COMING from a humble background of raising cows, the new Penang Deputy Speaker has every reason to be proud of his appointment.
“From raising cows to being Deputy Speaker. That’s quite an achievement,” said Dr Amar Pritpal Abdullah (PH-Sungai Bakap) who is from PKR.
The first-term assemblyman was sworn in along with other backbenchers and bigwigs such as Lim Guan Eng (PH-Air Putih) and Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (PH-Pantai Jerejak) at the 14th Penang State Assembly on Thursday.
Dr Amar, 59, a medical doctor, said he took pride in representing his constituency because he was born and bred there.
Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas inspecting the guard of honour during the opening ceremony of the state assembly yesterday.
“I started humbly, earned my medical degree, served in government hospitals and eventually opened five clinics.
“Yet, I remain as a resident of Sungai Bakap and now I am proud of the chance to serve my home,” he said.
Dr Amar is among the 23 new faces out of the 40 assemblyman who were sworn in on Thursday.
Another first-term assemblyman Heng Lee Lee (PH-Berapit) is the epitome of ‘once a journalist, always a journalist’.
Heng, a former reporter, has gone beyond merely highlighting issues by publicising them.
The 39-year-old DAP member has written for Kwong Wah Yit Poh and Guang Ming Daily for seven years.
(From right) State Opposition Leader Muhamad Yusoff (BN-Sg Dua), Noor Hafizah (BN-Telok Air Tawar) and Mohd Yusni (PAS-Penaga) at the opening ceremony of the state assembly yesterday.
Deep down, she has never stopped thinking of herself as a member of the press.
“I’m a journalist in politics. Not just a politician.
“The years I’ve spent interviewing people and researching into so many public issues have now become valuable to me.
“I see the media as an asset. When journalists speak to the people on the ground, they can get feedback that will show the perception of the people from different levels of society. I value that,” said Heng, who is still single.
Also sworn in were the only three Opposition members, Muhammad Yusoff Mohd Noor (BN-Sungai Dua), Nor Hafizah Othman (BN-Permatang Berangan) and Mohd Yusni Mat Piah (PAS-Penaga).
Muhammad Yusoff is the state’s Opposition Leader and he told the press that he was also willing to be the assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman.
Before the general election, the state government had proposed that the subsequent PAC chairman be appointed from the Opposition.
Heng (DAP- Berapit) is formerly a reporter writing for Kwong Wah Yit Poh and Guang Ming Daily.
“I am willing to take the post because it will give Barisan Nasional a chance to keep the state government in check.
“We will scrutinise all the accounts for signs of mismanagement, mistakes or even potential corruption and highlight it,” he said.
This state assembly is also the first in Malaysian history which is seeing Cabinet ministers serve as assemblymen at the same time.
Guan Eng and Saifuddin are Finance Minister and Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister respectively.
They were seated in the assembly in the front of the horseshoe table layout, facing the Speaker and beside the seats of the state executive councillors.
To Guan Eng’s left is exco member Phee Boon Poh, and Saifuddin’s right is Teh Lai Heng (PH-Komtar) followed by Lim Siew Khim (PH-Sungai Pinang).
This first term of the 14th state assembly meeting began at 9.30am on Thursday, with the first business being the appointment of Datuk Law Choo Kiang as the Speaker.
The meeting resumes on Monday.