Kelana Jaya: Yes, the man matters

Posted on February 28, 2008




Helen Ang


It looks like Kelana Jaya will soon be blessed with a Datuk promoted way beyond his level of competence. But let’s just be realistic. If the seat has his name on it, it’s because the Opposition shot itself in the foot, just like when Lee Hwa Beng was returned uncontested in Subang Jaya last term as state assemblyman. 

For conscientious objectors, your Hobson’s choice is:  

A.                 Vote PKR newcomer

B.                 Or the flyweight independent

C.                 Or spoil your vote 

At this juncture, I’d like to take all of you participating in People’s Parliament back to April 14, 2007, when this initiative was launched and more importantly, WHY it was launched … Option D. 

Haris wrote: “This blog, then, is about civil society reclaiming its power to determine who are the lawmakers in Parliament today who are worthy of the trust reposed in them by the people and if, sadly, we discover there are none presently, to make an informed decision of who we will next install in the people’s parliament.” 

In the case of Loh Gwo-Burne, there is no “informed decision”. Kelana Jayans are being called upon to install in Parliament a man they know nothing about, other than that he shot a video of ‘Looks like me, sounds like me’. 

And why did he shoot the clip? In Gwo-Burne’s own words, he was “bored and fed up” waiting while Lingam attended to other matters. He had wanted to take a photo of a vase (!) but had not realised that the camera was on video mode. He then chose to let it run for the fun of it. 

On how it had become public, Gwo-Burne said he initially thought lawyer Manjit Singh was responsible as he had burned a copy for him “but then I found out that he was dead so I have no idea”. 

Is throwing civil society’s support behind Gwo-Burne reclaiming the “power to determine who the lawmakers in Parliament” are? No, Loh is only the contentious choice of the PKR elections committee.  

Are you going to argue that under duress, as we are now, we do not have the luxury of cherry-picking candidates? On the contrary, I think that it is when we are under pressure that we most ought not to sacrifice our principles to expediency.  

Haris was once asked to name one good man in politics. He picked PKR’s Dr Syed Husin Ali. If Dr Husin stood, I’m sure we’d all have no qualms backing him.  

For the record, and I’ve said this before in Malaysiakini, the PAS state assemblymen in Kelantan have got integrity. They didn’t jump ship unlike their PBS counterparts in Sabah under similar circumstances, and Nik Aziz’s government surprisingly held, even though its majority was razor thin.  

The idea of ‘Get an Mp’ is to have the candidate declare and clarify his stand. What do we know of Gwo-Burne’s stand? 

Here’s what Hilman commented in Farida’s post: “I went to PKR ceramah in SS5D the other night featuring Nik Nazmi and Gwo-Burne. … This guy has a really big problem with his Bahasa Malaysia. … When I had the chance to speak to him in person, I asked him, what are your manifestos? And he replied that he wants to do something about the judiciary and also on the inflation.” 

Sounds to me like a Miss World aspirant replying “I want to do something about global warming, and oh yes, world peace.” 

As to Hilman’s other observation, if Gwo-Burne really has “a big problem with his Bahasa Malaysia”, then he cannot function in Parliament. It’s as simple as that. Proceedings in the House are conducted wholly in Malay.  

Am I guilty about making assumptions on Gwo-Burne? You bet! Isn’t that the very bone of contention here?  

People’s Parliament was born because in April 2007 Haris had thought that “The average voter casts his vote at the general election without really knowing much about his candidate of choice.” ‘Get an MP’ is a project to know the candidate or the candidate making himself known to us.  

PKR foisting a newcomer on Kelana Jaya 2 weeks before voting day is against the spirit of our ‘Get an MP’ project.  

A track record should count for something. Dr Kumar Devaraj who’s challenging Samy Vellu in Sg Siput said in his interview with me: “I’m here every week. We have helped so many thousands of cases in my service centre. We’ve helped about 20 different community funds. We’ve got involved in (the coalition against) the privatisation of hospitals, the privatisation of water. We have done what we can do.  

“We’ve been around here nine years. And without the ‘peruntukan’ (budget), without funds, we’ve done so much.” 

What has Gwo-Burne done in Kelana Jaya, you tell me. He’s been living in Shanghai.  

Now please, don’t let anyone dare say I’m a fan of Lee Hwa Beng. In fact, my next post will checklist Lee against the desired qualities and expectations rightly required of an MP and I can assure you, he’ll be found sorely wanting.  

But also don’t let anyone’s aversion to BN and Lee be a deterrent to looking at the scenario with the clarity, and gravity, it deserves. We’re talking about Parliament which is the highest legislative body in the land. So no, I’m afraid marking ‘X’ against a tree stump will not do if it’s merely to spite BN.  

Would you vote for an untested candidate? Where I live – Parliament: Bukit Bendera, Penang – DAP’s first-timer Liew Chin Tong is contesting Gerakan strongman Chia Kwang Chye. I’d be willing to give Liew a try because he’s a party man and I do know a little bit about him (but this point is moot as I’m registered to vote in PJ).  

Is Gwo-Burne a party man? Perhaps you should evaluate his contribution to PKR before we start banking on what he can do for the electorate.   

Or will you vote on the basis of party alone? Jeffrey Kitingan is now a PKR vice-president. Would you vote for him just because he’s not BN and you’re anti-BN? I most certainly would not! 

I’m not discouraging anyone from casting a protest vote against the BN. By all means, go ahead and support Opposition. I myself have never ever voted BN.  

But what I see in People’s Parliament on this issue is folks so intent on one battle (or rather a lost cause) that they lose sight of the war. That war is for good governance of our country. We are civil society shoring the foundations and carving the space to nudge this along.  

If you want to do something useful, educate your children and induct them into political processes. My generation was let down by our elders who failed to impress upon us the import of Ops Lalang 1987.  

Ultimately, our civil society goals are long-term and we’re in it for the long haul, not merely the one hour’s duty to be carried out at the polling station on March 8.