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Private scandal should not be permitted to defeat public policy - DAP will not be distracted by the internal power struggles within BN but focus on our own election message that a stronger opposition is needed to establish a healthy democratic culture and justice based on rule of law, deliver good governance, an equitable share in our economy and improve living standards
by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): DAP will not be distracted by the internal power struggles within BN but focus on our own general election message that a stronger opposition is needed to establish a healthy democratic culture and justice based on rule of law, deliver good governance, an equitable share in our economy and improve living standards. Power struggles within BN are common in the jostling for positions before general elections which benefit individual selfish interests at the expense of public interests.
Despite BN and MCA leaders’ constant preaching of inculcating a healthy political culture, Malaysians were shocked at the extraordinary public attacks by UMNO Secretary-General and Minister of Home Affairs Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad's against the leadership of Perlis Menteri Besar Datuk Shahidan Kassim and the widespread distribution of a sex video DVD allegedly linked to a MCA Minister by an unknown group to private homes in Johor. What is clear from these two episodes is that general elections are just around the corner.
Whether the alleged sex video tape is genuine or not, the MCA Minister has his lawyers to advise him whether to lodge a police report or how to defend himself. DAP has no interest in playing the game of those involved in these manipulations or their motives. Whilst DAP leaders will continue to dig out and expose corruption and abuse of power by BN leaders that is contrary to public interest, I will direct DAP leaders to distance itself from these two latest events. Let others pass their moral judgments but DAP will not allow itself to be used or dragged into the power struggle within BN.
Private scandal should not be allowed to defeat public policy
Malaysians should focus on public policies that needed to be changed. For the coming general elections, public policy on 3 principal issues affecting the daily lives of Malaysians deserves attention. DAP offers solutions to these three critical issues affecting Malaysians.
One is the poor state of the economy as a result of adopting failed policies such as the anti-competitive New Economic Policy (NEP) where the people’s living standards are deteriorating. This results from the twin setbacks of the people not sharing in the benefits of the country’s development and the failure of the BN government to share the people’s financial burdens to reduce the cost of rising inflation.
The New Economic Policy should be replaced with an Equal Economic Opportunity Policy that helps those in need as well as rewards the talented ones who work hard. DAP regrets that BN has chosen to ignore the economic hardships faced by the people caused by rising inflation with lies that inflation rate is only 2% this year when it is running at more than 20% or that the country will go bankrupt by using the RM 70 billion annual profits from Petronas. Fuel subsidies cost the country around RM 32 billion in 2006 and as much as RM 40 billion annually this year or next year if the international price of oil reaches US$100 per barrel.
Time to share Petronas profits
Savings from fuel subsidies should be transferred to low and middle-income earners in the form of cash grants. DAP had suggested that those earning less than RM 3,000 per month be given an annual grant of RM 3,000 and families with a combined income of RM 6,000 per month be given RM6,000 annually. Such a scheme would cost between RM 30-40 billion, the same amount of fuel subsidies spent.
For this reason DAP fails to understand the perverse logic by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Najib Tun Razak that the country will go bankrupt if the opposition reduces petrol prices. DAP is not suggesting reducing oil prices but that the earnings from Petronas be shared with the people. The table below shows that from 2004-6, fuel subsidies cost the country more than RM 71.3 billion. Would not the money be better spent by distributing this to Malaysians than inefficient fuel subsidies?
Or is Najib half-right in that the country will go bankrupt not from the opposition reducing petrol prices but by corrupt practices of BN leaders. US Morgan Stanley had estimated in 2004 that over the last two decades corruption cost Malaysia US$100 billion (RM 380 billion). With Petronas earning more than RM 500 billion since it was established in 1974, one can imagine how much was stolen and that only RM 120 billon or 24% of the RM 500 billion in Petronas profits were channeled to the people with the remaining 76% or RM 380 billion stolen by corrupt officials.
The time has come for Petronas’ profits and oil revenues to be shared with ordinary Malaysians. Only by reducing the financial burdens of rising inflation faced by working families, can the government be responsible in economic management and ensures good governance that increases the welfare and benefit of the poor, not just the rich.
The second issue is rampant crime that has escalated to all levels of society until the four basic rights of security to live, work, study and play in a safe environment has ceased to exist. No person is safe from crime whether a local or foreign tourist, young or old, male or female. Failure to protect society from rampaging crime coupled with widespread corruption and abuse of power in the police force is the strongest indictment of poor governance.
The solution is simple employ 100,000 policemen to patrol the streets and establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission to wipe out police misconduct and corruption to focus fully of fighting crime. The refusal by BN to do so shows their willingness to sacrifice public safety to ensure that the police continues to obey BN to preserve its political power by using the ISA to detain arbitrarily opponents of BN without trial.
Malaysia belongs not just to the top 20% who controls 51.2% of the country’s wealth but also to the remaining 80% of the population who controls only 48.8%
The third issue is the deprivation and dispossession of Malaysians of their fundamental political economic and social rights. Malaysia enjoys the highest income inequality between the rich and poor in South-East Asia. The Ninth Malaysian Plan admits that the income disparity has worsened with the richest 20% controlling 51.2% of the nation’s wealth whereas the poorest 40% controlling only 13.5% in 2004 from 50% and 14.5% respectively in 1990.
Malaysia does not belong only to the top 20% who controls 51.2% of the country’s wealth but also to the remaining 80% of the population who controls only 48.8%. When the poor and the middle class comprising 80% of the population has a stake in our country’s future that shares in the benefits equally with the costs of economic development, then only is there hope that 2008 will be a better year for all.
To cover-up its failure to reduce this income disparity between the rich and poor, BN practices a system of apartheid stressing Malay dominance to divide the people. This system of apartheid dividing Malaysians between bumis and non-bumis, results in an unspoken graded citizenry of first to fifth-class citizenship.
BN’s apartheid puts UMNO members as first, followed by BN leaders, Muslim bumis, non-Muslim bumis and finally the fifth class citizens of non-Muslim non-bumis. After 50 years of Merdeka the time for equal political rights, equal economic opportunities and socio-economic justice has arrived.
Just as the sun shines its light equally on all regardless of race and religion, we should all be as first class Malaysian citizens. As a first step racial identity should be abolished in all official documents and all parties exclusively catering for one race banned. Then only can we forge a bangsa Malaysia that fulfills the 1957 Merdeka promise of freedom, justice, prosperity and peace.
Sources: Petronas, Treasury, PTN; *imputed
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP