Monday, July 26, 2010

Penang Acrimony

It’s a small world indeed! I attended the MidValley Toastmasters Club meeting and I was greeted by a former student of mine from Nilai International College (now Nilai University College), Paul Tan Poh Leong – he studied Marketing under me – and who is now the President of this Club. It was great to see him again! The other member whom I met was Sheryl Chieng – I didn’t know her but she still deserves a mention because she is currently studying Psychology at HELP University College. And then I bumped into a very familiar person, NJ Singam, who gamely took on two roles this evening – as the Installing Officer as well as the General Evaluator. This club did a 2-in-1 by bundling the Installation of new Exco members with their regular meeting. Gerard Peter, the IPP graciously pushed the Evaluator role that was his originally, to me, and I readily accepted. I, of course, gave a candid evaluation to Wattson Lai who was attempting his CC speech # 4 titled “Likeability Factor” and guess what? I was voted the Champion Evaluator. Anyway, I value this opportunity because it not only will help the speaker – really, I believe so – but it also affords me practice given that the Speech Evaluation contest is already around the corner. Like many clubs with “young” members – time management could certainly be improved! A good meeting overall even if it went 45 minutes into extra time!

The verbal spat between the Chief Minister of Penang and a senior civil servant makes juicy reading. The fact of the matter is that the latter, state development officer Nik Ali Mat Yunus has gone overboard by calling the former, Lim Guan Eng biadap (disrespectful) and dayus (coward) – in fact, the Malay terms are hard-hitting in an insolently loutish manner as compared to the English equivalent words. Worse, Nik Ali showed up at an UMNO press conference, distributing prepared press statements to reporters and at the same time, firing salvos at the CM. This clearly compromised his neutrality; therefore, he is already guilty of breaching the General Orders. What this means is that Nik Ali as a civil servant is not impartial and non-partisan. And the Federal government made it very political by backing Nik Ali – I suppose this is not surprising; this support for him made political sense to UMNO especially since the civil service is a gargantuan vote-bank.
Plain-spoken Lim had rightly censured Nik Ali on the latter’s purported role in some questionable projects – one of which relates to the Botanical Garden arches. By haranguing Nik Ali and pointing out his incompetence, Lim also unwittingly invited a response from the latter. And so the verbal sparks flew. I don’t think this benefits anybody – but from a citizen’s point of view, Lim would surely have scored political points from Penangites (and even non-Penangites) on this issue – but like it or not, the recalcitrant Nik Ali would still remain in Penang, now that he has garnered political support. And now we have an impasse! So where do these two quarreling personalities go from here?

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