Focus on substantive issues, not personalities

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Who is this mysterious Andrew, who has been criticised by a few readers of this blog? Here, the academic-activist explains where he is coming from:

Let me clarify that I am first of all, a Penangite and a Malaysian who believes in democratic discourse. Thus, unlike some of those who have attacked me on a personal basis above (and previously in other posts), I am more interested in the substantive issues at hand. So, let’s focus on the discussion instead of personalities. Consequently, I see no reason why I should give anyone my IC number or my full name if I choose not to do so in my comments to Anil’s blog. This is my democratic choice just as I do not demand anyone to disclose their full identity if they criticise me. I would honestly prefer if we addressed the issues.

Hence, I find it disturbing here in Anil’s blog to read postings that reflect die-hard partisan positions towards those whom we disagree with. One would have hoped for better considering that many of us who post comments are from the educated middle-classes; the enlightened intelligentsia of our society if you please.

I am a voter who has consistently voted for the opposition since 1981. And despite this, I think it as important today to criticise the DAP/PR government in Penang as we did before when Gerakan/BN was in government. And I criticise this state government today because in my opinion, they are NOT PERFORMING and NOT LIVING UP to their election manifesto and the CAT commitment they made to us Penangites. Indeed, the DAP/PR government today is beginning to look more and more like Gerakan/BN in their cosying up to big business interests, especially contractors and building/housing developers, in the state – and at our expense! As well, CM Lim Guan Eng seems to me to be more interested in scoring brownie points against the BN at every opportunity instead of getting on with his job as CM of Penang overseeing good governance.

For me, it is important that citizens who believe in democracy consistently play a role in checking those we have elected to power irrespective of where our political persuasions lie. Just because I voted opposition does not mean I should support the opposition unthinkingly to the hilt and not criticise them no matter what! Indeed, to take such a position would mean giving up my intelligence and my commitment to democracy. This I am not willing to do so. After all, I got too good an education in St. Xavier’s Institution under the La Salle Brothers from 1970 – 1980 to do this. I am thus, even though a DAP/PR supporter, NOT WILLING to give this DAP/PR government in Penang a free pass. But if Sarah, Penangites, Periperichickeneh and others want to give this DAP/PR state government a free pass, that is their free choice. But not me. As an activist-academic, I have no desire to allow any government to do as it chooses. So, please don’t attack me personally for exercising my free choice in a democratic society. After all, I do not believe nor engage in personal attacks. But it would certainly help if those who disagreed with my views instead engaged with me (and with others reading Anil’s blog) by commenting substantively in favour of this DAP/PR government. I am certainly happy to read what others think about this Penang government.

In this light, I also see nothing wrong in MCA/Gerakan members who lost the last election also voicing out their opinions, views and/or criticisms of this DAP/PR government. What’s wrong if they want to criticise or speak up in a democratic society? Just because they lost the state elections does not mean that MCA/Gerakan members and supporters have lost their democratic rights, does it? Thus, if Koh Tsu Koon wants to speak his mind that’s his right. (Of course, that does not mean we need to listen to his rantings, does it?) Indeed, I would hope KTK and his Gerakan/MCA members continue playing an active role in keeping this DAP/PR state government of ours on the straight and narrow path, i.e. in fulfilling their manifesto commitments and CAT to us Penangites. As I see it, Penang will be all the better for this. Failing which, I am afraid that our discussions shall only deteriorate into grubby mud-slinging which does nothing to advance the cause of our democracy.

Finally, two clarifications. First, Penang NGOs and individuals have been plugging away at all state governments even before Merdeka in 1957. Penang NGOs and individuals have been enhancing Penang’s civil society for years. CAP and ALIRAN are current living proofs of this. For readers to suggest that NGOs and individuals have done nothing for the last 50 years during BN’s tenure in Penang is a blatant lie and smacks of maliciousness. Second, it is also a blatant lie to suggest that the Tg. Bungah folk who banged pots and pans on Valentine’s Day in Chee Seng Gardens have never protested against hill-slope development when Gerakan/BN was in power. Just because the protests were never carried in the mainstream newspapers previously DOES NOT mean that there were NO protests. Had the internet existed way back in 1993 when the Chee Seng residents first confronted Koh Tsu Koon and his administration one quiet night in a Chee Seng Gardens Residents’ Association meeting along Jalan Chee Seng 8, the issue of dangerous hill-slope developments would have gone public and global even then. :))

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Penangites

Hi Lilian. ‘We only hear positive point about PR’. Reason is….corruption is reduced dramatically (although I think not 100%) in PR state as compared to previous BN state govt.

lilian

Wow Anil, putting one comment can generates so much opinions! I am learning something new.

I think there are too many fanbois (those who blindly adore the PR) out there and I think it is not healthy. A group of four of us from the CJ course tried to get some negative feedbacks about the PR yesterday for our video project but we only hear positive points.

Kunta Kinte

Don’t you worry, Andrew. As a Xaverian, I am with you all the way on this one. We Xaverians have always been outspoken and have been known to have moral education – something that others do not have until some recent years ago. It is in the nature of Third World politics to focus on personalities instead of issues, and of the average Third Worlders to have a fixation on the singer and not the song, even in this day and age of the karaoke machine. Why do you think the West appears to be agitated when power changes hands… Read more »

Andrew I

Hi there, everyone. It’s the original Andrew here, distinguishable by the first (I). I’ve finally arrived at the conclusion after tonight’s ceramah at the Esplanade that most politicians are knobheads. It’s just the bigger ones are still from the other side. If this is the kind of politicians we have running this country, I’d say we’re pretty much doomed either way. How can I say this nicely…they all lack intelligence. Listen to them speak. No wonder we’re still clinging onto Anwar. It’s just a black hole after him. The reality is, rich or poor, it’s everyone for themselves. Maybe we… Read more »

cinakui

all here are hypochrites.

how many PR voters have you all registered ?

how much did you donate to PR ?

Talk c*** only. No action.
Giving comments in blogs

Rajan

Trust me – the last few months of BN’s administration on the federal level has been a big disappointment. Now they want to talk about how to help the normal Rakyat weather the storm. I dare say that they are “ineffective” and unable to do so. To give you an example, recently a Minister pointed out that the Batu Feringghi illegal sports operators and stalls should be given leverage to continue operating. You see the problem? I am always wondering if Ahmad Ismail (the infamous pendatang uttter) had a hand to pressure this minister to say this. Any NGOs for… Read more »

zazila

I agree with Andrew and anyone support him, pakatan has to strive hard and take the risk and criticism as a challenge and experience, so that ‘rakyat’ will see the true colur and maturity in politics(kematangan)..sorry I’m not good in english,..let us form a NEW Malaysia..

Richard Loh

Andrew, I agree in principle what you wrote above. Many may not agree to what I have to say but we all must understand that we are just human. I am sure with the thousands of Anil’s readers, there are going to be the same thousands of different opinions and thoughts. No one individual can get the full satisfaction he/she wants. The one difference between PR and BN governing is, PR is trying to reach out and to help as many people as they can while BN is reaching out to their own inner circle only. No matter how hard… Read more »

zazila

Sorry, I’m a malay and i’m not good in english and prefer to write Bahasa Melayu… Hi..Andrew, I’m the one that also agree with your opinions, we have the rights to speak..Ianya termaktub di dalam PERLEMBAGAAN, ‘critised’ is not a sin, in this very fragile bond amongst race, the stability of our country dependes on how we make the ‘bond’ stronger.We live in a multi-racial country, we are Malaysian, truly Malaysian, I don’t bother of what happened before but we must make ‘history’ as our guidance..eventhough today,BN goverment is in it’s worst part of ‘political will’,..we must take a glance… Read more »

k

I am unusually patient toward PR government

BECAUSE PR IS NOT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT YET!

Penangites

Hi Ong Eu Soon. At least you are sincere in revealing your name (it might not be your real name). I know you and you also know me. You are a good guy. My contention here is, why on earth the pots and pans group keep voting for the dictator BN year after year with huge majority. where is the threat then? Is it not sending a wrong signal to BN encouraging them to continue what they have been doing year after year. Dont practice this bull of voting BN for state and Opposition for parliament. This is a real… Read more »

Penangites

The problem with most people is thay practice the Rule of Crisis management. After voting in the BN govt election after election, people are now seeing crisis and they start pressing the panic buttons. After pressing the panic button, this group of people expect miracles to happen overnight. They even ask LGE to stop projects approved by the previous BN atate govt. If LGE and team get sued and lose millions, this group even mentioned they will continue to support LGE. Please get real people….. If the Penang Govt is to be sued and goes bankrupt, I bet you this… Read more »

cilipadi

Anil, I am a non-Malaysian which resides in Malaysia for long enough to be familiar with the politics of this country. I’ve been actively giving my views in Dr. Hsu’s Forum. I witnessed how Umno / BN was and is running the country. Just look back during Mahathir’s rule, the main 3 pillar of significant, namely Legislative, Executive & Judiciary were being raped by the Executive which resulted in Legislative & Judiciary no more an independent institution of their own. It is very clear, one does not need to be highly intelligent to understand what I meant here. The recent… Read more »

jughead

This Andrew is a leftist – same as those in the Greenies. They talk about caring the environment more than jobs. If he is around the time when Penang Hill and Rail was constructed, he could have protest. He only knows how to oppose but never give solutions to unemployment, housing and chance a own car. The fire in Victoria, Australia kill more than 200 people including fire fighters is partly due to those Greenies. At this moment they lay low because they are partly responsible in stopping people from felling down some of the trees which can stop the… Read more »

lizzie wong

Just look at the perak situation, and imagine what are the forces that the pakatan government (not just in penang) has to contend with… It is a wonder they can accomplish anything. A colleague of mine is a BN supporter, though she is beginning to see the true colors of BN, but still she ask me, what has tony pua done so far? (she was a chew mei fun supporter, you see). I dont know if the CM is engaging in politicking with MCA and GErakan. Didnt anyone notice that these BN goons are like wolves lingering around the pakatan,… Read more »

daryl

Is only one year and you have the Federal Government and Civil servant to fight with daily so please give them time. After 50 years you want changes in slightly more than a year.

As for NGO their fight is only as good as their cause and this goes to majority of them. Not that I am against them but most NGO’s are quite narrow in their objectives. That’s my two cents about NGO’s which I think is very important in today’s society.

j.a

this is the problem when Pakatan has to pull all gears to defend themselves against continuos barrages of attacks from BN who wud magnify 1000TIMES the smallest of mistakes pakatan makes wt their bloody MSM. And the never-seem-to-end events in perak and the coming 3 byelection(soon to be 4 wt bukit lanjan) will sap away all PAKATAN’s energy & attention to domestic issues in their respective states they won in GE12;they hav a much bigger fish to catch that they tend to forget to take care watever the smaller fishes they hav already caught. this is a dilemma; if pakatan… Read more »

wandererAUS

mak jun yeen;

My friend, so you are condoning FROGS JUMPING?
This is also, not the way how democracy should be, is’nt it.
Two wrongs don’t make one right!
I am not even against politicians leaving a party if they no longer share the ideology of the party they once believe but, jumping for a rich reward is simply unacceptable and despicable.

Johnny Cheah

ANIL, FORGET THIS TYPE OF PEOPLE. IF THE PAKATAN STATE GOVERNMENT IS NOT DOING THEIR JOB THEN IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF PENANGITES TO TELL THEM SO. DO CONTINUE WITH YOUR GOOD WORK. EVEN THOUGH I HAVE LEFT PENANG FOR THE LAST 26 YEARS, THAT IS THE PLACE I GROW UP AND WILL ALWAYS LOVE PENANG. ANIL, WOULD YOU LIKE TO JOIN ME FOR A PLATE OF MY FAVOURITE MEE GORENG IN BANGKOK LANE THE NEXT TIME I VISIT PENANG Hmm, mee goreng in Bangkok Lane…. now, that sounds tempting! Yeah, we all love Penang and it’s people – that’s… Read more »

Ong Eu soon

When BN want to spend RM21 billion in the name of whatever …. Don’t you think someone should seriously scrutinize the decision, what if you found out an opposition leader who suddenly become CM wanted to embrace the stupid ideas without even give a throught of it. do you think you need five years to past judgement on him.

Penangites

Hi Andrew. We all know that this is a democratic country. Everyone is allowed to say their piece. But always remember, their piece cannot be always right and therefore not always given approval. So on this aspect, a threat to vote out the 10 month old PR Govt is definitely not in order and will not go down well with the majority of Penangites who voted them in. Just like you want the PR govt to entertain your every wish, The PR govt will also like to grant you your wish. However not every wish can be granted base on… Read more »

kelvin308

Hi Andrew, I admired your fighting spirit for a democratic discourse. You are truly an anti-establishment person. Based on your opinion, I think it is purely academic. I mean evaluating a new government performance based on several issues and in short period of time is too narrow. Though myself sometimes disappointed with Pakatan states government actions but I think logically the time is just too short to make judgment. We must know of the limitation encounter by new administration in contrast to BN federal government. Reformation agenda will only take its course in totality once PR takes over the Federal… Read more »

zozdaniel

I share the common good intention of Andrew in putting the people in power in check for the eventual good of the rakyats. During this initial period of alevation to Power, many Corperate Figures and Identities have advanced their manouver to clamour to be close to the present administration with the motive of gainning better favours and approval. Many ordinary rakyats who were previously fearful of supporting Opposition Politics have also clamour in this direction. Understandingly, the PR government flourish with the new found support from all angles of society, and giving favours and support for the better well being… Read more »

chong

as if fighting against the giant monster (BN/UMNO) is an easy task. how much can you do when all the federal funds have been suspended or extended. and they have to look after the poor and the unemployed. anyway, what is the substantive issues right now are we are getting (someone linked to a murder case) as our PM and the violenting on the constitution in Perak. if you think it is only the Perakian issue, and it has nothing to do with Penang, you are wrong. if they succeeded in Perak, none of the other states can be spared… Read more »

imwatchinu

Fully agree with Andrew. The reason we criticized the opposition is that we want them to perform better so that they can form the next government. Giving them our votes is not a carte blanch to behave or manage like the BN. As long as it is a positive criticism, everyone should appreciate it. It would be a mistake to treat them like we have been treating the BN for the past 50 years. As the saying goes, “Treat a politician like a dictator and in no time he will behave like one”.