By Athi Shankar - Free Malaysia Today
GEORGE TOWN: A Penang-based NGO criticised the state government for embarking on populist schemes rather than implementing constructive policies for the people.
The Marginalised People’s Action Group committee member Md Salleh Yahaya accused the state government of being a Pakatan Rakyat administration without a people’s agenda.
“The Pakatan Rakyat state government is keen to score political points through populist schemes and politicking with BN.
"It seems not to be interested in carrying people-orientated programmes, especially for the marginalised communities,” alleged Md Salleh.
Md Salleh, who is also president of the Kampung Melayu Tanjung Tokong Residents Association, said the RM100 handout to senior citizens and setting up of a Public Speaker’s Square in Esplanade were examples of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's populist schemes.
Md Salleh alleged that Lim’s administration had thus far not implemented substantial and constructive policies to upgrade the standard of living of Penangites.
He said that the government could have focused on developing housing schemes for marginalised communities, especially Malays and Indians from the lower income bracket and should have implemented a better, reliable, efficient and affordable public transport system.
The government should have also upgraded public amenities and facilities, and infrastructure, and created more job and business opportunities.
Instead, said Md Salleh, it had been keen to approve high-rise apartments and condominiums and commercial projects, which would only benefit a few rich elite and their foreign workers.
'Penangites voted for change'
“Why do we need so much posh projects in Penang, like the proposed international convention centre. Such projects don’t benefit ordinary people,” said Md Salleh.
He said when Penangites voted for a change in the 2008 general election, they wanted a change in political approach, policies and attitude.
However, he lamented that two years on, Penangites see no difference between the current Pakatan government and the previous BN administration.
“Penangites wanted a change from a pro-corporate concept to a pro-people approach. But we have yet to see it,” said Md Salleh.
He said the flattening of Indian traditional village, Kampung Buah Pala, and the imminent demolishment of Tanjung Tokong Malay village as examples of Lim’s pro-corporate approach.
He said both cases demonstrated the state government’s incompetence in safeguarding the people’s rights, interests and benefits.
“Until today, the state government had failed to initiate constructive steps to resolve both issues amicably,” said Md Salleh.
He said he was disappointed with the performance of both Pakatan and BN representatives at the recently concluded assembly sitting.
He chided them for wasting public resources by engaging frequently in politicking rather than raising and debating issues affecting the people.
“It was a shame that both political sides regularly traded political jibes and even racial slurs that did not benefit the people at all,” said Md Salleh.