Coming to terms with undelivered promises (Posted on 10.11pm Jul 09, 2001)

Are we about to see legal suits against politicians and elected representatives for unfulfilled promises - a breach of people's trust?

In true democracy, will this result in the politicians, who had become tarnished by their act of omission, being made to vacate their seats?

Interesting thought, but is Malaysia ready for this?

Nay, I think. Because we are too forgiving to even the people who treated us with blatant disregard for all our rights and interests they claim to represent!

In October 1999, I organized a Charity Dinner function at Holiday Villa Subang.

In the full view of over 2,000 people attending the function, a politician and serving Senator, promised us RM2,000 to off-set the costs.

For the record, despite repeated reminders and telephone calls made since October 1999, the money did not come.

Last Tuesday, I met the Senator at the office of a senior Federal Minister and I engaged him on the unfulfilled promise.

He had asked me to write to him, again, citing several excuses in embarrassment.

I brought this matter up to CASSA Council Members and they decided that we should "drop the issue".

CASSA Council Members stressed that what was promised was made voluntarily. However, they admitted it was a sad case to have made us look like beggars when all that we sought was the fulfilment of a promise made in public.

Indeed, some of our politicians langsung tak tahu malu - too thick skinned!

Several years ago, two politicians, one a serving Mayor and the other a sitting Member of Parliament, had both promised to donate RM5,000 each to a primary school for its PIBG projects. To date, the money has not arrived!

Recently, Selangor MB YAB Datuk Seri Dr Mohd. Khir Toyo was invited as the official guest at the same school for its 2001 PIBG AGM. During the meeting, he delivered a "fiery and power-packed speech from the heart" that motivated all who were present, after which, he pledged to contribute RM10,000.00 from his salary for the school's IT and Library project.

I am pleased to say that money arrived in record three days after the speech was delivered! If only more could be like the YAB MB of Selangor!

At the recent Shah Alam Rotary Club installation ceremony and dinner, I was "highjacked" by a large group of people made up of sensitive public spirited individuals, corporate figures, leaders of Non Governmental Organizations, Service Groups, retired UMNO leaders and charitable organizations!

These people were upset and they tried to seek answers to several issues that had made the front pages of our electronic and print media recently. Among the issues are the rather pathetic situation of the people in Kampong Medan and Kampung Lindungan who were promised many things in the full glare of the electronic and print media!

It had been alleged by various quarters that, after over 100 days of the tragic event that shocked a nation, the promises for shelter, jobs, medical coverage and other basic needs were not fulfilled. Meanwhile, media focus has shifted and our country may have got carried away with her twin towers, MSC corridors, the 'prostitution' of the 'e-thingy by some desperate civil servants. Talking about being carried away, even the lobbying 'lalang journalist' cannot discern whether the countless million ringgit Millennium parks and squares are built in the name of "beautification efforts and tourist attractions" really fulfil the rakyat's needs!

These men and women I spoke to at the Rotary dinner demanded answers. And answers I did want from those overdressed men and women in their BMWs and S classes - those we call 'Pemimpin' - hogged the limelight after the bloody incident: Where are your promises to deliver immediate basic and essential aid to these poor victims?

These figures who demanded answers had a right - for they had visited the area that morning, providing aid and collecting vital data for CASSA.

They were not the elected representatives or appointed councillors, but members of the civil society who were addressing issues that should have been addressed before they are highlighted by either whistle-blowers or some NGO's!

To them, I was a consumer advocate , the MIC Chief for Subang Jaya Town Centre (MICSJTC), the President and the Legal Adviser of the Consumers Association of Subang & Shah Alam (CASSA). They said I should have the answers to this "political riddle".

But believe me, I was hurt, sad and lost!

True, I must confess that the sun-glassed politicians had come to town, made their grand entry and exit and in those moments. Undressed children were cuddled, uncollected garbage was pointed at, clogged drains were frowned upon, and immediate cosmetic changes were initiated, allocations approved, and... they left!

The good news was that this group of people who "cornered" me had promised sufficient financial and other support for any project proposal that I may suggest to address in the long term for the sake of this marginalized community!

There are many needs in this area. Which do we address first?

Perhaps, readers may suggest and assist my team and I to initiate one, where this promised financial support package could be utilized!

Community groups learn fast. What about politicians, especially the appointed ones?

Dr. Jacob George
Subang Jaya