Monday, October 13, 2014


8 OCTOBER 2014

I refer to the statements in today’s Borneo Post made by DUN Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia, and I am extremely disappointed at the lack of understanding displayed by him of the burdens on the already stretched purse-strings of the ordinary rakyat. To say that the petrol price increase is a molehill is extremely insensitive to the middle and lower income groups and trivializing an issue which affects every person in the country.

Perhaps the increase is a molehill to the moneyed and privileged but it certainly means a real tightening of the belt for many. Perhaps the Speaker does not remember that 5.3 million households (out of the 7 million households in the country) were paid BR1M - which means that these households earn less than RM3,000 per month. This figure translates to over 75% of households in the country. Not forgetting the fact that Sarawak has the highest number of poor people in Malaysia, according to the figures disclosed by the Ministry of Welfare, Women and Development recently. Ultimately, it is for the rakyat to say whether the petrol hike is a molehill or a mountain for them.

The speaker also proudly announced in Batu Niah that DUN members from BN are allocated MRP funds annually, from which one can infer that Opposition members are not given anything. He used this as a reason for the people to vote for BN, so that they will have development and projects. I am not only disappointed but also appalled that a supposedly learned leader should have such a poor grasp of the concept and the principles of democracy.

The citizens of a truly democratic country are given the freedom to choose their representatives, not purely for development and projects, but also for other reasons, an example being to speak up for them in matters of human rights, their right to freedom of religion and to life and livelihood. Responsible and effective representation is what is important.

A government that is elected democratically should be responsible in the discharge of their duties to give equal treatment and development to all constituencies, regardless of their representatives’ political affiliation. After the elections, the government should be a government for the people, not a government for the Barisan National.

The speaker’s statement is an embarrassment to a man of his standing. In effect, he is saying that opposition supporters will be punished after the elections for exercising their democratic rights. Does he need reminding that the funds are public funds, and not from the BN coffers? If opposition supporters are to be denied development funds, perhaps they should have the right not to pay taxes.

It is regrettable that many Barisan National members seem to be so blinded by the BN ideology that they have forgotten what democracy means.


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