Resorting to making a big impact via Aug 31 is not going to determine BN's fate at the polls.
The notoriety with which the Barisan Nasional government has manipulated the country’s 55th independence day celebration to suit its political agenda has left a bittter taste in the mouth of the rakyat.
To say that the people are shocked and disappointed with BN for turning Aug 31 into a political platform will be an understatement.
The rakyat are livid that the government dare misuse the independence day celebration to regain the people’s trust in the BN leadership and help it win big, come the 13th general election.
The subtlety used by BN in reminding the rakyat of all that it has done for them has not worked, never mind how Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim tries hard to word it, verbally and in writing.
Rais had recently stressed that this year’s independence day celebration would have the theme “55 Tahun Merdeka Janji Ditepati” (55 Years Independence Promises Kept) and would bear the 1Malaysia logo as it did last year.
With no official logo and a significant theme to commemorate the nation’s most historical day, this year’s Merdeka day celebrations will smack of the desperation of the federal government in wanting to wipe out its political rival, Pakatan Rakyat, led by Anwar Ibrahim.
As it is, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has placed it high on his list to remind the rakyat to be grateful to the government for keeping to its promises.
But then what are those promises that the BN has been striving to meet? If it is about using money to buy over the Felda settlers or the poor and needy through Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M), then that it is far from upholding any promise.
It is the duty of the government of the day to look after the well-being of its people, without holding them to ransom when the situation becomes dire. In Malaysia, however, the contrary is being done to cajole the people into voting for BN.
Let the rakyat decide
Resorting to making a big impact via Aug 31 is not going to determine BN’s fate at the polls, not in a positive sense, that is.
The truth remains that the rakyat’s faith in the BN leadership has eroded drastically post-2008 when BN suffered a massive setback at the polls.
To recoup its losses and that too by fooling the people will only make matters worse for BN, if it has not already.
Instead of now meddling with Aug 31 and Malaysia Day, which is celebrated on Sept 16, it is best that the government let the rakyat be the judge in deciding who best lead the nation.
Slogans like “People First, Performance Now” and “Janji Ditepati” were merely created to narrow BN’s loss at the coming polls.
Why does BN find it so difficult to listen to the rakyat’s grievances? Is the government really listening or is it giving the people the false impression that it is there for them?
Had it been attentively listening, BN would have realised that using crude methods of winning the people’s confidence is a no go. Even the theme song for this year’s Merdeka Day reveals what BN is all about – a nefarious entity plotting and scheming for its own survival.
Bad enough that the theme is sleazy but the corresponding song for Aug 31 could not be any worse than this, for, among others, it contains lyrics penned by none other than Rais and which go “Janji sudah ditepati, Kini masa balas budi” (Promises have been kept, now it is time to repay).
There are also these lines: “Ini janji kita BR1M 1Malaysia”, “Kata kita dikota”, dan “Kedai 1Malaysia” (This is our promise BR1M 1Malaysia), (Our words are kept) and (1Malaysia Store).
No surprise then that this theme song has recorded 20,502 dislikes over YouTube compared with 297 “likes” from its 171,257 viewers as of July 31.
Remembered for wrong reasons
This year’s independence day will just show how desperate BN is in canvassing for votes, having no qualms of turning the event into a political charade.
On so meaningful a day, the BN government wants to milk as much as it can from all the financial assistance it has been rendering to the people.
By the way, had the promises been kept, there would have been no Bersih 2.0 and Bersih 3.0 demanding a clean-up of the electoral system. Had BN stayed true to its words, corruption, cronyism and nepotism would have long died and had the government been faithful to the rakyat, it would not have treated them as commodities, “buying” them over when times were hard.
In short, claims by BN that it has kept to its promises is one big lie. If Umno Youth chief and Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin thinks that BN has delivered, he is either delusional or simply trying hard to fool the rakyat.
“Well, I mean it’s up to the voters to decide. We have a track record, we’ve delivered on our promises… It’s our strong point. We have fulfilled our promises [and] it’s going to be an election on who is more likely to fulfil their promises,” he had said.
What track record is Khairy alluding to? As far as the rakyat can remember, BN is all about corruption and cronyism. It is not promises that have been delivered but rather a modus operandi favouring BN has been devised to secure victory in the next general election.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz was also talking nonsense when he claimed that Malaysians in general were comfortable with the government’s promises and their supposed fulfilment.
“If people are not complaining, why are they [Pakatan Rakyat] complaining? They don’t have to complain, and they don’t represent all the people. If they feel threatened and are unhappy, then don’t bother the rakyat.
“We don’t sense that the rakyat are threatened…They (Pakatan) are just the pot calling the kettle black,” Nazri had said.
If people were not complaining, why then did the Bersih 2.0 and Bersih 3.0 take place?
And how has Nazri concluded that the people are “comfortable” with the BN government’s promises?
As far as BN goes, the agenda is all about money. What more will BN do to force the rakyat to support it in lieu of the aid given? Should the people choose not to, what are the repercussions in store for them?
Jeswan Kaur is freelance writer and a FMT columnist.