By Chris Lee Chun Kit
I remember once driving along the North-South Expressway and seeing a huge banner of the menteri besar of a particular BN-ruled state welcoming the diaspora population back home for the festivals.
At first glance, I thought “well, he is trying hard to increase his public profile”. Then I realised, “wait a minute, instead of welcoming the diaspora back for the holidays like it is the norm, shouldn’t he be doing something to stop or even reverse it?”
Yes, basically that particular BN MB seems to be happy to show that his state has contributed a lot of home-grown talents to Penang, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur as well as overseas. He was proud that other states and countries could benefit from the best brains his state could offer.
Basically, he was indirectly implying that he was indirectly telling the world that his state had failed to provide jobs and retain their talents. If that is the case, then as an elected government, he has failed his people.
But I know some would argue that people are allowed to seek employment elsewhere, like in the cities around the world. If that is the case then, what is the role of the elected government then?
You see, a while back, Deputy Health Minister and former Penang Deputy Chief Minister Dr Hilmi Yahaya had claimed that the Penang government had failed the people of Penang when he said that around 6,000 people had lost their jobs when factories closed.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng then responded by saying that based on statistics from the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida), 24,000 job opportunities had been created in the state in 2016 under his administration.
He then urged the deputy minister to respond to whether he thinks Penangites had benefited from the job creation. Hilmi has been silent since.
Hilmi was obviously trying to spin facts to work in his favour and thus create a perception that the Pakatan Harapan coalition government was incapable of governing.
This form of attempt to destroy confidence is nothing new as the BN often claims that they are the only coalition worthy and smart enough to govern.
What Hilmi had conveniently forgotten was that many states which are directly governed by BN have been lagging in creating jobs and this has resulted in a brain drain of talented youths to the cities or other countries.
You see, many BN leaders are so comfortable with their stable high salaries while in power that they do not seem to realise or understand the needs of their electorate any more.
Let us just skip the technical terms and get straight to the point — people need jobs because jobs equal spending and spending that boost the economy.
Without a job, the populace will be unable to earn a living and will be forced to move elsewhere. So if they are unable to look for a job in their home state, then did their governments do enough to ensure that investors bring jobs to their respective states?
Not every Malaysian has the financial or academic ability to leave their homes and seek jobs elsewhere. Family and financial commitments are among the many reasons that may lead to a decision to stay in the home state.
However, the option to stay home and find work seems to be increasingly difficult in many BN states due to the inability of their leaders to find ways to improve the economy.
As a result, the people have to suffer while the BN mismanages the economy of both the state and the country. The depreciation of the ringgit, coupled with BN’s crony monopolies of local industries, has resulted in rising living costs while salaries remain stagnant and low, lower in the states that the BN governs, due to lack of economic competitiveness.
One would think that after comparing their failing economies with the well-managed ones of Pakatan Harapan states like Penang and Selangor, they would learn.
But what do these BN leaders know? They enjoy high salaries as government officials, both in the state and federal levels. They can afford to send their children to international schools and overseas.
As far as they are concerned, their priorities are power and retaining power. Your welfare does not cross their minds at all. They do not seem to understand or care to understand.
* Chris Lee Chun Kit is a city councillor in Penang Island City Council (Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang), representing DAP.
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