Lower Voting Age A Step In The Right Direction

The Cabinet’s recent decision to begin work to amend the Federal Constitution to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 is a step in the right direction.

Malaysia’s democracy can only be strengthened by expanding the electoral franchise in this manner.

This step also brings Malaysia in line with electoral practices in most countries of the world.

18 is the legal age of adulthood for Malaysians. At this age, young Malaysian women and men can sign contracts, join the military and even be sentenced to death.

As such, it is entirely appropriate and just for them to get the vote.

It is simply the right thing to do.

Moving forward, Pakatan Harapan Youth hopes that the Federal Government will ensure that the process of amending the Constitution be done transparently, with proper consultation of all relevant stakeholders—including youth wings of Opposition parties and civil society—and with due dispatch.

Once this is done, all parties in both houses of Parliament should back the amendments without hesitation or unnecessary obstruction.

The relevant authorities should also undertake measures to make voting easier for all Malaysians, including automatic registration and radically improving the overseas postal voting process.

Exercising one’s rights as a citizen should be simple, not difficult. Let us think outside the box: we should not shy away from radical measures like opening polling stations in unconventional places like airports or even shopping malls as practised in other countries.

We also eagerly await updates on the government’s pledge to reintroduce local council elections, particularly for Malaysian voters in the Federal Territories, who have thus far had to make do with only one vote.

Moreover, better civic education must now be introduced in Malaysian schools to prepare the next wave of votes for their new responsibilities. I hope that the Education Ministry will look into and act on this quickly.

I strongly believe that the upcoming generation of young Malaysian voters will continue to make a positive contribution to our country.

We must hence work all the harder to ensure their aspirations are not disappointed.

NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
PAKATAN HARAPAN YOUTH LEADER
PARTI KEADILAN RAKYAT YOUTH LEADER
SETIAWANGSA MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

DBKL Must Release Assessment Reports To Ensure Transparency In Development Approvals

Kuala Lumpur City Hall must act swiftly to release assessment reports on development projects which it has approved in line with greater transparency and to allow residents to object to developments in their neighbourhoods.

For example is a plot of land near Desa Putra Condo in the Setiawangsa Parliamentary Constituency, which was meant to be for residential development has been approved for commercial development. What people are upset about is how exactly did this happen.

Residents were unable to obtain any Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) or even Developmental Impact Assessment (DIA) reports when they made their objections.

The residents had brought to my attention an attempt to justify the development as a ‘Transport Oriented Development (TOD)’, without providing any directive or guidelines as to how this alleged policy would be implemented.

Any TOD must take into consideration the existing population density as well as existing development projects currently underway that has already added to the density of an area.

In Desa Putra’s case, they are already hemmed in by Wangsa 9 (3 blocks, 565 units overall, 48 storeys) and the Hamilton (42 storeys, 435 units overall).

The area is also sloped and there had been mudslides in the past.

There must be zero tolerance for cutting corners.

If a development is contrary to the Draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020, it must not be approved. It is clear and simple. If this is to be challenged, then the residents must be given their right to object effectively.

As I have mentioned before including in Parliament, I urge the Federal Territories minister Khalid Samad to gazette the plan as quickly as possible.

NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
SETIAWANGSA MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

Anwar’s Uncanny Ability To Prove Cynics Wrong

This article was first published by Malaysiakini on 18 September 2018.

By Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

Anwar Ibrahim’s attempt to return to the Dewan Rakyat – and hence into the country’s political life – via a by-election in Port Dickson has predictably engendered much controversy.

There will be, of course, people who will find fault with whatever Anwar does – they have been around since Day 1 of the Reformasi.

Some of them have said, time and time again that Anwar and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) are no longer relevant – or a spent force.

They have also, interestingly, been proven wrong time and time again in this regard.

But democracy is about people disagreeing with one another and moving forward.

There are many who will disagree profoundly with Anwar returning to politics, or the way he is going about it.

These views and the people who hold them – in good faith, we assume – must be respected.

There must be no vilification on either side.

The people who disagree with Anwar’s return have every right to feel that way and do what they need to do to deal with it.

So do those who support him.

I, for one, believe that what Anwar is doing is right.

The “New Malaysia” is supposed to be about reform and putting the best Malaysians in positions of responsibility.

The standard-bearer for reform

It is about finding new ways forward from the funk that our country has found itself in.

Anwar has since 1998 become the standard-bearer for reform, for challenging Malaysia’s unsustainable status quo: whether political, social and economic.

His critics claim that he is “ambitious” and “impatient”.

I would argue however that what is really making them uncomfortable is his refusal to relent in asking difficult questions about where Malaysia should be going as a country, over why certain parties who were clamouring for change and reform under the past government now seem to be dragging their feet.

Anwar has been attacked as a “chameleon”, especially over issues of race, religion and language.

I would argue that what they take as his disingenuousness is actually his understanding of how complex Malaysia’s diversity is, of the difficulties that ordinary Malaysians face in navigating the identity politics of our age.

His attempt to return to Parliament – indeed, to politics in general – has been condemned as disruptive to the reform process.

But Anwar has time and time again said that he will not disrupt the government of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, that he will assume the prime ministership at a time agreeable to both leaders.

It is very strange, therefore, that the motivations as well as the repeated reassurances of both these men have been questioned, time and time again.

Anwar still has a role to play in the frontline of politics, especially in ensuring that the crucial reforms that are needed in the years ahead are pushed through – and wisely.

This process must be done via the people’s representatives in Parliament – and that is why Anwar should be there.

We must not also forget that freeing Anwar, returning him to the political mainstream and ultimately, the premiership, was part of the agreement forged before the last general election by the leadership of Pakatan Harapan.

It was agreed to by all concerned. The credibility of Harapan, of its components, leaders, grassroots and civil society that supported us, will be severely compromised if this agreement is not adhered to.

Promises must be kept

Much of the problems and abuses that we faced in the Old Malaysia stemmed from postponing political changes because they seemed inexpedient or inconvenient to the powerful and wealthy.

We cannot afford a repeat of this.

Things started going wrong for Malaysia when our people were made to believe that politics had to be set aside for the so-called “national interest”.

This was and will always be wrong.

Benjamin Franklin once wrote: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

In the New Malaysia, those who would delay reform and the Harapan transition process, allegedly in the name of the national interest and democracy, are doing a disservice to both.

Again: promises- especially political ones – must be kept.

No one is asking for Anwar to be given a free pass or unfettered power.

Like all political figures – his actions, politics and rhetoric must be scrutinised carefully, without fear or favour.

Moreover, the “transition” to Anwar will also mean the beginning of the transition of power to the post-Reformasi generations of leaders.

Some will ask: but why can’t these leaders take over immediately after Mahathir? The very fact that we had to recall him to lead Harapan highlights that we need more time.

And so the icons of our movement: Mahathir and Anwar, must be allowed to lay the groundwork for us.

They both have a lot left in them and must be allowed their time in the sun.

I repeat: no one is being forced to support Anwar in the Port Dickson by-election.

But I do believe that what he is doing is right for the country.

Anwar’s return to the Dewan Rakyat and to Malaysia’s public life is an idea whose time has come.

Democracy Is Noisy But Necessary, Says Nik Nazmi

This article was first published in Star Online by Tarrence Tan on 15 September 2018 at

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/09/15/democracy-is-noisy-but-necessary-says-nik-nazmi/

KUALA LUMPUR: As the PKR polls draw closer, political pundits are closely monitoring the party’s internal squabble as it unfolds slowly, offering outsiders a rare glimpse of bickering leaders from differing factions.

What stands out in the looming party polls is the fight for the party deputy presidency between Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and Rafizi Ramli, which saw an intensifying split between several outspoken leaders from both factions.

To PKR Youth chief and Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, the party’s internal rivalry is part and parcel of politics in a democratic setting.

“We could run the party with a system of having appointed leaders, but that wouldn’t be democracy.

“That is why we should welcome such competition (Azmin vs Rafizi). People are asking, ‘Why now?’

“Well, democracy is messy and democracy is noisy. But democracy is necessary,” Nik Nazmi said during an interview at his service centre in Setiawangsa here.

Nik Nazmi, who has been a PKR member since 2001, pointed out that the race for the party’s No.2 should be centred on finding a suitable leader to be in the same team as Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is expected to be the eighth prime minister.

“As this is a consensus in Pakatan Harapan, when he (Anwar) becomes the eighth prime minister, he will need a solid team to back him as party president,” he said.

On July 27, Nik Nazmi publicly endorsed Rafizi, a current vice-president, for deputy presidency, saying that the Anwar-Rafizi combination would be the best to lead PKR.

Pressed for comment, Nik Nazmi said: “I don’t believe that Azmin is bad, but I believe Rafizi is better.”

Observers had said a split could take place in the nearly 20-year-old party if Azmin, a key PKR leader, fails to defend his deputy presidency.

But Nik Nazmi said members should vote in their preferred leaders, as leaders through meritocracy should win top party positions.

“If I believe that Rafizi is better, then we shouldn’t be afraid to put someone better just because it could break the party.

“PKR has never shied away from making difficult decisions,” he said, citing the infamous Kajang Move of 2014 as an example.

The Kajang Move was orchestrated by PKR to replace former Selangor mentri besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim with Anwar. However, the plan fell through and Azmin ultimately replaced Khalid as mentri besar.

“But it was with the Kajang Move that we succeeded in removing Khalid. We also broke up with PAS because of the Kajang Move, which subsequently created Pakatan Harapan. So, it is better that we make the difficult decisions now.

“Otherwise, the next party polls would be very close to the 15th General Election,” said Nik Nazmi.

Allegations of Azmin being Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s lackey and the conspiracy to prevent Anwar from being the next prime minister have been Rafizi’s battle cry as he campaigns across the country.

Nik Nazmi felt that Rafizi’s concerns were legitimate, citing Wanita PKR chief Zuraida Kamaruddin’s criticism against Pakatan’s choice of prime minister as an example.

“Zuraida has in the past criticised the announcement of Dr Mahathir as the seventh Prime Minister and Anwar as the eighth,” he noted.

Zuraida is a known Azmin loyalist.

Nik Nazmi remains optimistic about the party’s resilience.

“PKR is not Azmin’s party, Rafizi’s party or Anwar’s party. It is a brand that has existed since the reformasi era. PKR will remain no matter who wins,” he said.

Helicopter Landing Pad In Public Park?

Nik Nazmi meets residents associations in bid to resolve outrageous misuse of KL land

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 7): Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad met with representatives of Taman Tiara Titiwangsa, Taman Titiwangsa and Desa Putra to hear them out on issues concerning their respective areas.

In a two and half hour long meeting, issues such as the helicopter landing pad now operating in Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, which is a gazetted a recreational park, were raised along with residents expressing their wish that the park remain a public space in the KL draft plan which is expected to be gazetted later this year.

The helicopter landing pad is being used by a company offering “sky tours” from the site, much to the dismay of residents who have raised safety concerns on it and other heavy commercial activities in the park.

Nik Nazmi assured those present that the Federal Territories ministry had made the decision to close the helicopter tour by next year.

Also discussed was Rule 5, a provision of law that requires the mayor to refer to the registered owners of the adjacent land, through advertisements in newspapers and exhibition to invite objections to the application for development that involving the conversion of land use, zoning or increase in residential density.

Among the key issues raised were::

1. MRT Station (Jalan Kuantan) and Proposal to convert residential lots next to the station into mixed development.

2.Upgrading of Taman Tasik Titiwangsa under the “River of Life” project.

3. Residential lots being used for commercial purposes.

4. Problem of motorcyclists in Taman Tasik Titiwangsa and Jalan Kuantan who are disturbing the peace of the area even at 4am.

5. Traffic lights at the junction of Jalan Pahang and Jalan Titiwangsa which have been removed as part of the construction of the DUKE Highway.

6. Overdevelopment at Taman Tiara Titiwangsa through the building of high rise condominiums on land meant for landed properties.

7. Other commercial development using residential access roads.

8. Easy conversion of residential leasehold titles and re-zoning of land use across the city.

9. The lack of proper infrastructure facilities namely water supply and sewerage discharge in Taman Tiara Titiwangsa.

Nik Nazmi consulted with those present despite his busy schedule, demonstrating a keen interest into the problems plaguing his constituents, setting the bar high for other KL MPs, some of whom have yet to hold similar consultations with their constituents four months after Pakatan came to power on May 9.

The representatives spoke candidly and openly about their problems, describing indepth the difficulties they faced and expressed frustration at DBKL, which they said had taken a less than encouraging interest in their complaints.

“The fundamental issue raised by the representatives of the three resident associations was the need to gazette the Kuala Lumpur draft plan as soon as possible.

“That is the short term solution. In the long term we need to update the planning laws to suit modern requirements and to be fairer to residents in the city.”

Nik Nazmi described the meeting as “positive” and pledged to arrange meetings with the Federal Territories minister Khalid Samad, DBKL and the Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM) in the near future to allow the residents a fair and direct means of explaining their grievances.

Standardisation Of Minimum Wage Is Positive Move, Must Be Further Improved In The Future

The move by the Federal Government to standardise minimum wage across Malaysia, in line with the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, is commendable.

Even though the increase may be small for now, but this is real progress that we can build on in the foreseeable future.

Moreover, it is an undeniable fact that wages have stagnated in Malaysia, and our aspirations of becoming a high-income nation has been hampered by years of stagnation. We should also not only focus on per-capita income but also look at the inequality of wages between the rich and poor.

At the heart of our cost of living issue is low wages especially for the B40, and it is pertinent that we address this with a holistic solution.

As our economy recovers, we have to increase the minimum wage to RM1500 over five years in line with our manifesto and look into incentivising business-owners — including giving tax breaks — to raise the minimum wage, or go even higher to meet the living wage standard as suggested by Bank Negara.

The government procurement policy should be amended within a reasonable period so that companies giving living wages are given priority.

Its long-term impact will be an increase in incomes, which will lead to increases in expenditure and, more multiplier effects across the economy.

At the same time, the additional B40 incentive will also help make the so-called “3D” (i.e. dirty, dangerous and difficult)—such as construction and plantation—jobs more attractive to locals and reduce dependency on foreign labour. In fact, like other developed countries, this sectors can increase their productivity through automation. For so long, these sectors have been coddled by low wages for foreign workers.

The World Bank noted in a previous analysis that a 10 percent increase in immigration flows have reduced the wages of the least-educated Malaysians by 0.74 percent.

These are issues that we need to tackle, but of course let’s take it step by step. What we need now is the political will to do the right thing for all Malaysians.

NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
PAKATAN HARAPAN YOUTH LEADER
PARTI KEADILAN RAKYAT YOUTH LEADER
SETIAWANGSA MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT