Civil servants’ attitude affects election outcome, says Tanjong Batu rep after enduring long wait times to meet govt officials

Johnny Pang

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By D’Drift Team

BINTULU, July 7: Tanjong Batu assemblyman Johnny Pang has had his fair share of experience waiting to meet government officials or civil servants, even after becoming an elected representative.

The first time lawmaker was not ashamed to share his experience of spending long hours waiting at government departments and offices just to convey the voices of the people.

“After I have been elected, their attitude to me has improved but basically, they still don’t really respect me. To me, that is not important. What is important are the issues faced by the people can be solved,” Pang told the D’Drift Team which had arrived in Bintulu yesterday.

In the 2021 Sarawak Election, Pang, who stood for Sarawak United Peoples’ Party won the Tanjong Batu seat with 4,092 votes in a six-corner fight. 

Those joining the fray were Tony Chiew from Democratic Action Party (4,069 votes), Chieng Lea Phing from Sarawak People’s Aspiration Party (93), Tang Eng Hui from Parti Sarawak Bersatu (1,071), Yek Hock Siang from Parti Bumi Kenyalang (2,204) and Wong Haw Ming who was an independent candidate (38).

Tanjong Batu seat was in the hands of the Opposition for more than 20 years until Pang wrestled back the seat. There were many factors contributing to such a situation and one of them, according to Pang, was the attitude of the government officials or civil servants.

“The government officials or civil servants especially those from the local councils are the frontliners They are in direct contact with the people on daily basis. When government officials or civil servants serve the people with a bad attitude, it will reflect badly on the government, on GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak).

“When I was just SUPP branch chief, I had to wait to meet these government officials. I can’t make an appointment because they would not give me the time. So if I know they were in the office, I waited outside, so that I could bring the issues of the people to them. I didn’t mind.

“And when I became an elected representative, things became better, but still there isn’t much respect for me. If as a YB I am being treated like that, what more to say of an ordinary person? The person may not be able to do anything there and then. But when elections come, they will air their frustrations and discontent by voting for the Opposition.”

He thus hoped that there will be a general improvement in the attitude of government officials. He strongly believed that if civil servants serve with the right attitude, it will not be a problem for GPS to defend Tanjong Batu in the next election.

“But I must say, not all government officials have a bad attitude. There are some good ones who are very helpful,” said Pang. 

It was a long journey for Pang to get to where he is now. He rose from the rank and file in SUPP and served for two and a half years before the 2021 Sarawak Election was called.  

He took the risk to continue serve the people during the Covid-19 pandemic, to a point where his family became upset as what he was doing might put them in danger of contracting the virus.

“But I had decided that I wanted to serve the people. Since I had decided, there should be no holds barred. I had to put the people first.”

During the past two and a half years, he attended to every complaint posed to him and tried to solve the issues brought up by the people until he knew every nook and cranny of Bintulu.

Serving Tanjong Batu is not an easy job. Even though the registered voters for the 2021 Sarawak Election stood at 22,743 voters, Pang said he is in fact, serving a population of 30,000 as many residing in Bintulu are foreigners or non-local Sarawakians.

“When we first started to campaign, we just did not know what to do because the constituency had been under DAP for so long. But slowly, we found our way around. We knew what to do to win back the people’s confidence. We knew we needed to voice out for the people but of course, unlike the Opposition especially DAP, we could not just oppose for the sake of opposing.”

The failure of the 22-month Pakatan Harapan (PH) rule provided enough ammunition to bring down DAP, he said. Firstly, the 22-month of PH rule showed that DAP had no say in decision making within the PH coalition. 

Secondly, PH was mean to Sarawak and thirdly, there were local issues such as PH’s abrupt decision to stop the construction of the Bintulu UTC, which had angered many. 

“To the Chinese, keeping one’s promise is of crucial importance, something which the Chinese hold strongly to. PH’s failure to fulfil its promises was its biggest weakness, apart from the fact that DAP by nature is a West Malaysian based party which is another weakness,” said Pang when asked to explain the downfall of DAP in Bintulu after 20 years in power. — DayakDaily