Spare us the charade on PH manifesto

By TK Chua

Before the change in federal government, it was easy: everything was blamed on the government. It was not uncommon to hear stories of Pakatan Harapan (PH) politicians who were unable to carry out their work, or PH-controlled states being shortchanged or victimised for various reasons.

A few days ago, though, I read a “disturbing” piece of news from Penang: “Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow to consider land financing model (whatever that means) to get Chinese companies to quickly build crucial flood prevention and transport projects.”

I wonder what the new chief minister was thinking when he said he was “tired of waiting for federal funds that never came”.

For sure, no one would think that the Chinese companies are going to build these projects for free.

Today, I read another piece of “disturbing” news, this time from the former Penang chief minister and the present finance minister, Lim Guan Eng. According to him, the federal government is now pursuing a public-private partnership (PPP) to build a low-cost terminal and expand the existing airport in Penang. Apparently, neither the federal government nor Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad have money.

I’m sorry, how long more does the PH federal government want to tell us the same story – that the 1MDB scandal has sapped the nation’s finances, the national debt is at RM1 trillion and the Treasury is empty?

For a long time, I thought gaining federal power was the key to resolving the endless problems faced by the nation. It appeared so simple but we are now being given one excuse after another.

If money is short, it is the job of the federal government to find it. Surely revenue flows to the national coffers cannot just dry up overnight.

Please don’t keep telling us that revenue is short, debt is high and the government has abolished the goods and services tax (GST). If we can keep the tolls, why can’t we keep the GST at a reduced rate instead of reintroducing the sales and services tax (SST)? Please spare us the charade – the PH manifesto is no longer sacrosanct and everybody knows it.

If money is short, why are we talking about a third national car project and a Langkawi theme park even before the dust settles?

Has the finance ministry taken another look at all budget allocations, both operating and development, for all ministries, agencies and states?

We heard so much about overpricing, negotiated tenders, leakages, siphoning and corruption before the election. After the election, may I know where all the “dividends” from getting rid of malfeasance went?

We now want an airline to build an airport for us through a PPP. I really hope this is not another crony project like tolled roads and numerous other ill-conceived privatisation and PPP projects, where users will be saddled with heavy airport fees and charges. There is no free lunch in this world.

The government collects taxes, fees and royalties, and exploits national resources to the fullest extent. I don’t understand why everything the people need must be paid for through privatisation, PPP and PFI. Many citizens have even opted out of state-funded medical and education services because of their suspect quality.

So what exactly is government revenue used for – national defence and the protection of our ECZ? I just read that only four out of the RMAF’s 28 Russian fighter jets can fly.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

Penang to have LCC terminal in ‘1 to 2 years’, says Guan Eng