I have had many run-ins with the Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng. We have had a fair share of disagreements. But on many socio-political issues in this country, we are on the same page.
This is one thing that I must stand on the side of Chief Minister Lim. On June 2, the Penang state government had appointed the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) acting president, Tan Cheng Chui, as president of the MPPP. Tan is a career civil servant.
I was told that the chief minister wanted to depoliticize the local councils by appointing civil servants who have the experience and expertise to helm the councils. Tan's appointment is supposed to usher in a new era of better local council services to taxpayers like myself.
Similarly, the state government has appointed a civil servant to helm the trouble riddled MPSP. This move was not well received by PKR's MPSP councillors. Majority of PKR's Seberang Perai (MPSP) councillors today boycotted the swearing-in ceremony of their new president Mokthar Mohd Jait.
The boycott was called in protest of the appointment of a civil servant to head MPSP. The councillors claimed that it was agreed previously that a politician would be put at the helm as and until local elections are introduced.
Meanwhile, PKR whip Johari Kassim accused Lim of ignoring PKR and acting as if "he was running a DAP, and not a Pakatan coalition, state government."He said Lim should have consulted Pakatan partners before deciding on who shall be appointed for the president's post.
"After all, Pakatan's collective stand was to appoint politicians as council presidents," he said, referring to the state Pakatan council’s decision made early this year.
The negative reaction of PKR councillors to the appointment of a civil servant to helm the local council is a huge disappointment for me.
Who is Johari if not for the support of the Penang voters? It is not for both PKR or DAP to decide who among them should head the councils. Ultimately, these positions are not spoils which should be shared like what the characters did in "Ali Baba & the 40 thieves" movie.
The local councils should be helmed by the most suitable and qualified persons who can act without fear or favour of any politicians. Previously, these councils compromised too much with the politicians and ended up foregoing their most important responsibility to serve the people.
Politicians should not get too greedy over power and position. First, prove that you can serve us well.
It is unbelievable that these PKR leaders, including its state leader Zahrain Hashim, can accept Gerakan Huan Cheng Guan to the party and are willing to offer him a top position but not a civil servant who had proven his worth by doing a good job at the local council to head the council.
If my memory does not fail me, Huan was very critical of Anwar Ibrahim during the last general election and the Permatang Pauh by-election.
Is it PKR 'mudah lupa' or Anwar 'mudah lupa'?
The ruling PR coalition is answerable to the people of Penang on whom they have decided to appoint to helm the councils. Not PKR whip Johari or Anwar. Not even Zahrain if he still want to keep his MP seat in the next general election.
Yes, we also need to know if the promised local government elections would be forthcoming.