Day: November 1, 2014

Dog days look over for PKR

COMMENT PKR supporters must have felt a frisson of delight over photographs of Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali clambering onto to dump trucks, peering into clogged drains, and peeking into makeshift homes of illegal residents as the newly-installed state CEO took his touch to the streets in the last few days.

To them, these are welcome days of vim and vitality after eight months of embarrassing public feuds and excruciating backroom follies that had engulfed the party’s effort to have Khalid Ibrahim replaced as MB of the state.

It seems like the arrival of springy sunlight after a long dark passage during which it often seemed that things could not get any worse; that things were rock bottom, until someone or something was heard tapping underneath.

It’s not that bad stretches don’t occur in politics; it’s when they threaten to be unending that the trapped feel the joke is on them.

Emerging from these straits, they are apt on seeing a vigorous point man blazing a trail, to react like travelers in a desert would upon discovering an unexpected oasis.

Thus photos of Azmin in full kinetic stride stirred memories of the early days of Nizar Jamaluddin (left), the post-tsunami Pakatan Rakyat MB of Perak, a man of torrential energy, reformist passion but evanescent
No doubt, cynics would be unimpressed at Azmin’s display of new broomism until, perhaps, apprised that in the Kuala Selangor village where Khalid was born, Azmin’s predecessor only had piped water supply installed after he was beaten by competitor Manikavasagam to the chairmanship of the division in PKR’s long drawn out internal polls that ran from late April to early August.

A leader that tardy at provisioning a hamlet where he was born is hardly the sort that could succeed at passing off as authentically PKR, as different to an Umno rethread masquerading in the tricolors of the party born in revulsion at Umno.

Off to good start

If it takes an infrastructure and drainage inspector’s mentality to be seen as a more effective MB better than Khalid, then Azmin’s off to a good start.

After all, wasn’t it a rebuke hurled at Pakatan that the credits Khalid was racking up for their brand in good governance was spoilt by the state chalking up the highest rates in dengue fever incidence.

Mounds of rubbish uncollected; drains and canals clogged; roads pot-holed badly enough to imperil the life and limb of users, were caveats flung in Pakatan’s face whenever reports appeared that the excellence of Khalid’s management of state finances were set to attain stratospheric heights.

Having breached the RM3 billion in reserves level before the onset of his troubles, it seemed that the man was a genius at conserving money for the state.

But to what end when dengue menaced the otherwise healthy, a hard bump on a wet night imperiled unwary road users, clogged drains and canals and stinking refuse heaps made it hard to keep in mind when visitors or residents were in the richest state in the country?

So pictures of Azmin, in what is now being billed as Jokowi-like acrobatics, not only pumps the adrenaline in PKR and Pakatan veins, it should also stir voters and residents of Selangor to refreshed expectations of their MB.

The new man has not committed a single misstep, though it appeared he had done so when he ordered a stop to the special aid meant for the needy elderly in his predecessor’s parliamentary seat of Bandar Tun Razak and state seat of Port Klang.

On a second look, the aid has not stopped; it has been rerouted through the PKR-appointed point man for the two constituencies, Khalid (left) having been expelled from the party. There’s nothing wrong with the rerouting.

Of course, tougher issues are up ahead, like the matter of the seized bibles, the water agreement between Putrajaya and Selangor, and the proposed tolled highways that would crisscross prime residential districts in the state.

These are matters of considerable complexity and won’t yield to easy resolution. But a more consultative MB than Khalid, and a more solicitous CEO for the concerns of the public, party (PKR) and coalition (Pakatan) ought to see Azmin in rather better stead than Khalid eventually contrived to be.

It’s hard to see how Azmin could go grievously wrong on these matters unless, of course, he becomes abruptly amnesic or blurry.

That happened to Khalid as when he seemed to have lost sight of what the public interest, as distinct to his personal interest, was matters ancillary to and concerning the Putrajaya-Selangor water agreement; and where his corporate persona had to yield to political calculations, as in issues ranging from salary increases for state assemblypersons and executive councilors to tolled highways and seized holy books.

If Khalid was often a corporate persona lost in a political thicket, like deer caught in headlights, Azmin looks to be a hardened veteran of the subterranean alleyways in which political battles are sometimes waged.

If he can avoid the skullduggery that is a constant temptation of these battles, he may find the MB-ship of Selangor a long-waited opportunity for the display of latent powers.

In that event, for PKR and Pakatan the exercise would amount to a grand retrieval from the doghouse the two were consigned to as the Selangor MB crisis raged for eight shriveling months.


Full support for Selangor MB’s clear stand on Kidex and PJ Local Plan ‎— Tony Pua

NOVEMBER 1 — We would like to express our appreciation for the newly appointed ‎Menteri Besar, Azmin Ali for taking the time to attend the “Programme Turun Padang” in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

More importantly, however, was the message he delivered to the people of Petaling Jaya as well as our senior civil servants, including the Mayor for Petaling Jaya City Council, Datin Paduka Alinah Ahmad and the Petaling District Officer‎, Dato Misri Idris.

Over the past few months, the people of Petaling Jaya have been extremely concerned with several developments which may have a severe and irreversible impact ‎on the quality of life in the city.

In particular, we have been worried about the new highway concession, Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex) being granted a carte blanche to build the highway regardless of its impact and implications.

The residents were also concerned about the draft revision of the Petaling Jaya Local Plan (RTPJ) which among other things, rezoned certain developments for higher density as well as the complete removal of existing ‎guidelines for Development Orders and Building Plans.

We are happy that the new menteri besar announced a marked shift in policy-making for the state.‎

‎While the menteri besar said that the Selangor state government is not against the construction of highways, any highway to be built must prove itself beneficial to the rakyat. As such, certain conditions must be met including:

‎a. The concessionaire must provide a traffic impact study demonstrating substantial benefit for commuters in terms of reducing traffic congestion and travel time.

‎b. There must be full transparency on the rate of return of the highway including the toll rates to be charged. This is to ensure that there will be no astronomical profits for the concessionaire and unfair burden on the users.

‎c. In line with the transparency and accountability practice of the state government, Azmin Ali also demanded that the concession agreement must be fully disclosed to the public.

Therefore any concessionaire must meet the above conditions before the state grants its approval for the project to proceed.‎

With regards to the revised RTPJ, Azmin reiterated that the Pakatan Rakyat Selangor government believes in transparency and good governance when deciding on the new local plan for Petaling Jaya.

As such he announced that the Mayor and the local councillors appointed by the state government, together with the people’s elected representatives must sit down together and agree on the new draft plan in line with the aspirations of the people of Petaling Jaya. This is in the spirit of democratic practices respecting the rights and wishes of the people, a fundamental principle upheld by Pakatan Rakyat

He emphasised that only when this agreement is achieved, the new draft, with any necessary revisions, shall be presented to the State for consideration and approval.

We welcome and fully support the above announcements by the new Menteri Besar. The position taken represents a marked shift in policy-making from the previous administration’s top-down “take it or leave it” approach. ‎It shows that the Pakatan Rakyat Government is inclusive in its decision-making processes and prioritises the interest and welfare of the people as opposed to vested interest parties.

In a gist, Azmin Ali has expanded beyond the state government’s “Merakyatkan Ekonomi Selangor” programmes to “Merakyatkan Kerajaan Negeri Selangor.” These important initial positions taken by the new Menteri Besar certainly augurs well for the future and goes a long way towards regaining the confidence and support of the people.

Media Statement by Tony Pua, DAP Selangor chairman and Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara on November 1, 2014.

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