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Category: Community Projects (page 1 of 24)

A Normal Day at the Office

Hi. It has been a cold, wet and dreary 36 hours. I am still a little bit unwell.

Yesterday, I was in the office for our Monday Night Chat video shoot and also attending to a troubled constituent’s problem. The interns were sent to visit Sister Stella in Desa Mentari. We are trying to get a “free spectacles for poor children” program after Chinese New Year. The interns have been tasked to design and roll out the program.

This morning, we are busy working on our newsletter, a collaborative effort of the officers and intern Seng Kiat. We should be releasing the newsletter later today. It is also intern Eugene’s last day. He will be going back to Australia to continue his studies next week.

Early Morning Thoughts

Good morning. I got to my office super early today at 8 am. Sometimes, I like to just have some alone time to think and reflect. My office starts at 10 am and my officers and interns will usually trickle in around 9.45 am. We start later than the usual 9 am because every Monday and Thursday, the officers stay until 10 pm; Monday is community service night and Thursday is for INVOKE Malaysia phone bank activity.

This morning, I have been thinking about corporate tax issues. At breakfast my super brainy wife and I were discussing the super charged US and Western stock markets (due to Trump’s recent massive corporate tax cut). I don’t believe that US corporations that are now paying almost zero tax by using tax havens, will be incentivised enough to stop the practice. As such, I am extremely skeptical that the recent corporate tax cut will generate social good (i.e. increasing the working class wages) via trickle down economics. I am also skeptical that it will result in US corporations closing down of their cheap factories in developing countries and create new jobs in US. These tax cuts will most likely result in the shareholders and CEOs buying more private planes, luxury homes and yachts.

From pondering this big issue, my mind wandered to something smaller. I was thinking about my poorer constituents in Desa Mentari. I had really enjoyed the late dinner event in Block 3 Desa Mentari last Saturday and wondered why is it that the poorer communities tend to be relatively more generous than the richer neighbourhoods.

This led me to re-read some litreature in my mini library on poor economics. Can we do something relatively cheap (since my office has no meaningful community budget) to give impact to urban poor children? On page 91 of Think Like A Freak, the writers told a story of researchers finding a link between poor eyesights and poor academic performance. This is something that I will assign my interns to look into this week.

Wishing all a productive week ahead.

First Event for 2018!

Good morning from the Pakatan Harapan convention. Before I report on the proceedings of the convention, I want to recap my community events yesterday.

My first community event of 2018, was a joyous one. I attended the church wedding of Kai Khen and Yee Vonne in the morning. Both are former interns of YB Hannah, so I suppose this was some sort of office romance. Wishing them a very happy life together.

At night I attended the USJ 9 Christmas and New Year event. The united RA and RT of USJ 9, never failed to deliver good food and good company. I gave a short speech on the economic outlook and thanked the organisers.

After that I attended the Block 3 Desa Mentari malam bakti. The event is organised to thank all the committee members for their hard work in 2017. Block 3 is the best urban poor flat in my constituency and recently won a RM20,000 grant. En.Jalaluddin and En. Halim run Blok 3 without politics and are very focused on welfare of the residents. On the recent passing of a resident, the committee raised a substantial amount of money for the widow. This kind of community spirit in usually absent in the richer neighbourhoods.

Held Our First Urban Poor Forum!

Good morning. A round up of my weekend. The P104 office had our first experimental urban poor forum focusing on (a) how to save money, (b) reduce electric bills and (c) fire safety. The event was a half day event held at block 5 Desa Mentari on Saturday.

We had in total 55 registered adults and a small army of kids. My officers had bought 80 coin/saving boxes from Mr. DIY (cheaper than Daiso). I am particularly proud that my officers are very careful with money and appear to be more cheapskate than me! These coin boxes were given free to encourage kids to save money, and these went pretty fast. For the next forum, we will need to double up on the coin boxes.

We had 3 expert speakers, Trish from Malaysian Care, En. Azlan from Firefighter and Anthony Tan from Cetdem. The Firefighter company also donated 3 fire extinguishers which we distributed by way of a lucky draw. The planning took about 3 weeks to organise and execute. We had several people asking if we can do the same program for their blocks too. The office will have a post mortem study on Tuesday and see what aspects of the forum can be improved. One thing is clear, there is a real need for financial planning advice. This idea originated after I had a chat with Dr Suparno in Jakarta about the need for the poor to do financial planning.

After the event, I attended the wedding of Dato Saifuddin Nasution’s son. Dato Saif is PKR’s secretary general and the man responsible for pushing me to do economic and public policy for the party. I was seated with Dato Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and we had a long chat on recent political developments.

The event is rather grand with a lot of politicians and VIPs. As I walked in, I met the DPM Zahid Hamidi who was leaving. For a short half hour, political differences were set aside to makan and wish the couple well. I also met my old political boss, Zaid Ibrahim whom I greeted jokingly as “the most lonely but most wanted man in Selangor”. When I first joined PKR, Dato Saif assigned me to assist Zaid, who was then protem chairman of Pakatan Rakyat. Zaid was in jovial mood, presumably because Jamal has been arrested.

As Kak Wan and I were leaving, Kit Siang and Dr. M walked in. I also caught up with Mat Sabu at the stairs and joked that we seem to bump into each other much too frequently.

Update: Year End Events

Good morning. The office will be busy the next two weeks preparing for our end of year events. Our staff and interns have been individually assigned to lead on specific events.

Megan has been put in charge of our Star Wars movie fundraiser on the 19th of December. She and Abigail will be calling and visiting donors in the next few days to sell our remaining 80 movie tickets. We have sold about 220 tickets so far.

Abigail, our diva and social director will be in charge of planning the year end thanksgiving lunch with YB Hannah’s office. My office do this every year to commemorate how Hannah Yeoh and her wonderful team helped us setup our office in 2013 and also to thank them for all their support and cooperation in 2017. Last year, we had Thai food; this year Abigail is not saying what we will makan. We also have our own office party dinner at my house for volunteers to thank them for their year long free service. I guess, Abigail will also be in charge of this and the interns are expected to play the piano and sing.

We also have our annual office day trip. Last year, we went to Broga hills and had lunch at a fish farm. This year, TIna is in charge of organising a caving trip to Gua Tempurung followed by a lunch at Lawan Kuda.

Lastly, all the interns and staff are working together on our new experimental community outreach program this Saturday. We had very good success with the family portraits project a few months ago. Now we are gonna try to roll out a talk on practical financial planning for the poor, provide advice on how to reduce utility bills and lastly demonstrate preventive fire safety measures for the low cost flat environment. We will be holding the community event in Block 5 of the urban poor area of Desa Mentari. If the project is successful, we will be replicating this more widely to other urban poor areas.