As much as the current state government in Penang is understandably having to resolve a messy dilemma manufactured under the watch of the previous BN regime, and as much as I sympathise with the predicament that DAP-led state government has been put into by the previous BN regime, surely every reasonable Malaysian ought to appreciate the tragedy that has unfolded for these residents of Kg. Buah Pala.
And as my Auntie Maalini has rightly reminded me, perhaps it is worth remembering that there are far too many poor Malaysians – and to be quite candid about it, especially non-Malays - who know that they are not the ones who are typically prone to getting the attention of the government and receiving aid when they are in dire straits.
I’m sure there must been some deep apprehension among the residents that once displaced, they might well become part of the pool of discarded poor, non-privileged Malaysians who have never been the beneficiaries of special BN programmes that would afford them special housing loans, allowances, or low-cost housing. These residents must surely fear that unless they put up a fight, like countless other underprivileged Malaysians whose rights under the BN regime apparently don’t seem consequential, they too will fall through the cracks and become part of the statistic of poor Malaysians deemed unworthy of help.
And the proof is in the pudding. How often have we seen the pathetic MIC falling over itself trying to grab publicity about helping some destitute family or another once their plight is exposed? How often do we hear some high-and-mighty BN minister blabbering about the welfare of the poor? But alas, within days, as soon as the television cameras move on, all is forgotten. These afflicted poor – living in desperation - are left stranded and without options. Without real options, because the BN regime finds them unworthy to be provided with low-cost housing or some such programme, these residents - like other squatters who have been neglected for much too long - find themselves in a state of desperation.
Yes, maybe the MIC has a point – if only in trying to deflect blame from itself – that the BN has failed in its promises. But one has to wonder at the ineptness of these MIC politicians who – despite repeated failures and neglect by the Umno/BN regime – insist, nevertheless, on getting into bed with them.
I can clearly see Auntie Maalini’s point: the poor – like the residents of Buah Pala know - that once they’re browbeaten to give up what little they have, they can kiss goodbye to any chance of getting it back. But their response reflects what most poor people know about the way the BN regime does things.
Just maybe, Guan Eng’s government in Penang will show all Malaysians exactly how a just and morally responsible government should act in addressing the plight of the residents of Buah Pala - and the poor.