Friday, January 17, 2014
Kamalanathan punched by incompetence and arrogance
Last week, there was talk of Deputy Minister for Education, YB Kamalanathan being punched.
Our initial reaction was to wonder whether Kamalanathan got himself misquoted and mistakenly committed to say something before knowing the full picture again.
In the heat of the toilet canteen debacle and other mini controversies Kamalanathan had immersed himself into, we never had any doubt of him. He is not someone with bad or racist intentions. Just new to public office.
It seems the punch is real. It missed his face and hit his neck. This time Kamalanathan did not get punched for saying something wrong but for the incompetence of civil servants and their system and attitude of arrogance of an UMNO member.
The matter is simple.
An UMNO youth member in his area was just employed as a teacher but got posted in Johor Baru. That is like what? 5 hours drive from Hulu Selangor.
The chap had his father, a known UMNO member and activist in the area to meet Kamalanathan to seek help for a transfer. As told to us, Kamalanathan said he will try to help.
Naturally and we would do the same, he said and that UMNO member should understand that he has to go through the process as per the system put in place by civil servants. That is how government and companies work but through a set of strictly determined procedures.
It seemed the father could not take the carefully qualified words of Kamalanathan and wanted an absolute guarantee. He became persistent and probably insisted that Kamalanathan helped his son jump the queue.
Malaysians have the tendency to expect their family or friends in high places or wakil rakyat or in Kamalanthan's case, a Deputy Minister to flex their muscle and bypass procedures as practised by civil servants for their benefit.
They refuse to be believe that a Deputy Minister must adhere to procedure. Since Kamalanathan and MIC is a minority and UMNO and Malays holds his political faith in Hulu Selangor, they expect him to abuse his position for their sake.
Those are the days of our father-in-law in which to get an international passport, one need to know and insist on doing it through an orang dalam. Those days are gone and these days it is a simple as going through the queue at the Immigration counter.
Most politicians and wakil rakyat face the daunting dilemma of satisfying expectations of their supporters and party workers and setting the example to adhere to rules and procedures. So they normally try to work up a good relationship to avoid being in that terrible spot.
The UMO youth's father may have got repetitous that Kamalanathan politely asked him to excuse himself so he can attend to other scheduled matters. Some people could be so sensitive to wrongly interpret any tone of seriousness as shooing him away.
It could have been wrongly or simplistically conveyed to the son that he got the impression that Kamalanthan had been rude to his father or had turned arrogant since becoming a Minister. In a meeting with the local UMNO, which the young teacher attended, he tried to take matters in his own hands.
Quite sure many politicians had to face with that difficult situation. Lim Guan Eng is reknown to avoid meeting disgruntled subjects and chicken out from meeting angry constituents. But, he can be a rascal.
When he become brave, he becomes bold to the extent of lying and fabricating accusations. A recent example is how he react to call the Penang opposition in the State Assembly as racist for merely asking if there such plan to turn Pulau Jerjak into an island dedicated to a Chinese diety.
This is not defending a BN Minister. Should it happen to an opposition politician, it cannot be rationally accepted to get physical.
Supposedly the matter between Kamalanathan and the disgruntled party is settled. The young teacher's father had apologised. UMNO Secretary General had wrote an apology to Kamalanthan and a disciplinary enquiry is in the process.
Hopefully it does not stop Kamalanathan from continuing to be an obliging MP.
As far as we see, Kamalanathan had been professional and fair in his conduct. He cannot deny other more deserving teachers the transfer just to appease his political constituency. They too are his constituency of teachers.
It puzzles us as to the moral standing of one undeserving to be addressed as Chegu Bard to see the incident as humourous and something worthy of ridicule:
Is this the behaviour of aspiring future leaders of our country?
Our parents are teachers too.
Mother had always been a teacher in the government school throughout her working life and twice extended as "consulting" teacher till late age of 60. Father was a teacher but later became government servant. In his spare, he still teach classes and kuliah.
Our family had to move twice from our hometown to Johor Baru and after 15 years return back to our hometown. In both the two occasions of transfer, mother could get her transfer in sync with father's own transfer.
This is in the 60s and 70s when there is no computer. Everything is done on paper and typed using manual typewriters. The two transfers could be done seamlessly without a hitch.
Recently a government officer seeked our help to get a transfer for his teacher wife in Kuala Selangor so that she could join him in Kota Kinabalu. He was transfered there from Kelantan to KK.
Since they got married for three years and now have two kids, they have never lived under one roof. She had applied three times and made two appeals to join him in Kelantan but was turned down.
Perhaps Kelantanese have a tendency to prefer to return to their PAS-ruled state than live elsewhere. So she had to compete with the more deserving ones or those longer on the queue. This time around our friend realised that the e-Tukar system shows more than 300 teachers in Sabah applying to return to Semenanjung.
The officer identified few schools in the vicinity of his new assignment are short of teachers. To seal his chances, he asked for our help. We did helped in whatever way we could with the consideration that it must be done in accordance to procedure.
Alas it was rejected again.
So for that UMNO youth member to behave in such manner it is unbecoming of an activist in a political organisation. Compared to that young couple, he only worked for a year. For him to expect that his wishes be met is at his commend, it is unrealistic. Shouldn't he sacrifice himself demi rakyat didahulukan?
Quite sure it happens with other political parties. We are hard and strict with our own children than the children of other families. It applies to the party we support.
If that UMNO youth member bother to find out, there are cases of Indian teachers from Hulu Selangor and presumably MIC members who are working elsewhere. They had to wait for 15 years before their application for transfer is granted.
It is ridiculous to wait that long but that is the way it is. The reason made known to us for the rejection of our friend's wife transfer was because there are 20,000 applications to deal with. But sorry, we cannot buy that.
Don't tell us that the same number of staff and same set of procedures and red tape from the 60s and 70s is still in use. With more schools and teachers and the advent of office automation and computers, the same procedures cannot be in use and end up piling up into 20,000 outstanding cases.
Assuming we are wrong and it is only 2,000, that is still too much cases intentionally delayed or KIV. Ministry Directors, and officers must be too lazy to clear their work. They may have not be bothered to improve and update the system to meet the growing needs.
The civil servants screw it up, Minister get the punch and ruling party (BN or PR) get the blame from voters.
When the government leadership push these civil servants to buck up, they react by voting the other side. It seemed ironical for them to not agree and support the system and policies they are part of.
After getting even with the political master, they are back to their normal complacency and incompetence. Voters throw out the government for the mistake of the civil servants. An example of the sequence of events making a full cycle is in Kedah.
If the Government leadership refuse to repair damage from bad decisions, abolish bad policies and continue with wasteful new establishments like PEMANDU, it is a different issue.
Wishing Kamalanathan and Hindu followers a spiritual Thaipusam.
* Edited 3:40 AM
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