Tuesday, November 18, 2008

DAP's Personality Disorder

From being UMNO lackeys and yes-men to condoning abuses of power and corruption, we are already know the inability of Gerakan leaders to move Penang forward. That is why, these lackeys were booted out in the last general election.

DAP and its top leader Lim Guan Eng achieved landslide victories despite not coming to Penang seeking to overthrow the BN state government. The party only offered to become an effective and substantial opposition.

Voters in Penang took the leap of faith but not without great expectations. It is fair to argue that they voted out BN but not really voted in the DAP/PR. At 4pm on election day, a few top DAP leaders were still not sure of doing well at the state level.

However, since DAP leades have accepted the responsibility and burden to govern this state they should try to turn this negative win into a positive win. A positive win is required for the party to seek a decisive reelection at the next general election. Granted, a term is too short for the new government to do transformational change. But we do expect the party to take a lead to transform Penang. We expect transformational leadership from Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Hence, it is not too much for us to expect some vision and direction from his leadership. We are ready to support and even go along with some bold decisions and steps to help Penang become a leading example of good governance. Three immediate things come to mind which need immediate attention: cleanliness, public safety and economy.

Lim needs to make his vision to transform Penang clear. Clarity is important if he expects the people to support his vision and plans. To do so, he must be not be afraid of the old forces which will try to muzzle his efforts and make him follow the old framework. Already, there are some instances when decision makers in his team have to refer back to the old precedents fearing criticism from his foes.

We do not hire new people to do the same old things. No doubt, we could sense that the new administration is trying to be business friendly and at the same time demonstrate its financial prudence. The gleeful announcements of free wifi service, a possible new aerobus system and others which come at no cost to the government are some examples. However, soon the government will learn the hard fact that there is no free lunch in business.

The Kings of Tennis fiasco is what the government does not need. It should learn that over eagerness to do something for Penang can expose some management inexperience and weaknesses. Critics are right to point out that the local authority should not simply bend the rule to accommodate any event organiser. Preliminary background check is necessary. Business sense should also prevail when comes to financial viability of the project. Still, rules are rules. They are meant to be followed not break. What stops other organisers from asking for similar exemptions?

Since there is a heritage advisory panel in place, the state should get their views on events to be held within the heritage zone especially when it involves altering the landscape of the protected area. Tourism and heritage promotion is beyond an individual. It makes more sense for the state to build up collaborations among key stakeholders.

At the start of his administration, Lim has been quite generous with new appointments. Many of his partymen were elected to important sounding positions such as chief of staff, policy adviser, economic adviser, investment coordinator and others. The coming first anniversary of his government would be a good chance for him to evaluate the effectiveness of those occupying these positions. Positions are created to play specific roles and satisfy specific purposes.

Lim can choose between two possible routes. First, stay somewhat conservative and stick with his non-performing loyalists or second, enact changes which will help to strengthen his team and its ability to execute his vision and plans. He will need a real chief of staff who can help to keep him right on the track.

Too many event appearances, meetings and parliamentary responsibilities are going to keep him away from doing real thinking and strategizing for Penang. Lim is already having his plate full with duties and tasks to lead committees not from his portfolios. Without adequate attention and time, some of these committees cannot operate effectively. As a result, many volunteers may lose interest after a while.

Lim would need a real media adviser who can help to keep his message clear and consistent. Too much rantings about past abuses are going to wear off his public support and excitement. Surely, the mismanagement which caused the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) to lose RM225 million within five years is serious.

But Teng Hock Nan is right to point out that Lim could check with the relevant departments for the budget and expenditure details of MPSP and the Penang Island Municipal Council if he wanted to find out about the funds. Lim did not heckle Teng for answers but to run him down politically. A good media adviser will be able to point out to Lim how little mileage left from doing so.

There is still time for Lim to act and sound more chief ministerial. Lim did not run to become a chief minister. But more than 65% of voters in Penang thought that he and his team can be entrusted to do the job. What Lim and his team need to do is to start acting and sounding like a real government.

Alas, going back to become an effective opposition, a role they know best, is no longer an option.


Julian Chin said...

What they'd do now is to rectify the problems and run the state properly. When that's done, juxtapose the current state admin with the previous one for us to see.

No point telling us all these but not telling us what you're going to do about it.

Do your work and at the end of the day only show us how having (a pet) CAT is good.

Anonymous said...

Dear Khoo,
This is a case of having too high expectation. But Hey, nothing wrong to make a very constructive criticism. However, remember, not all government are perfect. Not even in Singapore. Take a good look at the DBS (Singapore GLC linked) retrenchment exercise recently (Hmm......Lagi worse than King of Tennis fiasco)
Anyway, it's just a tennis tournament.No money was lost. Compared to 12 million Singapore town council sinking funds lost due to investment in companies such as Lehman. Compared to Temasik's tragic loss on Micropolis hard disk which the govenrment there called it as "honest" mistake. Or the Suzhou mega investment loss. It's chicken feet lah. Ok, it's an honest mistake. Lets move on.
Frankly, it's good to scrutinise the LGE and his team. A bit unfair to put much blame on his chief of staff (Jeff Ooi). As far as I can see, they have done relative good job.
By the way, the political realities would not allow the return of Gerakan including that Teng fella, MCA and UMNO. Unless LGE and his team make such big blunder.
In the contrary, if they are honest and fair, they would be there for a long long long time. And this is not based on mere hunch.

residing from Singapore

Anonymous said...

The failure is not the Chief of Staff. The failure is because the manager does not know how to spell out clearly a Roles & Responsibilities. You don't fire an operator if he is sleeping in the job when your HR policy does not clearly state that. You should fire the HR Manager for failing to create a clear policy.

Anyway, I fully agree that LGE needs to be firm. End of 1st year review all the staff and Exco. Boot those who is not performing out to show his seriousness.

However, before doing this, perhaps, it is time for him to take a basic in management as he has already finished using his 3rd envolope (remember the 3 envolope story) and there isn't any 4th envelope for him.

Otherwise, hire me and I can be his voluntary adviser since his expectation is not too high.

Mr. Smith said...

I think you need to be fair with Mr Lim and the Penang State Government keeping in mind that BN has made a mess of the state over the last 50 years.
Under the circumstances Mr Lim is doing admirable well but of course managing a state is no easy matter.
Nit-picking is easy.
One has to be in Mr Lim's shoes to know the problems he encounters every day.
It's only 8 months and its too early to issue a report card now.

Augustinian Successor said...

Khoo, this is an article which is unreasonable in content and tone. Have you read CM Guan Eng's Budget Speech??? And why are you letting Teng Hock Nan off the hook??? Teng should come clean!

Khoo Kay Peng said...

Dear Augustinian,

I would not have done my duty if I am only going to say everything nice about Lim Guan Eng and his administration.

Who is talking about letting Teng off the hook? Report him to the ACA for corruption. But from my feedback, it will really be good for Lim to now focus on delivering.

I offer my views because I don't want his government to fail us. Simple.

Nothing about trying to blame anyone. And I ask from you and others the same, help him to be successful. Not just offer your blind loyalty.

You need to win the fence sitters in every election not hardcore.

K L said...

You can find whole lots of problems with BN ruling for 50 years. How do you expect PR to have no problem at all for 8 months only ! Please be fair !

Teh said...

Good afternoon KKP,

It is much easier to send a bouquet than a brickbat.

What you have written make sense though.. It sincerely put things into perspective and meant to be constructive. The truth hurts. Of course, we have to take into consideration the historical baggages inherited and the short time frame (8 months) for measuring their performance. Still mistakes had been done. So, take note and DO NOT REPEAT.

I feel that LGE and team should take your comments constructively if they are serious about staying as the state government and convincing the other BN ruled states to give PR a chance come next GE.

Augustinian Successor said...

But unfortunately your argument on this is off base. The problem with the Penang state government is not lack of vision or lack of articulation of a vision. No. The problem is as for example non-restoration of local government elections which Anil has just pointed out. Flash floods is another big problem; the unresolved(?) problem of the fishermen and post-tsunami settlers in Tanjung Tokong, etc. But to title your post as DAP's Personality Disorder is "inflammatory" and tendentious.

DAP has no personality disorder. We know it is Gerakan who has that problem. Mr. Nice Guy will say Gerakan is the conscience of BN but then nothing happens. This is classic Mr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

zozdaniel said...

The PR government ought to pick up the pieces fast enough to govern the State of Penang efficiently, so that the motto of CAT can have its real meaning.

Its already 81/2 months of governing the state and excuses of lack of experience should not be accepted.

several points raised by the opposition ( UMNO ) in the state assembly are quite reasonable, and the EXCOs should stand up in rebutting them or take note of those comments professionally.

It is time that PR should project their leadership to lead Penang towards greater glory and talk less of grandmas' tales.

The next 3 years are fast approaching. Who knows, Najib may want to test his mandate and call for an early election.

PR has to wake up and start to lead the state to progression, be they in the town or kampungs.

Anonymous said...

CM Lim is someone who had put on too many hats.

Last count, he is chairperson for no less than 20 working committees and I double any good beings can handle that many roles

Besides, it is wide known that the public services staffers are actively defying orders from the top.

Even the utility companies are not helping in too. Just count how many areas suffer power outage since March 8.

He should cease chairing committees and instead get his team members to be collectively responsible for the make and break of the administration.

We voters pin our hopes on him and we are all willing to take the risks with him.


Anonymous said...

We all agree LGE and his team are inexperience and there is plenty of mess to clear up. So it's only fair we give constructive feedback . Not taking the feedback seriously and being defensive is not going to do LGE and his team any good.
So far I hear a lot of talk, pointing fingers, blunders, nit picking and not getting their priorities in order.(Can accept or not this feedback ?)
Well, what can most die hard supporters say "be fair give them time" Okey we give them time but do they still want our feedback to hear whether they are doing fine or still groping in the dark ?Make up your minds.