How Rahman Dahlan makes enemies

Abdul Rahman Dahlan

Scott Ng, Free Malaysia Today

Rarely has a minister ever provoked as much public outrage as Abdul Rahman Dahlan has over the past few months. Since stepping up to join the Cabinet of Loyalists, Rahman has been busy defending the PM and his policies, stepping on every foot he comes across in the process, and infuriating the rakyat every step of the way.

But this time, Rahman may have pushed just a little bit too hard. In response to the negative public sentiment around the recent spate of price hikes, Rahman told Malaysians to move back to their kampungs, saying that as the Urban Wellbeing Minister, nothing would make him happier.

And that was the feather that broke the camel’s back. It was bad enough that just a few days before, Rahman had his Mary Antoinette moment when he told Malaysians angry with the massive toll hikes in major highways around the capital to wake up earlier to take toll-free routes and avoid jams.

Rahman has become a Twitter hashtag to rival #yorais (Rais Yatim), held up among netizens as an example of the PM’s “loyalty over intelligence” motto. After all, the reason many people work in the city is that they want to believe in the promise of a better life, a more fulfilling one. They do so because they have no choice, and to have that shoved back in their faces is stinging indeed.

What did Rahman expect? You go to school, you study hard, and then you find that only the city provides opportunities for you to practise your craft. What then do you do? It cannot be that Rahman expects these people to create industries from the ground up where there is no demand. Every person residing in KL or the towns surrounding it who came from Kelantan, Terengganu, Sabah, or any other state you care to name must have felt like Rahman slapped them in the face with that statement because, given the opportunity, they would be working near their homes.