KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 — Should he get his party’s blessing, Wong Chen has expressed his willingness to serve a third term in his constituency.
The PKR MP for Subang said this is because he felt his work was not yet done.
“As long as corruption persists in Malaysia, as long as there are non-transparent dealings and the government is not accountable (for its actions) the work is never done,” Wong told Malay Mail during an interview recently.
He considers his second, and current, term as an MP as being less combative, which in turn has allowed him to tick more boxes on his to-do list.
“I have been less combative in my second term. As a result, I think I have achieved more, because there is a middle ground where reform must happen.
“You can never get consensus in Parliament. But if you can get majority agreement, then with a bit of concession here and there, compromising here and there, you can actually see results and some transformation,” he said.
Parliamentary select committee success
One of Wong’s achievements, among others, is creating full-fledged parliamentary select committees (PSCs).
Based on his observations and involvement, he said the select committees are on good footing today.
“I won’t say this is a result of us negotiating with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) but has actually been in development since Tan Sri Ariff’s (former Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof) time, under Pakatan Harapan (PH). It is nice that after we lost power, there was a plan for continuity.
“Empowering select committees is so crucial; a lot of people don’t understand this.
“But now, the select committees are there, permanent, equally divided: 50 per cent government MPs and 50 per cent Opposition — and they even have a budget,” he said.
This, Wong said, would be one of the legacies of his second term as an MP: Getting the select committees up and running and respected was something he had always been involved in — apart from his daily responsibilities as an MP serving his constituents.
“I am quite happy to — I don’t mind standing for another term. Of course, it is up to the party to decide who stands where,” he said.
Wong recalled being offered the chance to contest Kelana Jaya in the 13th general election (GE13), but said he was unsure, and in fact, had asked to take up a senator post instead.
PKR first won Kelana Jaya in the 11th general election (GE11) when the party’s candidate Loh Gwo Burne defeated Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Datuk Lee Hwa Beng with a slim majority of almost 53 per cent of the vote.
GE13 was Wong’s first general election, standing in Kelana Jaya, and he defeated BN’s Loh Seng Kok and Independent candidate Toh Sin Wah by a landslide, taking nearly 67 per cent of the vote.
In the 14th general election (GE14), he also won by a landslide, when he stood in the Subang parliamentary seat. He won with a 92,353 majority against BN candidate Tan Seong Lim who only received 12,077 votes.
Repairing the country’s fiscal position
With a background in economics and corporate law, Wong is examining the challenges faced by the country, including monetary issues.
“The financial situation of the nation is such that the fiscal space is limited.
“You have to start repairing the fiscal situation first, as you may have policies but you need money to run them.
“So the main challenge next term for the future government will be how it cleans up the country’s financial situation.
"Otherwise, policies will be forced to take a backseat as there is no money to see them through,” he said.
Wong added that the first thing that the government must do is to adopt a transparent financial system.
“Your revenue has to be more stable. You must eliminate corruption as much as possible at this stage.
“Once you have financial stability, then you can talk about how you carry out policies that cost money,” he said.
He warned that it won’t matter who wins the next general election if the government coffers are empty.
“If you are Umno, but you have no money, it means nothing. If you are PAS and you win, it also means nothing.
“Even for PH, if we win, and there is no money, how to carry out policies?” Wong asked.
He suggested a bipartisan approach might be the answer to fixing the financial situation of the country over the next three years.
Then, in the final two years of the next government term, policies can be rolled out if the fiscal situation allows.
“If you do not engage in this way, the victor of any future election is going to end up with a government that is going to be dysfunctional in terms of finance.
“Then what is there left for us? How can we then build the country?
“So, if I get to run for a third term, my main focus will be trying to find more common bridges between the parties to sort out the big fiscal issue, and then support and challenge the government when questionable things come up from time to time.
“But we must call for a ceasefire. It is not going to go far if we keep fighting each other,” he said.