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QUESTION TIME | BN and its component parties are fond of saying how much the rakyat should be grateful to them for achieving independence, forging harmony between the races, and fostering peace and economic development, amongst others.

They, especially Umno, even say that Malays are ungrateful if they do not support the ruling party which they claim has brought them immense development and progress over the years, much better than other Third World countries.

But they fail to realise that Malaysia was already relatively well-developed a long time ago with Malaysia and Singapore having the highest living standards in Asia after Japan, way back in the 70s. So, on a relative comparison with other countries which were not corrupt, Malaysia has actually declined.

Thus the ruling party and the opposition have to understand what is it that the rakyat - the majority of the people whose income makes it difficult for them to enjoy decent standards of living - really want from the government. It’s not very difficult, you just have to stop and think.

Apa lagi rakyat mahu? What more do the people want? That question implies they already have a lot and want more. But that’s not true, they don’t have enough. What they want are the basics first from which all else follows. Here are 10 - there are more of course, but these provide a flavour.

At the end of each item, I am going to rate the government between 0 and 10 - 0 for worst and 10 for best and then total them all up for an overall score out of 100. You can rate them too and get your own score. Anything less than 50 is an emphatic failure.

1. A government that really works for the people. While there is much lip service about the welfare of the rakyat, politicians enrich themselves first. Look at how many ministers, chief ministers and others live way beyond their means - all of them claim to be great businessmen who amassed their wealth before joining the government.

The MACC has only to check the assets they have amassed and how they obtained them to put many of them behind bars. Umno is now filled with businessmen when they used to be full of teachers once. It looks like the government exists to enrich the few at the expense of the many.

Rating: 2 out of 10

2. A clean, corruption-free government. Do we have to go into details as far as this is concerned? The current government has brought corruption to new heights, introducing kleptocracy for the first time at the highest echelons.

It is now okay to dip your hand into the till, take away borrowed money and still be unaccountable in any way whatsoever. The public considers the police to be the most corrupt government body according to polls and the MACC, despite their recent activity, remains powerless to act against grand larceny.

Rating: 1

3. Adequate checks and balances. The checks and balances, so important to the functioning of a democratic society by holding the government and its leaders accountable through independent investigation, prosecution and judging, are now non-existent.

The legal and enforcement system has been systematically undermined since May 13, 1969, and especially from the time of Dr Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister to concentrate inordinate power in the hands of the government, much like our colonial masters did for centuries before that.

Instead, archaic laws are exploited and new ones introduced to control legitimate dissent, making Malaysia virtually a police state...

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