “null and void”.
Clearly, the younger generation believes Najib has a lot of explaining to do, looking at his record as defence minister and now as premier of the nation.
Popularity should be far from Najib’s mind. He should, first and foremost, redeem himself as a leader who has failed both the country and its people.
Redemption is not about going around buying the nambikei or trust of the rakyat; rather it is about working for the good of the people. It is here where Najib has failed.
Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.