Why should caring for the people be a “mission” only in the face of the general election?

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On Sunday, Melaka commemorated the Declaration of Melaka as Historical City, a recognition bestowed upon the then town of Melaka by Unesco in 2008.

Three days earlier, it was Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who turned up in Melaka, on Thursday, to unveil the Melaka BN manifesto for the coming 14th general election.

Themed ‘Creating Excellence Together’, the manifesto contains five thrusts which include caring for the people, preserving the environment, a prosperous economy, technology for all and a people-friendly administration.

Zahid, the BN deputy chaiperson, also cited a galore of offers for the people of Melaka including the upgrading of the Melaka Hospital, opening a National Heart Institute branch, flood mitigation projects, as well as deploying electric buses for public transport.

Other pledges include increasing the number of higher-learning education institutions, building more flyovers in the Lebuh Alor Gajah-Melaka Tengah-Jasin road, as well as extending the runway of Melaka International Airport in Batu Berendam.

The state will also benefit from the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail project, which will pass through Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Johor and Singapore.

Zahid announced too three additional initiatives, namely the Kuala Linggi coastal highway to link Tanah Klebang and Teluk Mas with the Banting-Taiping highway.

Still, it is puzzling that BN is using the flood mitigation projects to entice the people of Melaka to vote in its favour when efforts to contain floods in the state be the responsibility of the Irrigation and Drainage Department.

There is no denying the role of the ‘Creating Excellence Together’ manifesto as a propaganda tool to sway voters towards BN as all five thrusts outlined should be the state government’s commitment and not used as an election gimmick to impress the people of Melaka.

Why should caring for the people be a “mission” only in the face of the general election? Has the Idris Haron administration a confession to make?

Would the chief minister dare come clean on the fact that throughout his five-year leadership, he has never, despite being invited, shown any interest in setting foot at Melaka’s iconic Portuguese Settlement?

That Idris has no qualms travelling overseas to promote Malaysia to foreigners but has no desire to mingle with the Portuguese community back home sends a very disturbing message.

Is that how the chief minister defines a people-friendly administration, one which discriminates?

Manifesto, fake news?

As for preserving the environment, is that not among the objectives of ‘Don’t Mess with Melaka’, a campaign launched byIdris in 2014?

As for prosperous economy, that will only be possible if the state leadership is serious about tackling corruption and abuse of power.

Troubling indeed that Melaka’s manifesto makes no mention of weeding out corruption from the state given that in November 2016, two senior government officials from Melaka and Johor, both bearing ‘Datuk’ titles, were arrested for allegedly soliciting kickbacks in exchange for project approvals.

Idris himself came under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) radar after certain state government officials were probed by the graft buster agency.

In January this year, the MACC in a surprise visit confiscated documents from Idris’ office, the New Straits Times then reported. The chief minister was also questioned during the four hour long raid.

The MACC visit was prompted by last year’s arrest of a ‘Datuk’ senior government officer who among others had RM11 million in 22 of his bank accounts, all of which were subsequently frozen.

The MACC also arrested a contractor and froze another RM12 million in 24 bank accounts.

Good governance is not a “subsidiary” of an election. Rather, it is the government’s dedication in providing the best service possible to the people.

In this regard, Idris could have saved the state coffers millions if flopped projects like the Sungai Melaka tourist monorail were not revived after being suspended since 2013, that too at the whopping cost of some RM21 million.

The first phase of the system was built at a cost of RM15.9 million and covering 1.6 km from Taman Rempah in Pengkalan Rama to Hang Tuah Station at Kampung Bunga Raya Pantai, and was opened to the public on Oct 21, 2010. However, barely hours later, the system malfunctioned, leaving 20 passengers stranded inside.

The Melaka Historic City Council (MBMB) went on to spend RM8.7 million to revive and upgrade the service while the Tourism and Culture Ministry provided another RM13.2 million for the project.

Whilst a manifesto is simply a published verbal declaration of intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government, its success or failure often times goes unnoticed until and unless the nation is once again faced with a general election.

In Melaka’s case, the five thrusts under the ‘Creating Excellence Together’ manifesto reek of fake news, i.e. attempts to mislead the people of Melaka through inaccurate information.

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