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Friday, March 28, 2008

Same bad song, with more gusto

This has my antenna tingling, and i don't like the feel of it.

The NST reports:

ALOR STAR: Kedah's mega RM50 billion oil refinery and pipeline project has become even bigger - with the budget for it soaring to a staggering RM83 billion.

The RM33 billion increase is due to a decision to construct a man-made island for the proposed refinery and storage facilities. Originally, the refinery and storage facilities were to have been built on reclaimed padi fields...

...The project would also be built on its original site of Yan instead of Gurun as suggested by Azizan. Azizan said he agreed to bring the project back to Yan after listening to the counter proposals by the six investors.

"I know I had announced that the refineries would be shifted to Gurun, but after hearing their counter-proposals, I have agreed to bring it back to Yan district, specifically Sungai Limau," he told reporters after the meeting.

This is flip-flopping; exactly the same criticism we leveled on AAB.

Worse, the price tag has leaped by an astounding 66% of the original value. I'd imagine that the original RM50 billion was already bloated to enrich the cronies, and that we'd get to see a major price slash instead after renegotiations. I'd expected public disclosure of the budget, as any ethical govt ought to practice.

Instead we get this: the same BN-style decision-making process which keeps citizens in the dark. And for crying out loud, an increase in the budget. The same questions thrown at BN are now thrown at you, Azizan. Is this the best way to use the billions of ringgit? Have you opened the floodgates? Are you indebted to those six investors now, shackled by them?

You have some serious explaining to do.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

He just doesn't get it

The way his points are presented betrays the sorry mindset of AAB. There seems to be a serious decoupling from reality.

From Malaysiakini:

"We certainly lost the Internet war, the cyber-war," Abdullah said in a speech to an investment conference.

"It was a serious misjudgment. We made the biggest mistake in thinking that it was not important," he said.

"We thought that the newspapers, the print media, the television was supposed to be important, but the young people were looking at SMS and blogs."

Young people. Sigh, as if it was so easy. It seems only young people caused BN to lose the 5+1 states. Like, young people weren't a factor during the Reformasi years and 1999 GE. Like, if BN had used the internet better in their campaigns (remember they had already swamped Yahoo! and other search engines), this wouldn't have happened. The impressionable young people fell for the internet smut, while the older voters remained essentially loyal because they watched TV, and read the papers.

What a blur toad.

He forgot about the years and months before, he forgot about Bersih, he forgot about Hindraf, he forgot the prime-movers of the internet campaign were the grey and middle-aged Rakyat... RPK, Haris, Zorro, Chin Huat, Rocky, James Wong etc. Citizens all. And of course, a freer e-media in Malaysiakini.

The analysis is actually quite simple - it revolves around the key words "forgot" and "remember".

He forgot to do his job.

We - young and old - remembered.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A shadow for Komtar

Now here's something constructive for a change: Penang's BN state assemblymen plan to form a shadow cabinet to act as check-and-balance to the Minority govt's exco.

The Star Online reports:

Teluk Bahang assemblyman Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said: “We have enough assemblymen to keep watch on the DAP-led state government.”

He said they would raise issues pertaining to state affairs publicly or at the state assembly.

“We will support the current government if its policies are good,” he told newsmen after meeting Singapore’s St John Chapel Choir group at Pusat Harian Harapan Bakti here yesterday.

This is refreshing; that BN in its role as opposition offers to collaborate with the state govt, to spar with it on issues in an organised manner, for the benefit of Penang.

That's the ideal, of course. It's the action that counts. The integrity of such promises can only be judged in the months to come but it is still a mile more imaginative than the inane discussions by the BN so far. Far better than Shabery Chik wanting to meet bloggers, or the promise to declare assets, or "finding out what went wrong" - i mean, that's the very least they ought to do if they are to remain relevant. There's so much more BN can initiate.

We're awaiting more inspired ideas.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Open Letter to The Star

Dear Editor,

We are very concerned and wary of the countless reckless and negligent reporting in your papers which could incite communal disharmony and civil unrest.

To be fair, you did publish such articles attributed to both the Barisan Nasional and the Opposition, but in this instance, we are obliged to refer to the article: PAS certain it can set up Islamic federal govt soon (The Sunday Star, March 16, 2008).

The fact is that no government can change Malaysia to be an Islamic state unless and until they can command 2/3 support in Parliament to amend the Constitution and support such a bill. So far, no single political party, except Barisan as a coalition of UMNO, MIC, MCA, Gerakan and 10 other minority parties, have had the capacity to garner such support. PAS, even with the claimed additional 30 voices, will still not be able to command the majority needed if no other party supports them.

Besides, a bluff is also obvious in the claim that PAS needs only another 30 seats to seize control of the country. PAS secured 23 parliamentary seats out of 222, the least among the three major “opposition” (though we would rather them be referred to as “minority” henceforth) parties. This is a far cry from the minimum 148 seats needed for a 2/3 majority.

In reading the story closely, you appear to be grossly editorialising the news in your headline and intro. Nobody needs another reminder of the ruckus caused by DAP because of their reluctance to submit to PAS rule.

Besides the need to be truthful and honest, we believe that when you feel or you are compelled to publish any inflamatory or contradictory remarks, regardless of source, you must, in the same breathe, play down the hatred it may sow.

In the instance of the article referred to, you should have done your social obligation and national duty by appending the statements of fact such as the actual number of parliamentary seats PAS has and how such changes can come about.

You can also help to demolish the inordinate fear of Islamic influence by quoting, perhaps, example of Islamisation in the country such as in the banking and financial services sector and the halal food industry for Muslims, both of which have benefited non-Muslims tremendously.

We sincerely pray that if you must really publish any contradictory statement which may or is intended to discredit any party, you would first consider the potential injustice to the innocent majority.

We hope that you will realise that while the people have voiced their displeasure with the Barisan through the ballot box, they may likewise voice their disgust with irresponsible reporting through the newsstand. you would certainly appreciate the commercial value in words of wisdom and the folly otherwise.

GetAnMP-PJ Utara



GetAnMP-PJ Utara fully endorses The People's Parliament call to Boycott the Lying Newspapers. Sock it to them till they wake up to their responsibility. At RM15 a month, Malaysiakini is a far superior product.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Enriching PJ

When the GetanMP flyers were first conceived, we inserted the tagline Make Malaysia Home.

Its brevity spurred multiple readings; a little aphorism aimed at different sections of voters. For the middle/upper-middle class contemplating the greener grass of migration, it was a challenge to stay and irrigate our own land. For the apathetic, it was a call of duty to clean up our own house. And yet on another level, it pleaded that we become more inclusive, that we breathe as a family regardless of race, religion and class.

March 8, 2008 is special. Be it the challenge, the call of duty, or the plea - this was collectively answered. It is now entirely up to us to make Home so. If we imagine, we give it life.


(Credit: Mob1900)

We at GetanMP-PJ Utara are embarking on the next step. We're out to make PJ a very fine place to live. Not PJ Utara, not PJ Selatan, not Bukit Lanjan nor Seri Setia, but all Petaling Jaya. We are Anak Bangsa Malaysia-PJ. And if you're a PJ resident we'd like you to join us. We're many different layers - fat, thin, black, yellow brown - yet we're common. As with GetanMP, we're starting an e-group of interested PJ residents. From there we'll work things out together. Commitment is entirely your call. Join us; bring a friend, bring a family. Send us an email and we'll set you up.

Below is a description of what we'd like to do. Can we? If we want it, why not.


This e-group is for the hopeful. It is for all who have been hurt in a relationship - boohoo - but are not afraid of a new one. Yet as we enter this one with the same dizzy feeling, we know we're coming in wiser, stronger and the creative commitment that we'll make it work this time.

We'll allow the dynamics of this group to unfold naturally. Like society itself, it's best left organic. Leaders will emerge, ditto specialists and interest groups within our midst. This is desirable. We're plural. We're mongrel.

Even so, we've identified three broad categories where AnakBangsaMalaysia-PJ will organise itself. Its geographic locus is PJ, yet its societal current is free to spread out to Selangor and Malaysia. It transcends mere politics; it is about Grace and Being. The categories are:

1) Community
PJ folks are diverse. Yet in its diversity it is atomic. We'd like to see bonds form. Ownership. A sense of Belonging. This can come via shared activities and interests. Some will take a long time to germinate, some sooner. Ideas include:

a) Talks/Dialogues: To get experts to talk about topical subjects. eg History of PJ and where we've sidetracked; the Sg Buloh Leprosarium, Bukit Gasing Wildlife and Wild Plans. Venues could vary. This could be in Living Room settings of 20 people; casual, but informative; it could be the auditorium at Sin Chew.
b) People First community-driven projects: This may be about working hand-in-hand with MBPJ, or with private-sector sources. Draw ideas from around the world - there are many - and let these inspire our own. For a very fine example, see Project for Public Spaces.
c) PJ Pengembara: Organise off-the-beaten-track road trips within the state and its neighbours. Orang Asli settlements, Carey Island, rubber estates... you name it.

2) Environment/Development
a) To hold awareness forums on development in PJ.
b) Public transportation and carparking issues - the strategic solutions.
c) To safeguard public parks and green lungs.
Again, the scope and depth is determined by members. It may be in alliance with existing NGO initiatives such as Save Bukit Gasing, or the Save the Valley of Hope program. We assure you that we're keeping a sharp eye on UM's reported 'lease' of its land to high-end developers.
In any case, it would be good that we get to know about the issues within our backyard.

3) Governance
This will be in line with The People's Parliament Representative Watch Committee. Barisan Rakyat happened; it wasn't merely a pretty poster, it actually happened. Now the next step. For more info, read Haris Ibrahim's election pledge. We shall be closely allied to PP on this initiative.
On the DUN and municipal level, a similar auditing/cooperative system will be set in place.

Biting off too much? Perhaps. And perhaps not. We're throwing as wide a net to involve as many PJians-with-a-heart as possible. The grandpa, the restless youth, the SUV man. Each comes with a cord. We'll weave. What we'll weave is what we dare imagine. The PJ we imagine won't happen overnight, we're well aware of that. Ideas will lie buried or kicked, there will be disagreements, bonds may even break. But the idea of an amazing tapestry is just too good to let go. It is our design.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dammit, you politicians

First DAP's Kit. He apologised this morning. Now Syed Husin Ali of PKR... If you don't get your act together, you will face a full boycott by the Rakyat. Not just Perak, but in all three west coast Opposition-controlled states. This is a promise.

You are fast showing that you are not worthy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Watch it, DAP

Malaysiakini carries a press statement from Kit. In it he says the DAP CEC was shocked and unhappy over the appointment of PAS' Nizar as MB for Perak.

My message to Kit and the DAP is simply this:

You asked: Vote for Change.
We did.
Now how about you yourself?

Work on the commonalities. There is so much to be reaped. Yes, safeguard principles. Lay the ground rules and stick to them with your dear lives. But never, never enter the realm of BNspeak... you're treading on thin ice.

Melaka 2013

GetAnMP will pay extra focus on the State of Melaka in the next General Elections.

Fresh from The Star, after the swearing in ceremony:

MALACCA: Although assuring continued development in Malacca, newly sworn-in Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the “drive” to spur development within the city may be disrupted.

Mohd Ali said he would have to “think twice” with regard to new projects coming into the city as hopes of making it a more vibrant one had been dashed owing to DAP’s control of it.

“We wanted to develop it further but the rakyat is not so interested.

If there are new things (projects), maybe I have to think twice,” he said, adding that he would not shift projects which had been previously earmarked.

Classic example of an outdated, outmoded politician. Bet you he still uses floppy disks and thinks he's moderne. They never learn - such Umnospeak isn't going to work any more. The country has moved on. Ali Rustam, you have five years to look for a new day job.

Monday, March 10, 2008


For not just cleaning Petaling Jaya of that nasty, arrogant BN coalition, but for putting Selangor back on track. And Perak. And Penang. And Kedah. And Kelantan. And the waves that rode over Negeri Sembilan and Melaka and portions of Pahang and Johor.

Here's to Anak Bangsa Malaysia. You spoke.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


From malaysiakini

Unofficial - Tony Pua wins PJ Utara - 7.45pm

Tony Pua has helped DAP has reclaimed Petaling Jaya Utara.

Friday, March 7, 2008

In praise of Marrow

From the humble kampung in Bukit Bintang, Dr Cheah Wing Yin's character was forged by tender but firm hands. The DAP candidate for DUN Damansara Utama tells GetanMP-PJ Utara about the inspiration and the journey that led him to this platform today

“Thank goodness, he spanked the hell out of me when he did,” Dr Cheah Wing Yin reminisces. “I might have well been a very successful, conniving pirated-DVD lord today!”

The good doctor is talking about his dad, his one great influence in life. He died last year on May 13. The following month in June, he joined the DAP.

“In a way, it begins to complete his lessons.”

Dr Cheah is contesting against BN's Victor Gu for the DUN Damansara Utama seat this elections.

“Dad was a strict disciplinarian. And he lived that role, too. Idealistic, upright, and never swayed to temptations. He arrived from China when he was 16, and not long after was swept in the nationalist tide. He joined the communist movement, but found them too leftist for his liking. He had to flee from the group in Pahang and made his way to in KL.

“Dad worked as a mechanic in Lam Soon factory. He did two shifts to make ends meet. But he made time for us. Weekends at the Weld swimming pool – those are cherished moments; we would have noodles after that, which for us is a special treat. He was strict and he was warm.

“And education – now that he never skimped. Made sure we had tuition in our formative years. He instilled an ethic that I hold dearly today.”

Social Awareness
“Universiti Malaya was a hive of political thought and expression during my student years. There was the socialist movement, student union activism, free speech. Once during the Baling Demonstrations of 1974, the entire medical cohort skipped class to attend speeches at the Speaker's Corner. But professors were more liberal then too. They gave us replacement classes!

“But the key is this – each and every one of us turned out well. We didn't have the UUCA (University and University Colleges Act) to regulate how students should behave for their own future. It's a farce.”

“I was active in school, and very involved in the Varsity Christian Fellowship. Today, these friends are in various positions in society playing constructive roles. Some have become pastors. It is this people who are my network today; they have been very supportive of my decision to run in the elections.”

Rank and File
And yet, Dr Cheah is not one to be seen resting in the aircon comforts of an office. Volunteers have consistently voiced their admiration for the man who's up at the crack of dawn and doing his walkabouts meeting the common folks at the markets and homes. During the conversation, the cellphone repeatedly rings from well-wishers and supporters.

“I'm very comfortable with common people. I am them. I had always been actively involved in NGOs such as Rumah Harapan and the Malaysian Mental Health Association. Then there are other more professional-related bodies. But working with people, being with people – it's a natural occupation.

“If anything, I draw my strength from the rank-and-file. When I decided to join the DAP, it was because of the rank-and-file.”

Dr Cheah plans to keep his practice, at least for now. “I like the job. Plus honestly, I still have mouths to feed. I still have to see a kid through school in New Zealand.”

He laughs when you ask him about life after the campaign: “These days, I'm not sure if my wife still recognises me. I'm up at 6am and only back way past midnight.

“I'd love to do a trip with her and the kids. I've been thinking of hitting North, slowly working our way through the little towns; stay in those wongfeihong hotels or resthouses. That would be nice. To make trips like that, we get to understand a little more of this country each time... a fresher perspective.

“It will certainly help me in my work.”

Yes it will. It will certainly forge your work as a State Assemblyman, Dr Cheah.

Additional info:
DAP for PJ

Brains not Drains

Tony Pua was made Economic Advisor to the DAP Sec-Gen last year. Many acknowledge the ex-CEO and Oxford alumnus brings a mental prowess to national and local politics. Lately, the candidate for P106 PJ Utara has been holding the late night crowd rapt with his own brand of food-for-thought speeches. GetAnMP-PJ Utara catches up with Tony in this third instalment of DAP for PJ candidates

These nights the past two weeks, he's provided supper to the mental-belly of hundreds. He's the one who's been feeding the ceramah crowds with tender, pressure-cooked chunks of microeconomics and public policy, a diet few would recommend to an audience typically more interested by a rah-rah knock-em-down speech. But the crowd laps it up.

“I wanted people to know the 'heavy' issues. The question is packaging it,” says Tony Pua, MP candidate for P106 PJ Utara – how money is wrongly manipulated by the ruling coalition, how policies have been hijacked and abused, and how it is so important to have the right MPs checking these practices in Parliament. Tony Pua is facing MCA's popular incumbent Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun this elections.

There is an incisiveness to the 36-year-old's mind, almost coaxing you to throw at him the toughest problems. Questions are answered rapidly and lucidly – there is no stammer, no b-b-but – you get the impression he's thought through these issues.

The grueling campaign is showing – it's the afternoon intermission between the physically-taxing morning walkabouts and evening ceramahs – and the pace isn't slowing one bit.

“Masochism, sheer masochism,” he flashes his trademark grin, shakes his head, and plonks himself on the sofa at the DAP HQ. Yet he would readily stay in the thick of it. It's for the long-term, the best avenue he knows in ensuring this country is set on a steady path to progress.

“There was no marked turning point. I've always felt it as far as I can remember. In primary school, in Singapore as a student, at Oxford... politics has always been in the picture.

“I was sure at some point I would enter politics. But to hold fast onto the right values, that's the key. It was important to achieve financial stability first, to withstand all knocks and temptations which come with the job. And when it did finally present itself, I took that step. It was natural.”

This election period saw the emergence of a number of social vanguards standing as Opposition candidates. But is Malaysia ready to move into a new brand of politics; from the zoo that happened in the just-dissolved 11th Parliament to one of maturity and healthy discourse?

“There's never knowing when the country is ready. We run the campaign as best we can, and if we're elected, it proves the nation's ready. That's the best endorsement the country can give itself. Then, it's for us to deliver. We can steer Parliament. Cut out the injustices.

“Look, the country doesn't have to be No.1. Definitely not now. It's about running it well, making intelligent laws, economic plans that work, welfare policies... there's so much we can draw from others.

“Singapore is definitely a good source, freedom issues aside. Its people are competent, there is an efficient administration, there is solid law enforcement and corruption is successfully minimised. Same genes, same geography... now who screwed up?

“There is no need to recreate the wheel; we can learn from many countries. The trick is implementation, and BN has shown that it isn't bothered enough to make it happen.

“We need to instill a culture of competition, openness, transparency... a healthy live-work attitude. When that culture seeps in, you'll see the ball rolling... the economics will generate wealth, welfare programs will reach those who need it, our education facilities will be reckoned with, the arts will flourish, new industries we can call our very own.

“But it begins with putting in a government that's genuinely willing.”

The cynics will snigger. In Malaysia ah? With all that dirty politics surrounding the elections – the opacity of postal votes, indelible ink fiasco, counting agents, phantom voters – Malaysia seems to have an insurmountable road ahead.

“Yes, Malaysia. Yes, here. I never considered migrating. I decided long ago to stay – me, my wife, my family. And once that decision is made, you make a stand. And you do all you can to move your people forward. The status quo is not an option. Can we do it? One brick at a time, we'll build a bridge.”

“There is a lot to do over the coming years. Win or lose, I'm already seeing my role in the DAP. There is much where we can improve, and we admit it, unlike BN. I want to help fortify the organisation, improve the bond between branches. We'll actively continue to look for good citizens to join us. We'll find ways to improve finances.

“We want to increase the space and facility to debunk existing government policies which are unfair. These efforts require a lot of resources, and these mechanisms have to be efficiently set up. When our MPs go into Parliament, we want them armed.”

On and on Tony paints the plan, and you can see it shaping. Bit by pragmatic bit. He's calculated in his strategies, a quality you see in his night-time ceramahs, where like a good doctor he prescribes the economic pills to the audience in proper dosage. From these sessions to the DAP's alternative budget last year, Tony's earned the reputation of The Brain among voters.

And if all goes well come March 8 – that's tomorrow – Tony may well be carrying the tag of the Thinking Person's MP into the august house. He vows to punch the living daylights out of silly govt schemes and policies if ushered in.

But for the moment, that decision lies with the PJ Utara voters; the ball is in our court. Brain or Drain?

Additional info:
Personal blog
DAP for PJ

Paint it Rakyat Red, Penang

(Picture by Choo Choy May)
The Malaysian Insider, the latest online news-zine, carries this incredible shot of Thursday's mammoth rally at Han Chiang School field in Penang. The editors quoted that a headcount of 30,000 would be a conservative estimate. The DAP which hosted the event had asked for people to show up in red. For more stories and beautiful pictures, head on over to the Malaysian Insider.

i've been receiving SMSes that a similar mammoth crowd showed up at Anwar's rally in Lembah Pantai. Can't wait to see those pictures, too. The Rakyat awakes.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The better life - for me only?

Malaysiakini reported today that thousands of young Malaysians see no hope in the Elections. In contrast, it is the young Malaysians who are proving to be the new backbone of political parties today, especially the Opposition. Nurul Izzah, Nik Nazmi, Ginie Lim, Hannah Yeoh... they are showing these cynical why-bother youths that being in your 20s matters just as well.
In this second instalment, GetanMP-PJ Utara profiles another young candidate Lau Weng San, who's running for N35 Kampung Tunku in PJ. We ask him 'Why bother?'

“Give me a minute,” says Lau Weng San, upon finishing an errand. “I better go take my medicine. Voice almost gone.”

The past weeks are taking its toll even for the 30-year-old square-shouldered man who's contesting the DUN Kampung Tunku seat. He faces BN's Sheah Kok Fah. If stereotyping was to be taken seriously, Lau Weng San would be bopping his head with friends in a club on any given Saturday. His wallet would be lined with platinum plastic; he'd be dreaming of that sleek car and hedging on stocks which have been rumoured to soar.

Instead, his Chemical Engineering degree – passport to a 'better life' – is tucked away in a folder in his SEA Park home, and Weng San is down in the trenches with the DAP volunteers at No 77. That's what they call the Operations Centre over at Paramount Garden; it sits a stone's throw away from the party's National HQ.

Better Life?
“Sacrifice? Maybe it is. Somehow it doesn't feel that way,” says the man donned in Rocket fatigues, the ubiquitous white shirt. There is no hint of regret nor longing for the plusher life.

“I was working in petrochemicals after I graduated. It's true oil and gas is big, and the petrochemical industry is doing well. But you can't avoid dealing with Petronas when you're in this field. Clearly I would have been a liability to any company if I were to remain active in DAP. So between the two, I chose politics.

“Fairness is too precious.”

Conversations like this affirms that you are listening to a man raised in Confucian values, the moral code among many East-Asian ethnic communities. Loyalty, piety, the Gentleman. And perhaps it comes as no surprise.

Formative Years
Weng San was schooled in one of the nation's best, the Sam Tet School in Ipoh. Started by a Catholic priest in 1934 to arrest illeteracy among the local populace, Sam Tet today boasts of consistently producing some of the best results during the national exams. But studies aside, it was also there when he first became politically aware.

“Just aware, nothing serious. It was more about basic values.

“In varsity, this awareness increased. I was in UM during the Reformasi days. You can't help but be swept by it. It's a matter of degree. I became more active in my second year; kept contact with human rights group, attended meetings and forums on AUKU (College and University College Act). And you realised even within that short period, campus democracy was being eroded. I started writing columns in the Chinese press. More so after graduation.”

It was during that time he came into contact with the DAP and met new friends fighting the same cause of fairness.

“Ronnie Liu was a huge influence. Still is. He brought me to visit people who were oppressed. Kampungs, setinggans, the SOS Damansara campaign. He reinforced that it was never about race. Never about religion.”

Papa and Mama
You broach on another hot Confucian item: Filial piety.

“Yes, it worried my parents. They put me through an education, to get a better life, faster-faster get grandchildren and all that. When I decided to join DAP full-time in 2004, they applied some subtle pressure to not go there. They said 'Go ahead, vote for the opposition all you want. Keep in tune with government abuses. Write about it. But must you join?' They had fears of me getting arrested, beaten up or jailed. It's a very common fear.

“It's true I had my college degree. It was very marketable. And, yes, there was a part where I feel I owe them so much; you know, must return the kindness. But there is a bigger picture. I had to be stubborn in this case. Today they are very supportive.”

Weng San strikes you as pin-sharp focussed. If he ever picks an Anglo name, he should consider Will. Kinda suits the character; driven, cause-internalised, disciplined. There is a meticulous quality to his operations, not necessarily neat, given the hustle-bustle of campaign time.

Take time, for instance. He indicated earlier that he had an hour to spare for the interview after which it's on to a meet-the-people session. His watch beeps at 3pm sharp. Weng San tries to ignore it. He talks a little more, barely a minute or two. His cellphone rings - a field manager is on the line saying: “Oi, time to hit the road.”

“Sorry,” Weng San says. “My general saman me already. These people make sure I keep my word. So at the DUN level I'm sure it will be like this; they will make sure I deliver. People first lah.”

Additional info:
Weng San's blog

When seriously threatened, lie through your teeth

Says the caretaker PM: "The Barisan Nasional has never made empty promises. We always deliver our pledges."

It's become pathological. Not what we want from a leader for sure. Jijik. He's been resorting to this so-ooooooooooooo much it's putting people to zzzzz-zleep. If you're so sure about your track record, come for debates lah!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Velvet and Steel

Edward Lee, DAP candidate for DUN Bukit Gasing, takes a breather from his walk-about and speaks with GetanMP-PJU. First of a four-part series profiling the DAP for PJ team

Dream on, says Edward Lee.

Even better, says the 59-year-old citizen activist-turned-politician, is realising these dreams. If it's the right thing, there is always a way, believes the DAP-PJ candidate for DUN Bukit Gasing. It is this dogged nature that has seen a fair number of citizen-initiated programs succeed over the past few years even when the odds were stacked against them.

“When the few of us first decided to fight the Puchong Incinerator project (in 2001), few stepped forward. Activism was an unfamiliar thing for many; it was daunting. I mean, the government is a huge animal and can be threatening. And the project was already in the works...captured in the KL Structure Plan 2020, approved, ready to roll.”

“We could have just watched the Opposition take the case in Parliament, and hoped for the best. Instead right from the start, we strategised, used our resources as wisely as we could... we sought help from good lawyers, got hold of the EIA report and pored through every line. We came out with a comprehensive list of questions and apparent weaknesses, and went for the jugular.”

A tidal wave of support began to grow – citizen groups, NGOs, politicians – allowing the team to be even more creative in carrying the message across. The saga of the 1,500 ton-capacity incinerator finally ended when the government decided to relocate it to Broga, where it met similar resistance and was eventually killed.

Perhaps this was what Malaysia needed in the new century – a new responsibility rooted from the ground described by Aliran as Rakyat Activism. But reaching there required a lot of planning and execution, the kind you won't see on the glossy pages of print – the shrewdness, the prudent deployment of resources, counter-strategies, and the buckets of sweat.

“Logistics is my forte,” says Edward, who once worked in the shipping industry. “You have to develop a smarts for any task. And you just have to delegate; delegate well... not just pass the job off to that somebody, but to instill inside that human being a shared sense of pride in running that task well. That's what I want to bring into the State Assembly and local councils.”

Edward puts you at ease. Call him bro, call him uncle; it fits. Once, during the conversation at the Old Town Coffee at PJ State, a small group of MBPJ officers walked by and they all exchanged greetings. The Opposition in a smiley exchange with Govt folks – it's a refreshing sight, perhaps a sign of things to come.

“I can tell you this much – there are many civil servants who are crying for good governance. They have personally told me so. They have pride in what they do. They want effectiveness, efficiency, all the stuff we want. They see the problem as lying within the local councils... politicians. Always politicians, it seems. Poking their hands into the pot, messing things up, bad policies, favouritism...

“And that's why I'm stepping into politics now. I want to get into the den and do my bit in cleaning up the house. Set a workable structure to it; make it culture.

“It will take time, easily a few years, but it can happen. I'm a believer in reform rather than revolution. Head-on war only draws retaliation – 'face' is so important here. So nothing gets solved. But when there is a way out, when corrupted officials are given space to recant, win them over, convince them, then we're on to something.”

But there has to be impetus for such people to change, no? How is this achieved?

“We need to find ways to seal their doors (to corruption). The first action if I'm elected will be to assemble a team of lawyers. We'll go through all the main Acts in the State of Selangor, scrutinize them, find the weaknesses. We'll highlight the anomalies. Then we take measures to plug them. Work out a human-oriented system. We'll show them: 'Here is the solution.' Redesignate people if we have to, retrain, bring back pride... i know it can happen.

“That's the constructive pressure to reform. Something that works with the psyche rather than subverting it.”

The conversation goes beyond the hour, a very easy hour without gaps nor awkwardness. The humility is captured throughout - he doesn't talk about himself, rather it is about fundamentals, the how-to, the nuts-and-bolts of a Malaysian urban society. In this community, Edward has earned the reputation of one who lets the Walking do the Talking. He isn't your posterboy type forever spilling soundbites. Edward Lee acts, that's common knowledge. But why for; and what drives?

“God,” he says cleanly, and then a pause. “It's about doing a good thing, doing right. I was disturbed by the injustices. The growing injustices happening in the country over the years – you know I came home to Malaysia because I was taken in by Mahathir then? I thought it was the main event. But things just got worse, certainly more under Badawi. The BN is calcified, it can't do much good in its current dynamics. Too many greasy hands... they've lost the plot.

"At some point, I had to stand up. I wanted a good night's sleep every night. And thankfully I've been getting it.”

The bread and kaya is consumed, the creamy white coffee washed down, it's time for the walkabout among the citizenry, and you sit back and wonder about the tasks ahead and what Edward would need to get his plans through in the State Assembly. I asked: If you had a wishlist, who would have on your Dream Team in DUN Selangor?

“Wishlists aren't real. Frankly, I'd prefer to just dream. Then make it happen.”

Additional Info:
Edward Lee's blog

Common Uncommon

You may have heard them at the ceramahs, shook hands at the morning market walkabout, read their manifestos. But why would anyone do this in the first place i.e. be an Opposition candidate? What is the controlled ember that keeps these people on the go in a field so formidably tilted in favour of the incumbent BN?

Starting today, we at the GetanMP-PJ Utara will be running a series of articles which profile the human beings behind the faces of the DAP Petaling team. Human beings with the resolve of a river, finding a way, always finding a way to reach that goal.

Stay tuned.

p.s. There are many good candidates under the Barisan Rakyat who need to have their story told, beyond the ceramahs, beyond the two-minute hand shake, certainly beyond the leaflets. If you profile them, we'll be happy to run your story in this space.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Make Malaysia Home II

Our latest flyer hit the streets yesterday. It's a two-page version (A4 folded in two) and we hope it gets people out to vote. And to vote with conviction for a respect grossly denied. i'll upload the pdf version on a host so that you can download for your own use. Help spread the word.