Sunday, February 24, 2008

BN MPs Want To Be Judged. But On What?

The Sunday Star, talking on Kota Melaka MP, Wong Nai Chee, says that he will take a no-nonsense approach when dealing with issues and will rely on facts and figures to back up claims. He is further quoted "“Our strategy remains the same regardless of who the DAP fields as a candidate here. I am more concerned with how the voters judge us.”

Wong said voters were able to see for themselves the changes in the city since it came under Barisan control.

“We have brought about many positive changes over the last four years. For instance, I assisted the state in lobbying for RM128.8mil from the Federal Government to alleviate flash flood problems in the city,” he said.

So Mr Wong has prescribed for himself that the measure of his worth and work as an MP is in what he has been able to obtain for his constituents. And yes I have no argument about that and I applaud him too.

But wait. Is that the measure of an MP's tasks and responsibilities? Remember he is a member of parliament. That is a Federal position. What the hell was he doing looking at whether the drains were clogged or if the roads were properly maintained? Was that what the Kota Melaka voters picked voted for him to do? What ever happened to to all the various State Assembly men whose constituencies are within Kota Melaka? Did they all leave it to Mr Wong here, who of course being MP and all ranks higher than them? And what ever happened to the various local municipalities located within Kota Melaka? Isn't it that Mr Wong here is claiming all the credit for work that these Municiaplities are primarily responsible for in any case?

Completely Side Tracked!

This is the 12th General Election. Yet, I have not for once read any measure of any Member of Parliament or State Assembly men whether by themselves, their party colleagues and peers, or the people, for what is really expected of them. Some how it seems like all and sundry including the elite in society, the Oxford and Harvard educated, the doctors, lawyers and all the various political scientists too as well as the journalists together with the rest of society take the claims of these politicians of what ever assessments of these politicians as measured against their performance within their constituencies as a given without asking if indeed that is a correct measure to gauge the MPs or State Asemblyman or woman's performance.

So what is it that is really expected of them? And why do we vote them in anyway? What really is the correct scale to measure them on?

If one was to rely on Mainstream Media to guide us, it would seem like it would be their ability to deliver on the immediate needs of their constituents. Going by the Kota Melaka MP's description, it would be about physical improvements, better maintenance, a little bit of infrastructure and so on.

But really, is that the job description of Members of Parliaments and State Assemblymen in our country? If one was to write the job specifications of what it takes to be a MP, what is it that one will fill in it?

Maybe I can be of help here. I have searched around and I have found that the labour department in New Zealand has a career help web site where one can go to see details of various jobs. They specify what the tasks and responsibilities are. The knowledge and skills to bring along and other personal requirements. And I found in there the job specification for Politicians and Members of Parliaments.

In the absence of any job specifications, and all and sundry have assumed for themselves a measure that is indeed dubious and irrelevant to their tasks, I reckon the people can take a look at this and see if the MP or State Assemblyman they wish to support indeed meets the mark.

So here goes:

Member of Parliament - Tasks and specialisations

Tasks & duties

Members of parliament may do some or all of the following:
- listen to and act on behalf of individuals or groups
- attend sittings of parliament
- study reports, proposals, complaints and petitions
- present, debate and vote on new laws and changes to existing ones
- sit on select committees to look at bills before they become law
- attend meetings and public events
- make speeches and give interviews to journalists
- be in charge of a ministry or government department
- work with various departments, ministries and ministers to develop policy
- hold a managerial or administrative position in parliament such as junior or senior whip (the person who manages a party's MPs).


Skills & Knowledge

Members of Parliament need to have

- knowledge of political, economic, social and cultural aspects of New Zealand life
- knowledge of the region they are representing
- knowledge of official parliamentary procedures
- excellent communication and listening skills
- public-speaking and debating skills
- decision-making ability
- planning and organisational skills
- negotiating skills
- skill in interpreting and evaluating information.

Personal qualities

Members of parliament must be able to gain people's trust, make good judgements and work well under pressure. They must also be motivated, responsible and able to lead others.

Physical requirements

Members of parliament must have clear speech, a tidy appearance and a good level of stamina.

Member of Parliament - How to get into this job
Entry requirements

To become a member of parliament you must be a New Zealand citizen and at least 18 years of age. You must also be registered in an electorate and voted in by the electorate or through inclusion on a party list.

Tertiary education

There are no specific tertiary educational requirements, but a tertiary qualification in law, public policy or economics may be useful.

Training on the job

Useful experience

Work as a local government representative, a union official or delegate, or work for a political party or pressure group is useful for becoming a member of parliament. Any work in economics, law, education or another specialist field is also useful.

Working conditions

Members of parliament work in offices at parliament, and in their own home or regional office. They visit various businesses and organisations, and travel to meetings, press conferences and promotional events in New Zealand and overseas. They may have to be away from home for days at a time.There is a lot of stress involved, as members of parliament are in a position of high responsibility.


I would like to ask Mr Wong Nai Chee to work out his scorecard based on what has been given above. Maybe it might just prompt him to think otherwise as to why maybe that he might be off his mark by the mile when suggesting to his constituents that he has done well as their MP.

The absence of knowledge of what the job of an MP or a State Assembly man is supposed to be leaves the controlling party to subliminally, indeed overtly suggest into our collective heads that the deliverables of our MPS and State Assemblymen and women should only be those that we are able to see in terms of physical and material benefit to the people. And this the ruling party controls.

There is indeed hope to begin to change the minds of the voters if and when they get to know what it is in our system of government as provided by the constitution is envisaged of our elected representatives, whether in Parliament or in the State Assemblies. It is certainly not by the measures the Prime Minister as well as all the BN leaders ask us to look at. it is not what the MPs and State Assembly men and women ask us to look at. Surely a new candidate has no record of what he can score on his measure. Yet becuase he knows your eyes are only rooted on one scale he can confidently talk about his accesses to the resources that can make things happen.

Unfortunately even those experienced MPs of the opposition only seem to talk about what it is they can do materially for their constituents.

I, on the other hand would say, that nearly all the MPs would fail when measured against the tasks and responsibilities envisaged in the job specifications set out for politicians in New Zealand. In terms of Skills and Knowledge too, I would say most would miserably fail and many would end up being laughing stocks.


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