Your 10 questions


  • Business
  • Saturday, 20 Jun 2009

Selangor Mentri Besar and ex-corporate figure Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim fields the 10 questions posed to him by our readers.

What are your biggest achievements as Selangor Mentri Besar? What have you accomplished which you had set out to do and what major measures are there left to do? SPG, Selangor

One of the biggest achievements is the Merakyatkan Ekonomi Agenda, which we launched during our first 100 days in power. In less than a year, we have implemented various programmes under the Agenda. The Agenda allows the state to take care of the welfare of the people comprehensively, from the day they are born (we have Tabung Warisan Anak Selangor) to their adolescent years, during which studying is their main priority (Hadiah Anak Masuk Universiti), and to retirement (Skim Mesra Usia Emas). Under the Agenda, the state provides free 20 cu m of water all households in Selangor.

We are able to provide these assistance due to other programmes under the Agenda, which includes enhancing the state’s revenue in sand and minerals. We have set up Kumpulan Semesta Sdn Bhd to take charge of sand mining. Apart from that, we have set up one-stop crisis centres in hospitals to offer protection to women who are abused or raped.

To us, these are major achievements because these programmes help everyone regardless of religion or race.

The major objective for the state government currently is to ensure that it survives the economic slowdown.

I had foreseen the slowdown from as early as September 2008. The state was able to nip several important things in the bud. For example, by November, we were already talking to businessmen and several industries on how to tackle the problem. The Selangor Business Council was quickly formed and dialogues were held. This allowed the state to gauge how bad things would be.

Then we had the retrenchment committee. The stakeholders meet once a week to find solutions in dealing with the retrenched and the jobless. The state is among the first in the country to launch a retrenchment helpline.

We set out to do a lot of things but our major focus currently is on the economic stimulus package, which has five main activities – the rehabilitation and cleaning up of the Klang River, expansion of the public transportation system in Selangor, the takeover of Selangor’s water assets, the redevelopment of urban slums, and the revival of abandoned housing projects.

Do you have any problems implementing state projects, seeing that the Federal Government is on the opposing side? If so, how do you overcome such problems? Justin, Shah Alam

I would not face problems in implementing state projects when they are funded by the state. Selangor is fortunate because its income is more than adequate to fund its operating expenditure. Therefore, there are excess funds for development projects. However, all development projects must benefit the people. Whether funded by the Federal Government or the state, they must be implemented with efficiency and effectiveness so that the rakyat will get the best value for money from the projects.

How to overcome the problems? By showing your commitment and sincerity in undertaking a project. If you are committed and sincere, both the federal and state officials will be convinced that your project is good for the people. When you are sincere, everybody will support you.

How did you manage the transition from a corporate man to a politician, and what are the distinct differences between the two worlds? Which one do you think is more demanding – protecting the interests of shareholders or that of a state? Robert Lim, Subang Jaya

To be successful, either in corporate or politics, you must be able to deliver. In the corporate world, you must deliver for your shareholders, and in politics, you must deliver for the people. Also in both worlds, you have the same aim – to do a service, either to the shareholders or the people. The only difference is that politics is more people and community-oriented, whereas the corporate sector is more profit and sales-oriented.

Shah Alam is the capital of Selangor. However, its overall commercial development has not been spectacular, as reflected in the rise (or lack of it) in the value of land and properties compared with, say, Johor Baru or Petaling Jaya. What are the hindering factors? What are the measures and plans to hasten its development? Lim, Shah Alam

Shah Alam has the infrastructure required for a state capital. This is the result of funding provided by the Federal Government after Kuala Lumpur was made Federal Territory.

But what makes a city tick is more than just infrastructure. You also need business activities as well as cultural and social activities.

Shah Alam has focused on being an administrative capital. It is only now that it has diversified into services such as education, with the presence of UiTM (Universiti Teknologi Mara), Unisel (Universiti Industri Selangor) as well as SIRIM Bhd and others.

Lately, a new project has emerged dealing with ICT. This has started to come in. Very soon, Shah Alam will transform into a full-fledged city that serves not only as an administrative capital but also as a centre of business for the state.

How do you transfer good corporate practices to the administration of a state? Ooi Beng Sun, Penang

Good governance is based on the virtues of transparency, accountability and efficiency. With all these virtues in place, good corporate practices can be easily implemented.

What have you learnt in your corporate career that you have found useful in politics? And if I were to ask you to rate yourself, do you think you’re better at business than politics? Oh Kweet, Subang

I think it is the dedication and the aim to do the best you can. In the corporate sector, I tried to do my best for the shareholders and staff. In politics, I will have to do my best for the people in my state. Given my experience in the corporate sector of more than 25 years, I find myself having to resort to my corporate experience to handle some of the political expectations of my task.

How do you juggle life as a businessman (then) and politician (now), and your family? Sheng, Batu Pahat

When I was a businessman, I allocated quality time for my family. It might represent less than 10% of my total weekly activities, but it was quality time.

Politics has taken a lot more of my time compared to when I was a businessman, but I am fortunate that my children are grown-ups now and are busy with their careers and life.

So now, whenever I can, I spend quality time with my wife, Puan Sri Salbiah Tunut. Since she also takes part in some of my official activities, it’s not that hard to spend time with her.

However, I do try to make myself available for special family occasions.

Do you think the National Economic Policy (NEP) is still relevant? Marzuki

The real issue is helping the needy and reducing the gap between the rich and the poor. That is still a major political issue. Whatever our policy, we will ensure that all the people in Selangor are catered for. We still need to focus on the rural areas, where the Malays are the majority. Since the income gap between urban and rural Selangor remains glaringly wide, whatever you name the policy, it has to tackle the real issue – providing the poor equal access to education and skills building.

Do you agree that Malaysian politics appears to be more about rhetoric and posturing than about actual, concrete measures to help the people and boost the country’s competitiveness? If yes, what can be done to curb this? Sidhu, Seremban

Politicians have to prove this wrong. Despite my age, I am new in the political arena. But this gives me the opportunity to prove that politicians can deliver in a correct and effective way.

I believe we are in a changing era. Now politics is a means to improve the community as opposed to the previous belief that it is a means to achieve power without responsibility and accountability.

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