Time the 5 PR States get some straight talking. The honeymoon period is over and the goodwill is wearing thin.

Straight Talk Blog by Khoo Kay Peng
19 Nov 2008

DAP's Personality Disorder

>From being UMNO lackeys and yes-men to condoning abuses of power and
corruption, we are already know the inability of Gerakan leaders to
move Penang forward. That is why, these lackeys were booted out in the
last general election.

DAP and its top leader Lim Guan Eng achieved landslide victories
despite not coming to Penang seeking to overthrow the BN state
government. The party only offered to become an effective and
substantial opposition.

Voters in Penang took the leap of faith but not without great
expectations. It is fair to argue that they voted out BN but not
really voted in the DAP/PR. At 4pm on election day, a few top DAP
leaders were still not sure of doing well at the state level.

However, since DAP leades have accepted the responsibility and burden
to govern this state they should try to turn this negative win into a
positive win. A positive win is required for the party to seek a
decisive reelection at the next general election. Granted, a term is
too short for the new government to do transformational change. But we
do expect the party to take a lead to transform Penang. We expect
transformational leadership from Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Hence, it is not too much for us to expect some vision and direction
from his leadership. We are ready to support and even go along with
some bold decisions and steps to help Penang become a leading example
of good governance. Three immediate things come to mind which need
immediate attention: cleanliness, public safety and economy.

Lim needs to make his vision to transform Penang clear. Clarity is
important if he expects the people to support his vision and plans. To
do so, he must be not be afraid of the old forces which will try to
muzzle his efforts and make him follow the old framework. Already,
there are some instances when decision makers in his team have to
refer back to the old precedents fearing criticism from his foes.

We do not hire new people to do the same old things. No doubt, we
could sense that the new administration is trying to be business
friendly and at the same time demonstrate its financial prudence. The
gleeful announcements of free wifi service, a possible new aerobus
system and others which come at no cost to the government are some
examples. However, soon the government will learn the hard fact that
there is no free lunch in business.

The Kings of Tennis fiasco is what the government does not need. It
should learn that over eagerness to do something for Penang can expose
some management inexperience and weaknesses. Critics are right to
point out that the local authority should not simply bend the rule to
accommodate any event organiser. Preliminary background check is
necessary. Business sense should also prevail when comes to financial
viability of the project. Still, rules are rules. They are meant to be
followed not break. What stops other organisers from asking for
similar exemptions?

Since there is a heritage advisory panel in place, the state should
get their views on events to be held within the heritage zone
especially when it involves altering the landscape of the protected
area. Tourism and heritage promotion is beyond an individual. It makes
more sense for the state to build up collaborations among key

At the start of his administration, Lim has been quite generous with
new appointments. Many of his partymen were elected to important
sounding positions such as chief of staff, policy adviser, economic
adviser, investment coordinator and others. The coming first
anniversary of his government would be a good chance for him to
evaluate the effectiveness of those occupying these positions.
Positions are created to play specific roles and satisfy specific

Lim can choose between two possible routes. First, stay somewhat
conservative and stick with his non-performing loyalists or second,
enact changes which will help to strengthen his team and its ability
to execute his vision and plans. He will need a real chief of staff
who can help to keep him right on the track.

Too many event appearances, meetings and parliamentary
responsibilities are going to keep him away from doing real thinking
and strategizing for Penang. Lim is already having his plate full with
duties and tasks to lead committees not from his portfolios. Without
adequate attention and time, some of these committees cannot operate
effectively. As a result, many volunteers may lose interest after a

Lim would need a real media adviser who can help to keep his message
clear and consistent. Too much rantings about past abuses are going to
wear off his public support and excitement. Surely, the mismanagement
which caused the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) to lose RM225
million within five years is serious.

But Teng Hock Nan is right to point out that Lim could check with the
relevant departments for the budget and expenditure details of MPSP
and the Penang Island Municipal Council if he wanted to find out about
the funds. Lim did not heckle Teng for answers but to run him down
politically. A good media adviser will be able to point out to Lim how
little mileage left from doing so.

There is still time for Lim to act and sound more chief ministerial.
Lim did not run to become a chief minister. But more than 65% of
voters in Penang thought that he and his team can be entrusted to do
the job. What Lim and his team need to do is to start acting and
sounding like a real government.

Alas, going back to become an effective opposition, a role they know
best, is no longer an option.

Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 4:25 PM
Julian Chin said...

What they'd do now is to rectify the problems and run the state
properly. When that's done, juxtapose the current state admin with the
previous one for us to see.

No point telling us all these but not telling us what you're going to
do about it.

Do your work and at the end of the day only show us how having (a pet)
CAT is good.

5:53 PM
Anonymous said...

Dear Khoo,
This is a case of having too high expectation. But Hey, nothing wrong
to make a very constructive criticism. However, remember, not all
government are perfect. Not even in Singapore. Take a good look at the
DBS (Singapore GLC linked) retrenchment exercise recently
(Hmm......Lagi worse than King of Tennis fiasco)
Anyway, it's just a tennis tournament.No money was lost. Compared to
12 million Singapore town council sinking funds lost due to investment
in companies such as Lehman. Compared to Temasik's tragic loss on
Micropolis hard disk which the govenrment there called it as "honest"
mistake. Or the Suzhou mega investment loss. It's chicken feet lah.
Ok, it's an honest mistake. Lets move on.
Frankly, it's good to scrutinise the LGE and his team. A bit unfair to
put much blame on his chief of staff (Jeff Ooi). As far as I can see,
they have done relative good job.
By the way, the political realities would not allow the return of
Gerakan including that Teng fella, MCA and UMNO. Unless LGE and his
team make such big blunder.
In the contrary, if they are honest and fair, they would be there for
a long long long time. And this is not based on mere hunch.

residing from Singapore

6:24 PM
Anonymous said...

The failure is not the Chief of Staff. The failure is because the
manager does not know how to spell out clearly a Roles &
Responsibilities. You don't fire an operator if he is sleeping in the
job when your HR policy does not clearly state that. You should fire
the HR Manager for failing to create a clear policy.

Anyway, I fully agree that LGE needs to be firm. End of 1st year
review all the staff and Exco. Boot those who is not performing out to
show his seriousness.

However, before doing this, perhaps, it is time for him to take a
basic in management as he has already finished using his 3rd envolope
(remember the 3 envolope story) and there isn't any 4th envelope for

Otherwise, hire me and I can be his voluntary adviser since his
expectation is not too high