RM125 mil election goodies for Chinese, Indian votes

Kuek Ser Kuang Keng | Feb 18, 08

Chinese and Indian voters are proving to be a cause for concern for the Barisan Nasional (BN) and in an attempt to win them over, the ruling coalition is being extra generous.
Election goodies worth more than RM100 million have been promised for both the communities in the past few weeks.
barisan nasional victory02Malaysiakini calculated the ‘promises’ which appeared in the media from end of December to Feb 14 and the tally stands at a whopping RM125,580,000.
The non-monetary goodies include land leases and the approval to construct and relocate Chinese schools.
BN luminaries like Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and MCA president Ong Ka Ting have suddenly become the ‘Gods of Fortune’.
The granting of RM20 million for Chinese schools, the building of 19 new Chinese schools and the relocation of another three and the granting of 7,167 hectares of farmland with a 30-year lease to Perak farmers saw Ong grabbing the headlines in Chinese dailies during the Chinese New Year celebrations.
For the Indian community
hindraf british petition rally 251107 malaysian flagsOn the other hand, Indian Malaysians were also showered with sweeteners in the aftermath of the demonstration held by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) on Nov 25.
Thaipusam is now a public holiday for Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya while the Education Ministry allocated RM20 million for Tamil schools and the Health Ministry recognised the medical degree offered by MIC’s Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST).
major election goodies 180208Although the goodies are lesser than what has been extended to the Chinese community, it is still considered as having ‘gained some face’ for MIC president S Samy Vellu.
Najib’s public apology for the demolition of a Hindu temple was also considered a major plus point.
PM apologises for delay
Meanwhile, another BN component party – Gerakan also received some goodies. The Gerakan-sponsored Wawasan Open University College was allocated RM20 million by Abdullah last month.
The premier’s apology for the delay in the completion of three major infrastructure projects – second Penang bridge, LRT and the Penang Global City Centre (PGCC) – is being read as an attempt to defend the Gerakan-led Penang state government from attacks by DAP and PKR.
As for the Chinese voters, the allocations are concentrated in education and in ‘gray areas’ as far as MCA is concerned.
BN leaders are also focussing on Chinese associations. Menteris besar and chief ministers of all states are allocating funds to these associations.
The Ministry of Culture and Arts and Heritage allocated RM500,000 for the maintenance of the both Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall and St George Church in Penang respectively.
Whether the ‘money’ approach will be able to ‘buy back’ the votes remains to be seen. But in the next few weeks until polling day on March 8, voters can expect even more goodies from BN.