KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 – It might not seem much, but Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali broke new ground today when he proposed a RM200,000 allocation each for people-friendly programmes in opposition-held seats in the country’s wealthiest state. His own Pakatan Rakyat (PR) assemblymen will each get RM700,000 for similar activities under the Program Mesra Rakyat as part of the move to improve local representative services to the people.
“I hope the federal government will get a clear message from Penang and Selangor that we respect the role of opposition members in the assemblies. They should reciprocate and respect the roles of MPs at the federal level,” Azmin said after tabling the state’s Budget 2015 proposals today. Aside from Selangor, Penang also provides allocations of RM40,000 to each of its opposition members for small-scale development projects.
It really is not the amount that matters. It is the fact that a government realises that even their political foes represent the people and public funds are for all and not just for those who vote in the government. For too long, Malaysians have been used to seeing a federal government that only allocates funds for its MPs while others get help through a “federal office”.
And public projects using public funds are labelled as a Barisan Nasional (BN) project – considering the fact that it is the only government known to most Malaysians throughout their lives since Merdeka. What does it say then that in the past two elections, more Malaysians rejected the BN candidate in favour of a PR candidate despite the plethora of BN projects from roads to hospitals to schools and other infrastructure.
What does it say then that it BN appears to punish those who vote in their foes while politicians such as Azmin and Lim Guan Eng have taken the high road and provide some funds for their respective state’s opposition BN lawmakers? New politics? Populism? Or really, a government that realises the people should not suffer for the choice they have made. That the electorate will evaluate politicians by how sincere they are through the years rather than just during election campaigns.
What Azmin is doing for his Budget 2015 proposals for Selangor – be it a car for the state opposition leader and the proposed allocations for all lawmakers – is a step that must be praised. The election campaign is over and he has whatever remains of PR’s mandate to run the state and provide for the people of Selangor, no matter whether they are PR or BN supporters.
Because, his government is a government of the people, by the people and for the people of Selangor. And all the funds he allocates are public funds, and not his government’s money. Putrajaya can learn something from Azmin and Lim, that it takes more than just slapping a label on a project to remind people which government is doing the job or that they should be grateful for the project. Fact is, it is the government that should be grateful itis elected to run a state or a country, and not the people. Kudos to Azmin, for showing that politics is not a zero sum game and that peoples’ interests always come first.