Monday, November 20, 2006

UMNO Hypocrisy

I wrote about double standards earlier, with one set of laws for UMNOputras while another for the man-on-the-street like you and me.

It was just a few weeks ago that the Menteri Besar of Selangor, Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo said that the illegal palatial mansion Datuk Zakaria Mat Deros should not be torn down because he'll then have to do the same to 5,000(!) other illegal factories and buildings. The fact that the presence of 5,000 illegal factories doesn't reflect well on his admistration didn't matter, just as long as he doesn't have to tear down Datuk Zakara's palace.

The story is however different in Bukit Mertajam. Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) tried to demolish a Taoist temple a few days ago, apparently due to absence of approval. A 40-man enforcement team escorted by auxiliary policemen turned up at the Tou Mu Kung temple in Jalan Maju attempting to demolish the building using excavators.

At the same time, “the enforcement team prevented temple committee members from entering the building to remove statues of deities and other praying material” and proceeded to “tear down the temple’s front portion” despite appeals from various parties including Gerakan State Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman, and Berapit State Assemblyman Lau Chiek Tuan and Bukit Mertajam DAP Member of Parliament Chong Eng.

What's worse is apparently, there was a promise by MPSP president Datuk Mohd Aris Ariffin that the temple’s status would be discussed at the state executive council meeting next Wednesday. Clearly, what MPSP attempted to do was to ensure a fait accompli rendering the discussion irrelevant.

Temple demolitions appear to be the order of the day for UMNO dominated and appointed local councils, for whatever perceived agenda. There is clear and absolute disregard to the sensitivities of the minority communities. Even Barisan Nasional's key coalition partners such as Gerakan leaders are treated with such derisory contempt.

On the other hand, it is clear that similar transgressions by UMNOputras are treated preferentially. For them, the Menteri Besars themselves will provide the reasons and excuses for not tearing down the illegal structures. Even Senators will tell you that it's OK to break the law, just as long as you pay the fines.

The irony of Datuk Zakaria's case is that prior to the state alienating the 40,000 sq ft of land to him for a fraction of its market value, it was occupied by the poor Malay squatters, the very people UMNO seeks to protect. This is UMNO hypocrisy at its very best.
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