In our Selected Exhortations category, we republish interesting stuff such as must-read articles and essays not originally written exclusively for the blawg, and which have come to our attention. Please feel free to email [email protected] if you would like to reproduce your writing, but first follow our Writer’s Guide here. This article was previously published in LoyarBurok’s monthly column, “The Monkeysuit Protocol” in August Man magazine’s October 2011 issue.
Eat. Excrete. Sleep. Life may seem simple but you know it’s all a veneer. That unreasonably high electricity bill you just received? That’s a banshee’s call for an immediate diet of toast. That suspension-busting pothole on the street outside your home? That’s sleep-theft right there.
So what do you do when such travesties tick you off? Rant about it to your barber? Rave about it to your cactus?
Hold your horses, son. Because while citizens like you get to bawl when things break down, they also like to bark up the wrong tree. The kind that sprouts belimbing when what you really need is bananas.
KNOWING WHO SHOULD HELP, HELPS
There’s a professional for any problem. Got a cold? Call a doctor. Got nightmares of the Vietnamese War although you weren’t born at the time? Speak to the psychologist. What about a drain clogged with plastic bags, laksa gravy and mutant tadpoles? Hem and haw at your local council, of course.
The people you hunt down changes, however, when the issues become more challenging. Got a scary half-built condo on the slope staring down at your hard-earned Porsche in the porch? Time to seek your Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (ADUN). Got a teenage son facing trial under the University and Colleges Act, 1971 for running in the by-elections recently? Time to stalk your Member of Parliament (MP) and have him propose for the abolishment of the law. You can always disown your son – for his carelessness at being caught – after he crawls out of prison.
WHAT ARE ADUNs AND MPs?
ADUNs aren’t a dying species of Dugong even if sightings of them are rare. No. They’re lively members of the State Legislative Assembly (Dewan Undangan Negeri or DUN). And you can find them in every state unless they’re on a field trip abroad, studying the profitability of cultivating silk worms for a more robust batik industry. They’re made up of a bunch of people voted into office during the elections by regular citizens like you.
Say you live in Bukit Lanjan. Maybe you recall putting an X next to Elizabeth Wong’s name back in 2008 and made her your ADUN. Or maybe you don’t because you’re actually 15 and reading this magazine just to scout for Jessica Alba’s pictures. Anyway, Elizabeth’s job is to propose and draft bills at the state level. So, if greedy housing-developers are hawking unsafe homes, you’ve a right to blow the whistle on their nefarious deeds to Elizabeth. Elizabeth can then persuade the state assembly to pass a bill limiting the development of crumbly condos on steep inclines.
ADUNs in the Executive: The Lawyer Speaketh
Regular ADUNs propose and draft bills while those specially elected into a Jedi-like council called the State Executive Committee (the EXCO), execute policies influenced by them. The Head of the EXCO is Yoda – we mean, Menteri Besar.
Meanwhile, MPs sit further up the food chain and constitute the Federal Legislature (Parliament). Here, the 222 members of the Dewan Rakyat and 70 members of the Dewan Negara legislate and make bigger laws for even bigger socio-economic issues – the stuff of national interest.
Executive Government: The Lawyer Speaketh
The Executive Government at the Federal level comprises the Prime Minister and his Cabinet and are drawn from Members of both Houses of Parliament, that is, the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara.
SO, CAN MY ADUN OR MP SOLVE EVERYTHING?
Maybe your girlfriend, who thinks she’s the only woman in your life, is about to discover your other girlfriend, who thinks the same thing, and neither knows that really, the only woman who decides everything is your mother. But this is one of many things your representatives aren’t responsible for, although many don’t realise it.
One day, they’re JKR sniffing a clogged monsoon drain. Another, they’re filling out student loan applications like they work for the National Higher Education Fund. Still others, they’re the guys from the Consumer Affairs Association getting earfuls for pricey pomfret.
As a rule of thumb, think of your representatives as the dudes who deal with laws and policies concerning your quality of life as a Malaysian. Not as a resident of Taman Seputeh or Taman Timbuktu.
FLAMING THAT LEGISLATIVE BUTT
So you’re sure you’ve every right to bring your complaint to your representatives. What can you do?
1) Make a simple phone call: Your ADUN or MP should be contactable at least during office hours so your needs can be attended to. Keep their office phone numbers handy at all times.
2) Write an email: Some State Assemblies have their own websites that carry the full list of representatives of all the constituencies within the State. The website for the DUN for Selangor for example, provides phone numbers as well as email addresses of all its officers.
If your representatives are too busy playing golf, you can always approach the Media where you can name and shame them for the sloths that they are – golf clubs, karipap and all.
Just don’t hold your breath if your issues fall into areas that overlap with Federal ones. In such instances, Federal executive powers will take precedence over the State’s, which means some waiting is in order.
For example, only the Minister of Education can decide on the medium of instruction for Math and Science. Never mind if he can’t tell calculus and calluses apart.
State and Federal relations: The Lawyer Speaketh
Article 4 of the Federal Constitution maps out the relationship between the Federal and State governments.
Yes, life isn’t simple. Not for you. And certainly not for your ADUN and MP who probably have to listen to you threatening to vote them out for the spate of storms flooding your street.
But with this awesomely informative article, we’re sure you’re on the right course to getting their executive arm-chairs swivelin’ for your votes.
LIBERAVI ANIMAM MEAM.