But Najib's house is not built on solid foundation because he has cut enough corners to bring down the house
The following quote about nation-building was made by Prime minister Najib Abdul Razak when he addressed an audience at the Buddhist Maha Vihara temple in Brickfields last year. He said, “It is important for us to build this nation. To build a house for example, it takes floor by floor, to recover and learn by mistakes. We need to look forward, to reconcile…that’s the concept which Malaysians need to be reminded of”.
Wise words; but he neglected to mention that a house needs to be built on firm ground and that the whole structure requires a solid foundation. Despite the countless mistakes of his administration, few lessons have been learnt.
What we know is that the BN administration is one of waste and excess. Seri Perdana, the official residence of the Malaysian Prime minister, is situated in Precinct 10 of Putrajaya. In 2005, Minister in the PM’s Department, Nazri Aziz told parliament that “…..the original cost of constructing the official residence of the prime minister, with regards specially to the private residential block where he and the family resides amounts to RM24.17 million….”.
Nazri said that maintenance costs for Seri Perdana were RM2.9 million a year, but that in 2005, a further RM15.81 million had to be spent on renovations. In total, the cost was a staggering RM42.88 million.
Today, the rakyat complain that house prices are exorbitant and few young adults can get onto the property ladder. Have the annual maintenance costs for Seri Perdana and other ministerial residences spiralled? At a time when the nation’s debt and budget deficit is increasing, several hundred low-cost housing units could have been built with the money used to renovate Seri Perdana.
In the rural areas, traditional homes are being abandoned as children move into the towns and cities in search of work. Some kampungs are littered with empty homes as the government has not created enough jobs, good schools, or improved the infrastructure, to enable families to remain in the kampungs. A way of life, where community-spirit and the family unit are central, is lost, all in the name of industrialisation.
In the towns, some elderly people struggle to make ends meet. Whilst Najib has millions at his disposal for renovations and maintenance, many old people are forced to live in leaking buildings because they cannot afford the high costs of the repairs to their homes.
The whole nation would like to move forward but Umno and its policies are holding the country back. Whenever Najib or Umno, feel that their powers are being usurped, or their authority is waning, they wheel out the same old bogeymen; the spectre of May-13, the threat of foreign powers and communist infiltrators.
We need not exaggerate the manner in which Najib and his party have used race, religion, royalty and the ‘rural divide’ to exploit our insecurities. In the late 40s and 50s, the Malayan communities were united against colonial rule, and our solidarity culminated in Independence in 1957. Today, the bonding is weakened.
Former PM Mahathir Mohamad tore up our social foundations, and created divisions in our society which under his tenure, grew deeper. Successive prime ministers exacerbated the situation.
Under Mahathir, respected institutions like the police, the judiciary and the civil service were corrupted. Educational establishments and even the family planning unit (alleges one former medical practitioner), languished. In order to capture the Malay votes, Islam and ‘Malay-ness’ became important bargaining chips. With pressures on the system, traits like transparency, accountability and responsibility were compromised.
Former PM Abdullah Badawi made promises he could never keep, whilst Najib has put the country into self-destruct mode, spending money which the country can ill-afford.
To complicate matters, Najib has forced the nation to be willing participants in his wholesale corruption of the rakyat. He has without shame, openly offered cash handouts to buy our votes. In any civilised country, he would have been hounded out of office with the chorus of criticisms echoed by his own party; but not in Malaysia. BN politicians are all in the same boat – the corrupted and corruptible, so their silence is guaranteed.
Four years ago, Najib gave his most slick political performance when a series of defections by PR assemblymen effectively handed him the state of Perak on a silver platter. Perakians had given PR the mandate to rule the state, in GE-12, albeit by a slim margin, but the betrayals, ten months later, changed everything.
It never occurred to Najib to act as a responsible leader. Uppermost in his mind, was the need to remain in power and more importantly, he was prepared to retain power by any means.
Instead of acting in the interests of the nation, Najib indulged in self-aggrandisement. So, with the collusion of a few key characters, he wrested control from the PR government.
On 6 February 2009, there were scenes of confusion outside the palace in Kuala Kangsar when ordinary people tried to prevent the motorcade carrying the regent to the palace for the swearing in of the Umno MB designate, Zambry Abdul Kadir.
These protestors were not hardened activists or known trouble-makers, but members of the rakyat who felt cheated by Najib. They wanted to make their feelings known.
Today, the anguish may be temporarily shelved but the mental (and for some, physical) scars remain to remind us of that terrible incident in 2009.
Najib’s actions fly in the face of his house building analogy. We need someone to restructure our economy, and a strong leader to lead from the front; not someone who grabs power through the back-door or someone who doles out loose change from the taxpayers’ wallet and calls it ‘a benefit for all Malaysians’.
If as Najib says, a nation must be built like a house, the shoddy workmanship seen in Putra Jaya and the Terengganu stadium does not bode well. Perhaps, Najib the nation builder, has built a house of cards.