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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Time to work together for the sake of the rakyat

It is time that Malaysian politicians work together for the sake of the people instead of playing each other out - leaving the rakyat ultimately to suffer in the long term and there is never a winner at the end of the day.
It is exemplary of Penang state Opposition Leader Jahara Hamid to table a joint motion to urge Putrajaya to resolve two major issues affecting house buyers in the island state.
When there are common issues that need to be resolved, the politicians should put their heads together to resolve the issues together, instead of being at loggerheads to see who wins.
There is a proverbial saying that when two elephants are in a tussle, it is the deer that gets trampled on. Enough is enough is something that we can say of today’s politics.
We certainly do not want such a situation where everyone is blaming someone else, but no one is doing anything to solve the problems affecting the people.
Attempts to ‘push out’ Kepong MP
I want to relate a personal story.
As most people are aware, Dr Tan Seng Giaw has been the member of Parliament of Kepong for eight terms since 1982. He won by big majorities, especially in 2013 against his Gerakan opponent, when the voters turnout was the highest at 86.10 percent.
Even Independent Yee Poh Ping was hardly a threat to Dr Tan. Most people who know both Dr Tan and Yee know who the real workhorse is. In fact, I had the privilege of attending meetings at the Land Office together with Dr Tan, and everywhere he went, despite being a member of the opposition, Dr Tan received a warm response from the civil servants.
However, despite his popularity, there were also people in the civil service who were allegedly trying to get him out. I was shocked to hear this from a former director at the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL). “We have been trying to ‘push’ him out, but we failed!” she admitted.
This came out from someone who was supposed to be in civil service whom you would expect to be apolitical. She has since retired, but I am not surprised this is the same attitude that DBKL officers are showing towards Pakatan MPs in all 10 out of 11 constituencies in the Federal Territory.
Whenever a Pakatan MP lodges a complaint with DBKL on behalf of a resident, the complaint is apparently either ignored or not given the top priority. The rationale on the minds of these officers is that you get what you voted for. In short, they try to play out the opposition so that people will regret voting in the opposition.
In the case of Dr Tan, he may have submitted a complaint years ago, and when the problem was finally solved, the credit often went to his opponents. I realised this when I was following up on a particular case involving a playground.
When the playground was finally refurbished, Dr Tan’s opponents would claim that they were the ones who solved the longstanding issue. They failed to realise that, had Dr Tan not filed a complaint earlier, there would not be any budget allocation to resolve the issue.
A poorly-performing rep should not get a second chance
That is the reason why when Selangor fell into the hands of Pakatan Rakyat in 2008, my advice to most people was to differentiate between an elected representative who has done his part and the civil servants who allegedly fail to deliver. It is different if the elected representative did nothing about the complaint raised to his attention.
A poorly-performing elected representative should not be given a second chance to win in the next general election. An example is the Paya Jeras state assemblyperson, Khairuddin Othman. Despite some complaints being raised regarding the facilities in a playground, Khairuddin apparently did not show any interest in investigating the complaints, nor was there any documentary proof that he had acted on the complaints.
His silence spoke louder than words about who this PAS lawmaker is after he won for the first time in Paya Jeras, a former Umno stronghold, in the last general election.
In cases where the state assemblyperson or MP has done his part, such as highlighting a particular complaint to the local council, if the problem is not resolved, it is the fault of the council staff. The brickbats should land squarely on the council staff instead of the local councillor or elected representative.At the end of the day, it is the civil servants’ responsibility to deliver the quality of services at the council level. They are paid a salary to do a job.

This is why I see the latest development in the Penang state assembly as being one of the most positive signs of political maturity in this country.
Gone are the days when most cabinet ministers would allegedly use their powers to punish the rakyat who had voted them in. To Jahara, I say, “Bravo! Keep it up!”

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.- Mkini

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