NST - May 31, 2008 By Jaspal Singh
IPOH: Sum Cheok Leng has had very little sleep since he was elected Bercham state assemblyman,
Instead of getting his regular eight hours every night, he has been making do with less than five hours.
But the 58-year-old does not mind it at all.
Up by 5am, the father of four hits the sack only after midnight.
He spends the day attending to complaints from his constituents and visiting government departments to follow up on problems that have been brought to his attention.
"At my age, most people tend to slow down their pace but I do not have the luxury of doing that... I am not complaining, though," said Sum in an interview.
Sum, who joined DAP in 1970, defeated incumbent Barisan Nasional candidate Gooi Seng Teik in the general election with a majority of 6,010 votes. He lost to Gooi by 628 votes in 2004.
His attempts to contest for the Tanjung Tualang and Kampar state seats in 1978 and 1982 respectively also met with defeat.
Sum said being the elected representative of a densely populated constituency like Bercham was not easy.
With over 60 housing areas and a population of more than 80,000 people the state seat, which is located within the Ipoh Barat parliamentary constituency, has presented the first-time assemblyman with some tough issues to resolve.
Uppermost is the problem of flash floods which continues to plague several areas in the constituency even though over RM10 million has been spent on improving the drainage in the last five years.
"Flooding is a big head-ache... I think I have had enough verbal fights with the Ipoh City Council in the last two months over this matter."
Besides the flood problem, Sum has to move fast to tackle another important issue -- increasing the capacity of SJK (C) Bercham
With some 3,300 students, the school long ago exceeded its intake capacity of about 1,000 pupils.
Appeals from parents for the construction of a bigger school had been met with a deafening silence in the past.
Sum is very conscious of the possible political consequen-ces of not proceeding quickly with the expansion of the school.
"The DAP will probably lose Bercham to Barisan Nasional once again."
In the weeks that have passed since the elections, Sum has come to accept that, even as he tries his best to fulfil his responsibilities as a state assemblyman, he will always have to put up with the frustration of dealing with government departments and local councils which do not always grasp the importance and urgency of the projects that he is working on.
Not one to mince his words, Sum said, in his dealings with government officials, he had come to the conclusion that cicivil servants needed to work on improving their work attitude, planning and financial resource management.
"Responses and solutions are slow to come. But, I think the Pakatan Rakyat state government will be able to resolve some of the more important outstanding issues affecting the public.
"As for me, I believe I will be quite occupied until the next general election.
"There is not much time to sleep but to be honest this is the best of times."