Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year from Orlando!

I spent the last 3 days in Orlando, Florida studying the transition of power at the local level. I had the opportunity to meet 2 mayors, one special assistant to the Congressman and the assistant of a City Manager. We were also treated to a post-inauguration celebration by the local Democrats supporters. I think the people of Orlando are very blessed to have beautiful vivid colours in their sky especially during sunset.

At the office of the city of Altamonte Springs

Sunset

Sunset

At the park with Jin, Eric and Chin of Central Florida Malaysians

When I arrived in Orlando, Central Florida Malaysians contacted me after reading from my blog about my trip here. 5 of their members took me out today to Dr. Phillips Community Park at Buenavista Woods Blvd for an afternoon snack and chat. When they heard that I had to spend my Chinese New Year reunion dinner by myself, they treated me to a lovely meal at Walt Disney World. They made me feel very at home in Orlando - thank you so much gentlemen for your kind hospitality! I feel honored that there are people from this side of the world who are reading my blog and before we said goodbye, they encouraged me to persevere in my pursuit of good governance and bringing change to Malaysia.

I managed to call home, spoke briefly to Ram, my mom and dad as they were having our annual family reunion dinner and I am looking forward to coming home soon. Our next stop would be Raleigh, North Carolina to learn more of the transition of power there. To all residents of Subang Jaya, supporters and readers who are celebrating Chinese New Year - HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR AND HAVE A JOYOUS CELEBRATION WITH YOUR LOVED ONES. FOR THOSE WHO ARE TRAVELLING, DRIVE SAFELY!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Capitol Hill

This morning we were taken on an insider tour of the Capitol Building (equivalent to our Parliament building in Malaysia). Yesterday President Obama was sworn-in as the 44th President here. We were briefed on the role of Congress in the American System and also had the opportunity to learn from their research advisor on domestic and foreign policy priorities. When we arrived, we noticed that the inauguration logistics were still in place and we grabbed the opportunity to snap a few pictures of the historical venue.

This is the door leading to the flight of stairs in which both the former President and President Obama walked through to get to the balcony for the inauguration.

This is the Honourable Mr Samuel Basil, Member of Parliament for Bulolo, Papua New Guinea. He is part of our team and in the last few days of knowing him, we have been able to discuss and exchange ideas on service to our communities. Tomorrow I will leave Washington, DC and fly to Florida to study transitions at the local level.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration excitement

This morning I was awake by 3:30am Washington time. Clearly, I'm still affected by jet lag. Did a phone interview and by then I realised I was down with flu and was feeling feverish. Nevertheless I still wanted to give myself a chance to experience the excitement on the streets and have a taste of the inauguration fever (nevermind the body temperature)!
Throngs of people filled the streets and tried to find their way to the National Mall. Many streets were closed and we observed absolute tight security everywhere. Police siren pervaded the city. I walked street after street but realised that the National Mall was already very packed with people. The crowd gathered as early as 4am. Crowds were so large that portions of the National Mall were already closed by 9am, three hours before the inauguration ceremony started.
I knew then that I was not fit enough to endure the freezing winter for hours. It was wiser to turn back (a special room has been prepared in our hotel for all international guests of the United States Department of State to witness the ceremony indoor). On my way back, I managed to buy some Obama souvenirs for my family and close friends. The Obama souvenir craze was very evident on the streets!
When I got back to the hotel, I was informed by my friends who have gone early to the National Mall at 7:30am that they were not allowed to re-enter the National Mall after visiting the portable toilets. Millions of people, hence the tight security. My husband rang me from home as we were watching the ceremony, a friend in Australia sent sms informing me that he too was watching it from there. What a global affair indeed! Personally, I love the fact that the ceremony started and ended with seeking divine help from Above. President Obama ended his oath with "So help me God" and I was reminded of the oath I took at the State Assembly - "Kepada Tuhan saya berserah" ("To you God I commit myself"). Again, I say it is my personal belief that humanitarian effort alone cannot perfect our endeavour to fulfill unreasonably high expectations and accomplish all that the human race so desires [words in bold to ensure that readers understand that this is my personal blog and I am entitled to my own conviction and I am in no way imposing this on anyone lest I get accused of trying to sermonize :)]. That to me is my most memorable moment of the inauguration. Off to get some medication and rest now before my program resumes tomorrow...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Greetings from Washington, DC

This posting is actually coming to you from Washington, DC. I'm here on an official trip, having been selected and sponsored by the United States Department of State for the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) on Transition of Power in the U.S. Federal System.

At Washington Harbour

16 participants comprising politicians, lawmakers, government officials and senior members of the media from all over the world (including India, Pakistan, Philippines, Egypt, Turkey, UK, New Zealand, Nepal, Norway, Papua New Guinea and others) and my friend Steven Sim, special assistant to the Penang State Exco were selected for this program to study the following:

1. To examine the transition of power in a civil society from one administration to another;

2. To enhance understanding of the origins and development of the U.S. federal system of government;

3. To address the separation of powers and the divisions of authority and responsibility at the national, state and local levels of government.

My first stop is at Washington, DC. The President Inauguration 2009 will take place this coming Tuesday, January 20th. Preparation works for the big day have started in the city. 4 million people are expected to participate in the Inauguration Day. I hope to be able to stand amongst the millions to witness this once-in-a-lifetime-for-me event provided I can withstand the cold winter (maximum 3 degrees celcius and can go down to -5 degrees celcius). An official welcome concert will begin in the city today.

I feel privileged to be chosen to participate in this leadership program and also to be able to witness the historic inauguration of America’s first black president. I do hope to meet Barack Obama but we were told there is a very slim chance for this to happen.

Preparation works in the city

I will try to blog as often as I can from here if the schedule permits. I am still suffering from mild jet lag and trying to get adjusted to the cold weather. I want to extend my congratulations to YB Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut and our friends from PAS for winning the by-election in Kuala Terengganu! Syabas Pakatan Rakyat!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Back to basic

Lately I have been receiving a number of emails from residents on their complaints against certain issues managed by MPSJ. May I gently remind all to do the followings:-

1. First, lodge your complaint with MPSJ (all details are found on the left hand side of my blog);

2. Then you will be given a complaint number;

3. If no action is taken by MPSJ after the first complaint, contact your MPSJ councillor immediately and provide the complaint number for them to follow up with MPSJ; and

4. If you do not hear from your MPSJ councillor, then contact me.

Similarly, if you have an emergency – you need to first contact the ambulance and not my office. My office has received calls before from residents who have difficulty in breathing.

If you experience water cut – you need to first contact Syabas and the same applies for electricity cut – contact TNB first.

At each meeting with residents, I remind them of these steps. Please do your part to enable me to do my part more effectively. I do not have 1200 MPSJ staff working in my office, I only have one full time staff employed by the State Government. I must thank those selfless residents who are proactive and civic-minded, people who care enough not to just care about their own backyards but their surrounding neighbourhood as well. I am not complaining, I will assist you when a system fails but I do urge that you play your part first. Also for those who wish to lodge a complaint yet want to remain anonymous, we are sorry we cannot entertain an anonymous resident. I have encountered at least 2 complaints which are hoax complaints. Educating the public is an ongoing process, people who think that March 8 is a magic wand that has changed the whole nation in the blink of an eye are greatly mistaken. Join me at my service centre on one Thursday evening and allow me to explain to you the truth in that aforesaid statement.

Below is an email I received from a thoughtful resident in USJ 8:

Case: Inclined Lamppost

- On 28th October, 2008, I went to MPSJ to make a report, regarding to one lamp post which seemed like falling down soon.

- That lamppost is nearby Good Year Court 3 & Jalan Kewajipan.

- Days later, I made a call to MPSJ to follow up. Another week later, I made another call to Jabatan Kejuruteraan to follow up again. I was told that the new lamppost had been ordered, and the replacement work would be completed before 17th November 2008.

- On 10th November 2008, I noticed that the new lamppost has already been replaced.

My message to all residents in Subang Jaya and USJ:

We all can do our part in taking care of this community. We should not always hope that some other people will help us solve problems. We ourselves should take initiative in making report to MPSJ, whenever we notice there are broken roads, inclined lamppost, or broken water pipes, etc.

The above case is not the first case which I made report to MPSJ and followed up all by myself, without disturbing our ADUN. I have been doing this kind of "reporting" job since many years ago. Got a broken-road case happened several years ago took me about 4 months to settle with many authorities.

In fact, beside the above case, I have also made reports regarding to one more inclined lamppost nearby Kawasan Perindustrian (Near Giant USJ) and one "rotten" tree which has been damaged by termites near USJ 2. I will follow up and monitor these 2 cases until they are solved by MPSJ.

Showing this kind of case to you all does not mean that I want to get compliment from Hannah Yeoh, or does not mean that I want to show off. In fact, I do not need any compliment from anyone, and I do not need to show off by sharing this kind of case with you all.

My intentions of doing such a job are just very simple:
1) I cannot assume that other people would have already made a report to MPSJ, so I can just wait and see whether such inclined lamppost will be fixed one day. So, please do not think that some people might already make a report, so that you, as a resident in this community, can do nothing.

2) I am concerned that if such inclined lamppost really falls down one day, some people will get hurt. I really do not want to see such incident to happen.

3) Without disturbing our ADUN, Hannah Yeoh, I myself can take initiative to go to MPSJ and make a report. Then, most importantly, I myself will also follow up the case until the problem is finally solved by MPSJ. The whole process can all be done by myself. So, the whole process can also be done by you, as a resident in Subang Jaya/USJ.

4) By doing all those reporting and monitoring jobs by ourselves, we can help our ADUN in reducing her daily workloads. Please do not always wait for Hannah Yeoh
to appear in front of you, then you only know how to make a complaint to her at that time. As a resident in this community, we should do our part. In fact, if we see similar case in other area, i.e, KL, PJ, which we do not live there, whenever possible, we should also always try to make a report to the nearest councils.

5) Lead by example. If you can do this kind of job by your own, not only you will understand a bit of how a ADUN or his/her associates got to do whenever receiving such report, but also you can show a good example to your neighbours, and most importantly, to your own family members that you are able to take initiative in solving such case all by yourself, without seeking for ADUN's help.

It is not a rocket-science project which we are not able to do. By doing all those jobs ourselves, we can help our ADUN save so much time, and we can make sure that nobody will get hurt due to a broken road or falling lamppost.

If your own house got problems, do you need to wait for someone to ring up contractors and get them fixed? The answer is "No". If that is your house, you would already take many steps in solving those problems by your own. However, when seeing something is wrong out there, many of us usually will have "I-Don't-Care" mindset, or wait for others to make report, or worse still, "Raise voice in front of your ADUN,as though that is only her problem".

Please do not have such mindsets starting from today. If we do not care about our own community, who will?

We need a great ADUN like Hannah Yeoh in solving more important issues for the community, and Hannah Yeoh also needs residents who will take initiative in taking care this community! Stop passing all responsibilities to our ADUN. If we do not lead by example, the tendency of our future generations having a "Don't Care" mindset/attitude will be high.

After you all read about my sharing, I hope that many of you who stay in this community will start doing what I have been doing. Let's work together to make our place even better.

God Bless You & The Community.

Alan.
USJ 8 Resident.

Lagoon Perdana - uncompleted units

On 13 December 2008, the developer for Lagoon Perdana called for a meeting with purchasers of Block 7. The developer briefed the purchasers on the problem faced by them in completing Block 7 (original plan was to build 18 floors, but now the purchasers were informed by the developer that they could only build up to 9 floors for safety reasons). A survey form was given to each purchaser present on the options available to them. Representatives from Kementerian Perumahan Dan Kerajaan Tempatan ("KPKT"), MPSJ and Mr Tony Chang of National House Buyers Association were also present. I invited Mr Tony Chang to share his views on the issue with the purchasers and I also raised a few legal concerns.

At the meeting (which was intended merely to conduct a survey among the purchasers of Block 7), the purchasers were informed by the developer of the followings:·

  • should they decide to build Block 7, the size of the units including common properties will be in accordance to that stated in the Sale and Purchase Agreement;
  • for purchasers who wish to get a refund for the units which will not be built, the refund would only be for the full purchase price and legal fees involved (no interest would be paid);
  • difference in price units (for swapping of units) will be refunded back to the purchaser;
  • time frame for the refund to be paid is still unknown (estimated to be about 3 to 5 months from the date of new agreement signed);
  • the survey and proposed changes will be subject to approval by MPSJ on the amended plan.

Pursuant to the meeting, I have been chasing Kementerian Perumahan Dan Kerajaan Tempatan ("KPKT") to quickly hold a meeting with all parties involved including the bridging financier for discussion on this issue and also on the status of Blocks 1, 3 and 8. Earlier, we were told that Blocks 1 and 8 would be completed by December 2008 or January 2009. This meeting is also needed for the developer to brief all parties on the results obtained from the survey conducted on Block 7. I will only be able to provide more updates once the meeting is convened by KPKT as KPKT is monitoring the project.

Persiaran Setia

When school first started, we received multiple complaints from residents of USJ3ABCD on the traffic congestion in front of SMK USJ 12 due to the closure of a few lanes. We had an urgent site visit and met with the contractors who are building the pedestrian bridge in front of the said school. It was decided then that at peak hours and school hours, there must be at least 2 lanes in each direction for the residents to use.

Pursuant to that site visit, I called for an urgent meeting at MPSJ for the developer to brief me and Persatuan Penduduk USJ3ABCD on the status of all the conditions imposed for the opening of the bridge connecting USJ Heights to USJ 3ABCD. Below is a quick status update:

(a) Menaiktaraf simpang-simpang merbahaya dan jalan-jalan di kawasan perumahan USJ3 dengan menyediakan lay-by dan lampu isyarat.
Status: The contractor briefed us on all the upgrading works along Persiaran Setia. We discussed the details of those works and the residents gave their feedback and suggestions. An amended lay out plan for the said works will be given to me, MPSJ and the Persatuan Penduduk USJ3ABCD for us to post on my blog and the residents' website.

(b) Menyediakan jejantas untuk kanak-kanak sekolah dan penduduk melintas di kawasan-kawasan tumpuan (Persiaran Setia).
Status: The pedestrian bridge was to be completed in December 2008 by the developer. The delay has now caused the bridge to be completed only in the 3rd week of March 2009.

(c) Menyediakan zon penampan yang mampu menghalang pencemaran udara dan bunyi bising kenderaan lalulalang.
Status: For the sound barrier issue in USJ3A, a further meeting will be held to finalise the long outstanding issue (we were informed by the contractor that approval for the sound barrier to be built outside of MPSJ's land has not been obtained). For the sound barrier in USJ3C, the trees will be planted before Chinese New Year and will be planted in accordance to the modified lay out of the sound barrier.

(d) Mengadakan laluan jambatan hanya untuk kenderaan ringan.
Status: Will be built when the bridge is completed.

(e) Menyediakan jalan susur keluar / masuk di flyover SS19 / USJ 3 ke KESAS.
Status: The developer has appealed to MPSJ for the slip road condition to be waived. The residents and I have made it clear that the bridge should not open if the slip road is not built.

On the repair works to be carried out by the developer at the 4 houses with cracks in USJ3C, I expressed my disappointment that the repair works have not been carried out. I want MPSJ to monitor this issue very closely. This meeting has been reported in the Streets, NST and The Star.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

SS14 Neighbourhood Watch

The recent burglary attempts at SS14/7 and the coming festive season have motivated about 20 residents of the SS14 Neighbourhood Watch to come out and patrol their neighbourhood few hours ago. Young and old, men and women walked for almost 2 hours for the safety of their families and neighbours. My husband and I managed to join them at midnight and walked for about 45 minutes. This will be a weekly community activity. For those residents who are interested to be part of this, you may email ss14nwatch@gmail.com for further details.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My intern - Nadiah Ahmad

One of the many things I want to do as the state assemblyman is to inspire the next generation to be part of the rebuilding process for this nation. That's the reason why we have an internship program for the youth. Our most recent intern is Nadiah Ahmad (pic below), a local Subang Jaya girl just like me. She is a second year Political Science student from the University of Otago, New Zealand and she is now back home for her summer holiday. In Nadiah's internship stint of over a month in my office, she attended to residents, attended meetings together with me and helped organise community events. She shares her experience here:
My experience with the ADUN
by Nadiah Ahmad

I had been given the privilege this summer holiday to spend most of my days with Hannah and her political posse. I wanted to be a part of her political mechanism to see society in a different light, and experience what I’ve thus far learnt in politics books and lectures.

With this opportunity, I was able to meet influential figures in Malaysian politics, to sit in on cases and complaints that needed urgent attending to and also some complaints that needed to be directed elsewhere. I’ve met people of whom I’ve lived amongst all my life here in Subang Jaya and people who don’t really live within the constituency but were looking for a helping hand. I saw ways in which Hannah’s position could be highly significant, and how it could marginalized. The dynamics between Hannah, her assistants and her constituents that I was exposed to was encouraging in a sense that it was a priority to simply help all Malaysians; people in need were not defined by the colour of their skin, and nor were the people volunteering shunned in accordance to race. We sometimes forget that it is an honour to have such different cultural and religious influences to guide our society; most of time we use these differences to pit against each other. My experience at the ADUN’s office reminded me of how important it is to embrace being different and how these differences ultimately make us similar, i.e. Malaysian.

I experienced the obligation carried by Hannah and her assistants to better her constituency. It is a big burden to any person who decides to take on the role of governing a large group of people who don’t necessarily know how the system works or why it works the way it does. It isn’t a privilege to be in politics, but the community can sometimes be privileged when a proper and obliged leader is elected to keep the machinery of governance moving smoothly and cleanly. It is because of this simple fact that I feel Malaysians and specifically my peers, who are sometimes reluctant or apathetic towards politics, should take a more proactive stance; to vote when necessary and lend a hand when need be. It doesn’t take much to be a part of politics, and the smallest gesture can make a world of difference.

What I’ve taken away from my experience is the knowledge of the effort, patience and gratification that comes with community governance and politics in general. From the sidelines, I saw the muck that needs to be dealt with, and a system that is in dire need of reformation. I came to a realization that change cannot happen in an instant and that it is irrational to expect it to happen in such a short period of time, especially in nine months. But change is possible, and that in itself is something to look forward to and even more so to be a part of.

This is my team of staff and volunteers. My dream team - a truly Malaysian team. Personally, I do not believe in serving or speaking up just for one particular race. We live in the year 2009. I grew up loving people for their characters, personalities and strengths - not their skin colour. This is the reason why me and my team believe and will continue to champion the cause of Malaysians, and not of any one particular race. Malaysians must walk their talk, there are many who value unity but elect leaders who only champion a racial cause. This hypocrisy at the ballot box must end. We saw how the change has begun in 2008 but this change has not come and gone. We're in the midst of change now. The youth of this nation must prove that we do not need a Malaysian Indian, a Malaysian Chinese or a United Malay leader. We need a Malaysian leader to lead our children in years to come.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Surprise visit

Friends and residents surprised me at the service centre a few hours ago with a birthday cake and wishes. This year's birthday is bittersweet as I can no longer claim to be in my twenties - I have finally crossed over. Thank you all for your thoughtfulness. Thank You God for another year to experience Your faithfulness, wonders and love.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Meeting with the traffic team

In anticipation of the back-to-school traffic tomorrow, I have arranged for a meeting with the traffic team from IPD Subang Jaya last week. I made a courtesy call to DSP Tengku Anuar, the new Ketua Bhg Ketenteraman Awam/Ketua Trafik Daerah of IPD Subang Jaya. The purpose of our meeting was to request for traffic policemen to be stationed at Persiaran Tujuan and Persiaran Kewajipan to assist with the morning and evening traffic.

Right after the election, I had immediately requested MPSJ to appoint an independent traffic consultant to prepare an in-depth traffic study on Persiaran Tujuan, Persiaran Kewajipan and the entire SS16 (again, in anticipation of the traffic which will be coming in once all the development works are completed behind Subang Parade). At each infrastructure meeting in the last few months, we have been told the details of the studies were still not completed and would be completed by December 2008. I am not pleased with the delay and will continue to push for this at MPSJ.

While we still await suggestions and improvement of traffic flow from the independent traffic consultant at these main areas, I am grateful for the cooperation given by DSP Tengku Anuar and his team. The meeting was very fruitful as we managed to discuss other traffic issues in Bandar Sunway and also the possibility of seeking assistance from RELA officers and MPSJ officers for traffic control. We discovered from the police that this option is not feasible as the relevant provisions in law do not allow this. Traffic policemen will continue to be stationed at the traffic light in front of Summit USJ (Persiaran Kewajipan) and the traffic light at SS19 and USJ 3 (Persiaran Tujuan) from 6:45am to 9:00am and from 4:30pm to 7:00pm. I have specially requested for priority to be given to the main traffic leaving USJ in the morning and main traffic entering Subang Jaya from Federal Highway in the evening.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Congratulations Edward!

Edward Ling

My political secretary, Edward Ling has recently been included in the DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY) leadership for 2008-2010. This is good news for the youth of Subang Jaya as this is a national committee. May the voice of our youth be heard in all areas of governance.

For those who do not know, Edward Ling played a key role in inspiring me to register myself as a voter prior to March 2008. His interest in politics started when he was still in school. He would read the newspapers more than his textbooks and that passion never ceased. Returning from Australia after obtaining his degree, he began to seriously consider how he could make a difference in our nation's politics. He would speak to his friends over coffee on the effect of corruption and danger of being indifferent. I was one of them at such coffee sessions. Sometimes, a single act of encouraging someone to do something small yet positive could lead to something way greater than what you can ever ask or imagine. Congratulations Edward! May you continue to inspire many more young people to bring change to this land. For more information on Edward, please visit his blog http://www.edwardling.blogspot.com/