Friday, May 2, 2008

Interview

PERAK state executive councillor Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham is apologetic that people have failed to reach him on his mobile phone.It wasn’t because he was avoiding the calls, he says. Rather, the calls could have come in when he was busy at work, attending meetings and handling government matters, adds Ngeh, who is also Sitiawan assemblyman.

Send him a text message if you can’t get him, says Ngeh, who heads the state government committee on finance, infrastructure and public utilities, energy and water, and non-Islamic affairs.

On Mondays he usually meets department officials to sort out complaints and related concerns. Tuesday is when the state executive councillors meet the rakyat from morning till evening.
The state executive councillors have their weekly meetings with the Mentri Besar on Wednesdays.

“On Wednesdays, the meetings are literally non-stop. We just pack lunch and carry on, looking through proposals and applications on housing schemes, land and industry.”
On Thursdays, they meet investors and non-governmental organisations, and Fridays, he is supposed to meet his constituents.

How much time do you spend on the computer?

Usually over two hours a day. I’ve set up a blog but I want it to be comprehensive (to include video) before I announce it.

Do you play a musical instrument, dance or sing?

I used to play the guitar a bit. I also sang in the church choir in my younger days.

What kind of music do you listen to?

I like traditional church hymns. I prefer them over contemporary tunes because the traditional hymns were written by people from experience, people who had suffered.

Are you into movies?

No. My parents discouraged it because they felt that a young person could be influenced by film violence. It was only during my university days that I went for a few movies.

What do you read? What was the last book you read?

Contemporary news and periodicals like Time magazine and Aliran, and books on serious matters. The last book I read was Blue Ocean Strategy.

Are you into English Premier League football?

Not at all. I had to prioritise when I was young so that left little room for sports.

What do you play?

Hockey and volleyball during my younger days.

Coffee or tea?

Tea.

What is your usual drink?

I don’t drink.

Smoke?

No.

What languages can you speak?

Malay, English, Mandarin, Hokkien and Foochow.

Do you have a pet?

I keep ornamental tropical fish, mostly for my children.

What car do you drive and how long have you had it?

A Toyota Camry since 2004.

What is your contribution to environmental conservation?

When I stay in a hotel, I minimise replacement of sheets. I make it a point to recycle everything – office paper, envelopes, etc.

Name a person whom you look up to and why?

One person who changed my life was my Standard Four teacher. She not only taught but cared for me. Then there is national tennis player Samuel Tay who was my temporary teacher in SMJK Ayer Tawar. In just three months, he had a great impact on me. I also admire Chen Man Hin and Lim Kit Siang. Kit Siang and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad are two dynamic leaders although their political ideologies differ.

What do you like about Malaysia?

We have the best variety of food in the world. Also, there is no harsh weather in Malaysia.

What do you dislike most about Malaysians?

Racial politics.

Which sector in Malaysia would you like to see improvement?

I would like civil service to be efficient. The Government may have good policies but very often it’s the implementation that is the problem.

If there is one thing you can wish for the country, what would that be?

That we would realise we are all Anak Malaysia, and proud to be Malaysians


(Excerpted from The Star, 1 May 2008)

Be Thou My Vision

video

Thursday, May 1, 2008