Wayang Kulit before Elections

Folks, the signs of the general election are everywhere now – it’s anytime now

(You can hardly see this fine beautiful art in motion these days but in the political landscape, it is still alive and played well to the end. Image source: Wikipedia)

For one, there are plenty of feel-good news in the mainstream medias, highlight of the oppositions having trouble in Kedah (and other PR led states) and many more things to spin that the BN is better than PR. Just read some of the headlines in recent days and some of it may even make you want to puke:-

  • Johor is a role model in relation to the development of Chinese schools, said MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek. In comparison, Dr Chua said the community faced problems getting land for schools in Selangor.
  • Najib given an A+ for performance since last polls. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has performed well since the last general election, said Umno veteran Tun Daim Zainuddin.
  • MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek is regarded as a leader who has bravely spoken up for the interest of the community, said Umno veteran Tun Daim Zainuddin.
  • The action by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in apologising on behalf of Barisan Nasional (BN) for its mistakes, including its dismal performance in the 2008 general election, reflected the party’s humility, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

There’s more and last weekend, Najib even meet up with some NGOs – just to say that “the NGOs, which are partners at the grassroots, and their leaders contribute their time and energy voluntarily to achieve their respective objectives, whether in championing for women’s right, persons with disabilities or protection for children”.

Hmm, interesting. Would he have said the same thing to the NGOs who had contributed their time and energy voluntarily for Bersih 2.0? What about Tenaganita where the founder Irene Fernandez in 1996 arrested for publishing false news and convicted (a conviction which in 2008 was overturned by the High Court).

With election looming even closer, expect the unexpected – roads full of potholes for months suddenly patched up, new roads laid, toll charges reduced, land titles distributed, citizenship suddenly granted, previously “missing-in-action” politicians visiting their constituencies and more. Yes, you will see more and more of the famed politicians coming down from the sky, making themselves holier than the holiest man around, just to get votes for the next elections.

To be fair, we see the same thing over at Pakatan’s side as well. So, depending on which type of media you are accessing, you will either be reading too much of BN’s spins or PR’s spins. But it does not really matters as to who you will support at the end of the day – it can be a BN or PR candidate, what really matters is that you have registered to vote and you exercise them by picking the very best to represent all Malaysians and the country whilst at the same time, showing the half-past six, corrupted and two-faced politicians to their early exit.

Najib have been going around apologizing (why now?) but the fact is we rather see a real action for the future than apology for the past, bygone actions.

With NFC mess and 1Care seemed to be quite down for now (but not over), there seems to be other mess creeping in. The proposed RM7.1 billion highway project is one and this seems to be one-notch over all those lopsided highway contracts of the past:-

Critics have also questioned the logic of awarding the project to Europlus which has no experience in highway construction. Although the original length of the West Coast Expressway was 215.8km, critics claim another 100km do not justify an additional RM4 billion.

“The A-G is also questioning why the concessionaire is getting 70 per cent of the toll revenue when it should be a 70:30 agreement, with the government getting 70 per cent since it is footing the cost of the project,” said another source.

Another issue is that Europlus president and chief executive Tan Sri Chan Ah Chye also controls Talam Corporation, which has a blemished record in property development because of a number of abandoned projects.

(Source)

Will this RM7.1 billion highway contract get approved in the end with the same lopsided terms and the rakyat once again are made suckers? Certainly we hope not – BN should be smarter by now.

Then we have Lynas – the proposed tax-free, rare-earth processing plant in Gebeng, Kuantan. There has been serious concern on the by-product of the processing plant which is radioactive in nature. Even more serious is the question why there is 12 years tax break for the plant and why BN politicians harping on the project.

Despite the promises to keep close watch on the enforcement of the law on the processing plant and assurances (yeah, we all know how well enforcement of the law can be in this country), we are certainly not taking the bait, more so with this news:-

The fact that Australia has refused to accept the waste by-product – thorium – produced by the Lynas operation tells something of the risks hidden in the rare earth. Australia will only mine the ore and ship it to Malaysia. Australia is safe. Malaysia will refine it and has to take care of the waste. Malaysia is not safe.

Where do you bury the waste? Call the prime minister and he will say the thorium will be dumped far from human settlements. Not a good answer. The waste can seep into the ground and eventually contaminate the water. Relocate the affected residents? Pointless. The radioactive gas called “radon” – which is released when the ore is crushed to remove thorium – will bring menacing clouds to the whole country on the wings of the winds. There is no place you can hide.

The rare earth plant is located only 2km away from a residential area (Gebeng) with a population of about 30,000 and some 25km from Kuantan. It is estimated that the combined population of the two towns – about 400,000 – will be put at risk from possible toxic leaks and emissions. Yet the government experts are cocksure that LAMP is totally safe.

One minister even had the audacity to advance his perverted logic that the waste water can safely be discharged into drains. The call for him to resign is fitting. He does not have the foggiest idea about the Lynas operation or understand the horrors that await the people who live in the vicinity of the refinery.

(Source)

Election is coming and if Najib wants to show that BN is better than anyone in governing the country and be fair to all its people irrespective of their political affiliates, they need to prove more than just fancy headlines on state controlled media. They must show that they have changed for good – the granting of a RM7.1 billion highway contract in dubious circumstances (despite public outcries in the past on lopsided highway contract) or making policies that undermines the people’s health and welfare is not.

In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the wayang kulit to be played out to the maximum in both sides – just keep a clear head and conscience and focus on what you need to do when the elections are finally held.

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