I am wondering if the Opposition parties have the people in their mind. Why? No, I am not a Barisan Nasional member and neither am I a great fan of Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi.
To be honest, when I read the points of the new Budget, I was surprised. Some quarters will claim that Pak Lah and the ruling coalition leaders are merely playing the populist budget card. Of course, the Opposition will attack Pak Lah and Barisan Nasional on that.
Is the budget really a populist one? Do not forget Pakatan Rakyat leaders are also riding on the people's agenda :
1. At least a 50 cents subsidy for petrol
We all can come to terms that agenda 2 and 3 are necessary. At this moment, the ACA people are doing a good job and they are placing undercover agents in corruption related sectors. I do not need to repeat myself again for the judiciary part as I have commented several times on the Lingam tape issue in the past.
If the budget is good for the people, why slam the Government? What is the purpose of the Opposition parties and the elected MPs? The MPs are elected as the people's representatives to take care of their welfare needs.
If the Government's budget is good for the people, why call the budget a populist one? Are the Opposition MPs not willing to see the people benefit? Opposition leaders used to shout aloud words like "rakyat hidup sengsara .... kalau kami jadi kerajaan esok, kami akan turunkan harga minyak".
Now, the Government announced a generous Budget 2009 that will see an improvement in public transportation, a lower tax bracket, a tax free interest earnings on individuals' savings, lower taxation on consumer durable goods and many more goodies. Perhaps the Opposition could have done better?
Nevertheless, the Opposition MPs should not slam the Government for saying it is a populist budget. If the Government are not generous and come up with a prudent and tight Budget, then I can assure you that the Opposition MPs will scream out loud with their microphones in the streets, in halls and to the media saying "Kerajaan tak prihatin terhadap kebajikan rakyat! Undilah Pakatan Rakyat!".
I remember Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim saying on TV during the debate with Datuk Shabery, "Tak bolehkah saya ambil keuntungan daripada Petronas untuk memberi subsidi minyak kepada rakyat?". Will Barisan Nasional leaders have the right to tell Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his fellow Pakatan Rakyat leaders, "Tak bolehkah saya ambil keuntungan daripada Petronas untuk memberi bantuan kebajikan kepada rakyat dan wang pembangunan kepada negara? Now, do not forget that TheStar had a front page article showing how Petronas' petrodollars are used to fund the machinery of Government every year.
I know a deficit budget is not that good. I also understand that Malaysia takes loans from foreign banks and other financial institutions. Different Economists have different stand on this. That is why we can see even rich and developed countries adopting deficit budgets. Deficit budgets are more evident in developing countries though. I shall leave the Economics part of budget aside as I am not an expert to discuss a deficit or a surplus budget.
Perhaps the Opposition members are merely doing their job in their capacity as the Opposition members of Malaysia. We cannot blame them much. If the Opposition do not oppose to almost everything the Government has to say, then the Opposition is really useless, right?
Yes I admit it seems clear that the budget is a move to reduce the people's support for Pakatan Rakyat and maintain the position of Barisan Nasional as the ruling party. Whatever it is, the main point is the rakyat. If the rakyat benefits from the Budget, why slam the budget as a populist budget?
If the Opposition MPs especially Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim believe they can produce a better budget, then I wish to see their version of Budget. I hope they do not contradict themselves in public and in Parliament because everyone is watching the Pakatan Rakyat leaders and whatever they say. They are after all the new "celebrities" of Malaysia.
I am sure the Opposition MPs can suggest to the EPU and the Prime Minister for amendments to the Budget that will benefit the people. The PM will listen to all ideas from all elected representatives.
May the rakyat and the country benefit from the politicians of our country !