The state gov­ern­ment has been car­ry­ing out the ‘Per­muki­man’ pro­gramme at be­tween one- and two-month in­ter­vals to ad­dress the peo­ple’s grouses di­rectly

New Straits Times - - Opinion - sumar@nst.com.my The writer, an avid cof­fee drinker, is NST’s po­lit­i­cal desk spe­cial­ist writer. He also has a pen­chant for point­ing out the ob­vi­ous

THE af­ter­noon skies in Perak Ten­gah can be quite un­for­giv­ing. It can be scorch­ing dur­ing the day, stok­ing worry among those ob­sessed with the fair­ness of their skin; so goes the gruff anal­ogy de­rived from ur­bane cyn­i­cism.

Beads of sweat and ap­pear­ance of a farmer’s tan for the short­sleeved are tes­ta­ment to the cli­mate that could take a while to get used to. An ice-cold drink or the de­lec­ta­ble cen­dol is very much needed for a tem­po­rary re­prieve from the dreaded heat.

And, if you had dropped by there some­time last week to sa­ti­ate cer­tain crav­ings for spicy

gu­lai tem­poyak dishes, you might have caught a glimpse or two of Perak Men­teri Be­sar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Ab­dul Kadir walk­ing about, meet­ing and shak­ing hands with the lo­cals.

No, it is the not the elec­tion sea­son. Or not quite yet to say the least, if we take into ac­count patchy re­ports on the 14th Gen­eral Elec­tion.

Zambry was there to lead the state gov­ern­ment’s “Per­muki­man” pro­gramme, which, to the unini­ti­ated, is an ini­tia­tive to ad­dress the peo­ple’s grouses di­rectly with­out the shack­les of bu­reau­cracy.

The state gov­ern­ment has been car­ry­ing out the dis­trict-cen­tric pro­gramme, at be­tween one- and two-month in­ter­vals, ever since Barisan Na­sional re­turned to power in 2009.

At 54, Zambry looked rather trimmed and de­void of worry lines across his fore­head. An aide said his boss had be­come some sort of a health en­thu­si­ast, to keep up with plans mooted for the “per­muki­man” rounds.

He had been hit­ting the gym al­most ev­ery day to main­tain or im­prove his stamina.

“If he misses a gym ses­sion in the morn­ing, he’ll make it up in the evening,” an aide said.

Cycling and run­ning have be­come a favourite pas­time. It has also been years since Zambry had his last cig­a­rette.

The “per­muki­man” event in Perak Ten­gah was held from March 7 to 11. It boasted more than 109 pro­grammes — suf­fice to say, it is a no-brainer as to why you will need the stamina to keep up with — tai­lored to un­der­stand and re­solve the peo­ple’s grouses bet­ter.

From in­tru­sive cul­verts and toi­let clean­li­ness, Zambry and com­pany would ru­mi­nate on ad­dress­ing their woes and ed­u­cate the peo­ple on how to im­prove their qual­ity of life.

State ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil­lors and de­part­ment di­rec­tors of rel­e­vant port­fo­lios are also roped in. They are en­cour­aged to min­gle with the peo­ple, and be pre­pared for a sched­ule filled to the brim.

For in­stance, Zambry and his men re­mained clad in their cycling uni­form at a meet­ing with sev­eral Orang Asli fam­i­lies, to as­sure them that their lands and rights were pro­tected.

It is no sur­prise that af­ter years of re­fine­ments and tweaks, the “per­muki­man” can be ex­pressed as Zambry’s crown­ing glory in ef­forts to ren­der gov­ern­ment ser­vices. He tried his best, too, in re­as­sur­ing the peo­ple that the pro­gramme is apo­lit­i­cal.

“This is really, really (what we mean by) tu­run padang (to be on the ground). Let us stress that ‘really, really’ ex­pres­sion,” Zambry said in a slightly nasal Bri­tish twang, when met dur­ing the last leg of the “per­muki­man”.

The “per­muki­man” is no longer alien among lo­cals. You can say it is gen­er­ally a suc­cess, al­though as ad­mit­ted by Zambry, there is still room for im­prove­ment, es­pe­cially in terms of de­liv­ery.

But, above all else, Zambry un­der­scored team­work as a cru­cial fac­tor, which oiled the gears in the pro­gramme’s in­ner work­ings.

For starters, and un­der­stand­ably so, chang­ing the mind­set of a few, es­pe­cially in re­form­ing their at­ti­tude to­wards work, could be a daunt­ing task.

Nev­er­the­less, Zambry be­lieves in ed­uca­tive, in­stead of puni­tive ap­proach when deal­ing with prob­lems; con­de­scen­sion or name-call­ing is not the way to go.

He ab­hors the so-called “name­and-shame” pol­icy, or any­thing that is per­va­sively non-con­struc­tive when it comes to rec­ti­fy­ing is­sues among staff mem­bers.

Build­ing their con­fi­dence is key to en­sure they con­tinue do­ing their best. No com­punc­tions.

“You see them be­ing friendly and are not afraid to take self­ies with me (for ex­am­ple).

“I think I have blurred the lines (be­tween top boss and staff). And they give their best ev­ery sin­gle time.”

Some say Zambry and his team have started early in their tu­run

padang ef­forts, in­stead of just hold­ing such pro­grammes at the dawn of elec­toral sea­son.

Of course, it would not hurt to win the hearts and minds of vot­ers while you are at it.

And, those are just a (length­ened) sum­mary of what had led to the suc­cess of Zambry’s “per­muki­man” pro­gramme.

From in­tru­sive cul­verts and toi­let clean­li­ness, Zambry and com­pany would ru­mi­nate on ad­dress­ing their woes and ed­u­cate the peo­ple on how to im­prove their qual­ity of life.


Perak Men­teri Be­sar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Ab­dul Kadir (third from right) shar­ing a light mo­ment with chil­dren of Kam­pung Senin in Perak Ten­gah dur­ing his walk­a­bout un­der the ‘Per­muki­man’ pro­gramme.

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