I refer to the article ‘Nurul Izzah losing her grip?’ by Azril Annuar on 27th August 2012, which attempts to contextualize and frame the pre-13th General Election scenario in Lembah Pantai for Malay Mail readers.
Firstly, we must congratulate the Malay Mail for its courage in attempting to highlight the work of a Pakatan Rakyat Member of Parliament (MP) in particular the first-term MP for Lembah Pantai, YB Nurul Izzah Anwar.
As many Malaysians are only too aware, mainstream media – newspapers, radio stations and TV – take great risks in order to strengthen the culture of debate and discourse in this country, particularly when the draconian (albeit slightly-amended) Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 hangs evermore like the Sword of Damocles.
From this perspective, newspapers such as the Malay Mail must be encouraged to continue to carry the voices of all, irrespective of political affiliations.
Secondly, I wish to draw the attention of readers to a particularly interesting choice of words, where the phrase “the BN senator has been … using his position as Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister to address (residents’) problems…” was employed.
This is particularly apt as the BN senator, Dato’ Raja Nong Chik, is very obviously using – or as some may posit, abusing – his position as a Senator and Minister to further his own private political ambitions, arguably tantamount to the dereliction of his duty as minister for all parliamentary constituencies in the Federal Territories. One estimate puts his presence in Lembah Pantai last Ramadhan at a disproportionate 75% of the time; one can only guess at the amount of ministerial resources outlayed for such personal adventures.
As remarked by YB Nurul Izzah, a lot of the problems faced by residents in Lembah Pantai are directly related to the level of service provided by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), which like the KL Mayor is ultimately answerable to the FT Minister. In this case, the public must ask the FT Minister why have problems including housing, constant traffic jams, poor drainage, lack of maintenance of public facilities such as lifts and children’s playgrounds been allowed to fester?
Furthermore, the fact remains that even though PR MPs were democratically elected in 10 out of 11 parliamentary constituencies in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, not only do they have no annual federal allocation (~RM1-2 million), but they also have very little say in what goes on in DBKL. FT residents are therefore experiencing ‘taxation without representation’, as even the Mayor is not democratically elected but is a political appointee of the FT Minister.
As rightly pointed out by the Honorable Minister, one particularly acute problem in Lembah Pantai is that of housing. His ‘solution’ to this problem, unfortunately, is a cause of much consternation among residents not only in Lembah Pantai but also beyond: using some RM300 million of Malaysians’ hard-earned savings in the EPF to finance the purchasing of PPR-PA public housing units at a 6.5% interest rate that will definitely burden borrowers compared to the much more benign ‘Rent-to-Own’ scheme.
YB Nurul Izzah had openly requested in Parliament that the FT Minister consider the latter option, considering the disquiet that accompanied the 1% (~RM3 million) his FT Foundation would stand to make from this scheme. The Malay Mail could in this instance intervene by organizing a debate so that all sides may clarify their policy statements for the benefit of the wider public.
Despite PR MPs having no annual budget allocation, no direct say in the goings-on of DBKL, and no access to DBKL-run halls, YB Nurul Izzah still manages to pull donations and volunteers to serve the people of Lembah Pantai – from monthly free clinics with qualified doctors and basic medication, to free tuition classes for over 100 students in Pantai Dalam, to quarterly Jom Shopping programs with elderly folk, to running a full service centre, to organizing dialogues between residents and PDRM on crime and security concerns.
In Parliament, YB Nurul Izzah has made very significant contributions to our nation’s legislative progress, including proposing the revocation of the Emergencies, proposing to amend the Petroleum Development Act so that Petronas is made accountable to Parliament, as well as debating in numerous bills that last often long into the night.
In short, YB Nurul Izzah has accomplished much as a first-term MP despite these obstacles, and we look forward to working with the good people at the Malay Mail and other mainstream media to help readers understand the challenges faced and the successes attained by our democratically elected representatives, towards building a better Malaysia.
Political Secretary to the MP for Lembah Pantai
(This letter was first published in The Malay Mail on 29 August 2012)