Friday, November 14, 2014

A united front against crime

Posted on November 13, 2014, Thursday

THE second day of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting witnessed another show of unanimous support for a motion – to enhance crime prevention in the state.

It was the second all round “aye” for a motion moved in the august house. The first was for a request to the federal government and Petronas to increase oil and gas royalty –tabled at the Assembly’s opening session in May.

Undoubtedly, both successful motions tug at the rakyat’s heartstrings.

Bigger oil and gas royalty means more funds not only for development but also equipping enforcement agencies and local authorities with greater manpower and state-of-the-art facilities to tackle and improve the crime situation in the state.

Although it elicited only the second unanimous show of support from both camps, the smooth passage of yesterday’s motion was unprecedented. It was the first time an opposition motion had been given unquestioned backing – significantly by the ruling coalition.

Though tabled by Dr Annuar Rapa’ee (BN-Nangka), the motion was an amended version of the original private motion on the use of public space CCTV (closed-circuit television) to deter crimes in residential estates, moved by See Chee How (PKR-Batu Lintang).

A little delving into the background of this motion should benefit those – some ministers and YBs included – who have been taking only a cursory interest in the current Assembly sitting.

In October this year, See (Chee How) said he was seeking support from Local Government and Community Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh for his private member motion, calling on the august House to look into the alarming crime rate in the state.

The motion centred on the urgency to seek legislative assent to put in place action strategies and plans for the relevant government authorities and residents of housing estates to collectively confront and combat crime threatening the safety and security of people and their properties.

See said if he could obtain the support of any “good and sympathetic” minister for his private member motion, he would propose the state make immediate financial allocations for local councils to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) in all major residential estates.

Subsequently, on Oct 15, Wong, responding in a heedful tone, said he would have to read See’s motion first before making any decision.

What transpired after the public announcements made by both parties on the matter was not made available to the media.

However, sources close to See said bilateral discussions were conducted – with positive responses from Wong.

In seeking support for his motion, See was quoted as saying: “We must stand together to solve this problem. The issue is beyond politics. It’s everybody’s concern now, not only in Kuching but all cities and towns in Sarawak.”

One could rightly have expected a big hu-ha from the other side in the august House over the hijack of the motion that ostensibly bore the stamp of the opposition – or at the very least from the one who mooted the idea.

But no, as See told the media outside the august house after the motion was approved: “For me, I have achieved my aim because the State Legislative Assembly has given crime prevention its due concern, attention and action.”

The Batu Lintang assemblyman also disclosed his motion got the nod because it was first given a written consent by the Second Finance Minister, and later amended and entered into debate.

Wong was reported by the Chinese media as saying since the motion involved financial and budgetary issues, it had to be supported by the Finance Minister (the Chief Minister himself) before being tabled.

“As the motion is of public concern and as it affects the rakyat, I felt this was very important. I have to commend See on bringing up such a big issue that concerns everybody.

“I have to say this is an unprecedented case – for a minister in the ruling government to reach a consensus with an opposition member.

“Had I not given him the support, his motion would not have been accepted,” he said.

Wong explained that according to State Assembly standing orders, if a motion put forth involved finance, it had to be supported by a minister, and in backing See’s motion, Wong quipped he had broken his record as a minister.

The minister pointed out that as the original motion only concerned the purchases of CCTV and other surveillance equipment, the BN had decided to expand the motion to include other crimes such as cyber gambling.

“See also agreed. Therefore, I want to compliment See for being an Assembly member who is very constructive,” Wong said, adding that it was a ‘win-win’ situation.

A “win-win-win” situation – with a three-way combo of government-opposition-rakyat – would perhaps be more precise.

On the same day, the august House shot down all the three motions moved by the DAP.

The motion by Chong Chieng Jen (DAP – Kota Sentosa) on the Freedom of Information Ordinance to allow the public to access information from government departments was rejected because the provision would contravene the Official Secret Act.

Chong argued the Bill was based on the Act that applies in Penang and Selangor, saying a rejection of his motion could be translated as “encouraging further cronyism and corruption.”

Chiew Chiu Sing (DAP-Kidurong) moved the motion to have the salary of Local Government and Community

Development Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh cut by RM100 for failing out to carry out his ministerial duties in Bintulu which led to clogged drains and uncollected rubbish uncollected, among others.

The motion was dismissed on the ground that Wong is not the minister in charge of the local government in Bintulu as the role has been taken over by the Bintulu Development Authority (BDA).

Alan Ling (DAP-Piasau) also had his motion on public transport in Miri rejected when he failed to obtain a seconder after serving notice to Datuk Lee Kim Shin (BN-Senadin) to second his motion.
Lee demurred, saying: “It’s not proper to second an irregular motion.”

All the motions proposed were, no doubt, for the benefit of the rakyat but failure to do their homework and lack of accurate information (as opposed to hearsay) on the part of the proposers served only to kill the motions even before they could be tabled and debated.

Our YBs are among the most highly paid in the country. Their salaries and allowances are at par with executives working in private organisations. As such, the rakyat have high expectations of our lawmakers.

Gone are the days of scoring cheap political mileage by pointing fingers at “clogged drains and poor roads” based on flawed information.

YBs should come up with sound strategies to work for the well-being of the people.

Go down to ground and work in solidarity for the masses, regardless of whether you are in the government or the opposition.

You still have a year or two to prove you are worthy of the people’s trust and votes!

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