It is no coincidence that Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Noh Omar ruled to cut off all BP.1 development projects in non-BN constituency barely three months after Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan proposed to grab Pakatan Harapan-held Penang as federal territory.
UMNO-Barisan Nasional under Najib Razak while preaching democracy, moderation and transformation, has been embarking on a sinister strategy to maintain power by undemocratic means.
Previously, Gerakan and MCA leaders assured the people that Ku Nan’s idea was just a wishful thinking and some of them even said it was an impossible suggestion.
I have warned that Gerakan and MCA were still day-dreaming themselves and that Ku Nan’s plan should not be taken lightly at all.
With this latest move by Noh Omar, it is proven that UMNO at the federal level is committed to using undemocratic means to grab power.
This means, either Gerakan and MCA are still sleeping or they are accomplices to UMNO by trying to give false assurance to the people on this sinister plot.
Starving state government is as good as undemocratic power grab
The Noh Omar’s ruling however is not a new tactic.
For years, BN component parties including Gerakan, MCA, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu in Sarawak and UMNO in Sabah were in cohort with Najib Razak to quietly starve state governments into submission.
I have pointed out in parliament during the 2017 Budget debate last year that although Penang consistently contributed 30% to our national trade balance every year from 2008-2015, our state only received an average of 0.07% from the federal budget annually.
According to statistics, in 2013, the two Pakatan Harapan states, Penang and Selangor paid the most tax per capita (both direct and indirect taxes) compared to other states in Malaysia.
However, in the same year, Penang only received 0.07% and Selangor 0.31% of the federal budget from Putrajaya.
As it is, the federal government is already starving state governments. Now with the new Noh Omar’s ruling, the noose is tightened.
Clearly, starving the state government is as good as grabbing state power. This tactic prevents state governments from fulfilling its democratic duties to the people in the state, and instead have to submit to their UMNO federal overlords.
As such, I want to repeat, the next election is a crucial referendum on whether Penangites and Malaysians in general agree to UMNO-BN’s power grab and bullying of state governments. A vote for BN is a vote for undemocratic power grab.
Steven Sim Chee Keong
MP for Bukit Mertajam
Director, Penang Institute
– MAIL BAG