Penang BN parties putting their feet into their mouths

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Photograph: pocketnews.com.my

The expression of concern exhibited by Penang Gerakan over the Taman Manggis controversy is as flimsy as a torn piece of used tissue, writes Angeline Loh.

Barisan Nasional’s Penang branches never stopped engaging in ‘pot-calling-the-kettle-black’ debates with the opposition-led Penang state government.

Its latest ‘sandiwara’ attempting to link a private house purchase deal made by Penang’s chief minister and the allegedly controversial Taman Manggis land in the heart of town has exposed the BN’s impulsive inclination to ‘put-their-feet-into-their mouths’.

A Penang Gerakan statement at a media conference, publicised on 30 March 2016 over ntv7’s 8pm English news, probably raised some eyebrows and cynical amused laughter from the public. A spokesperson said that the previous BN government had allocated the Taman Manggis land for low and medium-cost housing because it was concerned for the poor. He seemed to make out that the Gerakan-BN administration had made the provision of low-cost housing a priority in Penang and that the present DAP-led Pakatan state government has no concern for those in the lower income strata.

Putting aside the allegations first initiated by a Penang Umno branch of price under-cutting in the house purchase by the Penang chief minister and the link between that and the disputed Taman Manggis land, which BN agents are trying hard to establish but have not yet substantiated with concrete evidence; the expression of concern exhibited by Penang Gerakan is as flimsy as a torn piece of used tissue.

While the MACC has stepped in to look into this mess with the apparently cordial encouragement and cooperation of the Penang CM, Penang BN continues to blow hot air in Parliament and in the state, obviously trying to influence the process and public opinion. The ‘sandiwara’ has gone to another level, where the Umno-BN hope to rev up public excitement with talk of “to-debate-or-not-to-debate” the issue in public (now called off).

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The irony of it all is that the BN was utterly defeated in Penang in GE12 and GE13 despite their ‘hard sell’ attempts to ‘persuade’ Penang voters to return to their fold. This foot-in-mouth habit has only served to remind the electorate why Penangites rejected the BN administration in favour of the opposition DAP-led Pakatan state administration.

Although no government is perfect, all we need to do is to look back at the state of affairs in Penang under the Gerakan-led BN administration and compare it to the current state of affairs under the DAP-led Pakatan administration.

Did Penang voters push out the Gerakan-led BN state government because they showed concern for those in the lower-income strata and the poor? If memory serves, promises made by the Penang BN administration were nothing more than that. Do we have other options besides a two-party state?

Do we want to go back to those bad old days or look forward to a future the establishment of greater democracy in this country, with Penang a pioneer state in making democracy a reality for keeps. The choice is in the hands of the Penang electorate.

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