MPPJ enforcement officers cry foul

The fact that this is blatant abuse of power, or not to put too fine a point on it, corruption, seems to escape them completely as they set about, single-mindedly, to develop popular ground support, for future parliamentary elections.

Tunku Abdul Aziz, Sinchew

Local council enforcement officers in Petaling Jaya have told me that they are often stopped dead in their tracks in the course of carrying out their work by Pakatan Rakyat politicians. These loud-mouthed, arrogant and bullying lawmakers, or more correctly, lawbreakers, with their own personal political agenda give direct operational orders to enforcement officers who are answerable, in any case, to their career local government officers.

Enforcing municipal or city council laws in these circumstances takes on a bizarre tug of war aspect when politicians, often from the same party, descend on the scene issuing diametrically opposed instructions. Interfering to the extent of ordering enforcement officers to leave unlicensed food traders well alone for fear of losing their votes is considered, in their circle, as politically savvy and chic. No doubt all part of their ticket to Putrajaya.

The fact that this is blatant abuse of power, or not to put too fine a point on it, corruption, seems to escape them completely as they set about, single-mindedly, to develop popular ground support, for future parliamentary elections. They studiously look away from breaches of the rules and regulations of their own making, committed by MCA supporters who might, just might, change their political allegiance if they were allowed to continue to trade illegally. Why not help them to become “legit”? In this way MPPJ will earn some revenue.

Why do I even bother to raise this? It is a matter of little significance in the overall scheme of things in our corruption-friendly Malaysia. Corruption can be likened to the proverbial acorn; it will grow in time into a great oak. Parties making up Pakatan Rakyat when in opposition were quick to pounce on BN for similar transgressions and now they have shown, in power, that they are as adept as their much maligned Barisan Nasional friends in the insidious art of empty rhetoric.

You want, for God’s sake, to show by word and deed that the Pakatan Rakyat is made of ethically sterner stuff, and operate on the highest principles of good governance. You are under the closest public scrutiny. Your every word is analysed, and every action examined. The people of Malaysia now believe they have a credible choice, but you must always remember that public confidence is a fragile commodity.

All it needs for public confidence to evaporate is for you to be shown up as two-faced scoundrels. Winning Putrajaya cannot be taken for granted. You will have to convince the public that your being in power will spell the end of unprincipled governance. If some of you are bent on bending your own rules, then I suggest we members of the public hedge our bets.

Before I made my political debut, I was featured regularly as a speaker on senior courses at Intan, the National Institute of Public Administration. Invariably, during the Q&A time, I was asked what they, very senior civil servants, should do about political interference which they faced regularly. I said that if they expected any sympathy from me for allowing politicians to interfere in their work, they were not going to get any from me. They obviously did not know their own legitimate power and authority, and worse, they did not know the limits of ministerial power or authority. They would be surprised, I told them, if they knew they exercised more power and authority than their ministers.

Some said that if they were “uncooperative” it would be Gua Musang for them – the English equivalent of being sent to Coventry! Tell your interfering half-wit of a minister, “Yes sir (or madam as the case may be) I’d love to implement your instruction, but I am afraid it is an illegal instruction and it is against the General Orders, but if you insist, may I please have it in writing?” No minister is stupid enough to provide admissible evidence in court of abuse of power, a criminal act.

In the case of local government enforcement officers, they are a different kettle of fish. Poorly educated, vastly overworked, grossly underpaid and totally vulnerable, they fall easy prey to their power abusive politicians. Council presidents and secretaries should protect their officers from politicians who have no business to intervene in areas which are the sole preserve of the management of the MPPJ. My advice to these individuals who fancy themselves as brilliant political strategists is that there are many routes to Putrajaya without abandoning their parties’ long fought for and cherished principles of integrity in the political life of our country. Our political survival depends on our being the antithesis of BN in every respect.