IT’S easy for one to generalize an act, especially an act which appears to be playing to the gallery, when one is watching from the sidelines. More often than not, the act is thumbed down, despite its good intentions.
A case in point is when Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir took on the job of a street cleaner last Thursday to better understand the work involved in keeping Ipoh clean. While he earned plaudits from his peers and Netizens, there were a handful, including a well-known journalist, who thought it was a gimmick and publicity stunt.
Perhaps, not many are aware that Zambry has been doing this regularly, going down to the ground, meeting with the people to get a feel of how things work and what makes his people tick. He has also picked up the broom and “swept the city clean”.
Since helming the silver state in 2009, Zambry has taken a different approach in his leadership. His programs have always involved the people. ‘Turun padang’ and his walkabouts are among them.
Another more elaborate program is the permukiman and qiamullail; the former is where he and his officers visit districts and towns to meet with heads of villages to get feedback, and in the latter, spending the night, or part of it, in kampung mosques with religious officers and villagers and reciting the Quran.
But, of course, such programs are hardly reported, so, it is understandable that people are skeptical when this “one-off act” suddenly appeared out of the blue.
Perhaps, the loudest unfavorable voice is none other than state DAP chairman, Nga Kor Ming. Over the years, the Kepayang state assemblyman, who is also member of parliament for Taiping, is known for his tirades.
His most infamous was when he called Zambry “menteri besar black metallic”, loosely translated as the black chief minister. This is a reflection of DAP’s political style in Perak.
They are still angry at Zambry for the party’s failure to retain the state government in 2009, and to wrest the state in the 2013 general election. These events have led to them adopting the politics of revenge.
When news of Zambry donning the orange T-shirt of the Ipoh City Council’s garbage collectors went viral on social media, Nga reacted shamefully, and posted negative comments.
There was one post which said “Perak tak mahu MB sampah” (Perak doesn’t want a garbage chief minister).
In a statement released to the media, he mocked and accused Zambry of making a publicity stunt, saying that, rather than collecting garbage, Zambry should look into the welfare of workers.
Being with workers, empathizing with them, listening to their problems — are these unrelated to workers’ welfare? Nga failed to mention this was not the first time Zambry had gone down to the field and connected directly with the rakyat.
Nga also claimed Perak was the second-poorest state in Malaysia, despite it being debunked repeatedly with figures and facts from a reputable think tank. He has stubbornly refused to acknowledge that Perak’s poverty-eradication programs have been recognized internationally; in fact, some have been emulated by other countries.
DAP stalwarts have failed to see that Perak does not depend on Federal Government assistance to pay the salaries of its employees. In fact last year, the state government managed to increase the state’s income to RM1 billion.
Obviously, judging from their statements and actions, DAP leaders still bear a grudge. Perceptibly, the main target is none other than Zambry. Nevertheless, being a seasoned politician, and despite the odds, Zambry has continued to maintain cordial relations with the opposition.
For one, he had moved the state assembly to form bipartisan committees comprising Barisan Nasional and opposition members, to recognize everyone’s role in helping Perak grow. He opened his doors to op- position members to hear their grouses, and he has even assisted them in serving their constituencies.
Perhaps, a lesson in manners and how to be a “gentleman-politician” would be useful for some opposition leaders. They should take the cue from Perak PKR vice-chairman and Teja assemblyman Chang Lih Kang, who, in a letter to Malaysiakini, wel- comed Zambry’s move.
Chang had also said the MB should not only limit his action to the garbage problem but also other is- sues such as potholes in new villages, safety and health of the people.
We often accuse our leaders of not walking the talk, or not understanding the people, their pain and grouses. So, when leaders walk the talk, we should be gracious enough to show some respect, and give credit where it’s due. After all, doing it for the people and the country is not just a duty, it is a privilege.