Thursday, February 21, 2013



Of late, the BN has been intensifying the exploitation of the mainstream papers in its opposition-bashing frenzy to the point that it appears that they are lashing out without coherent thought as to what they are saying. Their only points are that there will be instability and chaos if the opposition takes over, the people should be grateful to the BN and hence give their votes to them, and the opposition does not have any experience in governing and will bankrupt the country. The BN politicians are also milking the spectacle of BR1M payments to the maximum in their effort to portray the image of a caring government.

For instance, Awang Tengah’s statement in the Borneo Post on Monday 18 Feb 2013 is full of irony. Firstly he called for Lawas to continue to be BN’s bedrock and in the next breath he said that Lawas still needs much infrastructure and public amenities. If Lawas is still so lacking after almost 50 years of BN rule, why should the people give the BN another term? Where is the much–needed hospital, the progress of which the incumbent MP professes to be completely ignorant? Awang Tengah is correct about the opposition singing a tune of change, and he can rest assured that the public will be wise to the fact that the change offered will benefit them.  The opposition state governments of Penang and Selangor were given a chance to bring change to the states and they have succeeded tremendously within their first term. Indeed, the Auditor General found them to be the best-administered states in the country. Their lack of experience did not prove to be a hindrance – I would say that it actually was an advantage, as they did not have any bad practices to perpetuate. They were the breath of clean air that was sorely needed. We can offer the same in the federal government and other BN-held states.

On the same day in the same paper, James Masing warned the people not to be easily swayed by financial bribes given by opposition parties. I find this laughable. Do the BN politicians think bribery is the modus operandi of every political party just because they have been practising it for so many years? It may be the only way they feel elections can be won but we abhor corruption. Elections must be free and fair. Elections won by vote-buying bring about a government that is not legitimately elected. The opposition does not offer any financial incentives for attendance at our events and ceramahs, only the message of change, yet the people have been showing up in droves. That says a lot for the people’s maturity and good sense. Contrast that with calls by BN for the people to be grateful to the government for the BR1M and urging the people to vote for BN so that these payments will continue. What is that if not financial inducement?

I have said before, that the pictures of the crowds jostling for the BR1M leave an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Why should the government subject ordinary folk (many of whom are elderly) to such indignity and danger? If they are truly sincere about being a caring government, and if they had learnt anything from the BR1M payments last year, why can’t the payments be made in different ways, such as direct bank-in to those who have bank accounts, and getting District or resident offices to make payments? Do the people have to be exploited as photo-opportunities so that the BN politicians can look good? And if we are such a developed state and only 2 years away from being a high-income economy as the CM claims, why are so many people eligible and scrambling for the money? What is it that the people should be thankful to this government for? The BN politicians are sadly misguided if they do not think that the people are thinking these exact thoughts.

To me, these actions of the fear-mongers are a sign that the BN component parties are feeling jittery about their future. The politics of fear practiced by them is abhorrent and is indicative of the fact that they do not have any substantive issues to put forward to sell themselves. Instead of offering sound policies that will benefit the people, they resort to drumming up fear and causing divisions within the races. The fearful BN are hoping to spread the fear to the voters so that they will lose focus of the real and pertinent issues facing us today. However, we know that it is the people who will ensure that stability remains in the country whatever the outcome of the elections. We believe that the people are now politically mature and will not fall into the trap set for them. The GE13 will be the only opportunity for real change and I have every confidence that the people will persevere in the face of the onslaught by the BN and the mainstream media. We are convinced by the responses at the Kebangkitan Rakyat rally and the events organized by the opposition that the people are aware and steadfast.

Pakatan Rakyat will be launching our manifesto on Monday 25 February 2013 and I am confident that what we offer will be more attractive than the money inducements being dished out by the government now, and definitely more appealing than the politics of fear practiced by the BN.

If I were Awang Tengah, I would not be so confident about the PM’s track record and the effectiveness of his ‘constant engagement with the younger generation and across the board’. After all, his latest attempt at engaging the younger generation in Penang was met by a resounding ‘No’, much as Dr Mahathir and the BN leaders may deny it. A government that treats armed invaders in Sabah with kid gloves but deports a Senator from a friendly neighbouring country has clearly lost the plot. The rakyat know which party is the real threat to our peace and security and are puzzled about the government’s actions. Those of us who were teargassed, doused with chemical laced water and treated like criminals at the Bersih rallies want to know why our government is giving these invaders better treatment than what we received. The Home minister says they are ‘neither militants or terrorists’ but does not tell us what he thinks they are. The people of Sarawak wonder whether we will be next to be invaded, and if we are, whether the BN government will defend us as it is duty-bound to do.

Change is coming to our country, whether the BN is ready for it or not. The rakyat certainly are.

Baru Bian
ADUN N70 Ba’ Kelalan/
Chairman, PKR Sarawak

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