The dark side of election handouts

Opinion  |  Nathaniel Tan
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | Christmas is here, apparently. Caretaker prime minister Najib Abdul Razak gave out RM 800 fuel cards for cab drivers, caretaker Selangor menteri besar Mohamed Azmin Ali gave out almost RM1 million in ‘cheques’ and goodies, and in Johor, a royal sponsored RM3,000 shopping sprees; and nomination day isn’t even here yet.

This reminds me of a flight of fancy I once had: perhaps we should have a group of individuals running for election on a unique platform – that if anyone from this group wins, they promise to resign their seat at some point, forcing a by-election.

The appeal: we all know that by-elections come with rainfalls of goodies, just like the rainfalls we are seeing right now. Perhaps that’s the single best thing a representative can contribute.

It’s a silly half-joke of an idea, but it really is quite remarkable how big the election-gifting game is, on both sides of the divide.

I certainly don’t begrudge any beneficiaries of this phenomenon their benefits, but there’s no doubt that there is a dark side to all of this.

Violent mobs

In the fuel card giveaway, 30 people were injured as people mobbed the counters trying to claim their card.

“Following this, taxi drivers were seen yelling angry remarks at the police, Spad officials and Rela officers stationed there. An ambulance later arrived at the scene.

“Videos shot by those present showed senior citizens and women falling to the floor and on top of each other as the crowd scrambled for the fuel aid cards.”

How shameful.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the impromptu royally-sponsored shopping spree at Aeon Mall Tebrau City in Johor, a picture paints a thousand words.

The horrific mess of tens or hundreds of trolleys filled to the brim with now rotting food, melting ice cream and unidentifiable spilled liquids paint a sad metaphor for our nation.

Not long after, more than a thousand people swarmed Econsave at Pontian because of rumours that a similar giveaway would happen there.

Despite repeated announcements that no such thing would be happening, shoppers filled their trolleys to the brim once again, presumably creating...

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