Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Issues raised at the State Assembly

On behalf of the people of the Subang Jaya constituency, I have raised the following issues at the recent sitting of the Selangor State Legislative Assembly:

· Proposed 9 storey commercial development on Telekom land in USJ 6 (opposite True Fitness in Taipan) - I voiced my objections against this proposed development. Further to the public hearing held with the residents, I had written to the State Planning Committee requesting them to take serious consideration of the residents' objections in view of the intended original purpose of the said land which is for Telekom Exchange and the deplorable and horrendous traffic congestion in that area. Despite recording our strong objections on this proposed development, the State Planning Committee approved the project. The State Planning Committee must reconsider its decision. Utility companies (Syabas, Telekom, etc) should not be allowed to commercially develop lands allocated for utilities.

· Free car park for the disabled community in Selangor – in November last year, my office organised a public forum for the disabled community of Subang Jaya. One of the many issues raised that day was the need for the State Government to extend the free car park service for the disabled community by MPSJ to all local councils in Selangor. I have echoed this request again in my speech. To our delight, the State Government has responded positively and free car park would be provided to all disabled applicants who are registered with Jabatan Kebajikan all across Selangor. Implementation date for this will be announced by the State Government soon.

· Local councils are to provide job opportunities for the disabled community. The disabled community possesses talents which can assist in the development of the state of Selangor.

· Local councils are to also take serious consideration of the needs of the disabled community in approving development orders. Ground floor units of flats or council homes should be reserved for the disabled community or senior citizens and the same should be made a condition in granting development orders.

· Lands are to be given to non-governmental organisations which provide care to the disabled, the under-privileged and senior citizens. Very often, they lack space to provide care for more individuals of these special groups.

· Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Selangor has previously approached me on the mistreatment of animals by the animal catchers/contractors at the respective local councils. I urged the State Government to do two things:

(i) to limit an animal catching contractor to only one local council to combat the unscrupulous practice of multiple claims by these contractors;
(ii) to appoint a representative from SPCA to sit in the appropriate sub-committees in each local council to ensure that the Department of Veterinary Services’ (DVS) Guidelines on Catching and Exterminating Stray Dogs (May 2008) are complied with when contractors catch stray dogs.

· In view of the economic crisis, I also urged each local council and all state agencies to avoid wastage of money on unnecessary spending. Souvenirs, goodie bags and food and drinks at functions can be avoided to save costs. Local councils should not waste money on unnecessary projects which do not benefit the residents at large. Such funds can instead be given to the underprivileged to assist them in surviving the economic crisis.

· Assessment rates are to be reduced for those who live in low and medium cost flats. This can assist in alleviating their burden especially when these residents are subjected to monthly service and maintenance charges by their respective apartments/flats in addition to the assessment fees by the local council.

· The State Government is to make available more funds to improve infrastructure in the urban areas in Klang Valley especially to tackle traffic woes. USJ 1 is in great need of an alternative access road to cope with the increased traffic and the State Government can also assist in providing funds for the building of an underpass at Persiaran Tujuan to SS19, thereby eliminating the need for the junction with traffic lights which has been identified as one of the key contributors to the backlog of traffic on Persiaran Tujuan.

· Selection of councillors is to be done more cautiously and the State Government is to only appoint councillors who have time to meet and serve the residents. Based on my observation, although each councillor in MPSJ has been given a laptop, there are still councillors who do not check and reply emails. Some do not even reply to sms’ and phone calls. These councillors must be replaced with appointees who have the passion of public service and possess the sincerity in serving the needs of the residents.

· Councillors should be afforded the option to helm the role of chairperson of Jawatankuasa Penduduk (JKP) and not automatically appointed as one. Councillors would be more effective serving as the advisor to JKPs instead of helming the JKP, the position of which can be instead be taken up by a resident. This way, councillors can focus more time on making and improving policies in local councils and this can also prevent conflict of interests.

· Local councils are to urgently gazette lands for recreational purpose/green lungs. This can curb land scams and will in turn protect recreational lands from being used for commercial developments.

· More training should be given to Commissioner of Buildings (COB) at local councils to handle matters pertaining to Joint Management Body (JMB).

· I also enquired on the status of investigation on the sale of Brisdale Holdings Berhad to GMB Construction Sdn Bhd for RM50,000 only, the matter of which I first brought to the attention of the State Legislative Assembly last year.

· The State Government is to demand an explanation from the Federal Government on the death of Kugan as this incident has taken place in Selangor.

In view of the economic crisis, I also submitted an emergency motion in the State Legislative Assembly urging the Federal Government to cooperate with the State Government in finding ways to help residents cope with the impact of the economic crisis. The motion was debated and passed.

In my speech, I urged the Federal Government to set up a government clinic in Subang Jaya. Currently there is none and residents have to travel to Kelana Jaya or Puchong for public medical assistance and treatment. Health care may not be affordable any longer to some residents here in view of the economic crisis.

I also urged the Kementerian Perumahan Dan Kerajaan Tempatan (KPKT) to be more diligent in monitoring abandoned housing projects. One such case is Lagoon Perdana in PJS 9, Bandar Sunway. We are still awaiting KPKT to call for further meetings for the developer to update all affected residents on the status of the 4 remaining blocks. Many residents are not able to cope with servicing their bank loans for an “invisible” house which they are not able to enjoy.

I also urged the Home Minister to focus more on strengthening the police force in such financially difficult times. The Home Minister should stop making use of the police force as tools to serve political interest. We need to improve resources such as patrol cars, manpower and equipment to cope with the rising demands and challenges especially in urban areas like Subang Jaya.

Finally, I also called for the release of YB Manoharan of Kota Alam Shah who is still detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA). His service is much needed by the residents of Kota Alam Shah to deal with local issues affecting them. In such difficult economic times as this, it is imperative that the government do not deprive the people of access to resources, and this includes access to their elected representative.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Congratulations Mr & Mrs Edward Ling!

Finally! Edward Ling is married. Last weekend, Edward, my political secretary, married the love of his life, Sandra Chan in a simple yet beautiful church ceremony. Edward sang for his bride as she walked in towards the altar. Tony Pua (MP for PJ Utara) and Edward Lee (ADUN for Bukit Gasing) were also present to celebrate this joyous occasion. Congratulations to Mr & Mrs Edward Ling!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What will the PIBGs do?

This news report published on Malaysiakini on 24 March shows how Barisan Nasional is using schools as their political tools. When I was rejected by my own school back in June 2008, the Parent Teacher Association (PIBG) had to step in to resolve the matter and because of their intervention, I was allowed to attend the prefects' reunion of my own school. We need more PIBGs who are free from politics, dare to speak up against injustice and the wrong system practised by schools (if any). I am aware of some PIBGs in Subang Jaya who are controlled by Barisan Nasional and after one year of being elected by the majority of residents here, I have only been invited by private schools and colleges. Teachers are not paid by Barisan Nasional, they are paid by the taxpayers in this country. I say it again - set our schools free from politics! Will PIBGs remain quiet?

Also, read the assemblyman of Seri Setia, Nik Nazmi's latest ordeal in Universiti Malaya here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Historic SELCAT Public Hearing

The first Public Hearing by the Select Committee on Competency, Accountability & Transparency (SELCAT) of the Selangor State Legislative Assembly is being conducted from March 23rd - 31st 2009.

Among the issues that will be investigated and heard in this session is the conduct of BALKIS (Wives of Selangor Assemblymen and MPs Welfare and Charity Organisation) and other cases of mismanagement of funds. Notable witnesses that have been summoned to appear before the committee are the former MB, Dato' Seri Dr. Mohamed Khir Bin Toyo; his wife as President of BALKIS, Datin Seri Zahrah Kechik; and other state officials.

The entire proceedings are being broadcast live online for public's viewing at http://multimedia.selangor.gov.my/.

I urge the public to watch this historic public hearing, never before seen in the history of our country where those who hold or have held public office are brought before a legislative committee in a public hearing to be questioned for all their actions and to be given an opportunity to be accountable for their conduct. The report of this public hearing will be tabled at the next State Legislative Assembly meeting.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Changing lives

Some of you may remember the kids from Project Fireflies at Angsana flats in USJ 1. Recently, when I was informed of the children's camp-in at Subang Parade, I requested for 4 of the kids from Project Fireflies to be included in the camp. The objectives were for them to practice their English learned from Project Fireflies with other children and also for them to meet and know children from different areas in Subang Jaya.
With the 4 boys from Project Fireflies

In my speech, I reminded the children to play with everyone regardless of their race, language proficiencies or whether or not they are children with special needs. Integration is so vital for Malaysia to remain as a nation of different races and cultures. If we can't convince the powers that be how important this is or if we can't teach the adults the dangers of race-based politics - hey, then let's start anew, let's teach the future leaders of this country the importance of respecting others and how not to discriminate others based on the colour of their skin.

Chief Inspector Sulaiman of SS17 police station was also present to educate the children on safety issues and precautionary measures. Children were also given whistles and taught how to use them when they're in danger. My office sponsored sleeping bags for these children.

We may not be able to change the entire nation for now, but we change one life at a time. According to Jochebed Isaacs, the coordinator of Project Fireflies who has a real heart to assist in changing the lives of these children, she said : I have a vision to set these children free from the bondage of poverty through education. Malaysians, we have a lot of work to do and we need more working hands instead of criticizing mouths and stealing hands.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Free health screening for residents of Good Year Court 3, 4 & 5

Recently, my office together with a team of volunteers led by Mr Yee Siew Meng organised a free health clinic for the residents of Good Year Court 3, 4 and 5. The event was hosted by Surau Nurul Hasanat at their compound. My office put up banners with MPSJ permit informing the residents there of the event but was removed by certain "parties". This was a community event meant for residents of all races who could not afford health care and yet we faced sabotage of this sort. Nevermind, we will soldier on! If this happens again, I will press for action against those responsible. At the event, children were also given educational health screens and talks. A big thank you to the medical specialists who volunteered their time to serve the residents. Below are some photos of the health screening:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Voice for the animals

Voice for the animals as reported in Malay Mail on 16 March 2009.

GOOD news for all animal lovers. The Selangor State government has started taking steps to stop animal cruelty at local councils.
For many years, animal lovers and NGOs, such as Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), have been calling for tighter guidelines and regulations to prevent local council contractors employed to catch dogs from abusing their powers.
Subang Jaya State assemblyman Hannah Yeoh, accompanied by SPCA chairman Christine Chin, made the well received announcement at her service centre in SS14, Subang Jaya yesterday.
“I have informed the State Assembly about what’s going on and the response was good.
State Executive Councillor for Local Government, Study and Research Committee Ronnie Liu assured me he would take necessary action to stop animal cruelty,” said Yeoh.
“For starters, Liu said a contractor employed to catch stray dogs by one particular local council cannot be employed by other councils.
Prior to this, one company will be hired by several local councils. This led to contractors to ‘reuse’ dogs that are captured,” she added.
“Secondly, Liu is open to the idea of having someone from SPCA to sit on the council committee in charge of animal control.”
It has been alleged that some contractors have been charging several local councils for dogs caught in one area.
“In one case, the council overpaid the contractors RM70,000. After investigations, it was learnt that the dogs were not caught in their area,” said Chin.
She, however, declined to name the local council that was defrauded.
The SPCA representative will monitor and advise the committee on animal rights and welfare. Besides that, the representative will ensure that animals are not illtreated by contractors.
Also, the representative will make sure the guidelines on catching and exterminating stray dogs as set out by the Department of Veterinary Services is followed.
On March 6, Malay Mail highlighted the issue with pictures showing captured dogs placed in vehicles with no cages to separate them as stipulated in the May 2008 Department of Veterinary Services’ (DVS) Guidelines on Catching and Exterminating Stray Dogs.
The three councils said to be practising this method of stray management were Ampang Jaya, Klang and Kajang municipal councils.
In the report, it was also stated that the Klang Municipal Council still used wire to snare strays, which cuts into the throats and bodies of the animals causing a slow and painful death.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Keeping the faith

My physical body is tired but my mind is finding it hard to rest. This is another one of those heartfelt postings for my supporters and friends only (those who want to criticise me for ranting out may stop reading now lest you accuse me of complaining).

It's way past midnight and my husband is sitting in front of his laptop listening to Fields Of Gold. It's calming. I've had a tough day, a stressful one. Encountered some nasty people. To be honest, I frequently ask myself, how long more do I have to endure politics? I despise politicking. I believe in grace. I hate corruption. I love mercy. I am often confused as to how I should feel managing people, managing difficult people.

I pray more young people, more clean people would rise to the call to serve the nation. I want to make changes. Making changes in very trying circumstances can exhaust you. I want to finish my race and complete the task God has given to me - to serve the people of Subang Jaya, to prove to our nation that not all politicians are corrupt and to bear witness that righteousness can indeed exalt a nation.

May I look back to this posting someday and say with all conviction : I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

This particular scripture reminds me of Haris Ibrahim’s recent posting. Thinking of you Haris, as you mourn the passing of your beloved mom. Our condolences to you and your family.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Helping the residents of USJ 1/4

I was informed by the residents of USJ 1/4 area about the problems they face with mosquitoes and the Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) sewerage treatment plant next to their houses. Some of the issues raised were : damaged fence surrounding the IWK plant, the smell on rainy days and the shrubs becoming the breeding place for mosquitoes and insects. I made a site visit together with members of Jawatankuasa Penduduk (JKP) Zone 4 and the residents came out to voice their concerns.

With residents

The shrubs

The mosquitoes/insects collected by a resident from her house

Subsequent to that site visit, I made arrangement with IWK Konsortium Sdn Bhd and MPSJ to "turun padang" once more to sort out the issues. MPSJ will continue to monitor the area in view of the rising dengue threat. We were told by IWK that their pumps are functioning well and that a new perimeter wall would be built around the IWK plant this year. I also introduced the IWK team to the residents there and they established contact for future correspondence. It is all about empowering the people.

Alam Flora contractors were also present to remove the plants that were acting as habitats for insects, as requested by the residents

One of the residents who is pro-active also received a surprise announcement by the IWK team. She was invited to be an "EYE" for IWK. The "EYES" IWK program is for:
(1) Customer who has an account with IWK;
(2) Customer's house is near and visible enough to see the sewerage treatment plant;
(3) Only owner of the house and not tenant can participate in “EYES”
(4) Sewerage treatment plant is a high risk or critical plant (near playground, pond type, problematic plants and etc...) EYES must report immediately to IWK if they see trespassers, anyone not from IWK, contractor appointed by IWK, children at their site trespassing, fishing, vandalism at the sewerage treatment plant or animals such as cows, goats or buffaloes entering the site.

IWK will send their officers to the customer’s house if they’re interested, and if all things run smoothly, the customer who becomes IWK's EYES will not have to pay their IWK bill for one year starting from the date mentioned in the contract released by IWK HQ. For those who are interested, you may contact mohseinr@gmail.com of IWK for further details.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Nizar was in town

Ikatan Anak-Anak Perak Di Perantauan recently organised a talk in SS15, Subang Jaya on March 1st for YAB Ir Nizar Jamaluddin, Chief Minister of Perak. A huge crowd came to support him and I was most pleased to be able to meet him in person. What a humble person he truly is!

Me, YAB Ir Nizar Jamaluddin and En Ahmad Idzam Ahmad

Mat Sabu & Gobind Singh having a light moment
[Note: I am disappointed with the motion to suspend Gobind Singh from Parliament for a year]

Fighting dengue in USJ 5

Close to 50 residents of Neighbourhood Watch in USJ 5 came out on a Sunday morning, March 1st to knock on their neighbours' doors to distribute leaflets and to remind them to clean up their surroundings. Young and old moved from street to street, covering more than 500 houses in more than 2 hours. MPSJ enforcement officers were present to do spot checks for breeding spots at houses. Alam Flora workers were also present to assist with cleaning up of field and drains. I got to know some of the residents there a little bit more after walking the streets with them and listening to some of the challenges they face in serving their community. Thank you to Mr Melvin Lee and Mr BK Sim for coordinating the effort by residents.

Knocking on doors

Explaining to residents on potential breeding spots

Reminding residents to check their surroundings once a week for 10 minutes only

Residents assisting to clean up

MPSJ officers teaching me how to test and look for larvae

Sunday, March 15, 2009

USJRA - NST Streets Family Day 2009

The biggest event of the year for USJ and Subang Jaya residents is coming!
When?: Sunday, 22nd March 2009
Time?: 7:30AM to 6:00PM
Where?: MPSJ Complex, USJ 5

The event will be carnival like with various activities for different members of the family to enjoy while interacting amongst the various communities.
Some of the activities planned include: Free health checks, Health talks, Children's playland - free entrance!, Family treasure hunt, Line dancing and aerobics sessions, Futsal competition, 3-on-3 basketball tournament, Blood donation drive and more......
See you there!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Emergency motion

I am now writing this during lunch break at the Selangor State Legislative Assembly. At 2:30pm today, if you follow the live online streaming, you will be able to witness the emergency motion put forward by Kampung Tunku, Lau Weng San. This emergency motion will debate on the revelation exposed by Bukit Antarabangsa, Azmin Ali two days ago - the discovery of the formation of a Mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Kerja Tindakan Persekutuan Negeri Selangor Bil.1/2009 held on the 26 February 2009 by the Prime Minister's Department.
One of the objectives of this committee is to ensure that Barisan Nasional captures Selangor back in the 13th General Elections. Unbelievable! Their "people centric" programs focus on giving funds to the people of Selangor ("voters?").
The most unbelievable part is this - guess who sits in this committee? Hold your breath, here's the list:
Chairman : Pejabat Pembangunan Negeri
Members : Majlis Keselamatan Negara, Jabatan Belia dan Sukan, Jabatan Penerangan Malaysia, Jabatan Hal Ehwal Khas, Jabatan Kemajuan Masyarakat, Jabatan Perpaduan Negara dan Integrasi Nasional and SURUHANJAYA PILIHAN RAYA!! The Election Commission of Malaysia - where is the independence?
Watch the emergency motion and the debate which will begin soon!

Kugan's death

Yesterday, at the Selangor State Legislative Assembly I raised the issue of Kugan's death while he was in police custody in Subang Jaya. I urged the State Government to demand for an explanation from the Home Minister for the cause of death stated in the post-mortem reports and the action which would be taken because this has affected Selangor, just like the Altantuya's case which also took place in this state.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Public Forum on Surviving The Malaysian Economy


Speakers :
YB Tony Pua – MP PJ Utara
YB Tian Chua- MP Batu
YB Nik Nazmi – ADUN Seri Setia
Ms. Tricia Yeoh- Research Officer to MB Selangor

Date : 20th March 2009
Time: 8.30pm
Venue: SS15 Dewan Serbaguna MPSJ, Subang Jaya
Admission is Free

International Women's Day

Together with Maria Chin Abdullah (NGO-Empower), Teresa Kok, Rodziah Ismail, Gan Pei Nei and Jenice Lee in Sunway Pyramid during the press conference on International Women's Day. We spoke on the need to restore safety for women in Malaysia.

Addressing the line dancing group in USJ 11 on the history of International Women's Day and thanking the ladies for their contribution to their families, the Subang Jaya community and the nation. These ladies have been exercising for years now and I salute them for their determination and the will power to complete what they have started.

It was a surprise visit and I gave them each a red rose and Coffee Bean vouchers for them to celebrate their womenhood and to enjoy the day with their loved ones. The joy of being a woman is truly priceless!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Traffic updates

I am committed to improving the traffic conditions in my constituency and will continue to explore ways to do this together with MPSJ councillors, MPSJ, traffic police, JKR and highway operators. This is no easy task in a high density constituency but I am calling for cooperation from all parties to help residents reduce waiting time in traffic jams.

Please refer to the article in The Star below for more details:

Tuesday March 10, 2009
Plan to reduce Subang jams By LIM CHIA YING

PERSIARAN Kewajipan in Subang Jaya is expected to undergo some traffic flow changes in the near future as part of a study to cope with larger traffic volume expected when the Subang-Kelana Elevated Highway is ready. Last year, the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) had said that it had appointed traffic consultant Ikram to study and propose what could be done to alleviate the expected traffic problems. MPSJ civil engineer Mohd Ariffuddin Kamari recently said that Ikram had already submitted its traffic recommendations. “We have sent the report to the Public Works Department (PWD) and the police for a review, since Jalan Kewajipan belongs to the PWD,” Ariffuddin said. “For now, we are just waiting for the PWD and the police to get back to us,” he added. He said Ikram had made a presentation on Feb 23 at the council infrastructure meeting, which induded Subang Jaya assemblyman Hannah Yeoh and several councillors. “We are forming a technical committee to be chaired by the MPSJ president and comprising agencies like the PWD, the Malaysian Highway Authority and highway concessionaires to study the traffic problems. “Through the recommendations, we will see how best to address the issue, especially at peak hours and also how to cope with the future volume of traffic when all development projects in the area are completed,” Ariffuddin said. He added that the MPSJ infra-committee had also been reviewing the traffic situation in USJ and Subang Jaya over the past few months. Meanwhile, Mass Transit Klang Valley (Transit) adviser Moaz Yusuf Ahmad and several concerned residents formed their own committee last year to study the bottleneck areas. One of the proposals made by the committee was to get rid of the four-phase traffic lights at the interchange. However, Ariffuddin said the traffic lights belonged to the PWD and also Kesas and required approval from both parties before it could be removed. He added that the arterial roads – Persiaran Kewajipan and Persiaran Tujuan – are also used by non-residents due to the easy connectivity that they provided. Meanwhile, three other roads in Subang Jaya are expected to undergo traffic light retiming to better manage traffic jams. The roads are Persiaran Murni, Persiaran Perpaduan, and Persiaran Tujuan. Ariffuddin said the council had also installed flexible orange posts at several locations like the junction of Persiaran Murni and Persiaran Tujuan to deter queue-jumping. “I know not everyone will be pleased with this, but we have to control traffic for the benefit of other road users,” he said. Ariffuddin added that, in the long run, public transportation would have to be improved to reduce congestion.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Anas, We Hear You

The Selangor State Legislative Assembly will be meeting for a week beginning this coming Tuesday and amongst many issues which will be raised are the economic concerns. Both Nik Nazmi and I will be addressing this issue at the assembly. Below is a response by Nik Nazmi to Anas Zubedy.

Anas, We Hear You
by Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad

Anas Zubedy’s letter calling for a political truce last week resonated with many Malaysians.

Scores of ordinary citizens and their families are starting to feel the pinch of the economic crisis as wages are cut, jobs are lost and houses are repossessed. I can understand why they feel that politics is distracting the elected representatives from what should be their main task at hand: leading Malaysia forward through the crisis.

Anas, we hear you.

It was incredibly moving when he wrote about how four of his employees, Saedah, Alicia, Samsuri and Sudesh are struggling just to get by. These are the people that the leaders of Malaysia should be helping. And you know what? They are- at least in Selangor and the other Pakatan Rakyat states. Since Pakatan Rakyat came to power in Selangor, we have implemented the Economy for the Rakyat Program to give the people a stake in Malaysia’s biggest economy. What would this mean for Anas’ employees if they live in Selangor?

If Saedah has an individual water meter, this would mean that she would get 20 m3 of free water each month. This might seem little to some, but for many ordinary Malaysians coping with rising costs of living, this provides some relief. If she has any kids going to a recognised institute of higher learning, her child will receive a university-admissions stipend.

For Alicia, she can sign her father up to the Mesra Usia Emas scheme. Currently, this entitles her father to be covered with life-takaful-regardless of what his ethnicity or religion is. We are looking at expanding this scheme to cover benefits for the father while he is still alive.

I agree that more needs to be done for them as well as Samsuri and Sudesh. I have seen hundreds of them in my constituency – many of them living not far from Samsuri’s neighbourhood. The solution lies in two approaches – promoting economic growth to make it easier for people such as Anas to do business and employ people; while providing a safety net to ensure that all Malaysians get a decent living no matter how bad things are.

The state has gone all out to woo investments to drive the economy. Last year Selangor attracted nearly RM12 billion in investments, the highest figure in over nine years. This resulted in 30,000 new jobs in the state. The state is trying to make it more predictable and transparent to do business in Selangor, which drives down costs.

In January this year, the Menteri Besar Tan Sri Dato’ Abdul Khalid Ibrahim has formed a special committee on retrenchment involving the State Government, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress and other authorities to keep regular tabs on the growing problem of unemployment as a result from the global economic crisis. It is also more than willing to hear the grouses of businessmen like Anas through bodies like the Selangor Business Council.

In fact, on the 4th of March, while announcing several strategic initiatives that Selangor is exploring to stimulate the economy, Khalid has offered to work together with the Federal Government, proclaiming that “economic development must transcend all political differences in order to safeguard the welfare of the people”.

In the United States, President Barack Obama has recognised the magnitude of the economic crisis that America and the world is facing and has signed the US$787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to deal with it. Whether one agrees with this economic stimulus plan or not, Obama has accepted that there is a problem that needs to be dealt with. The Singapore government has also announced an S$20 billion stimulus package of its own.

While the Federal Government has announced some stimulus initiatives, with a mini budget to be announced next week, it is worrying how they seem to be in denial with regards to the economic crisis. Both Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop have consistently denied that Malaysia is facing a recession to the point of maintaining the earlier estimation of a GDP growth rate of 3.5% until the last possible moment.

Just this week, the respected Malaysian Institute of Economic Research think-tank forecasted negative growth for first half of the year. Much of the billions spent have yet to reach the pockets of the average Malaysian – if it ever will.

The bottom line is that, as Anas had written; one does not need to be an economist to know that our economy is in trouble.

As the state assemblyman for Seri Setia, I witness these issues first-hand as my constituents come to meet me during my weekly sessions with them. Many families with modest incomes are struggling not only to pay their loans and bills, but to even put food on the table. There are many electronic and other manufacturing factories in my constituency- I am haunted by the thought that I will be witnessing the collapse of our economy with my own eyes as they close or lay-off workers, one by one.

But when you get down to the nitty-gritty the actual party in government does matter when it comes to how we deal with the economy. As much as politics can seem to be a game about who gets power, just as economics can seem to be a game about who becomes richer – at the end of the day the former involves the people deciding how their government should be run. This includes how we deal with the crisis, assuming the government acknowledges there is a crisis in the first place.

Being part of the State Assembly of Selangor means that I am responsible for ensuring that the State Government is run for the benefit of the people. I have to make sure that we devise laws and approve budgets that take the interest of the ordinary Selangorians at heart. Similarly, other legislators irrespective of their parties are responsible to hold their respective governments to account on behalf of the people they represent.

Our country now is in the midst of change. The government had tried to prevent this for so many years, but the election last year had opened a Pandora’s Box. We cannot turn back the clock. For the first time for so long, the different communities came together to reclaim politics back for the people. It wasn’t Pakatan Rakyat that won on March 8th, but the rakyat as a whole.

It’s easy to look at the petty politicking and end up becoming disillusioned with politics in general. I don’t blame anyone for that. Even I find it tiring sometimes when everyone keeps talking about the latest political twists and turns, to the point that my relatives pester my mother for the latest snippets from me, only to find out that I don’t talk about politics that much at home.

Nevertheless, it is important that ordinary Malaysians do not succumb to apathy again. Malaysians need to be able to decide the direction of the country. While I agree many politicians leave much to be desired, we are only a reflection of society.

Before the elections, it was tough to find many Malaysians who were willing to be openly involved in politics in this side of the aisle, with many preferring a wait-and-see attitude by the sidelines. Not many of the best and brightest wanted to have anything to do with politics other than being armchair critics while pundits played down our chances. This has definitely got to stop.

We get the politicians we deserve. We get the governments we deserve. Malaysians definitely deserve better, but they have to make the change first as our leaders can only come from our own ranks. We must be worthy of our citizenship, by contributing to the nourishing of our civil liberties and political freedoms. Malaysia can never have true economic prosperity without those other two pillars. If you feel disgusted at the level of politics we see today, this is not the time to give up and back down. Speak up, like Anas. You may not agree with him but his courage deserves to be commended.

The politicians need to know about what the people think. Drive some common sense into them if they seem nonsensical. If they don’t get the picture, replace them with those who can get it. If Malaysians give up on politics now, we will be up for more of the same.

Thankfully, after March 8th it seems increasingly difficult to silence Malaysians. Our public discourse is now healthier. Debate should be welcomed so that the government can arrive at the best policy to move forward. Pakatan needs to provide the check and balance at the Federal level, to offer alternative strategies that the government might ignore.

Malaysians can rest assured that Pakatan is willing to participate within the constitutional and democratic framework for the sake of the people. Yes, we have made mistakes, as Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim admitted in his address to the PKR’s elected representatives last Saturday, and we need to work hard to fulfil the expectations of the people.

There are also politicians across the aisle such as Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Zaid Ibrahim who have shown the strength of character to say the right thing. There is also a new generation of young politicians on both sides who have less baggage from the previous partisan battles who work tirelessly for a better Malaysia every single day. I can speak with confidence on their behalf that what we want is not politics for the sake of politics, but politics for the people.

In fact, when a BN MP’s motion to debate on Gaza was rejected by the Dewan Rakyat Speaker in November, Pakatan MPs rallied around him to criticise the latter and urge that the motion be debated. When the Parliament finally convened a special session on the matter in the midst of the Kuala Terengganu by-election, Pakatan MPs fully supported the Prime Minister’s motion to condemn the aggression in Gaza.

I am confident that if the BN is willing to allow many of the institutions under their control – including the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission, the Police and the mainstream media – to be just as professional in their conduct, then we can rise above the gutter politics that is hogging today’s headlines. We pray that more in BN can stand up to the racial rhetoric that always seems to be their last resort for short term political gain, as it creates new problems without solving the ones we already have.

Unfortunately, just as we grapple in trying to find the best ways to help the people, there are some quarters who continue to try to derail it for short-term political gain. From the Federal Government’s rejection of the Selangor State Government’s efforts to take over our water concession in order to avert a 30 percent hike in the tariff to the prohibition by Federal Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to all Federal officers from attending meetings with the Perak State Government (prior to the coup in Perak), they seem at a loss on how to deal with the emerging two-party system in a maturing democracy.

Much as we would like them to close ranks with us for the sake of Malaysia, the chances of this are growing increasingly remote. The people, however, should not be at a loss. We should not postpone change only for our children to have to undergo the same turmoil and uncertainty. Delaying the inevitable may result in an outcome that none of us find desirable. Giving up now is not an option.

We hear you Anas, and that is why we are fighting for change.

NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD, is the Political Secretary to the Selangor Menteri Besar and State Assemblyman for Seri Setia. He was the youngest elected representative in Malaysia’s 2008 General Election and blogs at http://www.niknazmi.com.

Residents' protest in USJ 6

I'm sorry I have not been blogging for almost a week now. I have been very exhausted physically, working and moving about with very little sleep. A while ago I was invited by the residents of USJ 6 to be present with them while they protested against the recently approved 9 storey development on a Telekom land (opposite True Fitness in Taipan).

At the public hearing in June 2008, I requested for the Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) report but there was none then. The application for the proposed development together with the residents' objections were forwarded and referred by the OSC committee in MPSJ to Jabatan Perancangan Bandar dan Desa Selangor (State Planning Committee). I then wrote to the State Planning Committee requesting them to take serious consideration of the residents' objections in view of the intended original purpose of the said land which is for Telekom Exchange and the deplorable and horrendous traffic congestion in that area. Despite constant follow-up with MPSJ over the last few months, I am disappointed to discover that a TIA report has been submitted in September 2008 but I was never informed of it. We have recently been notified in writing by MPSJ and the State Planning Committee that the proposed development has been approved.

A 9-storey commercial building to be built on a land space of 0.867 acre in a residential area is not acceptable considering the residents purchased their houses after being informed via their Sale and Purchase Agreements that the land in front of their houses would be for Telekom Exchange only. So many questions remain unanswered. When was the land alienated to Telekom? When was the conversion allowed, from utility to commercial? Was a public hearing called for such a conversion? The history of the land is unknown despite requests being made at MPSJ and the Petaling Land Office (old files have to be located first I was told)!

Next step - the residents would be filing their appeal at the Lembaga Rayuan while I continue to pursue this matter and escalate it to the State Exco level. I will continue to say this loud and clear - no more unsustainable development in Subang Jaya!