I had an interesting conversation with a man in the waiting room while my eldest brother underwent a minor operation at Putrajaya Hospital. This man, a businessman, was also waiting there as his wife was having a baby by cesarean.
He has his own IT consultancy and we started chatting about this and that and, soon the topic of politics in the country came up. Just a few sentences into the conversation and with a final air, he summarized his point of view: “Umno leadership has to go.” I figured he wasn’t an Umno man. “I was with Umno. Now I am not!”
(It’s funny how all the people I interact with on the ground — the “old paperman”, the mini-market owner, the hair stylist, the restaurant owner, the laundryman, the cashier etc, etc, — all don’t seem to be Umno people or BN (Barisan Nasional which leads the government) supporters! I guess it must be a case of “birds of a feather flock together”!)
Curious, I asked why he wasn’t an Umno man. He laughed, saying, “Hmm… . Mahathir, ah! He is a leader! These people, er, no lah!” Why? “You know, we have to deduct taxes monthly for next year’s income! How?! Why like this? Whaaat, lah!”
His exasperation was tangible! I couldn’t go on with the conversation because I saw the attendants wheel my brother out of the operating room and I had to follow. But, it brought to mind another conversation I had when my brother was admitted. The cashier was getting the details about payments and I asked why they were being so finicky and she said: “The hospital wants to improve or, maybe, the government doesn’t have money!”
I laughed and teased, “Ya, the government doesn’t have money!” She laughed, nodding her head in agreement. “Ya, the government doesn’t have money!”
Quite apparently, the government is trying to collect money in every way it can — even collecting taxes before the income has come in! Which means, they really don’t have much to work with or they may have enough for the moment but they want to ensure the funds don’t dry up in the near future. Very efficient of the government! Yet, at every elections in the past under the current leadership, millions of ringgit were promised to the people and the BN won back some of the support it had lost. From where is the government getting the funds? It seems like giving with one hand and taking it back with the other!
Don’t we have the right to know if the government has enough? If you were to ask the leaders, they will reply in government-speak: “Our fundamentals are strong. The people don’t have to worry about this! We’ll make good on our promises!”
Don’t the people have the right to know? The people who make these queries have been effectively silenced or keeping quiet for whatever reason. The government-controlled papers all paint a rosy picture. The PR is great but I think the people can still see through it.