Too big of a dream or too small of actions?

It is the end of the year again. Every one that I meet these few weeks comes with a question, “What have we done in the year 2020?”

Everything seems stagnant, many of us did so little things and the time flies so fast. Maybe except for politics, where there are so many changes. We had a change of leadership and even the Americans voted to change their President.

Despite a year where we did nothing much, it was really tiring. Every single person on this earth has to adapt to a life changing scenario. We were forced to change our daily life habits to make sure we stay safe and healthy. Many are facing difficult times trying to find ways to survive economically especially those who are in the industry which is directly affected by the pandemic. While many Malaysians were simply tired of the political maneuvering that has made the nation worse.

Malaysian simply want our lives to be better and for the nation to recover from the 2020 disaster. It was supposed to be a remarkable year, full of hopes and vision. The world was just unfortunate.

Briefly summing up a catastrophic year as we should not harp too much about it because we are taught to look and plan forward. Talking about it won’t solve the problems, but planning and executing it will only make progress.

While we are trying to cope with the recovery period from the pandemic, adapting to our life and work changes, we have to make this a catalyst for 2021 a comeback year. Since we have to make changes in our life anyway, why not make it an even better change.

As you are reading this, some of you may know me as one of the political candidates in the last general election. I once had this aspiration of being elected as the people’s representative to make positive changes in the lives of people as well as the nation. But as we face the political turmoil this year, like many Malaysians, I have grown frustrated with the politics. I understand that politics is a lot about politicking afterall, but we have too much politics until we are ignoring many important matters.

And that is where I started to delve into different ways on how I can work on my initial ideas, which is relevant to my campaign slogan, ‘Better Together’, which I have always believed.

I have used 2020 to refine what I have always hoped to make better in the community, where some of you might think it is too ideal and impossible. Well, I have met enough cynics that have been pouring cold water on me.

Putting my notion into several categories, I hope to find some like-minded individuals that could come together and work on some of the ideas.

A frequent reader of my articles would know that I have tried to pursue better political culture in our country. How we should reduce politicking; less partisanship when it comes to finding solutions to problems of the people; matured and constructive criticism and focusing more on people’s participation on the government’s decision making process. It seems today that our politics is getting worse off.

Bad politics contribute to bad governance and therefore affects our economy. The pandemic has made it even more challenging with the closure of many companies. Since we have to rebuild many businesses and industries, we have to take this opportunity to build local brands and products. Social enterprise is also an approach that not only makes profit but as part of problem solver to other matters that we are facing.

The way we live our lives and the city’s infrastructure has always been an issue to us. Well, we need to keep developing ourselves anyway, hence, we cannot avoid finding issues and ways for improvement. Penang has been talking about LRT and improving public transportation since decades ago, and up until today, not even the approval of the project is done. We have numerous public spaces, but were not utilised for people as a place to network and communicate. 

Many couldn’t help it but the pandemic has slowed down the environmental concerns of the people to pay attention to the health hazards instead. To avoid going outdoors and meeting people; we resorted to ordering food deliveries, buying groceries and our necessities online which contributes to a huge amount of single-use plastic waste. Even the face mask that we have to change every day is producing an enormous amount of waste. As the pandemic problem stabilises, we have to return to practicing sustainable habits to compensate for the wastes that we have created. We may also have to explore more on urban farming to ensure food security; putting more concerns on climate change or perhaps work on a green new deal, that could also assist the economy.

Economy, city & living, sustainability and governance are some of the important aspects that are giving us problems of today. If politics cannot work out to deal with the matters that we need to solve, can the people come together to strive and make a better place for ourselves? It may be too big of a dream, but I believe it all comes to us whether we are taking action or not.

Are we Babi?

end racism Malaysia

The issue of racism still lingers around us despite being independent for over 60 years. Today, we are still stuck in the mentality of race and ethnicity.

We may not have racial fights or racism in an extreme manner, but we cannot deny that there are racial elements to a certain extent.

Last week, the Perikatan Nasional Federal Territories Youth made a police report against Namewee’s latest movie, entitled Babi which the film poster contains words of ‘Melayu Bodoh’, ‘India Keling’ and ‘Cina Babi’.

If we are not aware of the movie yet, it is a film that highlights the issue of racism that turns into a violent fight in a school. To be frank, I have not watched the movie yet as it is not premiered in Malaysia, but I have viewed the trailer and read the synopsis. 

However the content of the film may be, if we do not have a racist mindset in us, it will not flare up our emotions. Especially if we were to view it objectively as a story.

Even when our nation’s budget was tabled by the Finance Minister, there are still people who view it from the perspective of race. Look at how politicians often commented on it, in every single budget presentation. How much does the Chinese, Indian and Malay community get? Some even do the math of exactly how much each race was given every year.

There is no way of us escaping the racism mentality if ‘we still need to fight for our race’. To me, the only race that we need to fight for is the human race. Afterall, global warming, pandemic and other natural disasters does not kill based on which ethnicity we are.

But I guess that racism is an issue that is very difficult to solve totally. And the problem still appears in every country in the world.

A country which is considered established and one of the biggest powers in the world as the US is still suffering from racism. People are still fighting for the Whites or the Blacks. Ironically, that is more important than curing the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Ironically, racism is simply a problem created by us humans, that comes from a single subspecies, homo sapiens.

About 2.5 million years ago, humans first evolved from East Africa. These groups of apes then left their homeland for a journey and settled down in the areas of North Africa, Europe and Asia. 

The different location, climate, geographical conditions have made that specific species evolve into slightly different ones.

Those who have left for Europe and Western Asia have evolved into Homo Neanderthalensis who are more bulkier and muscular. The eastern regions of Asia were populated by Homo Erectus. On the island of Java, Indonesia, lived Homo soloensis, which underwent a process of dwarfing while there is another species in the island of Flores which is only approximately one metre in height and weight no more than twenty-five kilograms. They are the Homo floresiensis.

Scientists also discovered another species back in 2010 in Siberia, which is the Homo denisova. There are also a few other smaller species such as Homo rudolfensis and Homo ergaster.

Since the birth of the Homo species, science has proven that there are at least 6 subspecies of Homo that have walked on this earth. Subsequently whether it is the interbreeding theory where different Homo subspecies interbreed or whether it is the Replacement theory that suggests the Sapiens have got rid of the other subspecies to a certain extent; the Homo Sapiens remain as the sole survivor of the Homo species, which are us. 

As civilization grows and homo sapiens scattered around the massive globe, we were soon segregated by different languages, religion, urban development, borders and many more factors. And all these are created by homo sapiens, which ultimately is supposed to be from the same species. The differences have then turned into the source of arguments, conflicts and wars.

And today, we are arguing and fighting over something that we have created ourselves. But the homo sapiens just keep blaming each other for the ones causing it.

History is for us to learn and correct ourselves, and yet we are becoming worse off than our ancestors.

If we do not have the courage to face that we are the ones causing the problems, then when on earth are we going to correct it?

By the way, the movie Babi has received nominations from the Berlin International Film Festival, Bangkok International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and also the Golden Horse Awards. Aren’t we supposed to feel proud as a Malaysian instead?

Whether we are Babi or not, or whether we get offended by the word, really depends on our own mentality.

This article is published in Kwong Wah Yit Poh in Chinese dated 24 November 2020.

JASA – Right or Wrong?

Parlimen Malaysia

After the tabling of the nation’s Budget 2021 by our Finance Minister, everyone is hyped about the RM85.5 million allocation to Jabatan Hal Ehwal Khas or more commonly known as JASA. As usual in Malaysia’s typical politics, those politicians who are ruling the government will laud the move while those who are not in the government will keep criticising the decision.

Before I even comment on the issue, let us look back at what this JASA is all about.

The department was originally established as Badan Hal Ehwal Khas after the 1959 general election with the objective of maintaining and protecting the political, religious and government stability. The name was subsequently changed to Cawangan Hal Ehwal Khas and then Jabatan Hal Ehwal Khas. The role of JASA was then also to explain the government initiatives and programmes. 

To justify, I wouldn’t say that it is a definite right or wrong about the existence of the department or even the proposed RM85.5 million that was allocated to it.

Some criticised that the JASA has been misused as a political propaganda machinery for those who are in the government. It is an irony that those who have attacked JASA were the ones that are benefiting from their efforts when they were in the government. Now that they are not in power, they criticise it.

Now that we already have the experience of both sides ruling the government, if we were to pay attention closely; no matter who is in the government, there are units or departments that were formed to appoint people into positions, politically. 

Some say that RM85.5 million can be used to curb the Covid-19 pandemic. But this is very subjective. What if the role of JASA can be turned to be part of curbing the Covid-19 pandemic. At the end of the day, it is whether we are doing the right thing or not. The government can always divert the RM85.5 million to another department or ministry, but if it is not used wisely or misused, it will also be a waste. The question now is not about where the funds flow to, it is whether the government is efficient or not, whether they are effective or not, whether they are sincere in governing or not.

Some say that Tun Dr. Mahathir has been doing the right thing by abolishing JASA in 2018. But if we were to think politically, could he have been doing that to get rid of his political adversary’s machinery? Considering that when he joined politics, JASA has already been around, and that when he was the Prime Minister, JASA has also been assisting in his government, and he knows JASA very well. And if JASA has only been doing government work, why would he choose to abolish JASA?

When we discuss the objectives  of JASA, I actually think that a department such as JASA is important in any nation with the role of promoting and creating awareness of government’s initiatives. I have been long enough in politics and on the ground to know that the majority of Malaysians do not know what does the government has to offer to the people. 

To put a good confidence of the people towards the government is a secondary matter. But a lot of the rakyat do not know they have specific benefits from the government or they do not know how to get them. While other departments need to play a role to implement policies, we need units such as JASA to make the people know about how to benefit from government policies. 

The tabling of the budget is an example of the lack of awareness from the public. On that Friday, I was sitting in a cafe doing my work while listening to the Finance Minister’s speech. As and when I heard some announcement that could benefit people that I know of, I would drop them a message. Unfortunately, most of them would ask me what is this, when was it announced? They don’t even know that there was a tabling of the Budget at that time.

There are pros and cons if we were to have JASA back in the government. In the end, there is no right or wrong on reviving and allocating RM85.5 million to JASA. It is whether the government as a whole is doing the right thing or not. Again and again, the more important thing to change now is our political culture. If we don’t, the same mistakes will happen to the country over and over again. But of course with the current political culture, I would still prefer if the funds are allocated to more important efforts such as education and entrepreneurship and the environment.

This article is published in Kwong Wah Yit Poh in Chinese dated 17 November 2020.

Emergency over politicking or politicizing the emergency?

open law book and gavel

Since a couple of weeks ago, Malaysia was busy again discussing the same topic. After the hoo-haa of a potentially vote of no confidence motion to be tabled in the Parliament against the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin, the Government then proposed to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to impose a ‘political emergency’ which includes suspending the Parliament.

The ‘emergency’ proposed by the government was to enable the nation to focus on battling the Covid-19 pandemic and battered economy despite some saying that it is a strategy for the Prime Minister to stay in power amid a leadership challenge.

To impose an ‘emergency rule’ over the nation might be too exaggerating and might cause even more chaos or stress towards Malaysians; but I do agree that a stop towards politicking should be done at all cost. 

The more we lengthen the political uncertainty, the more dangerous it is to our health and economy as I have mentioned how this has affected the Covid-19 infections as well as our economic setback.

With due respect to our Constitution, if we still allow any MP or any political leader that claims that they have the numbers, and they need to seek the audience to the King or table a motion of no-confidence vote; then we will continue to have a chaotic political arena. 

Politicians from all sides will be eager to know who the ‘numbers’ are, and political camps will start contacting and meeting up. Those who are in the government will do their best to protect their power while those who are not in the government will do their best to get themselves into power. And all of them will tend to forget about the pandemic and economy again. That is what happens in Sabah state elections which has caused the growth of the pandemic to a critical situation now.

All these negotiations of power not only involve the elected officials, but also people surrounding them, dealing with negotiations and horse trading. The assistants, the lobbyists, power brokers, political influencers, leaders and even political members.

And each time a person claims that they have the ‘numbers’, everyone else gets busy together with them – the journalists, the staff of the Parliament, civil servants and even the King.

Instead of imposing the emergency rule, as I said, we should put a stop towards politicking. Parliament should still go on as the lawmakers have to decide on the Budget 2021 to enable the government to function. But there shouldn’t be any other political agenda including tabling of no-confidence vote. Some may like and some may dislike the current government, but if we continue to harp on political agenda, nobody will get any benefit from it if we do not solve the pandemic problems. 

Considering the amount of people involved in the politicking every time there is a possible change of power, if they can spend the time and energy in focusing to fight the pandemic instead, I am sure we can do better.

It is also weird how some politicians fear the pandemic and feel that the Parliament session shouldn’t be held to avoid the spread of infection, but how they weren’t afraid when they campaigned in the Sabah state elections. They weren’t afraid when they traveled around the country doing the negotiations and dealing so that they will stay or get into power.

This is how hypocritical some politicians are. Are we having an emergency over the politicking or are we politicizing the emergency? And by looking at the numbers of the Covid-19 infections today, we better stop politicking, I hope and I wish.

This article is published in Kwong Wah Yit Poh in Chinese dated 3 November 2020.

The risk of the political poker game

group of people playing poker politics

The poker game continues with Anwar Ibrahim’s turn to claim he has the numbers and requested an audience with our King. The sudden appearance of the ‘dark horse’, Tengku Razaleigh at the Istana Negara has also surprised many. There are talks now that Anwar Ibrahim might have the numbers to take over the government, or it could be Ku Li that will be the Prime Minister to mediate through the toughest period of political uncertainty.

It seems that each group or factions are keeping their poker cards close to them, placing their bets, playing psychological games, and waiting for the right time to make their move. Who has the highest card in their hands now? Two Pairs? Three of a kind? Fullhouse? Royal Flush?

Whether who has the best cards really does not matter now. What matters is we get all the cards on the same deck to work together. There is no time to play anymore. As I have written in my previous article, politicians always claim how they sacrifice to fight for the people and country, but instead are doing the opposite way. They are the cause of the setback that we are facing now. 

The first wave of the pandemic has already caused us a bad economic setback, with investors pulling back their investments, businesses cutting on their spending or closing down. The political uncertainty that began early this year makes it even worse. And now, the growth of this next Covid-19 wave is certainly caused by politicians themselves. 

The Sabah state assembly is not due and does not have to be dissolved until at least the year 2023. Who did it? The political struggle made a mess out of it, causing the state elections to be called, massive political campaigning conducted, and SOP was not adhered to. And of course, causing a serious pandemic in Sabah itself, and possibly throughout the nation.

Now that we are seeing a possible next wave hitting the whole country, nobody knows how Malaysians can survive through another round of economic stagnance.

2020 was supposed to be the year where we enjoy our economic dream of Vision 2020. We used to boast on how much our nation will achieve when that year arrives.

Today, we are in that year. And not only that, we have just stepped into the final quarter lap of the year 2020. 

Some may claim that the Covid-19 pandemic has been the cause of us not able to achieve the Vision 2020. Yes, we may have various reasons for that. But what do we do now to move towards the next vision, the next goal?

The tabling of the 2021 Malaysia budget will be held early November. That is when we take the next step forward to achieve what we have failed to do as a nation. 

I have also written before that the Member of Parliament plays an important role to obtain feedback from the people to table the voices of the people to the Parliament. But which MP has done it? Not even my MP as I am aware of.

The political struggle and uncertainty has risked the whole nation and the people. The poker game of the politicians is risking the future of Malaysians. Just end the poker game and start working seriously to build the nation again.

This article is published in Kwong Wah Yit Poh in Chinese dated 20 October 2020.

Don’t even think of the GE15 yet

A police officer during nomination day for Malaysia General Election on May 5 elections in Kuala Lumpur April 20 2013.

Malaysians are getting anxious and worried this week again. We are all glued to our devices every evening waiting for the announcement of Covid-19 numbers. We were checking everyday whether our place is going to be affected by the possible next wave of the Covid-19 infections.

Since when the Movement Control Order (MCO) was lifted, generally Malaysians have slackened when it comes to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of preventing the spread of the pandemic. Frankly, if anyone were to ask me, I myself have felt relaxed a little too. We were less worried compared to during the MCO period. But this is changing now.

The numbers announced every evening by our respected general, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham are spiking and rising now.

Although the numbers may be contributed by many other people, we cannot deny the fact that there are a significant number of them which are caused by politicians. It is by no coincidence that so many of the politicians from high profile leaders to grassroot members are infected by Covid-19. It is by no coincidence that they also have just come back from Sabah’s state election campaigning.

Worst is, some of them take it as though those are battle scars, and something to be proud of. They take it as though it is a sign that they are one of the greatest fighters in their political party. Needless to say, many of those ‘infected warriors’ showed off their pink wristbands or their hospitalization on social media.

Regardless of who or which political party, this power struggle since the beginning of the year has caused us a political uncertainty and an economic setback. The pandemic has just added the burden even more. And then we have the occasional negotiations, announcements and uncertainties that have worsened the situation. The announcement by Anwar Ibrahim that he has the numbers surely has fired up some politicians to go round and meet up with each other. Of course, the power struggle that has caused Sabah state elections has just added the spread of the Covid-19 even at a more efficient pace.

The politicians and leaders have been urging and claiming that the people are also the frontliners now, and they should play their role to stop the pandemic. But it seems that they are doing the total opposite way. This political maneuvering and power struggle should stop, and don’t even think about Sarawak state elections or even the General Elections for now.

The priority is to solve the biggest issues of today first.

We really should focus on curbing the pandemic, preventing another wave and rebuilding the nation’s economy. The people have already suffered since early this year, we cannot allow ourselves to go through this one more time.

This article is published in Chinese in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 6 October 2020.

MACC awareness in Chinese is also an issue? Wake up, politicians. Is political survival or the advancement of Malaysia more important?

screenshot of MACC website

In life, no matter what we do, we are bound to meet challenges and problems. It could be in our work, in government and politics, in our business or in our personal life. I believe that everyone would agree that when we encounter such matters, what we need to do is to find solutions and solve it. 

That is what I see in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), when they recently launched its Chinese-language website, which contains relevant information of the anti-corruption efforts. What I see is purely a method to help in fighting corruption.

The launch has drawn criticism from Bersatu Youth, Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra) and Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma), which claimed that the move sidelines Bahasa Malaysia’s constitutional position as the national language.

Although I may not know the exact reasons behind the launch of the Chinese-language website, I see it as a positive effort to educate many Malaysian Chinese or even foreigners who are probably working in our country. I definitely do not think that MACC is launching the website to promote Chinese language nor degrade the national language.

Whether we like it or not, we have to face the reality that there are still Malaysians who hardly use the national language. By having a website in an additional language does not hurt the national language. Furthermore, the MACC is not a government agency that functions to promote the national language. It functions to curb corruption, be it in the government sector or the corporate sector.

Malaysian Chinese or even foreigners who speak in Chinese, are one of the contributors to the economy of our country. When there are business and government dealings involved, they are bound to be open to the possibility of corruption. By allowing better understanding through different languages would create more awareness towards the corruption laws in Malaysia. 

It wouldn’t be the major approach to curb corruption, but one of the ways to solve the problems is through awareness and education. 

It is an irony that the youth wings of these political movements still need to use the racial cards to gain publicity and support. The young people who are involved in politics are supposed to portray young and fresh ideas, instead of keep using the old politics.

It seems as though that they are desperate to get support from their ethnic, and it seems that surviving politically in their own community is more important than curbing corruption.

And I wonder if those groups of youth see corruption as less important, compared to their political survival?

That is when I don’t see the possibility of Syed Saddiq growing his new political party, Muda, when especially it mainly targets only the young people. And it seems like some of the young ones are still practicing the old ways of politics. I have said before and would like to reiterate that a new political party cannot only involve a certain age group, ethnic or even gender. Malaysians have to work together and not to keep dividing each other.

Although we have seen changes in the government leadership at the federal level and state level in these two decades, I don’t see any signs of change in our political culture. Government may have changed, but it is still the same old political mentality that is running the country.

Perhaps, politics is not the way to really make a change for the country? Or maybe not in this era.

This article is published in Kwong Wah Yit Poh in Chinese dated 22 September 2020.

When will the people can participate in government budgeting?

Malaysia budget 2021

Coming this November, our Minister of Finance will be tabling his maiden budget speech, which is the National Budget 2021. It is the biggest budget of all in the country, as it determines how the government funds are spent in each category.

However, if we go down to the streets and ask the regular citizens whether they know about our national budget or how do they benefit from it, I believe we’ll get a lot of blank stares and question marks.

Very few people actually understand what it is all about. And when they do not understand, how can we expect that the national budget is tailored for the people’s needs? Most of the time, the budget is decided from the top, and not from the bottom up.

We are always saying that Malaysia is a democractic country; a country that respects the rights of each citizen. But have we ever thought that we ever have a say in our country’s budget? Do we have the right platform to give ideas or to vote on how government money will be spent?

We don’t. We never have.

Despite a couple of years back, when we started to have the option to give ideas on government budgets through website; we are not really empowered to participate in making decisions regarding the annual budget.

Perhaps, the elected politicians must give themselves more political will to begin at a small level. Begin to create awareness of the importance and empower the people in making decisions for their community.

In our case, I think Member of Parliaments (MP) and State Assemblyman (ADUN) play an important role in making engagement with their constituents, and to get them to participate in giving inputs on government budget.

Participatory budgeting gives citizens real control over where a budget is spent. As such, budgets can be spent in a way which better reflects the strengths, needs and aspirations of the population and can be more effective.

Participatory budgeting allows citizens to identify, discuss, and prioritize public spending projects, and gives them the power to make real decisions about how money is spent.

The budgeting that involves the public can be done in several processes:

– Participants or citizens are divided geographically into the areas that they live in.

– Members of Parliament then have to form their team of staff and volunteers with the advice from the Ministry of Finance. State Assemblymen should assist in the efforts whereby they can also garner feedback and inputs for the State Budget concurrently.

– The team that are established in each constituency will use multiple methods to get the ideas from the public including meetings, workshops, town hall sessions, door-to-door visits, public interviews, etc.

– Feedbacks and inputs have to be from individuals as well as local NGOs, religious organizations, trade organizations, etc.

– All proposals and ideas, initiated by the citizens, will then be compiled and submitted to the Ministry of Finance.

– The drafted budget is shared to the public and put for a vote. The government implements the top proposals.

For this, I have to give credit to YB Steven Sim and YB Lee Khai Loon who have executed participatory budgeting in their own constituency. It may not be perfect yet, but it is a good start to empower the citizens and let them feel responsible towards their own living place.

Participatory budgeting empowers people to decide together how to spend public money. The process will strengthen democracy, build stronger communities, and make public budgets more equitable and effective.

The rights of the citizen is not only to vote every 5 years; but to subsequently give feedback and be part of the government’s decision making process.

This article is published in Kwong Wah Yit Poh in Chinese dated 25 August 2020.

The political will for the people or power?

malaysia politics and governance

When I started to learn about politics years back then, I was introduced with the local government elections which I didn’t know about then. The local elections were suspended decades ago. It caught my interest about it and I have tried to understand a lot about cities and towns. 

As a matter of fact, when the idea of bringing back local government elections was mooted, I am really interested in it. 

But It was unfortunate for those who were hoping and advocating for local government elections when the Minister of Housing and Local Government, Zuraida Kamaruddin said last week that the current government is not ready to implement it yet. Even some of the MPs from the ruling government mentioned that they are against local government elections. 

Earlier when the Parliament proceedings for this session began, the Minister was queried on her efforts in pushing for the local elections. But she hit it back at those who were questioning her. She did propose in the Cabinet meeting, but none of the Cabinet members backed her up when Tun Dr. Mahathir disagreed with it. DAP, PKR and Amanah were in the Cabinet during that time.

It pretty much means that what DAP and PKR claims that they have fought to implement the local elections is just lip service. It is just merely talks and no action. 

DAP, PKR and Amanah did not support the motion when they were the Government; while it is obvious that UMNO is not interested in local elections. Well, it doesn’t look like the mayors and councillors are going to be elected anytime soon.

Some ‘smart’ politicians gave reasons that local elections will create and incite racial issues, which is so ridiculous. Local government was never about religion and race. It is merely about city planning, administration, infrastructure and community wellbeing. I don’t see how this can incite religious and racial hatred unless the politicians are the culprit. 

If we were to look at some of the best cities in the world, almost all of the mayors and councillors are elected. A local government election will create a sense of competition among the contenders and make them take up the job more seriously. In fact, it will also generate more awareness towards the public about the difference between councillor, State Assemblyman and Member of Parliament. 

Besides that, many of our local policies were decided by the federal government, which I think is not fair for the locals. How can we use the same set of rules to govern every city that is so much different from each other. It is also difficult for people living far away from one city or town to understand what they truly need. 

In Malaysia, it is common that the public always refer local government issues to the State Assemblyman and Member of Parliament, because many of them are not aware of councillors or their roles. That is why, most of the time, a councillor seems to serve as a platform for a politician to prepare themselves to be a potential candidate in the next general election, rather than making our city and town a better place.

Looking at this episode of local government election issue, It is sad to see that many politicians in Malaysia do not have the political will to do what is right, but more of only taking actions to make sure that they survive in politics.

The current ongoing Parliament session has just proved it that it is all only about political survival when the MPs need to decide to change the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, the attendance was almost 100%; only one of them who is absent. But what happens during most of the time when they need to discuss the people’s issues, or worst, during one of the proceedings last week, only 24 out of 222 MPs were present, which made the meeting suspended as it does not have enough quorum. 

With only 24 of them present during that time, it means politicians from all sides, doesn’t matter from which political party were just not interested in the debate for the people’s issues. 

What about all those cries and loud voices during the general election campaign that shouts about protecting the people, caring for the people and serving the people? It is all just rhetorics. They were more interested in power and position. 

That is why we need to get rid of the political elites, and we need to get those ordinary, everyday people to be elected to the prestigious halls. That is why we need to look past the political logos, but the people who can really represent the people.

This article is published in Kwong Wah Yit Poh in Chinese dated 11 August 2020.

Are we ready for young politicians yet?

Syed Saddiq Muar MP Parliament debate

The young people of Malaysia achieved greater heights during the 2018 general elections. By coming out in a record number to participate in the electoral process, a youngest ever Member of Parliament was elected. Prabakaran Parameswaran, the MP for Batu was elected at 22 years old.

Subsequently, the Government appointed the youngest ever Cabinet member, Syed Saddiq as the Minister of Youth and Sports at 25 years old then.

With younger politicians coming up, means that there are certain senior politicians that would have to make way. Although we have relatively younger people at helm in the political arena after 2018, is Malaysia really ready for younger politicians to lead the country?

When the current Parliament seating begins last 13 July, the young MP, Syed Saddiq stands up to debate on the issue of the new appointment of the Dewan Rakyat’s speaker.

Unfortunately, some of the so-called ‘experienced’ and ‘senior’ MPs interrupted his speech rudely.

“Yang Berhormat Muar lompat pagarlah.”

“Cucu, cucu. Cucu hendak cakap.”

“Tanya atuk kenapa letak jawatan. Bagi cucu mencelah.”

“Yang Berhormat Muar, sudahlah. Mengarutlah Yang Berhormat Muar.”

These are the words that were used to interrupt Yang Berhormat Muar, Syed Saddiq when he was trying to present his case on that specific issue.

There are the words uttered by people who were already MP for more than a decade, some are even former Ministers and Deputy Ministers.

We are glad that Syed Saddiq remained calm and debated with a professional manner, without even responding to the childish criticisms.

In early July, before the Parliament begins, a group of youth organised a ‘Digital Parliament’ which sees 222 young Malaysians went online for two days to debate on economic and education that affects the youth. 

On the first day, the ‘young members of parliament’ had touched on a wide range of ideas relating to the economic issues, specifically about the digital economy and the need to raise digital literacy. Discussion on the second day was focused on digitalizing education, with emphasis on strategies to enhance accessibility to Malaysians from the B40 (bottom 40 percent) communities, young people living with disabilities as well as young migrants, stateless children, and other vulnerable communities.

The proceedings went smoothly and debated with full maturity. To be exact, the way they present and debate is far better than some of the real MPs out there. 

These are the words used by the current MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, even some of the younger ones, which was influenced by the negative political culture.

“Tak ada maruah, tak ada maruah.”


“Kalau tidak puas hati, keluarlah.”

“Jadi barua macam ini.”

“Speaker haram.”

“Gelap, tak nampaklah.”

To make our point clear or be heard, I can accept that we have to be funny and sarcastic at times during debating, but childish and hurtful words are totally unacceptable.

If all 222 MPs in the Dewan Rakyat were to debate professionally like those young people in the Digital Parliament, I am sure Government matters would be implemented more efficiently and effectively. 

But unfortunately, I don’t think all Malaysians are ready to elect younger politicians yet. It is not about any individual Malaysians not agreeing to it, but the political system and culture has yet to push for younger ones to be elected. It takes time and more effort to make it a reality.

Afterall, the median age of the Malaysian MPs when they were elected in 2018 was 55.5 years old.

I wanted to prove that we can make younger people to lead, and younger people are indeed able to lead. Who’s with it?

This article is published in Kwong Wah Yit Poh in Chinese dated 28 July 2020.