Big business first, rakyat second

 
Kenny Gan | May 19, 08 1:13pm

 

I refer to the Malaysiakini report BMC residents doused and gassed.
 
This event, among others, is a clear example that the Barisan Nasional government has learned nothing from the last general elections. Indeed, we will continue to see the incumbent government carry on its merry way until it is kicked out by the rakyat.
 
In a contentious dispute such as this where one side wants to build barriers to collect toll from residents who demand the right of access, there is no reason for the federal government to take the side of big corporations at the expense of the people. It is inappropriate and morally reprehensible for the authorities to assist the toll company to build barriers against the vehement objection of the residents by sending riot police to face off with the residents and protect the workers.
 
Using tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd and batons to beat them creates even more animosity. We can expect that the Cheras constituency will continue to be firmly under Pakatan Rakyat’s hands in future elections.
 
Whether or not Grand Saga has the right to block off an access road to force residents to take a longer route to pay toll is still a matter of dispute. In a situation such as this the proper response of a responsible and caring government is to firmly direct the company not to aggravate the situation by building replacement barriers to those which have been torn down until the matter has been settled by the courts or relevant government departments.
 
Where is the principle of a ‘government for the people’? What BN has demonstrated in no uncertain terms that it is a ‘government for the corporations’ who make money on the backs of the working folk through unfair privatisation deals. The government is also prepared to ride roughshod over the residents to enforce these sweetheart deals by force for the sake of greedy companies. Surely the company will not collapse from temporarily collecting a little less toll?
 
We hope this matter will not be settled by the government paying Grand Saga hefty compensation in lieu of the barriers. This is taxpayers’ money which can be put to better use. On one hand the government moans about the increased cost of subsidies but freely opens the public purse to line the pockets of greedy toll concessionaires who stand to made profits many times over their investments.
 
We have also seen yet another example of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s sleepy inaction. Where is his voice on this very public and potentially explosive issue? His laissez-faire attitude is unbecoming for a national leader and the prime reason for his being perceived to be weak.
 
Indeed the BN government is behaving like elections are merely an inconvenience every four or five years to rubber stamp its right to rule. This may have been the case for the past 50 years but the political landscape has changed drastically and winning the next general elections is by no means certain.

The great naturalist Charles Darwin astutely remarked, ‘It is not the strongest or the most intelligent organisms which survive but the ones most able to change’. It’s too bad that BN cannot change with the times and I for one will be happy to see them consigned to political oblivion.

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