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Malaysia GE15: Rural communities look towards incoming government for better lives

 Voters, including farmers and fishermen, want to see development in their villages and financial aid to help them deal with the rising cost of living.

Malaysia GE15: Rural communities look towards incoming government for better lives

Fisherman Hisham is among the rural community in Malaysia hoping to see improvements with a new government. (Photo: CNA/Clara Lee)

JOHOR: Many rural communities in Malaysia are hoping that politicians voted into power will bring about positive changes and improve lives, making good on the promises they made during their campaigning for Malaysia’s 15th General Election. 

These voters, including farmers and fishermen, want to see development in their villages and financial aid to help them deal with the rising cost of living.

Among them is a Johorean fisherman who wanted to be known only as Hisham.

“If other places can get help such as boats and nets, those of us in this area also want the same as them," he told CNA. 

"If those in other places can receive assistance, why can’t we? That's the question. We would like things to be equal.”

As of Tuesday (Nov 22) morning, no coalition had formed the government, with Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional competing to do so

The two coalitions will have to secure alliances from other parties to clinch a majority of at least 112 seats before they inform the palace about their cooperation arrangements to form the next government. This will have to be done by 2pm on Tuesday.

HELP WITH LIVELIHOODS, ECONOMIC REFORM

There are bigger problems some rural communities face. Fishing communities like Mr Hisham’s have been forced to relocate up to three times, as developers close in on the land where they’ve built their jetties. 

There are bigger problems some rural communities face. Some fishing communities have been forced to relocate three times as developers closed in on the land where they have built their jetties. 

While there are funds disbursed upstream from the government, they do not make it to the fishermen, said those who spoke to CNA. The money may have been redirected elsewhere. 

However, Mr Hisham said he takes comfort in the hope that the election of a new federal government could move the needle on these issues.

Other villagers are looking for a nation-wide economic reform. 

Farmer Ghanyun Arbak said the price of the fertiliser is too high. (Photo: CNA/Clara Lee)

Farmer Ghanyun Arbak said that while he is getting some form of aid, the price of fertiliser is still too high and insecticides for treating tree diseases are more expensive compared to the past. He said he is looking for answers beyond Johor.

"Maybe we have an economy that is a bit slow. Since fertiliser is imported from abroad, maybe the currency is causing the price to be a bit expensive," he said. 

LOOKING OUT FOR THE PEOPLE

Meanwhile, young Johor residents do not only want financial repair.

Some, like Mr Hakimi Bakri, expect leaders with a fresh mandate to bring better access to schools, and a greater emphasis on education which could help them make a better living. “I hope the new government listens to the voices from the youth. And also, I hope the new government cares about the villagers from here. And also, if the villagers sometimes have problems, I hope the new government helps the villagers," he said.

Dr Serina Rahman, an expert in Malaysian politics, said that if the incoming government feels they got into power on a very narrow margin, they might work a bit harder. 

“If they got in on a larger margin, then they might work on consolidating power, and therefore focus on themselves rather than the people, and then we’re back to square one,” said Dr Serina, lecturer in the Southeast Asian Studies Department at National University of Singapore.

“It does depend on how confident the government feels, whether they can step away from all of this politicking and actually serve the people.”

Source: CNA/ja(dn)
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