The 13th Malaysian General Elections will be the most important turning point in the history of our nation, bar the independence of Malaya and the formation of the federation of Malaysia. For the first time ever, all 222 parliamentary and 505 state assembly seats will be contested. This broke the tradition of BN winning seats by default during nomination day due to non-contest.
Before nomination day, like most Malaysians, I am of the opinion that the BN juggernaut will eventually prevail during Election Day to scrap together a simple majority and hence form the new federal government again. However, after hearing feedback from family and friends as well as my own personal experience on ground, the sentiment of change by the Rakyat is so strong and heartfelt that I am reversing my opinion to state that change indeed will take place come 5th May 2013.
There is a different buzz in the Ceramah circuits this time around. In the past, Pakatan Rakyat was campaigning on sentiments, or more specifically, anti-BN sentiments. Today, while the anti-BN sentiment is still a strong campaign message, they are also proudly touting their track records in 2 state governments, namely Penang and Selangor.
In Penang, runaway spending and leakages from the BN state government resulted in a RM 630 million hole in 2008 when the Pakatan Rakyat government took over. Over the course of 5 years, the Pakatan Rakyat government has slashed this debt down to only RM 30 million- a reduction of RM 600 million!
Now, one may think that the Pakatan state government had introduced crippling austerity measures like cutting public services but the truth is that public spending actually increased. They had formed a RM 500 million Affordable Housing Fund, gave RM 100 to senior citizens, disabled people, single mothers as well and RM 1,000 bereavement contribution, allocated RM 12 million annually for independent and partially-aided schools, built RM 200 million SME Centre and SME Village, increased Islamic affairs funding by 150% to RM 64 million and many more.
In Selangor, the state recorded the highest state reserves in its history. Pakatan Rakyat gained controlled of the state when it had a cash reserve of RM 1.2 billion and grew it to RM 2.6 billion. Like Penang, this was achieved in spite of increase spending for social welfare programs like a RM 300 million Selangorku grant for entrepreneurs, RM 100 million for a State Housing Development Board, RM 50 million Selangor Women’s Empowerment Fund, free clean water and many more.
But what about the Pakatan Rakyat controlled poorer states of Kedah and Kelantan? In the 2011 Auditor-General’s report, Kedah has managed a satisfactory balance sheet. Kelantan meanwhile managed to increase its consolidated fund by RM 86 million to RM 234 million, a growth of 58.1% from 2010. Kelantan also saw investments balloon from RM 16.3 million in 2010 to RM 111.3 million in 2011, an increase of almost 10 times.
While all these fiscal achievements may seem miraculous, the main question that we, the people of Malaysia, need to ask is: Why aren’t the other BN-controlled states or even the Federal Government performing at the same level?
The same 2011 Auditor-General’s report said that Malaysia’s national debt stands at RM 456.12 billion, the highest yet. Our deficit stands at RM 42.24 billion or 4.8% of GDP despite a 16.1% increase in government revenue for 2011.
Malaysia needs new leadership now. We need a new Federal Government that is not only in tuned with the Rakyat but with new challenges that we face in an ever-competitive global marketplace. We need a government that is able to weed out leakages and corruption. We need a government that cares in creating social balance. We need a government who can create a competitive environment for businesses to thrive. We need a government that can raise the standards and quality of our graduates so that we can get out of the middle-income nation trap and moving our industries higher up along the value chain. We need a government that is concerned about environmental sustainability.
BN had 50 years with this beloved country of ours. While I believe that they started out with the right intentions, absolute power over time had corrupted them absolutely.
Come 5th May, I’ll ensure that my vote is cast, my voice is heard and if there is a majority of Malaysians our there who think like me, I look forward to a new dawn in Malaysia.