Thursday, 14 February 2008

The General Election

It is finally official. Parliament has been dissolved for the general election. In the weeks ahead, there will be intensive election campaigns, and candidates will be coming out in droves to persuade voters to cast their votes for their respective parties. They will be visiting housing estates, hospitals, kampongs, markets, pasar malams; they will be grinning from ear to ear, shaking hands and kissing babies. There will be free dinners where politicians will be sucking up to the people. Barisan component party members will be holding hands and hugging each other in a display of solidarity and camaraderie. Even before the announcement, the Barisan Nasional was already on a media blitz on the economic opportunities and the thousands of jobs that would be created from the launching of the various economic corridors stretching from the north of the peninsula to Sarawak. It has gone full swing handing out goodies in the form of allocations for development. Particularly evident were handouts to Chinese schools, Tamil schools and the poor. Even the Indian community has been assured that their temples would not be destroyed or relocated without first consulting the community. The police have uncharacteristically watched with a benign eye over the firing of deafening crackers by some die-hards this Chinese New Year. More goodies are expected in the coming weeks.

According to the Star survey, Malaysians will be concerned with bread and butter issues: rising food prices, possible petrol price hike, job security, unemployment, high crime rate, the more than two million immigrant workers, and restrictions on higher educational opportunities.

The ensuing weeks will make clearer the Barisan Nasional's manifesto. The rakyat will be watching how it is going to solve these challenging issues.

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