Getting to know your MP

Posted on December 4, 2007



On 18th September, 2007, the ‘PJ Selatan Get to know your MP’ initiative met with YB Donald Lim.

You can read about that meeting HERE.

We had then hoped to have a press conference to share with everyone the whole process that the group had gone through.

That pc, for a whole host of reasons, mostly my own time constraints, did not materialise.

Tonight, the group meets up with YB Lim again.

We want his response to the 3 issues we raised with him. We want to know where he stands on those issues and, if he is with us on the same, what he proposes to do about them, when, and how.

We may also raise with him tonight other matters that have arisen since the last meeting.

The ‘Get to know your MP’ initiative was the first effort that I pushed through this blog in April. It was launched with 10 initial constituencies owing to human resource constraint.

I am honoured to be associated with the members of the PJ Selatan initiative. They have worked hard and demonstrated patience with my erratic schedule and poor time management.

Sadly, the other 9 constituencies never quite took off with the same level of enthusiasm as I had hoped.

I am hoping that after tonight’s meeting, the PJ Selatan group will have a clearer understanding of their MP’s stand on matters that are of concern to the group. It will, I hope, help them make an informed vote in the next elections.

It is still not too late for people in other constituencies to initiate such an effort. I would be willing to help get it off the ground, provided that someone will be willing to come forward and lend leadership. Material prepared for the meeting with YB Lim could also be made available for your use.

Sometime back, Avtaran had, in a comment alluded to this initiative. Birdseye had sought elaboration. Avtaran furnished the same in a subsequent comment.

I reproduce below these useful exchanges, with some irrelevant parts edited, for your consideration.


  Avtaran’s opening

People are so frustrated with the government for various reasons. So, anything goes.

There are many ways to do something.

Let’s take the hard way. Let’s work in our respective constituencies and press our respective MPs’. It takes time to get the people, meet and formalise your concerms and finally getting an appointment to present your view. PJ Selatan has done this and it took us a good 3 to 4 months. We will be more than willing to share our experience with any one who wants to get this off the ground.

Why aren’t the rest moving along these lines. It is not illegal to meet your MP as a group of citizens that do not belong to any organisation or party. We are at the core of people power- the voters.

By doing this we the people send a message that we have concerns and we want change. The government will not know how to handle this because it has not been done before. Collectively we has citizens make up this country.

Why are we not doing this?

If we want a true dempcracy we need to know how to handle it. I think we are not ready for it if we are not willing to accept other view points. What is the differance between us and the government?

Birdseye’s response

People of PJ Selatan must salute you for the hard work that you and your fellow concerned residents have put into your much touted “Meet Your MP” campaign.

You have graciously stated that you will be more than willing to share your experience with anyone who wants to get this off the ground. That’s really kind of you. Oh, you can also rest assured that we all appreciate that it is not illegal to meet our MP. He is supposed to serve us, the people, and his constituents, whatever our race or religion. I really do understand that.

I think people should sit up and really listen to what you have to say. Hopefully, we will not have to drag it over 3-4 months (were we to do it), if you will share with us the mistakes or missteps your group made, if any, that made this such an arduous process.

I agree with your statement that people are so frustrated with the government for various reasons. I can think of the culture of corruption, the marginalization of the minorities, court cases that drag on for years on end, the appointment of someone as the Chief Justice when he has written only seven judgments during in his career, etc. Your core group must have been grappling with just what to put on the list. You know, the list can go on and on.

I believe it will help us appreciate just what we’ll be facing if you will address the following matters, using the experience gained in PJ Selatan:

1. You said PJ Selatan had taken a good 3 to 4 months. Why did it take so long to come up with the list of points that your group felt were important for the eventual meeting with the MP concerned? Too many cooks?

2. How long, really, did your group have to wait to see your MP? Did you feel the time taken for the appointment to be fixed was ridiculously long (or surprisingly short)?

3. Help us to appreciate the substance of your effort? If they aren’t state secrets, you can perhaps list the most important matters of national concern that your group felt must be dealt with and the primary issues that are unique to PJS. I’m sure your list is likely to be a long one given the 3-4 months you had to spend on it, but just the major issues will suffice.

4. What did your MP have to say on the important concerns that you list in (3) above? It will be interesting to know what he has to say about what your group feels important.

5. Will there be a follow-up meeting with the MP to review progress? Have you had the review?

6. Has it been a rewarding experience? Can your MP really deliver what your group expects?

Avtaran replied

Thank you for your queries on PJ Selatan meet your MP initiative. My responses are as follows:

1. The reason it took 3-4 months is because arranging meetings among our group required juggling all of our respective schedules.
2. Next we discussed what issues we wanted to raise. We came up with a list of 10 possible issues that we would like to raise.
3. A consensus was reached that we should narrow down to three main issues of national importance to facilitate an effective discussion. The issues were Bangsa Malaysia, Secular State and the Independent Police Complaints & Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).
4. A paper was prepared for each of these issues and a final draft was agreed upon.
5. Getting the appointment with the MP did not take too long. We had to coordinate our own schedule with that of the MP. It took less than 2 weeks to meet the MP.
6. The discussion with the MP was rewarding. He listened to us and shared his views which were candid. For me getting to know my MP is a process. It is not a case of ‘here are my issues please solve them’. If only life was that simply.

We have not been able to schedule a follow up meeting due to our own schedules and are planning to do so within the next few weeks.

In these times of great frustration with what is going around us, we need to explore all avenues of getting our voices heard. There is no immediate solution. Cheers.