How should we judge a government?

In Malaysia, if you don't watch television or read newspapers, you are uninformed; but if you do, you are misinformed!

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X

Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience - Mark Twain

Why we should be against censorship in a court of law: Publicity is the very soul of justice … it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. - Jeremy Bentham

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no
responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

Career options
I suggest government... because nobody has ever been caught.

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?
Corruption is so prevalent it affects English language?

When there's too much dirt...

When there's too much dirt...
We need better tools... to cover up mega corruptions.

Prevent bullying now!

Prevent bullying now!
If you're not going to speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist? “Orang boleh pandai setinggi langit, tapi selama ia tidak menulis, ia akan hilang di dalam masyarakat dan dari sejarah.” - Ananta Prameodya Toer (Your intellect may soar to the sky but if you do not write, you will be lost from society and to history.)

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Steven Sim Chee Keong's open letter to opposition supporters: Has Pakatan failed?

This is what MP for Bukit Mertajam posted in Facebook:

My dear friends,

Forget which Pakatan for now. But let’s talk about the opposition and our coalition for all it's worth.

I always say that I see the world in many shades - and really that makes me unsuited for politics. It is much easier to present a monochrome world, an either-or proposition, a yes-or-no question. Simply because these are... simpler.

So when I look at social media today, many people are whacking Pakatan for failing, I feel that there are more shades to the situation than the ones presented.

But I am very well aware that many of those who criticise Pakatan are really our supporters who really want to see us successful. They are not Umno cybertroopers, nor are they stupid nor uninformed. No, they are people who had in their own ways contributed so much throughout the last eight years since 2008 to make regime change a reality.

(Of course in the midst of genuine cries of disappointment, there are noises of the opportunists who, like the classic ‘batu api’, stood by the side prodding us to go on fighting and fanning the fire even more.)

Hence, this article is not an attack on such views that Pakatan has failed, but rather an apology. I don’t mean saying sorry, although I may as well include that, but I mean a defence. I want to appeal to our supporters, to consider for a moment the shades of Pakatan’s failures:

When we say Pakatan has failed, let us ask, in which area?

Did we fail to capture the government even after two attempts in 2008 and 2013?

Yes, we have failed.

But with your support, Pakatan not only denied the regime its two-thirds majority, we have won four, not three, not two... I lost count... states in Malaysia, for the first time in our post-Merdeka political history. Pakatan’s popular votes increased; in fact we won 52 percent of the votes in 2013 and could have been in government, if not for the gerrymandering and other electoral tactics.

You have managed to put more Members of Parliament of calibre in the House who continually engage in quality debates and discussions, whether inside or outside Parliament. And in the state assemblies, too.

Because of the better, bigger and stronger opposition, the government is now more effectively checked than ever. We have tabled alternative budgets and policy proposals, some of which have been adopted by the government.

On the other hand, government policy and spending are scrutinised, even if we cannot change a thing, at least many more issues are surfacing - along with proposed solutions from the opposition. Ultimately, the government has indeed been pressured to correct some of its wrongs.

Did we really fail in this sense?

Did we fail to deliver good governance in Penang and Selangor?

I think the results are there for everyone to judge. Take Penang for example, basically because I am from Penang. Twenty-odd years ago, we were called Darul Sampah by someone no less than former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself. The city centre was in ruins, no one was going into the city, Komtar lost its shine, the beaches were dirty, no one was going to the beach.

Today everything has changed. Heck, we are top 10 on many a "must-see, must-go, must-eat" billboard charts around the world. The latest being No 4 on Lonely Planet’s "Top Ten Cities for Travel".

Through good governance, we managed to maintain a surplus budget, generate growth, jobs and prosperity. We are able to create a more equitable society through various welfare programmes, through gender equality policy, through state education programmes - some of these were eventually duplicated at the federal level and in other states.

Our improved Gini coefficient, 12 percent between 2009 and 2012, is the proof. Even our public toilets literally smell better - and no this is not propaganda, the state embarked on a "Penang Clean Toilet Campaign" in 2012.

All these, one must remember, come from running a state government which has less access to resources than Universiti Sains Malaysia, sometimes running on a budget as much as three times smaller than the varsity!

Where else but in Penang you get a smart app that enables you to complain, inquire, report, interact, criticise and whack the local councils 24/7? Yes, do it with your phone on your bed in your pyjamas. And they usually respond within 24 hours! Don't take my word for it, go check it out yourself here.
In Penang, only in Penang, the people get to vote on how their money should be spent! Our gender responsive and participatory budgeting (GRPB) project has been implemented since 2011 with pilot programmes in two social housing schemes, one on each side of the straits.

In my own constituency Bukit Mertajam, we have since July this year embarked on a project where 30,000 Machang Bubok voters will get to vote on how they want their state constituency fund to be used next year.

Yes, we can do much much more, but have we failed so far?

Did we fail to maintain unity in the coalition?

This is tricky.

Yes we are in disarray. That’s a fact. DAP and PAS, once so much in love when Tuan Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat was still alive, are now irrevocably split. Even those who remained in the coalition do not seem to be united.

But let’s take out my kaleidoscope at this point.

First, is maintaining unity equal to success? Let us recall that some of our fiercest objections against Gerakan, MCA or MIC were because they chose to stay on with a corrupted and racist Umno. Yes, Barisan Nasional had a united front, but at what cost?

Secondly, the break-up of Pakatan Rakyat was precisely because some of us strongly held on to our promise to you earlier - to have a more democratic, more liberal, more inclusive, more just, more efficient political alternative to Umno.

That means, when one of our partners wanted to go back to a more extreme form of politics, we have to say no, and when that cannot be accepted, we have to part ways. All this due to our commitment to our first promise.

Is that failure? It is messy, I know, but is it a failure?

You see, when Pakatan Rakyat disintegrated, Pakatan Harapan quickly appeared. Why? Because those who wanted a Pakatan are more determined than ever to make it work. And there are more and more of us, those who want to make it work. We have learnt our lessons from the days of the Barisan Sosialis, Gagasan Rakyat, and Barisan Alternatif.

I have warned earlier that this will be apologetic.

No superhero

I do not want to prove you wrong. Please continue to criticise and chastise us and keep us on the path - I have written a whole (small) book on why the people should keep an eye on politics and should not let politicians have a field day running the show by themselves.

But I want to invite you to look beyond the noise. I need to tell you when you are looking the wrong way, just as I expect you to when I am looking the wrong way. Despite all the gloomy news of failures and rumours of impending Armageddon for the opposition, we have done a lot - you and I.

You and I know from the start that this is not going to be easy. And this is where it gets really rough. Are we going to throw in the towel just yet?

I am just like you. I joined politics with zero background in politics in 2007. Do you remember 2007? Everything we have today seemed impossible then. Not a bloody chance! But we refused to believe in impossibility. We refused to believe in the cynics. “Why are you wasting your time to go to Bersih! It’s so dangerous and what can you guys achieve?” That still reverberates in the back of my mind from the first Bersih rally in 2007.

And boy, the excitement of my Indian colleagues, the engineers in the factory where I worked at back then, when they plotted together to attend Hindraf that year. They came back with proud faces and prouder spirit - we did it!

My dear friend,

The problems are there. A lot of problems, in fact; I know. I have to face them every single day. I once told a disappointed activist who supports Pakatan that I cannot afford to be pessimistic. Or else how can I even live a day staring straight into the sun when some of us are already complaining about the heat?

No, don’t get me wrong, I am no superhero - I just want to finish what I have started, what we have started together. And even at this maddening point, I am convinced that we can do it because we have done so much already!

And because love battles
not just in its own burning fields
but also in the mouths of men and women
I will finish this fight by taking the trail
from those would come between my chest and your fragrance
to plant their confused plants.

They will say about me,
nothing worse...
than what I have told you myself - Pablo Neruda

-- Steven Sim, MP for Bukit Mertajam


No comments: