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Monday, February 27, 2012

Jessie Ooi: Vindictive or a just victim?

Sulaiman Kamal | 1:30 AM | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Much has been made over the Selangor MCA Beliawanis chief Jessie Ooi in light of her outburst against the Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng during the televised debate between the latter and MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek last Saturday.

Although the debate is now history, her one-minute of fame has now given her more notoriety than all of her previous public appearances put together.

She was not the only culprit for that evening, especially when MCA members began throwing highly charged and loaded questions against Lim, who remained calm despite tirade after tirade from the floor.


However, Ooi stole the spotlight not just by the aggressive nature of her question, but the content of it.

The question is: was it a legitimate one out of genuine concern for the rakyat or was it completely senseless and she should have done better by keeping quiet?

‘I’m half a Penangnite’

When one introduces oneself as half a Penangnite, would one reasonably imply from that statement that she wanted to bring up an issue concerning Penang state?

I do not want to go into how she is “half a Penangnite”, but Ooi in her own defence said that her question was misinterpreted by the public and the press.

She wanted to question Lim as to why the Selangor state government had not reduced assessment rates (cukai pintu) when it has promised to do so. This is indeed a legitimate question, albeit posed to the wrong person and off-topic, but if it were in fact the crux of the question, why do you want bring up an irrelevant issue?

Furthermore, she would know that there are many other people who would want to ask questions and her time would most certainly be limited.

If she wanted to give a ceramah and bring up all these issues, that would be perfectly fine in her own time. But to basically spend her time asking about the island munipical council (MPPP) towing cars after 10.30pm in Lebuh Pantai in Penang, can we reasonably expect to believe she intended to talk about assessment rates?

It is fine to be passionate about issues and it is fantastic that as a member of the Selangor state opposition, she should ask about the lack of follow-through in the policies of the state government.

However, to go on a “shiok-sendiri” rant about an unrelated issue hardly does her justice.

In all fairness, does that mean that Pakatan Rakyat representatives do not rant when they ask questions? Of course they do, and they do so often. However, if you want to prove to the people that you are more capable of governing, do not use the “they can do it, so why can’t I?” excuse to justify aging and ranting on national television.

So let me rephrase and pose the question she failed to ask the Pakatan state government: “The Selangor state government has made a promise in its manifesto to lower assessment rates in the state in order to reduce the rakyat’s burden. However, despite these promises, the MCA is concerned with the lack of implementation of this promise. How does the Selangor government intend to address this issue?” Is this all right, Jessie?

Lack of parking

Now let us come back to the question she did ask.

Here is the transcript of her question below:

“CM Lim Guan Eng, I’m half a Penangnite. You just said that you want to reduce the people’s burden. Secondly, you have earned a lot of money. I want to say that you have been misleading the people. Cukai pintu is going up and the cost of living is going up. Also at 10.30pm, I witnessed it twice. Despite there being no cars on the road, you have asked your enforcement officers to tow cars away, causing bloody fights. How do you intend to solve these kind of problems? Is this what you call reducing the people’s burden?”

Yes, she had mentioned assessment rates. But why did she make an issue out of cars being towed in Penang?

Of course, every government wants to reduce the burden on the people, but the rule of law must be upheld. So what if it is 10.30pm? It is not uncommon in Kuala Lumpur to receive summons for illegal parking at night! If it is Barisan Nasional policy to issues summons and tow cars only during the day, why not put it in its manifesto? Or is this Ooi’s personal opinion?

The MPPP has reacted by issuing a statement that it was merely carrying out its duties. When the question regarding the lack of parking was raised, this was somewhat puzzling as there are more than 1,000 parking spaces in the Lebuh Pantai Area.

As Ooi had already said, there were no cars around. So would it be reasonable to assume that there was ample parking available as well?

Secondly, MPPP has clarified that the brawl in question was started by the individual, who assaulted the officer on duty. A police report has been filed and an investigation is under way.

How can we equate a hot-headed individual’s attack on an enforcement officer to the state government being unable to handle social ills? Incidents like these do happen, but we have laws in this country which deal with these kind of things. The government’s responsibility is to ensure that the law is enforced.

I would like to ask Ooi: can she tell me how it would reduce social ills and the rakyat’s burden if we allow social responsibility to be diminished? In other words, it is all right to sin after-hours? Despite her moral high ground, she came crashing down as a result of her complete lack of respect for the rule of law.

Deeper problems

It would be unfair to blame Ooi’s outburst solely on her. The MCA has been languishing in the doldrums and in an unfamiliar position of being an opposition party for the first time in history in Selangor.

Wanita MCA Beliawanis chief Tee Hooi Ling has also jumped to Ooi’s defence, saying that netizens and bloggers have been overly obsessed about the “tow-truck” issue and should instead focus on the debate itself.

This is a good point from Tee, but only if the MCA had followed its own advice that day.

Despite the persistent, off-topic, personal attacks on Lim, he did not level a single personal attack at his opponent or the floor. It is essential that Pakatan MPs do not get sucked into gutter politics which the BN government is so fond of.

MCA Youth secretary-general Chai Kim Sen also attacked Lim, saying the latter side-stepped a lot of issues raised including the lack of a socio-economic plan. He said that Pakatan lacked ideas on how to govern. I say to him, all evidence points to the contrary.

The Pakatan-run states of Penang and Selangor are the top two investment destinations in Malaysia despite having their federal allocations severely cut by the federal government.

Local developers and businessmen can testify to the incredible changes under Lim’s government in contrast to the Koh Tsu Koon government. Singaporeans are now flocking to Penang which is now cleaner and greener, and international accolades continue to pour in.

Naturally the federal government downplays the statistics by saying that Penang topped the foreign direct investment list because of the hard work of Putrajaya in promoting the state.

Well indeed, but in that case how about the increased allocations for Johor which is still under-performing? Why then reduce the federal allocations to Pakatan states if you want to flourish? The BN government is good at giving excuses and taking credit for things it does not do, and is ashamed when others can prove that it is incompetent.

The Rule of Law

A final point to ponder: has Malaysia got to the point of moral bankruptcy that flouting the law is allowed as it is now ingrained in our culture?

Coffeeshop conversations can revolve around the amount of the “duit-kopi” one has to prepare when stopped by a traffic cop: RM20 for a Kancil, RM30 for a Saga or Myvi, RM50 for a Vios and RM100 for a BMW.

DAP’s Tony Pua has already publicly declared that he is no longer interested in corruption scandals amounting to less than RM1 billion as he is already so busy dealing with the billion-ringgit scandals!

No wonder people like Ooi believe that the law is there to be flouted, because it is not just that the BN government believes that it is all right to flout the law, but it has become an ingrained habit.

Take Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia. The oyster sauce was proven to have no oyster extract in it, the ice cream did not have enough milk fat to qualify as ice cream and the milk had E Coli bacteria. This was all proven by the Health Ministry to be true.

So what action was taken against Mydin? None whatsoever. No fine, no trial, no investigation. Why? Because the ministry felt that since Mydin decided to recall the product, and no harm was done, it is all okay. How can we accept this or stand by this? What will happen if there is an outbreak of E Coli and people suffer and die from it?

Would Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai sweep it under the carpet simply because Mydin is an Umno crony?

When Liow is as impotent as any other MCA ministers to uphold the rule of law, how can we possibly give our trust back to them? They are not even consistent or constructive with their criticism.

My message to the MCA is: pull yourselves together, uphold the rule of law, develop work ethics and get back to work in restoring the people’s trust.

As for Ooi, please get comfortable being the opposition as I fear you and your colleagues would soon be sitting on the other side of the fence come the general election.


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