(Malaysian Digest) - If there was a state that BN wants to recapture most and have the best chance of doing it it would be Selangor. Not only is Selangor the richest and most industrialized state, PKR which currently rules it has prevalent weaknesses and BN have wasted no time to capitalize on this.
It was only early this month when Khaled Nordin ordered a PTPTN (National Higher Education Fund Corporation) loan freeze on new students in Universiti Selangor (Unisel). Expectedly, the controversial move by the Higher Education Minister didn’t fly well with not only the Opposition, but also his BN colleagues in MCA, MIC as well as Umno itself, namely its Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and deputy education minister Saifuddin Abdullah.
Fortunately for the Unisel students and their parents, the Ministry lifted the PTPTN loan freeze not long after it tried to prove a point to their political rivals at the expense of the families of these Unisel students.
The damage was done but later rectified. And it looks like Barisan Nasional (BN) is doing even more to reassure the people of Selangor that the party is serious about taking care of the wellbeing of the people in the state. Yesterday itself prime minister Najib Razak launched yet another initiative to relieve parents of the financial burden in providing their kids with sufficient education. With the approval of a RM2 million allocation to implement the interactive 1Malaysia People's Tuition program (iTR1M), the federal government will provide free tuition to 10,000 students in Selangor who will be sitting for public examinations this year.
Implemented by the Malaysian Teachers Foundation Berhad (YGBM), its chairman Alimuddin Mohd Dom said the pioneer project would benefit poor students who could not afford to attend private tuition classes but would be sitting for this year’s UPSR, PMR and SPM examinations. Alimuddin said the program, which started on June 18 and will end in October, was implemented in 107 schools, namely, 30 secondary schools and 77 primary schools in Selangor.
The iTR1M program would definitely benefit the underprivileged students in the state but it is also a strategic move by the Najib administration that would create a win-win situation for BN. As mentioned earlier, on top of the iTR1M being a ‘damage control’ campaign for the earlier ‘gaffe’ by the higher education ministry, the introduction of program would also show to the Selangoreans that BN cares about them.
iTR1M is not the only handouts targeted for the Selangor voters. Last weekend Najib dished out a RM520 tire subsidy voucher for two years for taxi drivers to help ease their burden. The announcement, which is part of the Teksi Rakyat 1Malaysia (TR1Ma) program, is expected to benefit 67,000 taxi drivers nationwide. The aid totaling RM34.84mil a year will be funded by Yayasan 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). So what has taxi drivers have to do with BN recapturing Selangor? Well, apparently, Selangor has the highest number of taxis. According to a Ministry of Finance report in 2010, Selangor has the highest numbers of taxis (86,278) followed by Kuala Lumpur (61,022) and Johor (45,186).
On top of the tire subsidy, Najib have also announced that he intends to get rid of the taxi hire-purchase system by providing taxi drivers with individual taxi permits. He said the permits would soon be issued to individuals, ending the practice of issuing permits to Malaysian taxi companies, to safeguard the interests of cab drivers.
If there was a state that BN wants to recapture most and have the best chance of doing it it would be Selangor. Not only is Selangor the richest and most industrialized state, PKR which currently rules it has prevalent weaknesses and BN have wasted no time to capitalize on this.
The latest issue being played up would be the recent abuse of power allegation leveled against Selangor Mentri Besar’s political secretary Faekah Husin who had reportedly issued a letter of support to a company that applied for a state government contract.
Selangor Umno Youth chief Ungku Md Salleh Ungku Abd Jamal had already lodged a police report against her. According to news reports, Fakeah had allegedly used a letterhead of the Mentri Besar's office to support the law firm, where her nephew is said to have a stake.
Faekah had allegedly written in her letter, dated Aug 10, 2011: “The administration is of the view that (the law firm) should be given a chance, as long as it does not contravene any company regulations.”
Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim actually came to his political secretary’s defence, saying that it was not wrong for government officials to forward letters of support to any state GLC. Khalid said, however, that it was wrong to recommend or instruct a GLC to make appointments.
There are also ongoing rumors about a rift between Khalid and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali and this was further accentuated by the recent resignation of the party’s director of strategy Rafizi Ramli as CEO of the Selangor economic advisory office. Khalid has refuted the rumors, saying that Rafizi, who is said to be on Azmin’s team, wanted to focus on becoming an MP. He added that Rafizi’s dissociation from the state administration would allow him to comment independently on the efforts by the Selangor government.
Najib has been stepping up his game lately as the deadline to the big 13th General Election nears with the series of pre-election handouts bestowed upon the rakyat recently. And, so far, despite the PTPTN freeze stunt, BN seems to have the upper hand in Selangor though this is mainly because they hold the power to decide when on the date of the election.