GEORGE TOWN, Jan 8 — Sitting in the opposition bench in Parliament, Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim is realistic about his ability to chart the country’s policies, but believes securing the attention of those with the power to do so may help address such limits.
He said it was his persistent highlighting of unemployment and brain drain issues that led Putrajaya to take notice and now discussing ways to resolve this.
“My role is to highlight and champion issues such as the problems faced by young Malaysians that includes unemployment, high underemployment, brain drain and housing” he said.
This was previously greeted by a dismissal from Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Abdul Wahid Omar, he said, who insisted that the country was enjoying “full employment”.
But Sim notes that perseverance has paid off.
“The Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has acknowledged the seriousness of youth unemployment in October after I raised this issue repeatedly,” he said.
He noted that pressure on other issues has also bore results.
Among those where he has managed to trigger action from Putrajaya include the overspending in Youth Day 2012, the dubious placement of an official in the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) and a review of the police distribution of officers.
“The Youth Day 2012 over-spending that I had highlighted had led to the minister agreeing to stop this kind of spending for nexy year’s Youth Day and it also led to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) opening an investigation on K-Pop,” he said.
The matter was also investigated by Parliment’s Public Accounts Committee, which also saw former minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek testifying.
The “dubious official” in the EAIC whom Sim had pointed out was Mohd Nazri Ibrahim, who was involved in the questioning of former DAP aide Teoh Beng Hock who died while MACC custody in 2009.
After Sim had harped on this, Mohd Nazri was finally removed from the EAIC taskforce investigating custodial deaths.
“After I highlighted a need for the police force to be restructured to fight crime instead of having so many Special Branch officers to spy on Barisan Nasional’s (BN) political enemies, the internal police board was established and the force is undergoing a re-organisation,” he said.
On housing, Sim, who is also a director the state think tank Penang Institute, said he was actively involved in working on ongoing projects to investigate the housing situation in the state.
“We proposed policy solutions to housing issues and the recently announced shared-equity model under the state budget is one of the proposals we submitted to enable more young first time house buyers a chance to afford their own home,” he said.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng recently announced several new housing policies that include the Shared Ownership Scheme where eligible house buyers will be able to purchase a unit of a townhouse in Taman Sungai Duri Permai with a 30 per cent interest-free funding from the Penang state government while they need only apply for a housing loan of 70 per cent from banks.
This scheme is targeted at those who qualify for low cost housing.