Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pakatan lawmakers say lack of funds no excuse for poor service

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 — While PKR lawmakers complain of insufficient funding for their constituencies, their fellow Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs said fiscal constraints is no excuse for shoddy service.
Nibong Tebal PKR MP Tan Tee Beng (picture), backed by several other party lawmakers, blasted the Penang DAP government yesterday for being slow in providing funds for their constituencies.
The complaints were made amid a simmering feud between DAP and PKR over accusations of favouritism by the former. The Penang state government, however, shrugged off the allegations and said it is not obliged to provide funds to MPs.
Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng called his fellow PKR MPs “jokers” for their demands, and made references to veteran DAP lawmakers like Kepong’s Dr Tan Seng Giaw who served as MP for seven terms despite no financial assistance.
“These people are just a bunch of jokers. I think they should just shut up. Look at Dr Tan and other veteran DAP MPs in KL,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
“They have no assistance at all from the Barisan Nasional (BN)-led Federal government at all but they have managed to serve their constituencies very well,” he said.
The Federal government has been accused by PR of sabotage attempts when allocations meant for each parliamentary constituency are given to local BN leaders instead of the elected opposition representatives.
This has forced PR lawmakers, particularly from PKR, to depend on state governments for funds but Lim noted that PR MPs from Kuala Lumpur (KL) are worst off compared to those from other states.
“In KL, we don’t have the state government to help us as the finance is channelled through the local council and the mayor but still, DAP lawmakers have done tremendously well under these circumstances,” he said.
Lembah Pantai PKR MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, however, disagreed. Speaking to The Malaysian Insider, the daughter of PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said allocations are important.
“Ideally, an MP should focus on raising pertinent local and national issues at the parliamentary level, whilst being supported by assembly persons and an elected local government adept at servicing the constituents’ needs.
“But (KL) MPs do not have state assembly persons. Additionally, they are mostly at the mercy of the Federal government-appointed mayor and City Hall officers who decide matters most sacred to KL like issues of licensing, enforcement and servicing,” she said.
More experienced leaders like Hulu Selangor MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad believe PAS has proven its credence as a veteran opposition giant by serving their respective constituencies without complaining of funding strictures.
“Serving is not just about giving money. It’s about going down to the ground and there are ways to go around it. If you are resourceless, you have to be resourceful,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
Giving an example, Dzulkefly said one approach is to compile data on poor voters and provide them to existing Federal government bodies like the Welfare Department or the Zakat Department (Islamic version).
Adding pressure will then prompt reactions from these organisations which will then provide financial assistance — taken from the Federal budget — to those in need.
“So if you ask me is it possible to serve your constituencies without funding help, it’s difficult but not impossible,” concluded the Kuala Selangor MP.
Meanwhile, an official from the PKR-led Selangor government said PKR MPs from the state demanded additions to the existing RM150,000 allocations given to them for their constituencies.
“But we too have our commitment to our voters so we can’t entertain them,” said the official who agreed with Dzulkefly’s approach on the issue.
“Maybe they lack experience... these MPs... as compared to those from PAS and DAP,” the official added.

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