Adapting to the new normal
Good afternoon. Things are looking more normal on the ground, like being stuck in traffic jams! My office is also getting a bit busier.
There are a few recurring issues and complaints that I wish to share today, so that my constituents are better informed. The norm issues and complaints are as follows:
1. Welfare requests. Our money is extremely limited, since 97% of our community budget has been slashed. I do receive sms and emails asking for welfare support on a daily basis. Our position is to refer the person to the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development to try to get them on an official welfare recipient list. Sometimes we will refer the cases to charity NGOs, who are already very stretched. Only in extreme cases, do we try to find money from private donors to help.
2. Immigration and travel matters; we have had many requests for us to write appeal letters to the immigration department to give special travel dispensation on compassionate grounds. As the norm, we do write such letters and are now awaiting official replies on these. We have also had a spike in cases regarding expired work visas. These restrictions will be lifted in time, as normalcy returns.
3. Wage support; many small businesses have written and got approval for the federal government wage support scheme but haven’t received the money yet. They ask my office to expedite and chase the government to pay faster. Again, we will issue such letters but please bring complete documentation and do understand that the civil service is flooded with Covid 19 related work, so we all have to be a bit patient.
4. Students asking for discounts on academic fees. I have asked my officer to arrange a meeting with the students, but legally speaking the matter is a contractual issue not a regulatory one.
5. Lots of complaints on potholes, taman maintenance, garbage collection etc. These complaints are re-directed straight to MPSJ. We also encourage people to make complaints by e-aduan and by emails to MPSJ, so that there will be written records of the complaints. In the event MPSJ is unresponsive after 2 weeks, the ADUN will contact the local government councillors to look into the matter.
6. Ad-hoc legal issues; we do provide basic legal advice on a multitude of matters. Lately, we have been getting more issues regarding employment contracts. Ivan, my officer is a law graduate and we do have a strong panel of professional lawyers. Advice given are however general and more to help complainants to consider options and avenues. Complainants who are adamant on taking on legal actions are strongly advised to seek professional services. And we do not make any recommendations on any law firms.
7. Many complainants have also written to us to ask about the reopening of schools. The government will issue clearly directives on this matter very soon. I am of the view that for school years that are facing crucial official examinations, these should be allowed to resume and other classes, especially primary schools, to be suspended and monitored until further health and safety developments.
8. Policy ideas, we always welcome this. Rest assured that we are generally on top of most policy matters. However, due to the current Covid 19 situation and the lack of forthcoming data, accountability and transparency from the government, most policy issues are on standby. MPs are awaiting the 13th July Parliament sitting, to get answers from ministers on data and policy details.
9. Lastly, I have received some 12 emails urging me to look into the IPCMC matter. My office has replied to the first 3 emails on the matter and we have agreed to raise the issue on your behalf in Parliament. So please inform your organiser to stop sending me these similar emails.