Sunday, August 15, 2010

My warning to my elected reps of Jelutong and Batu Lanchang post 308


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Of late, we have seen the opposition parties embroiled in internal bickering and intra-party turmoil. The latest round of mudslinging in DAP is a case in point. And this comes very close against the backdrop of similar intra-party bickering in PKR and PAS.

Make no bones about it. The opposition is at odds with one other. And I am not even yet talking about inter-party bickering -- which is going to heat up closer to the next general election when the mad scramble for seats will start and where we will definitely see three-corner or four-corner fights when more than one opposition candidate enters the fray as an ‘independent’ candidate.

When they faced the voters and appealed for Malaysians to ‘give them a chance’, it was about serving the people. But once they get into power the people are forgotten and it is about personal quest for glory and power.

The people gave the opposition a mandate in the last general election. They denied Barisan Nasional its two-thirds majority in Parliament and gave the opposition five states to rule. But it did not take long for the opposition to forget its vision and mission. Before the dust could settle the opposition violated the trust the people put in them and became a clone of the party that the people removed for the very crimes that the opposition is now guilty of.

What is the vision and mission of the opposition? Have they forgotten? Is not their vision and mission to provide a better life and a better future for all Malaysians? Has this changed since March 2008? It appears like along the way, barely two years on, and the opposition has lost its way.

Can we go back to the core issue? And the core issue is to improve the quality of life for all Malaysians. But how many of the opposition leaders are focused on this? All they appear to be doing is to play the one-upmanship game with Barisan Nasional and with each other. And at times it appears like their comrades in the opposition are greater enemies than those from the opposing side.

Malaysia’s Human Resources Ministry says that 34% of Malaysian workers earn salaries below the poverty line of RM720 per month. This was announced by its Minister, Dr S Subramaniam.

In the first place, the figure used to measure poverty is RM720 per month. What can RM720 per month buy? One trip to the supermarket can finish that off easily enough. RM720 per month can barely feed one person, let alone a family of five or six, which is the average size of a normal Malaysian family.

At the unrealistic figure of RM720 per month, one-third of Malaysian workers live below the poverty line. What would happen if the poverty line is doubled to a more realistic level of RM1,500? Then we would probably see 80% of Malaysians living in poverty.

But this does not appear to be the main focus of the opposition. What does is the schemes and plots to outdo each other. It is about personal power and glory. The people are forgotten.

Have they forgotten The People’s Declaration that they signed in February 2008 just before the last general election? What has happened to it? Is it no longer the opposition’s agenda?

Allow me to highlight some extracts of The People’s Declaration, which seven political parties endorsed and promised to implement if they ever came to power.

Okay, there are some things they can do as state governments and some things they can’t do since they are not yet the federal government. But we do not hear the opposition pushing this agenda in Parliament even if the only thing they can do is to be the pressure group to the party in power.

· Eradicate absolute poverty by the middle of the next parliamentary term;

· Reduce poverty levels in the next parliamentary term to half the levels of 1999;

· Improve poverty eradication programmes so that they are free from political interference and truly help the poor;

· Streamline various existing poverty eradication programmes;

· Narrow the income and wealth gap without infringing on legitimate rights;

· Develop special development programmes for the poor and the low income in traditional villages, new villages and estates so that they are brought into the mainstream of development and provided with better income sources, jobs and title to land;

· Allocate the education budget in a fair and equitable fashion, without neglecting any group;

· Provide more scholarships and other financial assistance on the basis of need;

· Fix a reasonable minimum monthly wage for daily paid workers;

· Fix a reasonable monthly wage for estate workers and seriously implement a housing scheme for estate workers;

· Fix a minimum pension level that will enable pensioners to sustain themselves;

· Encourage pensioners who are still able to work to contribute towards national development;

· Enforce strictly laws regarding the rights, interests and dignity of women and abolish laws and regulations that discriminate against women;

· Protect the rights and welfare of women who have been abandoned by their husbands without any reasonable support;

· Continue payments of pensions for widows even after they remarry;

The above are just some of the many that were stated in The People’s Declaration, and which, I repeat, the opposition parties endorsed in February 2008 just before the last general election. But no one talks about them. They are no longer important. The people who voted for them no longer matter.

It is all about quality of life. It is also about health and education. And if the opposition can’t understand this then maybe they should not be given the mandate to rule until they do.

Have they forgotten people’s power or makhal sakhti? Is this just a slogan to win votes? And once you have won those votes do we conveniently forget all the promises and slogans until the next general election when we bring them out again?

Umno is no better, of course. They focus on frightening the Malays into believing that if the opposition comes to power then the Malays would lose political domination. The Malays would become hamba di negara sendiri (slaves in their own country).

But seriously, aren’t the Malays not already slaves? If what you earn can’t even feed you, and if your life and future are bleak, are you not already a slave, an economic slave?

You can read the full text of The People’s Declaration here:

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