Q&A with Kerk Chee Yee
Q: Tell us about yourself. A: I'm the Pakatan Harapan candidate for DUN Ayer Keroh (N.16). I'm 25, born and raised here in Melaka. I also work as the Political Secretary to YB Lim Kit Siang. Before I joined DAP full-time, I worked in investment banking after graduating from the University of Melbourne. I was exposed to politics since young due to the influence of my father, Mr. Kerk Kim Hock.
Q: What is your response to those who have criticised your age and experience?
A: Age is not an indicator of a person's capabilities. While experience may be valuable, I urge voters to consider the fact that we've already had BN at the helm for decades. I urge voters to judge a candidate based on character and the policies offered, and not cast your vote based on age.
Many from my team are in their 20s and we are able to work within tight time constraints and launch events that hosted thousands. I would say that we deserve a chance to serve the people of Ayer Keroh and Melaka. Following criticism from my BN opponent, Datuk Chua Kheng Hwa, I have challenged him to a debate. He has however declined.
Q: You are very outspoken about youth involvement in politics. Why do you think it's important for youths to participate? A: Many Malaysians, not just youths, are unable to get a job that matches their skills, and are getting paid less than what they need to afford the rising cost of living. Many grew up being told to leave Malaysia as soon as they get the chance.
We should not give up on the idea that Malaysia can and should be better. We should have the audacity to imagine. Furthermore, youths are the driving force we need to correct the political landscape that is currently overrun with systems created by the few, for the few. These systems are created so that certain groups of people can stay in power at the expense of all Malaysians. Youths have a long road ahead of them; we should try to effect a change now not just for ourselves but also for future generations. We see great politicians working hard for a better Malaysia, why shouldn't youths start to do the same now?
Q: Can you highlight some of the plans Pakatan Harapan has for us? Such as the zero-rated GST?
A: Before we talk about GST, I would like to emphasise: what we advocate, first and foremost, is to create a government that puts the people first. A government should work for the people, regardless of race, religion and status. What we have now is a government that makes the people work harder and live under declining conditions.
When we face issues such as stagnant wages & salaries increment, undersupply of jobs, heavily impaired purchasing power, and depreciation of Ringgit, BN went ahead and introduced GST, which worsened the situation so much that small businesses were forced to cease operation. We do not know how the GST collected are being utilised. As much as RM42 billion a year were collected and are still unaccounted for.
To overcome the vicious cycle, extraordinary steps must be taken. Pakatan Harapan has promised to set GST rate to 0%. We also pledge to fulfil several measures listed in the Harapan Manifesto to uplift the economic conditions in Malaysia.
Q: What would you say to voters who are not keen for reforms?
A: I did not set out on this path just to win or to remove power from BN. I became convinced that Malaysia needs reform on a large scale when I realised that Malaysians do not see justice in our society.
When the 1MDB scandal was exposed and coined 'kleptocracy at its worst', we were outraged. Yet, institutions were coiled and tweaked to cover up the scandal. We also have unsolved cases such as the death in custody of Gunasegaran Rajasundram, Teoh Beng Hock incident, FGV financial scandal, NFC scandal, and many others.
BN has been ruling without the fear of being voted out. We need to reform with a two-party system, where competition between political parties can eliminate complacency. And with two parties, we are able to ensure that our people are protected by the law and systems that are unbiased.
We cannot bring Malaysia to new heights if we do not reform the system. Pakatan Harapan is committed to bring positive change. We've been saying "Selamatkan Malaysia" and that is exactly what we set out to do.
Q: What are the plans you have for Ayer Keroh or Melaka?
A: For one, we would like to solve the problem of traffic congestion by introducing free bus services. As Melaka is a historic state that attracts a lot of tourists, the commute to famous spots such as A Famosa, Jonker Street, Bunga Raya, Klebang, Tenggera can be unpleasant for locals. As a Melaka boy, I too avoid these places.
Not only is travelling from one point to another tough, finding parking is another issue. What should be done is to have free bus services that connect various important landmark of Melaka, from local attractions to business districts, hospitals and transportation hubs like Melaka Sentral. This solution solves the issue of traffic jams and parking, while being environmentally friendly. I see this as a step forward for Melaka to be a more energy-efficient state.
Secondly, we would address the lack of affordable property. There is an oversupply of property. Melaka citizens may have noticed that many new property projects built in the past 5-7 years at our newly reclaimed land area still remain unsold.
Yet, there are people who cannot afford to buy houses. There is demand but there is no supply of properties of the right category. There is in fact an undersupply of affordable properties. What is oversupplied is expensive and high class properties.
We will work on providing more affordable houses. The state government will play an active role in stabilising the prices of property so that more people can own a house.