The Results of Politicking
Today I will be holding a zoom meeting with my officers.
When Pakatan Harapan lost power on 1st March 2020, all our operational and community funding stopped overnight. In response, we have isolated a cut off date of the office accounts, in preparation for an audit by the new government. A big thanks to my volunteers Gabriel, Leong and Paul Mae for sorting the accounts out during my self quarantine.
Tomorrow is pay day. I have to use my personal money to cover all operational and administrative expenses, which is about RM25,000 a month. Next month onwards, we will be operating on a smaller budget, hence the purpose of today’s meeting is to explore ways to reduce our monthly operational budget.
This is going back to pre-2018 days, when I was an Opposition MP. So while it is a bit of hardship, it is something that is manageable.
Going forward, unfortunately for my constituents, they should expect no funding whatsoever for their activities simply because there is no more community money. Most of my Parliament salary will be channeled to run my office. My volunteers will continue to provide professional advice and assistance on service nights.
On a personal finance front, thankfully, my wife is still working and I do have sufficient savings.
Ironically, what this means is my office will resume back to our original core roles as an MP; which are to (a) pass laws, (b) make and consider government policies (via select committees), and (c) approve and monitor the federal budget (anti corruption, preventing wastage). No more will my office play the somewhat illogical roles as project manager, welfare officer and community funder; which in most proper democracies, will be seen as illegal “vote buying” spendings.
How did we get into this mess? When we won in 2018, the PH leadership decided to “punish” the then Opposition by limiting their operational budget and denying them community funds. While PH MPs got RM300,000 to run our office, the Opposition got only RM100,000. Then PH MPs got RM3.5 million to spend on our community, the Opposition got a big fat ZERO.
Why did we do this? Who knows? Maybe some in the leadership wanted “revenge” because that was what happened to us prior to 2018. Maybe some in the leadership wanted to “starve” the Opposition to entice them to frog jump to us.
Whatever the reasons, we missed the opportunity to do the right thing, which is to provide equal resources to all elected MPs. We could have made politics less of a zero sum game. Now that the tables have turned, we can expect the same if not worse, treatment from the new government.
I am not sure what other PH MPs will do regarding finances. My pockets are not so deep to sustain community programmes. And I am not interested in pursuing fundraising as I am acutely wary of the pitfalls of undue influence of money. As such, I will cease to roll out community programmes and just focus on my MP work. All community spending will have to come from both of my ADUNS, YB Ng Sze Han (Kinrara) and YB MIchelle Ng (Subang Jaya), as long as Selangor state government is under Pakatan Harapan.