|The choices we make|
|Tuesday, 22 December 2009 09:48|
First published in theSun
IN the 21 months since the country’s political landscape changed, we have seen the results of our choices.
For the worst part, many are wondering if they did right by going for the untried. While we may give excuses for our choices – that the new kids on the block are inexperienced and still taking baby steps in administering the five states (bar one) which they had won; one cannot deny the fact that some of them have also allowed power and fame to get to their heads.
Having "YB" or in some cases "Datuk" before your name is certainly something one can get used to – so much so that some tend to forget their roots, their struggles and have morphed into the very ones they replaced.
Hence we still have people’s reps who tend to be more business friendly than putting the people first. We still have politicians and administrators who speak with forked tongues. We have queues of dodgy characters outside the offices of executive councillors, local councillors and people’s reps.
We have developers, businessmen and funfair operators brandishing "letters of support" and state executive councillors who bully local councillors and employees, usurping their duties and interfering in the way local authorities are run.
At the same time, instead of focusing on running the states that they had won, they are busy sparring with their political opponents as well as with party rivals.
Instead of making the best of finally achieving their political ambition, some of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) reps whine about not getting positions and titles.
Meantime, many positions are given to individuals based on not what they can bring to the table, but on whose apples they have polished.
Perhaps one must remind them that positions should be earned. No one should become an official merely by whose camp they represent or the fact that he or she is a pet lover or happens to represent a particular group.
They may forget but the people will remember and do well to remind these politicians at the next polls, of the election promises which have yet to be fulfilled – local elections being one of them. It is a poor attempt at covering up its own fallibility for PR to lay the blame on the federal government. For all its shortcomings, the ruling coalition never promised more representation of the rakyat at the local level. It never said that residents and ratepayers will have a better representation. PR did. It failed and now it’s passing the buck to the Barisan Nasional (BN).
At the state level, at least in Selangor, the administration is being given a rough ride by civil servants. One state executive councillor complained that he had to "beg" for his allocation for a programme benefiting his constituents.
The mentri besar had said that he needs to retain these civil servants to answer for past transgressions. These are the same officers who oversaw the alienation of public land to "friendly parties".
Several executive councillors have also indicated that discussions are being leaked to their predecessors who now sit on the Opposition bench.
As a journalist I have no issues with that as I am all for full disclosure, but if their claims are true, it proves that these civil servants have pledged allegiance to their political masters from the previous administration.
It is time for PR to get its act together. The honeymoon is over. People want results now.
So should the 49% of the electorate have voted differently on March 8? Perhaps. But on the other hand, we have a federal government that seems to be more in touch with the aspirations of the people. For instance, would we have ever imagined that one day the geological report on Bukit Antarabangsa would be declassified?
Sure there was resistance at first, but due to the thorn at its side, the Selangor government, the federal authorities had no choice but to come clean not only with Bukit Antarabangsa, but the whole Klang Valley.
Consultation which would have been regarded as a dirty word by some leaders is now the buzzword among federal leaders with a two-day consultation on KPIs among others.
Would the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal come this far if not for a strong Opposition?
Today minorities have more voices in Parliament. Ironically the Indian community has more reps in the Dewan Rakyat than it ever did.
The East Malaysians are finally getting their dues after years of being left behind in political representation and economic development, with a Speaker and two deputy speakers as well as a backbenchers’ chief.
Barisan MPs are really made to work as absenteeism could mean the collapse of the ruling government. A recent example was the passing of the budget by a razor thin three-vote margin where an Opposition victory would have meant the collapse of the government.
With all these talk about 1Malaysia, we suddenly see MPs from both sides of the aisle asking Malaysians to be more inclusive.
And when we still do not expect public officials to step down to take responsibility for major foul-ups or the loss of public confidence, two weeks ago we saw the premature retirement of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief. No one is saying that he is taking responsibility for Teoh Beng Hock’s death while in MACC custody. God knows, even Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan did not say so, but with all fingers pointing at the way the MACC has been mucking up, it would not be incorrect to say that Ahmad Said is bowing to public pressure.
It would be simplistic to say that many in the ruling coalition have eaten humble pie and have realised not to take the electorate for granted. Their resistance to the changes taking place in the minds of voters are all too obvious with many playing the race card, at times aided by the authorities themselves.
It would also be wrong to put a halo on the head of PR, which has its own demons to exorcise, and socks to pull up.
But the fact that the balance of power has rightly returned to the rakyat, can only augur well for this country with the people having the final say on their future.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 24 December 2009 21:03|