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  • I understand that politics is something very realistic. But if we only go after electoral gains without the slightest aspiration, we can't take the country much further from here. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily

It is within everyone's anticipation that goodies would continue to be distributed in the 2016 Budget, and perhaps the only difference is the degree of generosity.

With the global economy now moving into the slow lane and commodity prices sliding further, there is not much the government can actually dispense this time. As the government is watching tight over its deficit-slashing goal, the handout has to be more modest next year.

Lower-income individuals and East Malaysians are the ones benefiting most from the Budget, election factor largely taken into consideration. DPM Ahmad Zahid has openly admitted that the Budget has indeed set its sights on the upcoming Sarawak state elections slated for early next year.

Because of this, the middle class will continue to be sidelined, counting their blessings to have managed only a speck of tax rebates.The government is well aware that this group of people will never become their die-hard supporters and they will very likely cast their votes again in favor of the opposition. Moreover, the same group of people have no better things to do than getting themselves so much obsessed with democracy, human rights and clean governance, among many other annoying issues. Handing out candies will not remarkably change the way their vote. So, a wiser thing to do is to centralize all the ammunition and take care of only people who are more likely to reciprocate the government's goodwill.

The two East Malaysian states have always been BN's solid vote bank with 47 members of Parliament forming an indispensable pillar for the continued survival of the BN administration. The federal government has in recent years been dumping enormous resources into the two states across the South China Sea with good reasons. And with the Sarawak state elections just around the corner, it couldn't have been a better time now to protrude the government's unreserved generosity.

As for the lower income group, meeting their day-to-day needs has been the most vital issue. So long as those in power can continue to lessen their burden, winning over their favor in an election is beyond doubt.

The economic development in East Malaysia has been largely overlooked for decades and the low-income residents there have in particular felt the pinch. Indeed the government should show a little more care for them, but not with electoral ballots in mind.

In other words, government allocations must never be made with election as primary consideration. I might sound a bit idealistic, but isn't it a tragedy if all that we have in politics is nothing more than interests and reality?

While political parties can most definitely go after the treasured votes, there are still other noble objectives we should look at. Politics is not all about near-term interests; we must look at the country's long-term healthy grow and the well-being of the entire society as well.

I understand that politics is something very realistic. But if we only go after electoral gains without the slightest aspiration, we can't take the country much further from here.

 

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