ALOR SETAR – Five years have passed since Barisan Nasional (BN) regained Kedah in 2013 after a one-term PAS era and BN has proven to the people of the state that they were not wrong in making the choice.
Kedah, in the hands of Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah, who took over the post from Datuk Seri Mukhriz Tun Dr Mahathir on Feb 3, 2016, had undergone tremendous development during the period.
Plans were made for the people of Kedah and all of them had been implemented to alleviate the burden of the people including projects the people had never even thought of.
Among the pledges made by BN leaders including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak if the people continued to vote for BN in the GE14 was to turn Bukit Kayu Hitam into a duty-free zone with investments amounting to RM13 billion.
Thereafter, 30,000 new job opportunities would be created to boost the area while the Sultan Abdul Halim Airport here would be upgraded into an international airport to lure more investors to the state.
Envious of BN’s success, the opposition was seen to be very determined to take back Kedah, especially PAS and Pakatan Harapan, who tirelessly instigated the people purportedly that they were the true champions.
In a number of meetings with the the people previously, Ahmad Bashah had often reminded them not to make the mistake of gambling away their future as it would invite dire consequences.
“Do not be duped for the second time … the people of Kedah should remember the past mistake because they do not benefit us and for the sake of the future of our children and grandchildren,” he said during an event which was also attended by the prime minister in Sungai Petani recently.
He said all plans for the progress of the people and Kedah would cease and the state would regress without enjoying any development if the people rejected BN.
He said the state government under his leadership had made all efforts to develop the state with the continuous support of the federal government.
Among the efforts of the state government was giving free water which benefited some 38 per cent or 221,000 domestic Kedah consumers who each used less than 20 cubic metres of water a month since January this year.
It meant that the state government had to bear the consumption of domestic consumers with monthly bills not exceeding RM10, estimated at RM1.5 million a month or RM18 million a year.
On top of that, the Kedah People’s Aid Scheme (Barakah) was also rolled out to help various groups including students and the poor.
Ahmad Bashah vehemently denied the scheme was a ‘sweetener’ for the people as it was a comprehensive effort by various government agencies to help the less fortunate.
It was a form of assistance that was implemented without having to wait for the general election season or aimed at countering the opposition after their leaders visited an area.
The same intention was also expressed by the prime minister who met the people and told them to continue with BN to develop the state which carried out many agriculture-based economic activities. He said the people would be hearing more good news if a big mandate was given to BN in the GE14.
Political analyst Dr Kamarul Zaman Yusoff said what the state government was doing was at its best and the people seemed to be accepting it.
“A very good example of the aid by the state government …was the Barakah scheme that Kedah had implemented. This scheme can ease the financial burden (of the needy) and it is so comprehensive as all the groups enjoy it, ” said Kamarul Zaman, who is the director of the Malaysian Institute of Political Analysis (Mapan) at Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM).
Barakah, which was launched two months after Ahmad Bashah became the Menteri Besar, coordinated the contributions and assistance of the Kedah people and channeled them to the target groups through five components – ‘Barakah Insan’, ‘Barakah Masyarakat’, ‘Barakah Usahaniaga’, ‘Barakah Anak Muda’, ‘Barakah Pendidikan and Modal Insan’.
Kamarul Zaman also hoped the state government could increase the number of meetings with young people, who could decide the victory of any political party, to clarify the UMNO/BN struggle and to champion them.
“For example, the aspiration to make Bukit Kayu Hitam a duty-free zone is a good step when more employment opportunities will assist these young people. Support those who have serve us all these while and not those who want to stir up unrest every five years, ” he said. – BERNAMA