Punish those who bribe and buy voters

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Aliran has no problem in agreeing with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak that the special allocations given by the Federal Government to mosques and suraus in Permatang Pauh were “unique” because they were given “without the mosques and suraus making any request for them” (theSun, 22 August 2008).

Any responsible and reasoning Malaysian will inevitably conclude that if no request had been made for those allocations, it must be because there was no need for funds. If there were a need for funds surely requests would have been made.

That being the case, Malaysians must be flabbergasted when Najib in the next breath states that “the government understood that they needed funds to improve their facilities.”

Isn’t it obvious that it was an election gimmick to bribe the voters of Permatang Pauh? If it was a genuine concern to help these mosques and suraus to upgrade their facilities, why weren’t these allocations made before the Permatang Pauh by-election? And couldn’t these allocations be made even after the by-election to give legitimacy for the federal government’s concerns for these mosques and suraus as being genuine?

The timing of these allocations – especially when they were not requested – leaves everyone without any doubt that it is a Barisan Nasional attempt to bribe and buy votes. That must be the only conclusion for these allocations coming just days before polling day on 26 August and that it is nothing but bribery and corruption.

According to the newspaper report, each mosque was allocated RM100,000 and each surau RM30,000. Considering that “there are more than 30 mosques and 60 suraus in Permatang Pauh, the total allocation would be in excess of RK4.8 million.

To be fair to the BN, their concerns were not confined to matters of religion only. Just a few days ago, on 19 August, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Wee Ka Siong announced that the Federal Government gave RM200,000 each to six Chinese primary schools to repair classrooms and halls. This sudden generous allocation of RM1.2 million for these schools, we are told, had nothing to do with the Permatang Pauh by-election! According to Wee, “It so happens that the by-election is now being held for Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat” (NST, 20 August 2008). What a coincidence!

In other words, within this week an allocation of more than RM6 million was made during the campaign period of the Permatang Pauh by-election. This allocation channelled through the Federal Government was meant to deceive the voters that it had nothing to do with the BN candidate’s election expenditure. But we know better. It is an old trick that has been repeatedly employed by the BN at every election all these years to the utter disadvantage of the Opposition.

The voters of Permatang Pauh must realise that these generous allocations were made because of the Opposition. If there were no contest, the voters of Permatang Pauh would not have received a single sen. The voters must be grateful to the Opposition for bringing benefits to Permatang Pauh.

The voters of Permatang Pauh must realise that it is their right to expect development to be brought to their constituency by any elected government at all times – not only when elections are on.

The voters of Permatang Pauh must realise that all these allocations are made not to benefit the voters but to benefit the BN. To win an election, they will spend millions.

To wipe out this culture of corruption and bribery to win votes and support, the voters of Permatang Pauh have a duty to punish the BN and teach them a lesson on morality. It is the only way to make the BN realise that they have to be caring and generous at all times.

To drive home this message, the BN must be educated in a manner that they will never forget. They must be made to realise that corruption and bribery will not work in Permatang Pauh. At times an effective education is accomplished through punishment! Permatang Pauh voters must rise to this occasion and set an example for the rest of the country to follow in future elections.

 

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P Ramakrishnan

President

22 August 2008

 

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