Friday 19 October 2012

Soi Lek risks votes with audit report gaffe

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 — Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek displayed ignorance and insulted the intelligence of Malaysians when he said the Auditor-General’s Report would not affect Barisan Nasional’s (BN) electoral support, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers have charged.

The lawmakers said Dr Chua was underestimating today’s electorate and reminded the MCA president that the BN-led administration no longer has a monopoly on the dissemination of information to the masses.

On the flip side, they agreed that Dr Chua’s assertion would only serve the opposition well in the coming polls as if all BN leaders were of the same thinking, it was clear that they have failed to take cognisance of their past failures.

DAP publicity secretary Tony Pua reminded Dr Chua (picture) of the Election 2008 results, where BN and particularly the MCA had suffered its worst electoral losses to date, even losing five states and its coveted two-thirds parliamentary majority to PR.

“The times have changed,” the Petaling Jaya Utara MP told Dr Chua. “The MSM (mainstream media) no longer has a monopoly over information, and the reported abuses tabled by the A-G can easily and quickly reach the ears of the voters... sentiments change quickly as witnessed in 2008.

“Hence the fact that CSL (Soi Lek) can still think that the AG report is trivial and a mere temporary distraction only proves that MCA has elected for themselves a leader who is trapped in the past, and a complete inability to connect and relate to the voters of today,” he told The Malaysian Insider over Blackberry Messenger.

Echoing Pua, PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar said Dr Chua had insulted the intelligence of electorate today, whom he described as “knowledge voters”.

He asked the MCA president if his remarks meant that he regarded voters as careless in their evaluation of the country’s leadership and lacking in the ability to judge the government based on its performance as highlighted in the Auditor-General’s Report.

“Does he believe that the rakyat are saying — it’s okay, if the government wants to mismanage, they can go ahead, if they want to grab riches for themselves, they can go ahead?

“It is as if he thinks the rakyat have no ability whatsoever to think for themselves... he forgets that today’s voters are ‘knowledge voters’. They are more educated and they have more access to information from around the world,” he said.

Instead, the Pokok Sena MP said he believed that support for BN would only further decline if the number of abuses highlighted in the report increased.

He said Malaysians would be able to judge fairly for themselves if they felt the government had spent prudently and if the country was managed responsibly.

PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar, however, said that this would also depend on how far the information in the Auditor-General’s report was disseminated among the masses.

She told The Malaysian Insider that PR was determined to spread the information on the ground to ensure that voters are well aware of the many discrepancies highlighted in the Auditor-General’s Report, particularly on the government’s penchant for awarding lucrative contracts to crony firms via direct tender.

“I will be having a big dialogue with voters in my constituency. Why? Because I think it matters to voters.
“If you keep harping about transformation, but yet the MCA president himself thinks this is a small matter, then I think we should make sure the voters know,” she said.

“I do believe the report will impact voters but provided the information goes to the ground.”

The Lembah Pantai MP added that Dr Chua’s remarks were “shocking” and reflected the “sheer arrogance”
of other BN leaders in thinking that voters would not care about how the public funds are managed.

“At the bare minimum, Dr Chua should try to act as if these wastages are of concern to the MCA,” she pointed out.

The PR leaders were commenting on Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat’s rebuttal to Dr Chua’s claim earlier this week that the Auditor-General’s Report would not affect BN’s support in the coming polls.

Ong, who was Dr Chua’s predecessor in the party, had taken to Twitter to attack his political foe, writing: “Why must Auditor’s report b mocked as cloutless in affecting GE outcome?

“50 yrs ago it might hv no impact doesn’t mean it’s d same now.”

On Tuesday, Dr Chua had sought to play down the Auditor-General’s Report, saying if it had any effect then the BN government would fall every year.

The MCA president had said that PR would certainly exploit reports of mismanagement, but he argues that the BN federal government would not be judged solely on the issue of poor management.

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