|Image that has gone viral|
Within the week the fuel rationalisation to raise petrol pump price by 20 sen was announced, two notable Tan Sris expressed an alarming opinion that the government could not be relied upon to help solve many of the nation and rakyats' woes and needs.
One is of the view that government is only there to serve only corporate interest and not "rakyat didahulukan" as per the campaign slogan for GE13. He went on to say that Dato Najib's political fate lies with the upcoming budget, which opposition has already tried to put down.
Wrong budget and it is the end of Najib and BN.
Both the Tan Sris seemed to share a common view that the government is under the power oligarchy of ruling elites, civil and Chinese taukeh which only serves the interest of business and corporate, including government and multinational corporation.
It must have took the two government loyalist Tan Sris long period of observation to come to that conclusion. The public sentiment arising from the pre-Eidil Adha fuel rationalisation announcement serve to confirm their view.
The perception problem is compounded by "Menteri-menteri bongok", as one Whats App received described, explaining fuel rationalisation and GST as good for government without showing sensitivity to the rakyat.
What they should have said
They should have explained that the fuel rationalisation is meant to stop foreigners and profit driven companies abused the subsidy meant for the rakyat.
In the days of old, government had to spend merely about RM2 billion a year on fuel subsidy but today it is RM23 billion a year. Much of it, circa RM9 billion is lost due to smugglingaactivities to foreigners clients.
But, do not give excuse like our coastline borders are too open to encroachment and smuggling activities, it only opens the ruling party to criticism of corruption when all along it is civil servants in customs, KPDNKK and others are the ones with their hands in the pie.
Admit that it had got out of hand. Do not deny and claim it is under control when public can see openly the smuggling activities. Then admit that the only choice left is to rid off the price differential.
However, the public must be assured to still receive subsidised fuel through a new scheme using Mykad, in which only citizens can have access to subsidised fuel. Foreigners living in this country or coming through the border cannot get subsided fuel.
Assure the public that the selection of the system to be used will be transparent and open public tender. There is no rent seeking arrangement of over-riding commission on fuel paid by the public to the system provider. Government must own the system, has the source code and operates it themselves.
Hopefully, the "Menteri-Menteri bongok" maintain the same price level because subsidy spent will be drastically reduced by a focused distribution.
That way the public support the government if they say no one should be profiteering from subsidised fuel for the people, which is basically government sharing nation's wealth with the people. Emphasise subsidy for business people to profit from will stop.
Quote the amount of subsidy used by private sector and foreign companies.
Subsidy to IPPs and indirectly Tan Sri Francis Yeoh's palace is heard to total RM19 billion and not added to the RM23 billion statistic bandied around. Since IPPs will affect energy prices, another inflation sensitive component, government has to think of a way to address it.
What they should not be saying
The problem started when Dato Wahid Omar was busily saying the mean monthly income is RM5,900 and it is now on the rise. Hooray ... high income model works, at least for the upper class!!!
It wasn't long ago that Wahid said to the effect that more than 70% of Malaysians are earning below RM3,000. Probably there is a factual correction needed but the gist is the two statistics are different economic indicators but government ended looking inconsistent.
Being seen as inconsistent will negate any facts or arguments presented.
One reason public got emotional about the fuel rationalisation is because the 20 sen increase was explained with the same recycled argument by "Menteri-Menteri bongok."
It shows grave insensitivity and poor understanding on the part of government on the plight of the common rakyat. Najib gets the blame as being too distanced from the rakyat plight. [Read this FB comment by Saiful Nang that has gone viral here]
They should not be repeating the same argument that our fuel is still cheaper compared to other countries, including poor Cambodia and the same old process of fuel pricing structure.
They should not insult the public intelligecet to say it is not fuel price increase but reduction in subsidy. The Minister may not be intelligent but he does have to show to the public.
Surely such cliche as "rakyat harus bersyukor" in the midst of public tsunami of anger is an act of stupidity at its extreme. Neither does it offer comfort to quote hadith on documented incidents of Prophet Muhammad being posed with the issue of rising prices.
Splashing out statistics and telling the government could re-channel the subsidy to government projects is also a no-no. It does not take opposition but rakyat at the warung could conclude that "Ha ... rakyat have to pay so that cronies get contracts."
True, we have to do things differently and the nation can go bankrupt as what Dato Idris Jala used to say. But what are our priorities?
Dato Idris Jala's economic planning Pemandu unit is preaching that but what his outfit is doing is merely is similar to Investment Banker rearranging corporate balance sheet. They are too gng ho without much thought to do balancing by boosting economic growth and consider it's drastic impact on the rakyat.
Nation building through the economy is about creating economic activities and new growth sectors, not just more infrastructure, construction and properties as what local businessmen and institutional investors are too engrossed in domestically and overseas.
It is about building industries, competencies, capability, jobs, knowledge, sustainability, continuity, entrepreneurship, and all for a long term social nation building agenda.
Instead every new Ministers and Prime Ministers, BN or PR are interested in building personal legacies. Their speech writers and press secretaries wrote glowing coffee table books which potrays their boss as another statesman.
Not only growth has been long foresaken and plight of the rakyat ignored for corporate interest these days, the elite economic planners at Pemandu with their expensively assembled foreign branded consultants are more interested in dreaming as being world players.
It reflects the unrealistic expectation of the urbane Kuala Lumpur.
Failure to understand
Many failed to realise that the public's seemingly unrealistic reaction to the fuel rationalisation is not about not appreciating the fact that our subsidy spending has grown too much.
It is not about them being too much of a masyarakat subsidi, although there is truth that the long years of pampering during the time of plenty has turned Malaysians into one. Malaysians complain a lot and over petty issues.
More so in these times when everyone are so partisan that quite a big segment are criticising for the sake of criticising because of their hate for Barisan Nasional or they refuse to rationalise and just want another government.
One misfortune of Malaysia is a large segment of Malaysian are too kiasu and selfish about themselves. Their understanding of patriotism tend to be self-centred.
Frankly, the 20 sen increase is not significant dent on their budget. There are more pressing and priorities issues such as rakyat's housing. So the real reason public is angry lies in their fear for uncontrolled rise in prices of other goods.
The public will not want to believe any denials or attempt to present statistics. They are more in tune than the Ministers. So it does not help when some chicken branded Minister say we are monitoring the situation.
The public knows the government cannot do anything. The economic oligarchy has dominated the distribution system that government sincere intention to help rakyat through such things as GST and price control will be sabotaged by them or lost in translation.
Najib is too high up in the social echelon to understand how rising prices is so uncontrollable.
One businessman confided that he is more careful with his budget these days. He reduced buying from three ikan merah to only one fish per week in his weekly trip to the wet market since the price rose from RM18 to RM28. It is pointless to tell them that CPI is few percentages only.
Most discouraging part is Najib may not realise that underlying the emotional reaction is the subliminal distrust in the ability of current government to administer and manage the country.
Najib may have done much effort but he is perceived as being dictated by what the people and advisers around him say and unable to check on them. They is a growing believe amongst the public that Najib is not in charge and has lost control of government because too many obvious problem, particular his appointments, seemed to pass him by.
It is maybe quite unfair since he is has already spread himself thin and saddled with too many issues to address which he could not rely upon to his team of Ministers to do.
Political observer see government failed to realise that BN is still not in a position of political strength to make drastic people sensitive decisions despite the upset at Telok Intan, wider majority in Pengkalan Kubor, Selangor state leadship and problems and within and among opposition parties.
All it takes is increasing fuel price, begin GST and the political focus and pressure returns back to BN.
If Budget failed to truly address problems in basic needs, UMNO and BN is finish.
* Edited 9:45 PM