Below is a very interesting news story on the promises of elections. If I were a kid in Trengganu, I'd be thrilled to be given a laptop. I cam play video games, chat, do Instant Messaging, get online and talk to strangers the world over, set up a blog, or access appropriate and inappropriate online materials. I can do a lot of things --- much more than the learning softwares my teachers can write or provide in school.
But in years to come, will my children and I be tied ideologically to the "giver" who will continue to give more and expensive gifts only when election comes? Instead of being given RM 1000-2000 cash as a child, I now have a laptop. That's cool. That's really cool. I'd vote for any party then that will give me ... (who knows later,) other techno goodies, or even large screen TVs with free 100 Astro Channels or even a Kawasaki Ninja so that I may roam the streets of Kuala Trengganu at night and skip school daily.
But what's the use of hardware and software without a critical mindware installed in my brain. Will I be an 'educated person able to differentiate between right and wrong' and resist the temptation of being corrupt or being corrupted'? Will I be a good citizen of a just state or merely a good follower and a receiver of election goodies in a state run by gift-givers? I do not know. What I know is that I will keep getting nice things from a state that is rich in oil money.
What's the point of taking gifts in exchange for votes for the giver when the rich are getting richer and the poor gets a new roof every five years. Is this what we called "meaningful development"? Or a new development in the meaning of "corruption"?
Now I am wondering what I will be given in this General Election -- in a country that speaks of Civilizational Islam and Meaningful Progress.
Ah... keep giving us bread and circuses, so that we may know what "democracy" means...
ZUBAIDAH ABU BAKAR, New Straits Times
KERAJAAN Cakna Rakyat or, loosely translated, a government that cares, is shaping up to be the Barisan Nasional's main campaign theme in Kuala Terengganu.
Driving around in the parliamentary constituency, the BN's blue-hued billboards, posters and banners are hard to miss.
People-friendly slogans accompany pictures of government leaders with the rakyat. At strategic locations are hoardings showing how much the state government has spent to build and repair houses for the hardcore poor.
There is also information on the number of impoverished homes whose rusting zinc roofs had been replaced, courtesy of the state.
Another eye-catching billboard reads: Kerajaan Cakna -- Harga Minyak Dah Turun (A caring government -- fuel prices are down).
It is obvious that the BN is banking on its track record, as a government capable of bringing meaningful development and helping the people, to retain the Kuala Terengganu seat on Jan 17.
BN leaders, especially Datuk Ahmad Said, the menteri besar and Terengganu BN chief, has been saying at many public events that development projects were aimed at sharing the state's wealth with the people, eradicating poverty, providing better education and creating economic opportunities.
He wants party workers in the constituency to help him persuade the 80,299 voters that they should return the BN for continuity.
"We want them to see what the BN government has done and can do for the people and the state."
Ahmad said this when explaining the rationale behind the many projects initiated by the government, for example in education, where it is committed to making all its citizens literate in information technology.
A programme to give laptop computers to 25,000 Year Five pupils has been well received.
Similarly, the promises to replace zinc roofs of houses of poor families and grant 4ha of land to anyone wanting to grow padi have also been popular.
The opposition, however, feels this BN strategy may backfire.
"The explanation of issues in these billboards and banners reflects that poverty remains and is an election issue," said Pas Youth chief Salahuddin Ayub.
Political scientist Mohammad Agus Yusoff of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia felt the retelling of BN's good works would not be of much use.
"Politics is always about hope and the hopes that BN offer are cliches."
Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir, the Pangkor assemblyman who is campaigning in Kuala Terengganu, does not agree.
He insisted that the billboards were an effective means of letting people know what the government had done for them.
"They are important tools to send messages across to the masses, especially on local issues which are the core of this campaign."
The state legislative assembly recently approved a RM1.8 billion budget for 2009, with RM230.9 million allocated for poverty eradication and RM149 million for educational programmes.
The menteri besar has given his assurance that the budget would be fully utilised despite the threat of recession, and this, according to local Umno leaders, speaks volumes for the BN's determination to meet the people's needs.