Friday, March 21, 2008

All Set?

The English media is a little kinder once the elections are over. ;-) In addition to the article reproduced below from The Star Metro edition yesterday, I've also been invited to speak at a forum organised by The Star and the Asian Centre fro Media Studies on "New Politics in Post-election Malaysia".

The forum is to be held in The Star auditorium on Monday 10.30 am, but it has been fully booked since the first day it was advertised in the papers on Wednesday, attracting some 500 attendees. And I had thought that given that it was a work day, attendance might have been on the low side! ;-)

Other speakers include Datuk Seri Chia Kwang Chye (Former Bukit Bendera MP), Datuk Nur Jazlan (Pulai MP), Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek (Former Labis MP), Charles Santiago (Klang MP) and Datuk Wong Chun Wai, managing editor for The Star. It should certainly be interesting ;-)

Pua all set for his new responsibilities

STEPPING into his Damansara Utama service centre in his trademark crisp white shirt and toothy smile without any signs of fatigue, Tony Pua looks set to take on his new responsibility as Petaling Jaya Utara (PJU) MP.

(No sign of fatigue? You've got to be kidding! - Tony ;-))

Pua garnered 37,851 votes in the 12th general election to beat incumbent Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun by a majority of 19,972 votes.

“Yes, we’ve been getting a lot of emails and calls about faulty street lamps and clogged drains. Some are more serious, like constant flooding,” said Pua. Most of the complaints are local council issues and he is not about to jump the gun in tackling these issues.

“We (including Damansara Utama and Kampung Tunku assemblymen Lau Weng San and Dr Cheah Wing Yin, respectively) want to deal with it in a more systematic approach,” he said.

To tackle the problems at the root, they would be compiling a list to be brought up during a meeting with PJ mayor Datuk Roslan Sakiman early next week.

“After all, we’re not here to replace local councils,” he said.

There are also bigger issues like the misuse of land where trees have been cut down without prior approval. Pua feels that these abuses have to be checked, but not independent of an overall state policy that would ensure more transparency and accountability.

“Instead of solving problems on an ad hoc basis, we have to look at why these problems happen every other month and how to resolve them,” he said.

He is hoping to work together not only with the DAP assemblymen but also with MPs and assemblymen from other parties like the PKR.

“It’ll take a few meetings to get everyone onto a single track. I think everyone has the same objectives but there are differences in approach,” he said.

As far as accountability and transparency were concerned, Pua said that while some laws have to be amended, some were already in place.

“For example, if the local councils refuse to publicise their full accounts, it’s up to the MPs and assemblymen to apply pressure to put up the account books for inspection. If you haven’t done anything wrong, there’s nothing to hide,” he said.

While the roles of the MPs and assemblymen are to apply pressure to the local councils to be more accountable, he feels that putting civil society members into the local council works better because they would be more public-spirited.

The ultimate objective is to have local council elections.

“We hope it would be as soon as possible but, realistically, it’ll be between the second to the fourth year. We want to do it before the next elections for the simple reason that that would be our key performance [indicator],” he said.

Being a fresh face in parliament does not bother Pua.

“As long as we can bring in the right set of professionals to help us with policy making and so on, the core values of the government will remain intact. We want a government with integrity, honesty and one that is accountable to the public,” he said.

For now, there is only one DAP service centre in PJU but there are plans to set up more.

“We’ll try to share resources so that we don’t end up attending to the same complaints. There should be coordination,” he said.
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