A third choice?

Decisions are one of the things that we do most everyday, whether we notice it or not. From very small decisions like what to wear and what to eat; to huge decisions such as which job to apply, which car or house to buy.

Whether it is making simple day-to-day decisions or big decisions in life, we make decisions based on valid reasons.

When we make decision on what time to take a shower very much depending on what time we have to go to work or what time is our appointment. 

When we are to decide what to eat for lunch, depends on what is available at that time, what does our tastebuds love or maybe when it is during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, then we have to take vegetarian food.

These are much simpler decisions that we make daily, but it still has a valid reason and choices out there.

Making bigger decisions might require longer and more in-depth process though, for example when we buy a car.

The first thought is usually the budget, how much can we afford the car. Then we consider the practicality of it, whether how big our family is, what kind of terrain to we usually drive by, do we carry a lot of things daily, or how efficient is the after-sales service of the company?

We will also look into the technical aspects; how fast can the car go, is it cost-efficient when it comes to petrol, is it environmental-friendly, does it connects to my handheld-device, and many other things.

Or some may decide more on the aesthetic part of it, such as the design, the colour, the type of the rim or the lights.

This of course, comes with a lot of choices. 

But when we decide on who is our representative in the Parliament and State Assembly; and who to govern our country, do we have choices?

Since the first general election in 1955, there is only one coalition that won the majority of the Parliament seats in the country and rules the Government, which is the Alliance, and subsequently formed the Barisan Nasional.

There was a sudden shock for the ruling party in 1969 where they lost a significant number of seats although they still remain as the Government; until in the 1990s that we see a stronger opposition coalition beginning to start-up. Then, it was the Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah and Gagasan Rakyat that came out to contest against Barisan Nasional. The coalition subsequently breaks up though and some of the parties came up with Barisan Alternatif to run against the ruling party in the 1999 and 2004 general elections.

The opposition coalition kept evolving and grew into Pakatan Rakyat; then Pakatan Harapan, and as we all knew it, they won in the 2018 general elections.

Since the 2008 general elections, Malaysians made a two-party system came true, whereby we have a significant strength among the opposition Member of Parliaments.

Despite all the scandals, corruption and negativity in politics; I think the political scenario gives a good hope for democracy in Malaysia. From having only one significant choice of a political party; we have grown to a two stronger choices of political parties.

But are we able to grow even further in democracy by having more stronger political parties in Malaysia? Do we have more choices when it comes to choosing who to represent us in the Dewan Rakyat? Do we really want just a two party system where we are forced to vote either one of the two which may not be suitable?

A third choice may sound ideal, but is it able to grow in our country? 

Usually, third parties face an uphill battle in terms of electoral success due to political system in a democratic country like Malaysia. Even in instances where the potential supporter may align themselves most with a certain third party, in the face of overwhelming odds against impacting an election, it makes more sense just to stay home or back a coalition party in compromise.

Growing into a stronger two-party system has also created more political bickering than ever in our country. Politicians are quarreling and criticizing each other just because they are not from the same party. Due to the strength of both coalition, the petty bickering seems non-stopping. The Government has forgotten about their responsibility of ruling, and the opposition has forgotten about their role of monitoring. What these two huge coalition focuses is to topple each other in the next general elections. 

Probably it is high time that we advocate for a stronger third party to arise. A third choice to remind the roles of the Government and the opposition. A third choice to remind that we have to make the country better, and not the political party better.

When we choose to buy a car and a house, we consider with so much details and choices. I think the same should be done when we choose who to govern our country.

What truly matters is not which party controls the government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 8th October 2019.

Haze, haze go away

It is that time of the year again.

It is hot, dry and the schools are closed as though it is the summer holidays.

The Westerners equipped themselves with bikinis and trunks while the Southeast Asians are prepared with breathing masks.

The lowlands looks like it is shrouded with mist; except that it is shrouded with haze.

The haze crisis in Malaysia and Southeast Asia is not something new.

The first appearance of haze in Malaysia was probably decades ago.

In recent years, the crisis has gotten more often with the problem happening almost every year, just a matter of different degrees of seriousness. It does not happen only in one country. It is a transboundary issue mainly across Southeast Asia.

The major haze crisis began in 1997, when the haze covered most parts of Southeast Asia, whereby Kuching recorded an Air Pollutant Index (API) of 860 during that period.

2006 recorded another round of a major haze issue when the effects can be felt as far as South Korea. The occurrences of El Nino made the problem worse during that year.

The 2013 haze was considered one of the worst that Southeast Asians have experienced. That year was notable as the haze caused record high levels of pollution in several cities. The API in Singapore reached a record high of 401 on 21 June 2013. On 23 June 2013, the API in Muar increased to 746 which caused the declaration of emergency in that city in the south of Malaysia.

We faced another year of crisis in 2015 when a serious level of haze hits again. Flights were disrupted, education institutions were closed, many have to seek medical assistance for respiratory issues. That year alone, the Indonesian Government estimated that the haze crisis would cost about US$35-47 billion to mitigate.

What makes the matter important and should be highlighted is that it is not a natural disaster. It is caused by humans. The haze is largely caused by illegal agricultural fires due to industrial-scale slash and burn practices in Southeast Asia particularly Indonesia and Malaysia. Apparently burned land can be sold at a higher price illegally, and eventually used for activities including palm oil and pulpwood production. Burning is also cheaper and faster compared to cutting and clearing manually.

Despite losing billions of dollars annually due to the haze crisis; despite having talks and discussions every time the haze appears; we still couldn’t solve the issue. Haze still keeps coming up every year, because of human greed.

Lack of action and political will to tackle the cause of the haze especially towards the planters that uses the slash and burn techniques to clear the forests has been causing the unstoppable issue.

It is time for the Southeast Asian countries to collaborate together with the Indonesian Government to act against the culprit of the companies that are causing fires across the region. One obvious action that perhaps we are not tough enough against the Indonesian Government and companies that are causing the fires and pollution.

Although the Southeast Asian countries has ratified the ASEAN agreement on transboundary haze pollution, it was criticised for not being effective.

The agreement was deemed as lacking enforcement mechanisms. This is due to the official system of rules that informs this agreement is the ‘ASEAN way’ of diplomatic conduct. This basically means that the countries in ASEAN shall not interfere with another country and are expected to act in their own self-interest respectively.

Furthermore, by looking at the commitment of the ratification of the agreement, Indonesia which is the main contributor of the haze is the last country to ratify in 2014; 12 years after it was first introduced in 2002. We should be proud that Malaysia is the first country to ratify the agreement.

But with the haze crisis remains despite the agreement, perhaps our Malaysian Government must take the act to another level. A law must be set to take action against the culprits of the pollution. A good example is the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act which is implemented by the Singaporean Parliament that criminalizes conduct which causes or contributes to haze pollution in Singapore.

If there is still lack of awareness and will in our region, maybe we will need a Greta Thunberg of Southeast Asia to remind people to make history and stop haze from happening again.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 24th September 2019.

Mat Rempit to GoJek?

Do we remember since when did the conflict between the taxi drivers and Grab began? It was long enough to witness the change of Government. Although regulations of e-hailing were implemented, there are still issues facing between both stakeholders. Since then, there were also many other e-hailing startups were developed. 

Even before we solve the issues between taxi drivers and Grab, the Government decided to bring in another. There were many questions that came into my mind when the news broke out.

Just last week, our Youth and Sports Minister, Syed Saddiq was so proud to announce that GoJek from Indonesia will be coming to operate in Malaysia. Very similar to Grab, but instead of cars, GoJek’s provides ride-hailing services using motorcycles.

Before we go into local startups, competition and the transportation system of our country, we should look back at what the current Transport Minister has mentioned last year.

In September last year, Anthony Loke as the Transport Minister said, “The Ministry maintains its stance against motorcycle ride-hailing services mainly for safety reasons. In Malaysia, there are too many accidents involving bikes that we just can’t take the risk.”

That is when Dego Ride, a local motorcycle ride-hailing startup was banned in Malaysia. Less than a year after that, the idea was booted back again, and it wasn’t Dego Ride who gets to ride at it.

As we all know, the safety of riding a motorcycle in Malaysia has always been a concern. The high number of accidents involving motorcycles, and the issues of Mat Rempit has to be of concern before we even consider such services. According to a research of Global Status Report on Road Safety, Malaysia has the third highest fatality rate from road traffic accidents. More than half of the road traffic deaths are motorcyclists. How many more are we expecting if the number of bike trips increases with the ride-hailing services?

Even if assuming that the traffic safety has improved, aren’t we supposed to first support our local players before bringing in the big regional companies? Before Dego Ride was banned by the Government, it has already build a foundation to begin with. Why don’t the Government create flexibility and encourage investors to fund this local startup instead? Bring back the local startup before we get in big players such as GoJek.

Syed Saddiq has always proudly claims that he supports the growth of Industrial Revolution 4.0 in Malaysia. He even tweeted that he wants the world to know that the Malaysian Government is committed in preparing Malaysia for the future when he was about to speak in the World Economic Forum.

So what does he mean by preparing Malaysia for the future? By bringing in other country’s startups to Malaysia? Or by just focusing on e-sports and playing games? We should be confident of our own local talents. If they are not good enough, provide them with platforms to learn and develop their skills. Our country has a good existing platform to assist in building startups such as the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre. 

The Youth and Sports Minister even supported his case of bringing in GoJek which will help create jobs for the local youth in Malaysia. So much so of his ideas of developing bright talents in the country. I wonder does he mean bright talents in riding bikes then?

It does not solve the underlying problems of the youth. Why do we need to create this kind of job opportunities at the first place? Are we encouraging the youth just to earn an income by being bikers? Are our youth not competitive enough to face the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and the corporate world? Or are we not generating enough jobs?

What has the Government done for the youth to embrace the Industrial Revolution 4.0? We have been raising about all the wrong issues recently and we forgot about the important ones. Khat, Zakir Naik and questioning’s people’s loyalty towards the nation wouldn’t help that. 

Knowing the social issues of Mat Rempit that Malaysia sees, are we ready to ride with a Mat Rempit?

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 27th August 2019.Mat Rempit to GoJek?

Eighteen Good Enough to Vote?

Just recently, the Cabinet has agreed in lowering Malaysians’ voting age from 21 to 18. The nest step would be for the Minister to table it up in the Parliament whereby the Parliamentarians will debate and decide whether it should be lowered or not.

I welcome and agree to the fact that this has been a long-awaited decision. Many nations’ 18 years old has been given the rights to vote since a long time ago, and that left only a few countries with people above 18 years old to be eligible as voters, which includes Malaysia currently.

18 years old means a lot to all of us. It is the age where we are technically considered matured. The eligibility to drive a car, to own a house, starting a business, getting married. If 18 year-olds are considered matured for all those, why aren’t voting as well?

Allowing 18-year olds to vote means more voters which signifies the relevance of democracy. The results of an election will be more relevant and inclusive with the add-ons, provided that the turnout is high.

But even before we proceed to approve the decision, I think tabling the motion of lowering the voting age must come together in solving a few related issues. We must not only consider the technical part of voting, which is the age limit.

If we do not improve or change our political culture and behaviour, amending the limit of voting age that does not make any difference.

Age is only the technical part. Somehow, the Government and the society plays an important role to develop the teenager’s mind prior to voting, so that they could make wise decision, especially towards issues as important as choosing a leader and government of a country.

Neil deGrasse Tyson once gave a great speech on the value of knowing how to think is far more important than just knowing what to think. Sadly, our education system only teach us the latter. We were mostly taught to cram as many facts into our head as we can, only to spit out on a piece of paper, then forget about them.

Instead of just remembering the facts, it is more important that we learn how to navigate the modern sea of information, how do we filter out the important, and how to determine what’s downright false.

This is what is happening in our political arena these days, the people were fed with too much information, which many were false or incorrect news. And therefore, they make mistakes by believing in those news. It is hard to blame them, as the algorithm of the internet does not filter whether a news is correct or not. Many does not justify whether a news is true or not by its content, the truth today is justified by the top results of the Google.

When we talk about the top results on social media justifies the truth of an issue, the same goes to what is considered important to many individuals.

It is a sad thing when we take a certain movement in the wrong meaning. Take patriotism for example. I don’t consider myself overly-patriotic, but I do love my country, I love myself for being a Malaysian. I may be of Chinese descent, but I am born a Malaysian, and therefore proud to be one. The problem with patriotism is when it morphs into chauvinistic ultra-nationalism. We have to admit that there are such signs, and if we are not careful, it will cause us more damage than development.

Instead of believing that one’s nation is unique, one starts to believe that his or her nation is supreme. That is worst when it comes to races.

When we are too focused on nationalism, we tend to forget of what is more important. Issues like climate change and environment is not attractive to nationalists, we rarely see nationalists advocates of such issues. When there is no national agenda, but only a global agenda to such issues, some nationalist politicians prefer to believe the problem does not exist.

We can always do whatever to prove that one nation or race is supreme than the other. But when climate change and natural disaster strikes, it doesn’t differentiate which nation or race you are from, it affects everyone.

And what is causing many to divert away from what is important? The modernisation of technology and branding is causing more confusion than ever. And that is why we need to educate our young generation to develop them to know how to think and decide for the government.

We are using technology the wrong way. It is easier than ever to talk to our friends who are staying thousand of miles away using the internet; but it is harder to talk to our loved ones over a dinner because we are constantly looking at our smartphone instead of them. Instead of analyzing the information that we derive from the internet, we rely on the internet algorithm to decide what is the truth and the important.

When we think about a famous soft drink, you probably imagine young people, having fun, playing sports and living a cool life. You probably don’t think about the overweight diabetes patients lying in hospital beds. Similarly in the general elections, we were given beautiful and sweet promises, but many never thought of going into details and the practicality of each promises.

The young generations, and in fact, most of the population are heavily influenced by technology and branding. We do not want ourselves to be influenced the wrong way in making decisions such as the government. Hence, it is critical to develop political awareness, maturity and the ability to think and analyze, so that we choose the best for our nation.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 9th April 2019.

An invitation to a political revolution

51 years ago, a movement were formed by a group of visionary leaders. Their vision is so ahead of their time and so far-sighted that it is still relevant as of today. And the movement that they have formed has evolved into a political party, Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia.

March 24, this year, is the day the party begin our 51st year in Malaysia. It is a new beginning for myself and the party members as we strive for a new direction.

March 24 is not a day for us to remember how great was Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia in the past.

It is the day where we commemorate and remember what we have fought for and will fight for.

Let us not make the 51st just another year that passes by. But let us begin with a progressive campaign that workds for the people, nation and of course Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia.

Brothers and sisters,

Today, I want to invite you to a campaign that is not about greed, hatred and lies. The campaign is not about racism, sexism, or religious bigotry. We need to end this negative politics. We should be advocating for a better economy, good governance and a better place to live in. We need more positivity than ever.

I am not asking for the you to change or rebel against the current government. I am asking for us to revolutionise our political culture and mindset.

We need a political culture and system that is based on economic justice, social justice, environmental justice, racial justice and positivity.

Today, we fight for the rights of all Malaysians and people living in this country. Rights to a job and shelter and freedom from starvation and illiteracy. There are still people who does not have access to fair employment, homes, food and education. Haven’t we heard that we aren’t paid enough to live in a place with a high cost of living? Is our nation building enough affordable homes for the people? How many young families now affords to purchase their own homes?

Today, we advocate for the freedom to realise one’s potential. To ensure productivity and increasing economic competitiveness, we need an ecosystem that allows the people democratic rights to develop and realise their potential to the fullest.

Today, we have to ensure that we are living in a just and equal society. A society that there is no discrimination of whichever, be it racial, religious, economic or social status. We have to ensure that the fruits of development must be shared equally among the people; and not only the rich. We need to ensure that there is equal access by all to opportunities generated by the market.

Today, we have to pursue for the protection of the environment and sustainable development. We have suffered landslides, floods, pollution that has caused health issues and deaths. Many of these disasters are caused by over and unsustainable development.

Today, we fight for the equality of all gender. We have to believe that all gender has the equal rights and ability to strive in the community. No individual should be denied of any job opportunity due to their gender. No individual shall receive a lower pay because of their gender. And no one should be discriminated based on their sexual orientation.

Today, we advocate for cultural integration where all races respect each other. In an era where the issue of race and religion is still sensitive no matter where we are in the world, we have to respect all races and religion. Not a single community should be stereotyped or discriminated based on their skin colour or religious beliefs.

Today, we ultimately must fight for political stability and a positive political culture. Our political culture has been too negative. There is too much political attacks, character assassination and even physical attacks.

Brothers and sisters, this is not a struggle to win any election or to topple anyone. Today, we need to pursue for a political revolution. A revolution that advocates for the betterment of our nation and rakyat through a new political culture.  

There is a huge task and gargantuan work in front of us. We must not let irresponsible politicians divide and divert us. This revolution needs every to put their hands together for a better future for ourselves.

This should be the spirit of March 24, this should be the spirit of striving for positive politics. And I invite you to join me in this journey. Let’s make it happen.

So what are we voting for?

The by-elections seems not stopping in Malaysia. In just less than a year, we will be having six by-elections in the country.

After Balakong, Seri Setia, Sungai Kandis, Port Dickson, we are now entering Cameron Highlands this week and soon, Semenyih.

As we experience through these periods, I always ponder, how does people actually vote during the elections, whether it is the general election or by-election. What are the people voting for actually?

Do the people vote for a political party because of their ideology and their stands on various current issues?

Do we vote for the ability of an elected representative that speak our voices in the right platforms?

Do the people vote for the manifestos and promises made in the elections?

Or does the people simply vote for one party because of their hatred and disappointment towards another party?

Nevertheless, I believe the manifesto of Pakatan Harapan and the disappointment towards Barisan Nasional has contributed the most towards the results of the 2018 general elections.

The change of the government has made Malaysians so hopeful towards the ‘Malaysia Baru’.

As the Cameron Highlands by-election is currently going on and soon to happen in Semenyih, I think it is a good time to revisit the winning choice of Malaysians in general.

Throughout the period since May 2018, there are contradictory statements, u-turns or simply implementing the same policies as the previous administration, but just a change of name.

The National Higher Education Fund Corporation or better known as PTPTN has backed down from a promise to allow borrowers to only begin servicing their loans once their salary hits RM4,000.

Tolls were promised to be abolished but until today, only the toll collection for motorcyclist that passes by both the bridges in Penang is abolished. Before we forget, the Sungai Nyior toll in Penang is still operating since the Pakatan took over in 2008.

When the Prime Minister Dr Mahathir gave his debate speech in the 73rd United Nations General Assembly, he mentioned in his speech that, “…It is within this context that the new government of Malaysia has pledged to ratify all remaining core UN instruments related to the protection of human rights.” As we know it later, the new government of Malaysia decided not to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), which is a one of the human rights instrument of the United Nations.

The Prime Minister who is a fan of national cars proposed for a 3rd national car project. Well, he stated that the private sector has to implement and fund it as Putrajaya does not have the ability to do so. But then in the early January, the Entrepreneur Development Minister Mohd Redzuan Yusof announced a RM20 million fund by his ministry to research the 3rd national car project.

Remember how Pakatan Harapan has criticised cash handouts including Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) has the elements of political bribery to the people? It seems like a little change of the name and the categories has changed cash handouts to be helpful for the people’s livelihood. It is now known to help ease the people’s cost of living.

Same goes to how the DAP has always criticised Biro Tatanegara (BTN) of its role of inciting racism, disunity, bigotry and intolerance. It was then indeed abolished in August 2018, but in October 2018, the Youth and Sports Minister that a new programme will replace the BTN.

The people have voted against cronyism, nepotism and corruption in the GE, but in the Bersatu’s AGM last year, its Vice President Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman suggested that the party should use its position as the government of the day to channel resources and projects to division chiefs so that it could win elections “by hook or by crook”.

Looking at the happenings in less than a year, we should really think twice and think again of the elected representatives that we have chosen. It is not about the political party, but whether does that individual have the ability to build the nation. If every Malaysian votes for a capable person regardless of the political background, despite who wins, we will end up with both a good government and a good opposition. I still think that is the best way to vote for.

When Malaysians are hoping for positive changes in the country, when Malaysians are giving hopes to a ‘New Malaysia’; it seems like all they got is the same old Malaysia.

A hope for 2019, a positive politics

2018 has been a roller coaster ride in the political arena. Pakatan Harapan taking over the government; political frogs; high profile politicians charged to court; by-elections; nasty and funny statements by ministers; u-turn of decisions has been highlighting the news.

It was also a year that most Malaysians have never been so hopeful for our nation. ‘Malaysia Baru’ as they said. Being a Malaysian, I too have put my hopes on positive changes not only by the Government, but by the nation as a whole.

As we look forward towards the new year, many of us would commit resolutions of our own. Besides personal resolutions, I have put down a list of political resolution that I wanted to share with fellow Malaysians.


1) Positive Politics

We have had too much of negative politics through the past decade. Character assassination, political gossips, baseless arguments and personal attacks are all too common. Whether it is in the Parliament, the media, social media or even a discussion in a coffee shop could turn into negative vibes. Looking at the relationship between Member of Parliaments (MP) despite from different political party makes no sense that the political arena looks so negative. The lunch of Khairy, Nurul and Rafizi; and the meet up of Hishamuddin and Azmin’s families in Morocco signifies that politics is indeed positive. It is the irresponsible politicians and people that are causing chaos among Malaysians.

2) Put an end to the politics of race and religion

Race and religion has been a trouble for Malaysia since decades ago. The issue of Sri Maha Mariamman temple and ICERD are cases that implied the problem still exists; and probably getting worse. We cannot deny that there are problems of poverty, financial constraints, unemployment, education, and other social issues among the people. And these issues are blind towards race or religion. It happens in each race, religion or community. What we need is an economic policy on the basis of income and the inequality between social classes, regardless of race and religion. As we are facing a globalised world, we need to compete with other nations as one; and not causing internal conflicts within.

3) Drown the voice of extremists

We have no room for extremists that threaten a lady promoting beer legally; kills a firefighter who is on duty; or people who simply threaten others simply because their needs are not fulfilled. We have so much to build, develop and work together for the nation that we don’t have time to solve the unnecessary problems of extremists. The moderates must come together and drown the voices of the extremists.

4) Political knowledge and awareness

With due credit to many young Malaysians, we have seen an increase of concern about politics and government. Thanks to social media, the youth have started to discuss and take part in the political process, which is voting in the elections. As much as the political awareness brought by social media; it has also impeded the political maturity in the same process. Fake news and half truths particularly in social media has caused many misunderstandings about politics. We must play a role to share the knowledge about politics and the truth.

5) Youth empowerment and participation

Although I have mentioned that the youth is now more concerned about politics than ever; but there is still lack of empowerment and participation. I believe youth should be encouraged and allowed not only to vote in the elections, but to participate actively in the government’s decision making process. Public policies and ideas can be formulated through the views of the young people. They should also be given the opportunity to participate in the governance process so that more would understand clearer about government. Not only that fresher ideas will be formulated; but the young people will also make better and informed decisions in the elections when they get more involved.

6) A Green Economy

When many nations have started worrying about environment, it is sad but the truth that many Malaysians are not aware of the threats. Probably it is due to the efforts of protecting the Mother Nature has a cost to it, and it is taking convenience away of from the people. Paying 20 cents for plastic bags or no-plastics day; banning of smoking in public areas; reducing usage of straws; non-usage of polystyrene products. These are all positive measures, but it may seem like a trouble to some. Our current priority is too focused on development that is causing harm to the green.

Imagine if we can create a ‘green economy’ where we can protect the environment and at the same time generating economic benefits. We should start a conversation about it and begin implementing practical ideas.

An article is definitely not enough to raise my agenda and concerns for the nation. All I can put down are my thoughts of what is critical and important at the moment. Largely, what we need is a brand new politics, a positive politics.

If you share my thoughts, do spend some time and we can brainstorm more ideas and actions.

For the next 365 days, it is up to us on how to write the history of our nation. It is our call whether we are taking action to make things better or just sit and worry what might happen to us.

Well, to me, action is a must, and we should do it together.

Let us look forward 2019, and wish you a Happy New Year.

To move Malaysia forward, we should craft better politics

After being in a hiatus for a certain period to prepare for the general elections then, I am given the opportunity to write for Kwong Wah again.

While thinking of a topic to deliberate, I recalled to an article which I have wrote in July 2015 entitled, “Politics isn’t only about winning elections.”

Three and a half years after that article was published, I still believe that the mentality of politicians still haven’t change that much despite the political changes that has happened in Malaysia.

The actions and words of many politicians still explains how important is staying in power and winning elections is to them. – Negotiations in forming of government, the possibility of forming a unity government between different parties, the lobbying for ministerships, jumping from one party to another.

As much as how typical politicians’ behaviour remains, the mistrust of the people towards politicians remains as well. The recent general elections has shown that the people have become disappointed with the political process. They have become disappointed with the typical politicians and are looking for something new.

Hence, they have bet their chances in Pakatan Harapan and the Malaysia Baru, in hopes of achieving something better for the nation.

Putting their bet and believing that the Prime Minister and Prime Minister-in-waiting is a changed man; they wanted to see changes in the nation. The people expects the duo would lead the nation to positive changes. With due respect to them, let us be reminded that the political heroes of today is the same person that were criticised and condemned in the past.

Both of them has risen as a star during the early 80s, where Tun Dr. Mahathir became the PM in 1981 and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was elected as the Member of Parliament in 1982.

During that time Francois Mitterrand is elected as the French President; Princess Diana was married to Prince Charles, subsequently Prince William is born; Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the 40th US President; MS-DOS operating system was released by Microsoft; the first CD Player was sold to consumers and Pierre Trudeau was the Prime Minister of Canada.

Since then, Francois Mitterrand, Ronald Reagan and Princess Diana has passed away. Prince William is now married with three children. MS-DOS was replaced by numerous other operating systems and is now obsolete. CD player is now in a decline with the invention of other data storage format. Even Pierre Trudeau’s son is now the Prime Minister of Canada.

Not only both Dr. M and DSAI has surpassed those periods, but it seems like it is the beginning of their legacy. But whether the legacy will be last or not will depend on their actions for the next few years.

I believe a good political legacy needs a mentality whereby, ‘politics isn’t only about winning elections.’ Political actions and decisions should not be based on whether it will benefit any individual or party in the elections. As Taipei mayor, Ko Wen-je has stated in his campaign video, “Do the right thing, do things right’.

When we decide to the right thing right, that includes making decisions that may be unpopular but important for the nation and the people. This period of change is a good time to advocate to reject extreme elements and push for real political reforms; and not merely to make their opponents look bad, to show that they have fulfill their election manifesto or just to change the colour of school shoes.

Malaysia Baru should mean to lay a foundation for a new generation of leaders to continue moving Malaysia forward. And that begins from a good political culture.

During the general elections, my campaign was all about creating better politics. It is driven by issues and serious debates; not political gossip, reckless political attacks or character assassination. Politics should be all about generating positivity. This is what the new generation politics should be all about.

Thus again I reiterate, politics isn’t only about winning general elections. Therefore, though the general elections has been over, I will continue the revolution of crafting a better politics. And the first step is to bring it into Gerakan.

To move Malaysia forward, we should move new and better politics.

A Legacy of Gentlemen Politics

It has been quite some time since Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon appeared and speak in the public. And there he was last week at the Meng Eng Soo open day, speaking in front of a large crowd. There was a sense of astonishment when he was there speaking since he has retired from politics.

It was also a rare occasion as both the former and the current Chief Minister attended the event.

As it is a norm that the Chief Minister attends the annual event, it was unusual when it was heard that only one state exco confirms his attendance.

Hence, the Clan Council decided to invite the former Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to grace the event.

It was supposed that Tan Sri Dr Koh agreed to attend the event after he was notified that Lim Guan Eng is not able to make it as Dr Koh is not interested in getting into any confrontation.

However, the Clan Council Chairman was caught in an awkward situation when Lim Guan Eng confirmed his attendance at the last minute. Even the current Chief Minister didn’t come prepared in a dress code, possibly because it was an eleventh hour decision. As the organizing committee has clearly published in the news that the attire for the event is traditional attire whether you are Chinese, Malay, Indian or any other race. Lim Guan Eng came wearing a t-shirt.

As said, it was a really extraordinary occasion as both Dr Koh Tsu Koon and Lim Guan Eng was given the stage to speak.

From the speeches, it was very obvious that there is a huge contrast between the character of the two individuals. One is a mild-mannered gentleman with positive and humble words while the other is a skeptic with sarcasms.

In his speech, the Chief Minister kept on boasting on how he have contributed to the names of the road, the allocations and their contributions. His choice of message is to accentuate his importance towards Penang.

On the other hand, the former Chief Minister gave appreciation and tribute to every single person from the former state EXCOs, the government officers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), individuals and generally the people of Penang towards achieving the UNESCO World Heritage status. His choice of message is to emphasize the hard work of every single person for Penang.

In fact, it seems like it has already been a norm that in almost every speeches that the Chief Minister gave, contain elements of politicking. Even at Jalan Pintal Tali last week, in his usual combative style, he simply cannot avoid talking about the ‘pink diamond’.

That is the huge contrast between the current and the former.

We ought to question ourselves, which type of leader do we prefer?

Or probably we should ask do we want a leader who makes every individual in the community relevant? Or do we want a politician who politicizes everything to make sure he wins the elections?

Do we want a combative culture where we argue and debate every single day?

In ‘New Politics’, we want the right thing to work. We want the right thing to happen. We want the right political culture to be practiced.

As many that know Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, I believe they would agree that he has left a legacy of positive and gentlemen politics in Penang.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 14th July 2017.

绅士政治典范

丹斯里许子根博士已经有很长一段时间没有现身公众场合及公开致词。由于他已经退出政坛,所以上个星期他在名英祠开放日向群众演说时,难免令人感到讶异。

那也是槟州前任首席部长,和现任首席部长一起出席活动的罕见场面。

槟州首席部长出席名英祠开放日是一个年度惯例,但今年听说原本只有一位行政议员答应出席活动,那是十分不寻常的情况。

因此,槟州各姓氏宗亲联合委员会决定邀请前首长丹斯里许子根博士出席活动,为场面增添光辉。

据了解,丹斯里许子根获知林冠英无法出席活动后,才答应出席,因为许子根不想卷入任何争端。

哪知,林冠英最后一分钟才表示要出席活动,令宗联委主席陷入尴尬局面。从现任首席部长没有依照大会的穿着要求出席活动来看,可知这是他最后一刻的决定。因为大会早前已经清楚说明,不论是华人、马来人、印度人或其他种族,都一律必须穿上传统服装出席活动,但林冠英只穿一件T恤赴会。

正如我所说,当天是一个非常特别的时刻,因为许子根与林冠英在同一个舞台上致词。

从演说中,可看出两人的性格存在如此巨大的差异。一位是温文儒雅的绅士,发表的是积极和谦虚的言论,而另一位是言辞中充满讽刺的疑神疑鬼人士。

首席部长在致词时,不断吹嘘他如何为道路命名、拨款和州政府的贡献。他传达的信息,尽是强调他对槟城的重要性。

另一方面,前首长赞扬每一位前朝行政议员、政府官员,非政府组织,乃至每一个槟城人,对他们成功争取联合国教科文组织颁布的世界文化遗产地位表示感谢。他传达的信息当中,强调每个人对槟城的辛勤付出。

相反的,现任首席部长的每一场演讲,都非政治化课题不可。即使在义福街举行的名英祠开放日,他也无法不谈“粉红钻石”,并展开一贯的战斗风格。

那就是现任和前任之间的巨大对比。

我们应该问问自己,我们比较喜欢哪类型的领导人?

或许,我们应该问问自己,我们想要一个能够连接社会中每一个人的领导人?还是想要一个凡事政治化的政客,以确保他本身赢得选举?

我们想拥抱战斗文化,每天吵架和争辩吗?

在“新政治”中,我们希望做正确的事。我们想要看到正确的事情所产生的正面效果,我们要实践正确的政治文化。

我相信许多认识丹斯里许子根博士的人,都同意他已经为槟城留下了积极和绅士作风的政治典范。