Senior consultant paediatrician Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS is calling on all elected representatives and ministers to keep to some key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure that they continue to serve the people and “so as not to lose sight of the people on the ground”, as he puts it.
Being an elected representative of the people, at federal or state level, is a high calling, what more being asked to serve as minister. We elect you to be in service of the people and enable our nation and its people to be cared for. Many elected representatives in the past have cheated the electorate and stolen what belongs to the people. Now we have elected a new group of representatives who promised to uphold justice, ensure human rights and serve the nation for all Malaysians. Some have been marvellous and have been fighting hard to bring change to the country but not all are living up to our electoral agreement.
This letter is to set some key performance indicators (KPIs) for our Ministers, members of parliament (MPs) and state elected representatives (Aduns). These are regular activities that our elected representatives should endeavour to conduct so as not to lose sight of the people on the ground, now that they are in their Putrajaya halls or state assemblies. These KPIs also speak about our desire to become a developed nation, not one that is regressing.
KPI 1: Sit in a wheelchair and try to access the streets, public transport and buildings, once a month
Remember that you represent all Malaysians, including the 15% that have disabilities – the blind, deaf, physically disabled, autistic, elderly, etc. Many have great difficulties with mobility in our nation-wide disable-unfriendly environments. We recommend that all elected representatives sit in a wheel hair once a month and try and move around your city or town. Please do this without showing off to the media. You find that it is almost impossible to access buildings, travel by the side of the road or get public transport. These issues should have been fixed decades ago by incorporating universal design into every building, road work and transport system. As it is, our architects do not even have compulsory universal design in their training, let alone all the ministries. We are truly a third world country in this. Please institute universal design as national and state agenda so that no building, road, transport system will be renovated or built without putting in place access for all. In the meanwhile use your wheelchair once a month to remind you.
KPI 2: Live on minimal wage for one month every year
We appreciate the small rise in minimal wage to RM1,200 this year, but you must remember that in some homes the entire family live on this and some job earners hold multiple jobs. This is a grossly inadequate wage. Especially since corporate organisations make such large profits off the back of our people. As Leo Tolstoy so eloquently said “I sit on a man’s back, choking him, and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by any means possible, except getting off his back. Poverty comes from man’s injustice to his fellow man.”
We have a prime minister who does not understand the poor and even believes we cannot end poverty. To say our poor are not productive (read: not hardworking) is to rub their already exhausted faces in the dirt. We expect more from the representatives we elected; at the least not unkindness. We recommend that all elected representatives, once a month every year, live on RM 1,200. We realise that your house, office, car, etc is all taken care of; not to mention many free meals at functions. But try paying for everything else, all your meals, purchases and family needs, with RM1,200 over 30 days. This gives you RM40 a day, a princely sum indeed. It is time to fix the ever widening gap between the poor and the rich in Malaysia. Governments are not elected to enrich their families and friends. The correct minimum wage should be in the region of RM 2,500-3,000.
KPI 3: Catch a bus to work (not Grab), once a month
Public transport in Malaysia is dismal. One sign of a developed nation is that there is a marked reduction in the dependence on cars. Public transport, especially buses, are utilised extensively. Cities are green, the air is clean, cities are walkable and it is possible to cycle. In Malaysia the government has intentionally retarded our public transport system so as to sell cars; hence creating an addiction to cars. Not only that, we continue this madness with plans for a third car and a flying car.
The public transport systems we are developing are only enriching the government’s friends – with multi-billion Ringgit LRT projects that have been shown to be not effective. We can very quickly put in place an open bus service, provided we reduce car entry into all our cities. But we don’t seem to have the will or respect the climate emergency that has engulfed us. Motorcycles are not a solution as they have very high road deaths and injury rates. We recommend that all elected representatives take a bus to work once a month (without the press). Leave behind your taxpayer-provided Camry or Vellfire, and catch a bus (no outriders please). Only then will you understand the plight of those who are poor. I looked up Google maps to see transport times to cross Ipoh city. A journey that would take me 17 minutes by car (or 20 minutes by Grab) would take 1 hour and 31 minutes by bus – walking was almost as fast at 1 hour 50 minutes.
We have the solutions to fix our transport problems, that would improve health and the environment, but government greed gets in the way. Please get tax-funded buses on the street and reduce car entries.
KPI 4: Accompany one ill patient at a KKM hospital casualty until they get admitted, twice a year
Our health services have been poorly developed and grossly underfunded. We expect every single elected representative at federal or state level to fight for this basic human right, the right for adequate healthcare, especially for those who cannot afford private healthcare (read: the majority of Malaysians). When you are very ill and come to casualty and require an admission, you hope to get a bed in the ICU or HDU (high dependency ward). But even getting a general bed is difficult. We recommend that that all elected representatives come to a KKM hospital casualty (without the media) and accompany one ill patient with medical problems (not surgical) until they get admitted. We only ask that you do this twice a year because it will take 2 to 3 days before this patient can find a bed (and you will lose 2-3 days of your time). Many times the patient will be ventilated in casualty for days! Our KKM casualties are war zones. But they are a symbol of the despair in the whole service from poor staff and equipment in children’s ICUs to multiply packed, poorly staffed general medical wards to burgeoning health (KK) and OPD clinics.
I could go on but these four KPIs speak about our critical issues – poverty, health, disability, public transport and the environment. They are basic issues that all our elected representatives must be intimately concerned with and fighting for the hardest.
You may be tempted to tell us you already know all this or that you are too busy or that there is no money to do these things. But we urge you not to lose sight of these vital issues. We need to stop spending money spent on less important and meaningless activities. As a simple example, let’s take the lavish Putrajaya – a grandiose delusion that continues to haemorrhage our hard earned taxes and other revenues. If the public were ever to know how much the government spends to up-keep Putrajaya monthly, there would be shock and weeping in the streets. Just the burden of maintaining the gardens and flowers in Putrajaya alone could fund many critical initiatives.
Until you resolve these on-the-ground necessities and bread and butter issues, don’t spend on expensive new cars, wasteful launches, banners, overseas trips, multiple pensions for elected representatives and others.
We elected a Government of Hope to replace one that had become self-serving, decadent and corrupt to the core. Please give us hope by identifying with and supporting the people. We cannot return to those dark days. We elected you to shine light on the path ahead. Don’t lead us in to more darkness.
Written on behalf of all Malaysians who elected the PH Government of Hope.