LAST_UPDATEThu, 21 Jun 2018 12pm

Why BN, You Asked? — Goh Wei Liang

MAY 4 — Yesterday I saw on Twitter a post that was retweeted by Marina Mahathir.

The tweet said “If u make below RM2000/month, you are poor. When you are poor, you will favor survival over growth. There are reasons why the incumbent government kept the poor ppl poor so that they are easy to be manipulated & won’t be able to see the bigger picture”

Would you like to hear my story — as a Chinese about BN and Datuk Seri Najib Razak?

My family used to be extremely poor. We rented a home. The only furniture we had that I could recall was a small study table and a bed for my mom and sis. My dad and I slept on a rattan mat.

Never once did I hear my parents complain. Not because we were brainwashed by BN but because we knew we had to work our ways out of hardship. How? If and only if there's growth and ample opportunities in the market.

I grew up in Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's era. Ask his press secretary about me. He knows me and my views on Tun. During Tun's days, our economy was growing with rapid modernisation and industrialisation, though we were at a low base. Numbers don't lie.

And my dad was fortunate and was able to climb a few ranks in his work place because of it. He worked in a factory. I am grateful for what he has done for me, I knew he didn't have an easy path.

Did BN make sure my family remain poor? Nope. The stability of our economy ensured growth, and the rest was up to us to decide what we want to do with ourselves, our ambition, our work. The same concept applies even if DAP was the government. You don't just magically have a comfortable life, not even DAP could do that.

Back then, my parents kept repeating to me I should study hard, I had to beat the quota system and be among the best of the Chinese. It was one of the most contentious topic among the non-Malays. But I don't blame the NEP, I don't blame Tun or anyone. I was a strong supporter of it. I understood why it was needed and I knew there will be a time when things will change.

I got my JPA scholarship during Pak Lah's era with my results. Got my job when Najib was PM. I served my scholarship bond in government. I didn't run away from my responsibility to the taxpayers who funded me.

I had the opportunity to work closely with agencies on economic planning and budget preparation. Never once did any of the top level meetings I attended, or the most hands-on meeting at the ground level that I joined, made any decision to ensure the poor remain poor.

As a Chinese, who often hear about the lack of opportunities in government and often discouraged by friends and family because of public perception, I was surprised at how things were different for me. I knew that “time” has come — change in the way things were done.

Let me tell you why. Never once in my career was I ever discriminated, not under Najib. I was evaluated professionally and given my promotions based on merit.

Look at the civil service today. You have

— Subromaniam as Director General of Customs

— Ranjit helming Securities Commission

— Yoges, Dr Chen, Jayasiri as secretary-general (CEO) of perhaps three of the most important ministries in government.

The list goes on. But you get my point — never once was race a consideration under Najib era.

Look at the policies today like BR1M. They are needs-based with no racial preference. If you are in the lower income groups, the government gives you direct cash as welfare assistance and also give you “tools” to have better income.

Which country in the world actually gives you up to RM30,000 as downpayment for your first home, if you are eligible and you need it? Everyone in Malaysia could have a chance at it — needs based.

Look at how scholarships and contracts are given today — merit based. Wasn't that what we wanted, especially us Chinese?

Sure, you can argue about MRT bumiputera contracts. But even that was carved out and Bumiputera contractors were told to compete for it.

Look at this programme called SL1M where graduates are retrained and placed in good firms with a good salary. That's a government initiative. I was told not many Chinese signed up for it and policy makers were surprised. I am not, to be honest.

It is quite sad when I still hear especially among the Chinese about how they shouldn't even bother applying for government assistance or sign up for programmes for fear of rejection due to our skin colour.

In this case, who is to be blamed? Najib? Or the people who perpetually spread this perception among the Chinese and systematically ensuring that the hate against the government continues?

Times have changed.

Have we not improved? We certainly have better quality of life today than our parents, our grandparents. Have I, the poor kampung boy been kept poor, stupid and fooled by the government? Never once.

Or have some of us been blind to the changes and gradual improvements over the years?

There are many reasons why in the last GE13 over five million people voted for BN. The people are not stupid. They don't just vote because of any free gifts or sweet promises. Everyone has a different level of needs, ambition and expectations.

And there will be many reasons why in this election, again, there will be millions who vote for BN. Each and everyone of us have reasons why, perhaps, with an untold story like mine.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

-Malay Mail