Cover Story: Perak’s New Political Lineup

By Ili Aqilah

Following the unexpected results of the 14th General Elections on May 9, the eventual lineup of Perak’s state government was duly announced. Pakatan Harapan state chief, Ahmad Faizal Azumu, took on the mantle of the 12th Menteri Besar replacing Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir officially on May 12.  He was sworn in by Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah at Istana Iskandariah, Kuala Kangsar. The executive councillors, ten in all, took their oath of office on May 19 at the same venue.

Executive councillors are equivalent to ministers at the federal level. Each state is allowed to nominate between six and 10 executive councillors and this is specified in the state constitution. They are given specific portfolios and the number may vary from councillor to councillor. The ones responsible for finance, local government, environment, foreign investments and sports (not necessarily in that order) have a heavy burden to shoulder considering the significance of these portfolios.

“We’re here to serve the people. Everyone is welcome to meet us…..” – Faizal

Here is the composition of Perak’s 12th State Executive Council:

Ahmad Faizal AzumuAhmad Faizal Azumu

Menteri Besar Perak, Chairman for Finance, Security, Land, Natural Resources and Economic Planning

Holding the most important portfolios, Ahmad Faizal will be responsible for managing the state’s finance, economy, security, natural resources and related matters. When asked about the issue of Orang Asli and their rights, he said that he had no information regarding the matter. However, he was prepared to resolve lingering issues in order to fulfil Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto.

“We’re here to serve the people. Everyone is welcome to meet us and talk about their problems. This includes environmental NGOs such as KUASA, PEKA and others,” said Faizal to reporters after chairing his first Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, May 23.

One other matter he needs to attend to is the de-gazetted forest reserve land raised by Sitiawan Assemblyman, Ngeh Koo Ham. Ngeh demanded answers from the previous government about the fate of 3847 hectares of forest reserve land. Perak’s stature as the state with the largest amount of forest reserve in the peninsula is at risk of being toppled. This issue is of significance to the new MB.

Dr Abdul Aziz BariDr Abdul Aziz Bari

Education, Science, Environment, Green Technology and Information

With newly-minted Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik at the helm, State assemblymen for Tebing Tinggi, Dr Abdul Aziz Bari hopes there will be changes in the much-battered education system. Among Aziz’s priorities are providing non-academic options for students, a balanced education programme and ensuring equal education opportunities to poor and disadvantaged students.

Asmuni AwiAsmuni Awi

Islamic Affairs, Islamic Education, Rural Development and Human Capital Development

Amanah state chief of Perak, Asmuni Awi is in-charge of four important portfolios namely, Islamic Affairs, Islamic Education, Rural Development and Human Capital. It will be a challenge for Asmuni as he is also the assemblymen for Manjoi, one of the least developed constituencies in Ipoh. Asmuni needs also look at other rural areas such as Behrang, Beruas, Bagan Tiang and Titi Serong in order to bring development to these backwaters.

Wong May IngWong May Ing

Community Care, Human Capital Development and Women & Family Development

The only woman in the executive line-up, Wong May Ing is the DAP state Assemblyman for Pantai Remis.

“After a meeting with LPPPKN (Lembaga Penduduk dan Pembangunan Keluarga Negara) Perak, I discovered that due to budget constraints the board has to discontinue free mammogram check-ups for women. I plan to meet the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development to discuss this shortcoming. I’ll focus on spreading awareness about breast cancer, especially in rural areas in Perak,” said Wong.

She will liaise with NGOs dealing with women issues such as domestic violence to create more awareness.

“There is only one “safe house” in Perak. We’d love to have more. However, this is being budgeted by the federal government. Hopefully, something fruitful will come from my meeting with the ministry soon.”

Yong Choo KiongYong Choo Kiong

Housing and Local Government, Public Transport, Non-Muslim Affairs and New Villages

State assemblymen for Tronoh, Yong Choo Kiong will be holding other portfolios such as Non-Muslim Affairs, New Villages and Public Transportation that was previously held by MCA State Perak Chief, Dato’ Dr Mah Hang Soon. Being the person responsible for local government he will be the one to watch insofar as the well-being of Ipoh is concerned.

Perakeans look forward to seeing improvements in public transport in urban and rural areas of the state. In March, former Menteri Besar launched the Manjung Bus Rapid and had stated that similar service will be introduced in Teluk Intan and Bagan Datuk. Will Yong fulfil this promise or does he have other plans?

Tan Kar HingTan Kar Hing

Tourism, Arts and Culture

Simpang Pulai state assemblyman, Tan Kar Hing holds three portfolios which were previously held by Dato’ Nolee Ashilin. For three consecutive years Perak has been receiving the highest number of domestic tourists, so what has Tan in mind?

“I’m having a word with all tourism players and tourist agencies. It’s about rebranding Perak tourism, per se.  The Perak State Parks Corporation and Perak Museum will be my focus as these entities have immense potential.”

Tan will meet stakeholders to fully appreciate the touristic position in Perak. Hopefully, this will bring changes in the Perak’s tourism scene.

Howard Lee Chuan HowHoward Lee Chuan How

Youth, Sports and Character Building

State Assemblyman for Pasir Pinji, Howard Lee from DAP is also president of the International Union of Socialist Youth. His immediate concern is the upcoming SUKMA XIX scheduled in September. Perak is hosting this biennial games.

“I’ve met those involved with SUKMA to discuss the latest developments. I too have visited the games venues to check on progress,” said Howard.

Abdul Yunus JamahriAbdul Yunus Jamahri

Public Utilities, Infrastructure, Agriculture and Plantation

Yunus is the representative for Kuala Kurau. In 2016 Kampung Senawar in Kuala Kangsar received some RM46 million worth of equipment to treat 23 million litres of water for Kuala Kangsar residents daily. Along with two other plants it was part of the previous administration’s long-term plan to supply 66 million litres of treated water daily to the local community. What improvements does the new state government have in mind forthwith?  What about other districts? Will the same benefit be extended?

Will Perak follow the example set by Selangor in providing residents free access to clean water?

Dato’ Seri Ir Mohammad Nizar JamaluddinDato’ Seri Ir Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin

Infrastructure and Corridor Development

Nizar is no stranger to the Perak political scene. His tenure as the 10th Menteri Besar between 2008 and 2009 lasted for 11 months before being unseated due to a constitutional crisis. A civil engineer by profession he is the right person for the job.

“I’ve met several potential investors from China, India and European countries in the past. We’re in the midst of preparing several infra-spaces to provide them with reasons to invest in Perak.”

This was his response when asked about the new state government:

“Perakeans want change, the kind of changes that’ll benefit them. We’ll work on fulfilling the promises made in our manifesto. I’ll use my past experience as Menteri Besar to assist the current Menteri Besar in performing his responsibilities to the rakyat,” added Nizar.

Sivanesan AchalingamSivanesan Achalingam

Civil Society, Consumer Affairs, National Integration, Human Resources and Health

State assemblyman for Sungkai, Sivanesan Achalingam has five crucial portfolios under his belt.

“There are currently 15 public hospitals in Perak. Out of this only five have a cardiology centre. The oldest hospital in Perak, Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun has just started its own centre. This is one of my main focuses, to build more cardiology and dialysis centres,” said Sivanesan.

The shortage of medical assistants and nurses at local clinics is his immediate concern.

“The service provided by local hospitals has improved over the years. However, it’s clear that the current staff are overworked. Instead of spending more on health budget, the previous government has cut the budget leaving the public with little choice but to purchase much-needed medicines as they are no longer available at government hospitals,” added Sivanesan.

Hasnul Zulkarnain Abd MunaimHasnul Zulkarnain Abd Munaim

Communications, Multimedia, NGOs and Cooperatives

At the time of reporting little is available on the Parti Amanah Adun for Titi Serong, Hasnul Zulkarnain.

With a rich mix of both experienced and youthful councillors Perak is set to surge ahead in good time. Will there be a repeat of the old cumbersome and feudalistic system set in place by a crumbling and decadent political party? Only time will tell.

But judging from the looks of this new but untested lineup, Perak looks like it is in good hands; for the next five years, at the very least.

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