Everyday, when I read the promises and pledges made by PM Abdullah in the newspapers, I feel a strong sense of sad d j B vu .
Of course, promises to build more hospitals, schools, bridges (even if there is no river where the promise is made) and community halls, or to give more licences, scholarships and land titles, are nothing new. There are still some gullible people who feel "grateful" and therefore vote for the ruling parties. However, many others feel it is their right as citizens and taxpayers to expect socio-economic development. Ruling politicians must not claim credit and ask for gratitude as if the money belongs to their private and personal purses.
What interests me more are the political promises and pledges.
Anti-corruption? More efficient and clean government? "Work with me not for me"? I am 100 percent sure I heard about these slogans clear and loud in the 1982 general election when Mahathir first sought people's mandate to be the new prime minister. Many people, including myself, trusted the promises and pledges made by the then new prime minister and his parties. The majority of us voted for Umno, MCA, Gerakan and MIC, etc.
What happened later? I don't think I need to recall in detail. The very fact that after 22 years of Mahathir's administration, there is still a great need for another new prime minister of the same coalition and power structure to repeat the anti-corruption and efficient government slogans speaks for itself.
There are some people who argue that we should give Abdullah a chance. But I ask, how many more 22-year terms can a person's life have to experience again another disastrous disappointment?
In 1982, I was just a 21-year-old first-time voter, and now I am 44. In 22 years time, I will be 66 if I live that long. Life is certainly too short for anyone of us to trust another round of BN sloganeering for another new prime minister.
I still remember just before the 1999 general election that Mahathir and Ong Ka Ting were quoted on the frontpages of all Chinese newspapers to the effect that BN and the cabinet had endorsed Suqiu's 17-point proposals. However, after the poll when BN won big with Chinese votes, Suqiu and all its supporters were publicly accused of being "communists" and "al-Ma'unah". What a con-job!
This round, my philosophy is very simple and pragmatic: I will leave behind to my children and grandchildren a democratic system where a strong opposition exists and operates to check and balance against the BN government. I think I am older but also wiser now.
Don't trust one man. Trust a good democratic system where there are checks and balances in the parliament and state assemblies.
My personal and most sincere advice to friends, neighbours, colleagues and all fellow Malaysians is also simple: don't experiment with BN's sloganeering for life is short, and we have seen enough how promises were made only to be broken without shame.