Selangor : Livelihood the deciding factor in polls
BY BARADAN KUPPUSAMY
KUALA LUMPUR : With many voters in Selangor earning below RM3,000 a month, it is not the big issues of corruption, human rights or transparency that will determine the results of the coming elections but bread-and-butter issues.
IN the upcoming general election, the hot issue in Selangor is not who gets into Putrajaya but whether the Pakatan Rakyat coalition gets to keep the state – the richest state in the country they had unexpectedly won in 2008.
With a 2012 budget of nearly RM2bil and state reserves of RM1.9bil, Selangor is rich, prudently, if not dynamically, managed and, as they say, ripe for the picking.
But between the Pakatan and Barisan Nasional, which coalition has an edge in the fight?
Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is outspoken for a politician. Coming from the corporate world, the Mentri Besar also gives the impression that, rightly or wrongly, he is honest and resolute.
The Barisan on the other hand does not have a clear, overriding personality as an alternative leader to Khalid.
It has a state coordinator in Datuk Seri Mohd Zin Mohamed while former Selangor strongman Dr Mohamed Khir Toyo is fighting a corruption conviction and is effectively out of the political equation.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is the Selangor Barisan chairman and, together with deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, have been touring the state frequently, rallying supporters and vowing to win back the state.
Key issues in Selangor are connected to livelihood – garbage collection, floods and water. On just these issues, the Pakatan will live or fall, according to an independent political observer.
“How the state government does on this score will decide the outcome of the elections. It is not the big issues of corruption, human rights or transparency that will decide but the bread-and-butter issues.
“This is because a majority of voters earn below RM3,000 and have difficulties making ends meet,” he said.
For instance, the state government took over the work of solid waste management from Alam Flora Sdn Bhd in August last year to save RM100mil annually, but it is doing a haphazard job of it.
Residents frequently complain many solid waste contractors are incapable of handling the job they had been given. The Selangor government is also in a running dispute with the Federal Government over the state’s water supply.
The reservoirs are “dangerously empty” says the Federal Government, but the state government says they are “quite full”.
Floods are another worry for residents.
After the massive floods in Kajang in December last year and in Klang in March, thousands of residents were left washing out mud and debris from their homes. The state government, instead of cleaning the drains, blamed the floodgates and pointed the finger at the Federal Govern-ment for lack of funds.
Another factor worrying the state government is the 350,000 new voters – those who came of age and others who had not previously registered – in the electoral roll. This has pushed the number of voters in Selangor to nearly two million, an increase of about 22% since the last polls.
Wary of the new voters, the state government has formed a committee to check on constituencies that show a sharp voter increase. The Barisan, on the other hand, appears to be confident that with the new voters it will win back seats that it lost by slim majorities to the Pakatan.
Such seats include Kajang, Teluk Datuk, Sekinchan, Bukit Melawati, Cempaka, Hulu Kelang, Lembah Jaya and Kota Anggerik. Hoping the tide would turn in its favour, Pakatan is banking on a last-minute infusion of funds for its “social development projects” for which it had allocated RM300mil in the state’s 2012 budget.
Barisan claims the money is a questionable “war chest” but Pakatan says the projects have been budgeted for from profits made by state government-linked companies.
In the meantime, businessmen and entrepreneurs want Khalid to get investments and to keep the business cycle going. Since 2008, Selangor had seen little new investments, bringing into question the role of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the state’s economic adviser and his promise to attract new foreign investments.
In the midst of all this, a war of words has erupted between the Mentri Besar’s political secretary Faekah Husin and supporters of Khalid’s arch rival Azmin Ali, who is PKR deputy president. The feud is threatening to unravel Khalid’s careful plans to keep Selangor within the ambit of Pakatan.
In the end, the outcome of the elections will be decided by an alliance of rural Malays, Indians and orang asli who back the Barisan Nasional, and the urban Chinese and others who favour the Pakatan -The Star