Politicians are frequently accused of ‘vote buying’. Unfortunately, in Malaysia this is generally meant literally, given that actual cash is indeed shamefully handed out round the back of election booths and during other grubby transactions by politicians who conduct themselves as big time crooks.
Figuratively, on the other hand, the enticement of voters is the lifeblood of democracy, where policians rival each other to present policies and proposals that will make life better for voters – or make them wealthier – so that those voters switch to them.
In Sarawak, Pakatan Harapan has come up with a generous new deal that will enable the state to at last keep a chunk of its own money for much needed development (as long as Taib and BN crooks can be kept off it).
It is a shocking disgrace that those states which have provided the most easy wealth for the progress of Malaysia in terms of natural resources, such as oil and gas, have been the least to benefit. All that patrimony of the people has been sucked out – one would like to say for the advantage of ordinary Malaysians elsewhere, but mainly to enrich a crony political class.
So, now that Pakatan Harapan is offering Sawarak at least 20% of its own petroleum revenues and 50% of its own tax revenues, voters ought to understand a better deal when they see it.
Adenan wanted to offer these terms to his own people at the last election, however Najib refused to allow that to be added to the BN manifesto and there is no likelihood that Abang Jo will be allowed to offer it to the region that the present Putrajaya likes to treat as a colony, rather than with the equal status demanded under the formation of Malaysia.
Compare the worth of the two separate offerings by the political groupings. BN will be offering their usual envelope of RM10-50 or even 500, depending on how poor and easily bribed their various voters are, whereas Harapan is now offering billions that can be channelled into health, schools, water and electricity supplies, roads and old age support.
The joy is that the vote buying is illegal, so voters are perfectly entitled to consider the envelopes of cash as a gift and accept them as such, whilst legitimately voting for the massive cash injection into the state promised by Pakatan Harapan.