The Change that Changed DAP

Change in the dictionary generally means “the process or end result of becoming different.

When people talks about change, we are always hoping to change for the better. That is what Malaysians were hoping for in the governance of the nation. We wanted a more transparent, effective, progressive and a better government.

It was that hope for a change that has mobilized probably a historic voter turnout in the 2013 general elections.

It was the ‘Ubah’ spirit that DAP has instilled in many people; that has urged our family, friends, neighbours and colleagues to come out and vote.

There were many first-time voters; there were many who drove back to their hometowns to vote; and there were also many who flew back to Malaysia to fulfill their responsibilities as voters. All for the hope of change.

The word ‘change’ in government can be very subjective and have different interpretations. Change can possibly mean a change of leaders. It can also mean a change of different political party governing the nation. Or it means a change of new, progressive ways of governing the nation irrespective of who wins the elections.

Recent happenings on several issues has incited doubts in how people perceived ‘change’ as campaigned by the DAP.

There were cases where DAP’s actions contradicts with what they have fought for in the Parliament.
One of the obvious contradictions can be seen when we compare the Malaysia Stadium Corporation Act which was passed in 2010 in the Parliament and the Penang Stadium and Open Area Enactment that was passed in the State Assembly last May. Both the act and the enactment are pretty much similar which is to further improve the management of sports facilities with the exception of a few sections. The main difference though is that one is a federal law, and the other is a state law.

When the Malaysia Stadium Corporation Act was tabled in the Parliament in 2010, the then DAP Seremban MP, John Fernandez questioned the absolute power of the Minister in appointing the Chairman of the Stadium Corporation; but in Penang, the Chief Minister is the Chairman of the Penang Stadium and Open Area Corporation himself.

In the same Parliament motion, YB Ngeh Koo Ham of DAP objected for the section of the “protection from legal actions” in the Malaysia Stadium Corporation Act; but in Penang, the DAP-led state Government passes a similar law with the section that includes protection from personal liability.
There was so much irony on what they have campaigned for ‘change’, but they were practicing the same thing that they have objected for in the Federal Government.

There is probably one change in the enactment though is that the DAP-led State Government added an “Open Area” as the responsibility of the corporation, which would mean the Chairman who is also the Chief Minister having even more power towards the lands of Penang despite there are already controversies in regards to land matters.

There were also many occasions where we see how the DAP objected when it was the act of the Barisan Nasional, but was considered noble when it is the act of the DAP.

Freedom of Information and speech was one of the agendas when the DAP campaigned in the election. They have also boasted their action when they passed the Freedom of Information (FOI) Enactment in Penang. Today, it seems that the FOI has become a tool to hide documents rather than opening it up. Gerakan has applied to gain access to over 20 documents but we never gain access to any one of it.

The Federal Government was accused of selling the nation to China when huge investments were brought into the country; but when the Penang Government applied for loan from China, it was claimed that it was for the best interest of the state.

The DAP was so against the UMNO that they have vowed not to award the state projects to companies owned by UMNO members. Few weeks back, Zarul Ahmad, the chairman of Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd which was awarded to build an undersea tunnel and three major roads in Penang admitted that he is an UMNO member.

There are other ironies, such as the open tender in state government projects, the public car park charges, restoring local government elections, cleaner, greener and many others.

It is not about the right or wrong regarding the decisions on the said issues; but it is a matter of the meaning of ‘change’ is perceived by the DAP.

Yes, there is indeed change, the DAP changed.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 30th June 2017.

The Courage to Aspire 2017

It is the end of the year again and another new year approaching.

The end of the year is a time for celebrations and holidays to many. People take breaks to reward themselves after a year of working hard in whatever they do. It is also a time for reflection and looking forward for a fresh start in the new, upcoming year. We reflect on what we have achieved or done wrong over the year so we will learn lessons from it.

A new year, with its new delights and challenges, are upon all of us.

Looking at the politics in our nation for the past year, the problem of politics today is with its tribal, confrontational style. Politicians from different political parties fight with each other for the sake of politicking.

Politics is a process that happens in any nation that nobody can avoids. Our problem is not that we are engrossed with too much politics, but we do not have enough of healthy, constructive politics.

We have come to a point where many of us have become very individualistic.

The political elites strive to stay to gain power.

The middle-class are too busy climbing the ladder, trying to achieve success.

The poors are struggling to put food on the table.

Our nation is in hunger of change. But what are the changes that are needed? Does changing the government really works to change the community and our livelihood?

Politically speaking, making a change to our community does not happen by only changing the government. The more important step is to change the mentality of ourselves and including the political leaders.

It is easy to become cynical or impatient about ‘change’ especially with the current political situation in our nation. However, all is not lost. Change does not happen in a day, week or month. Sometimes, it takes years. I believe that we can make a difference by beginning from ourselves.

I believe that we have come to a certain extent that we need to look for an alternative ideology. We need a politics that encompasses grassroots democracy and collaborative decision-making of the people.

The first step is to change within ourselves; to change our mentality about politics. We need a political innovation; where we innovate our mentality to get into a politics that inspires real progress and development.

Politics is not about competing with each other or who wins the elections and assumes power. Election comes every few years; there will be winners and losers. Whoever wins, we must ensure that the elected ones bring real progress to the nation, instead of taking advantage of the power they hold.

To achieve this; is definitely a rough and tough journey; and requires an effort together to make it a reality. We may be from different political divide, we may have different political stand, we may come from different backgound. But let us not give up, and let me invite you to have this courage to aspire; to walk this journey together; by putting it as our 2017 resolution.

In this coming year ahead, let us begin a political innovation whereby politics is

not about who wins or loses in the elections;

not about who controls more power;

not about who is the lesser devil or who is more corrupted; Instead, we must compare who is able to deliver better as the leader of the nation;

not about political gossip, personal attacks, character assassinations;

not about confrontational debates and arguments;

It is simply about transforming our nation economically, socially, environmentally and politically.

It is simply driven by addressing the real issues and problems faced by the people

It is plainly about working on a journey together for a progressive nation, to be better together.

This 2017, I call for this fellowship towards a journey together. Let this fellowship have the courage to aspire a resolution to craft a new political mentality towards a first-world nation. A mentality to work politics in a new way to be better together.

Happy New Year!

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 30th December 2016.

We need a political revolution

In studying political science, I have read various writings on ideologies, governance, leaders, and of course, politics since the era of Plato and Aristotle. Comparing to the politics of the yester-years with the politics of today, there is a contrast of how politics were and how politics are today.

For the past one decade when I have begun to build my interest in politics and governance, there is a conclusion that I can make; which is that politics of today is so much focused on negative campaigning or even lies. That happens in a lot of nations in the world including Malaysia.

The past two weeks of campaign in the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections is probably a good example of negative campaigning which is going on.

In the recently Sarawak state elections also, we have seen certain political parties using fake or photoshopped photos to make claims on how the Government was not helping the people particularly in the rural areas of Sarawak.

There are also certain politicians who have resorted in spreading half-truths and lies to defame their opposition. Fake documents, photos and images were made to confuse the people.

Inciting hatred in speeches and articles is also made common by irresponsible politicians. Normal citizens, who are all humans, have emotions. And with emotions, many of us are influenced by political gimmicks, maneuvers and techniques. Without a doubt, all of us are followers to political leaders whether directly or indirectly. However, some people do not know how to analyse between a good or a bad political leader. These happens due to lack of knowledge on certain aspects; or we are too busy working hard to earn for our family that we have little time to spend to learn more about current issues. From there, many politicians take advantage to manipulate our minds by inciting hatred and confusion.

All these strategies of irresponsible politicians were made even easier with the advancement of technology and social media.

And these negative attacks has already affected down towards to the people. For example, there are people who made insensitive remarks on the tragic death of the son-in-law of the Deputy Prime Minister or those who wished for the Prime Minister to be the victim of a helicopter crash.

Probably, today’s politics is also too tribal with confrontational style. Politicians must stop fighting each other for the sake of politicking and “get on with the job”.

As I have said that there is a contrast between the politics of yesterday and today; the new era has also marked the death of “political ideologies”.

According to the Oxford dictionary, ideology is a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.

The “death” of political ideology does not mean that it is has disappeared totally. Political ideologies still exists; our national policies are still guided by a set of ideology. But the set of ideologies are only normally fixed by the political elites, from the top; and not from the bottom-up, by the people.

Again, comparing with the politics of the previous eras, the people of today are not as passionate in politics or civic participation compared to the people of yesterday. Hence, it is easier for the group of political elites to make their ideas of public policies a reality.

Political and the nation’s struggles no longer stems from the roots of the nations, which are the people.

It is rather difficult to blame the general public on the lack of interest in politics though. The poors are too busy struggling to put food on their tables. The middle-class work from day to night to sustain their family in not making themselves poor. They were too busy earning a living in an environment where income gap becomes bigger and bigger.

This is what is happening in our nation, Malaysia. To change the nation, I believe we will need to look for a political alternative. We will need a political revolution. A revolution of our political mindset towards ideologies. And it should begin from the passion of the people, from the bottom-up; not from the top to bottom.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 17th June 2016.