The End of a Long Week

I got home at 1.30 am (past midnight) from the INVOKE Malaysia event on Tuesday night. My loyal, hardworking and underpaid staff and interns stayed till the very end. Rafizi Ramli did most of the briefing, I played a minor role. Am attaching pictures of the event.

The Alternative Budget 2018 is now being translated by an external source. We have been working on this document for 45 days. With the work now outside of our control, we can rest a few days. So I have decided to take a short holiday with my wife and kids tomorrow. The kids have been restless during this one week of school break and I have been neglecting them of late.

We will be doing a cuti-cuti Malaysia short trip. First stop will be Gua Tempurung, then Kellie’s Castle and some local Gopeng makan. After lunch we will go to Ipoh and explore why the Lonely Planet has named Ipoh as a top 10 destination in Asia! Ipoh food is expected to be glorious. Yesterday, at the imoney talk, Prof. Jomo told me that Ipoh is now a great arts destination with artists resettling there due to cheaper property and lower cost of living.

We will be staying at Sekeping Kong Heng and tomorrow night I will meet up with some local PKR leaders to answer questions on economic policies (I can’t really stop working). On Friday, we will continue to explore Ipoh and eat more stuff before heading back to KL after lunch.

My staff will see me on Saturday and Sunday as we prepare the final layout of the Alternative Budget. My staff will also read and research the first 4 legislative bills that will be tabled in Parliament starting next Monday. This weekend is going to be pure legislative work. We have deferred all community events so that we can focus on the upcoming Parliamentary debates. I will try to debate as many bills that I can handle in this sitting. In the last July/August sitting, I debated 7 bills. I want to try to top that record. I am also expected to debate extensively on the budget itself. I must emphasise that this budget session is the most important event of the year for MPs.

On the Deepavali visits today, I want to thank YB Manivanan Gowin and Guna/Uma for being wonderful hosts. I also managed to drop by Desa Mentari to visit the scene of the fires. I spoke to En. Zaini and En.Norizan, the local community leaders who explained the complex issue of racial politics in dense urban poverty zones. I also asked YB Manivanan for his valued opinion on the matter of fireworks in the context of Deepavali. This issue clearly needs sensitivity to cultural needs as well as public safety.

The local leaders lamented that despite being banned, fireworks are openly being sold on the streets. These traders have obviously taken care of the enforcement authorities, who then turn a blind eye. The ban is not only failing but actually promotes corruption and abuses of power. YB Manivanan proposed a different solution; legalise but control the sale and usage of fireworks. He proposed the banning of all extreme fireworks, thus allowing the sale of milder fireworks for cultural purposes. In addition, he argued a designated and supervised open space should be allocated for 5 nights, rather than the current free for all dangerous discharge of fireworks in common properties of flats.

I want to explore more options on the issue. I will ask one of my new interns to look into this and see if we can discover any successful policies applied in other countries. We may do a Policy Monday on this topic in the near future.

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