Saturday, June 17, 2006

PJ City Day celebration can only be meaningful if good governance, transparency and accountability are enhanced.

What is the meaning of obtaining the status of a full city when the residents of the city do not even have the opportunity to know the account of the governing body safeguarding the environment and basic amenities of the place they live?

This is the irony of the Petaling Jaya city day celebration on this coming 20th June 2006. MPPJ City Day Celebration Budget Committee officer Ikhwan Salim Sujuk claimed that “PJ cannot claim to the world that it has become a city” with the reduction of the City Day celebration budget reduced from RM 7.5 million to RM 2.0 million.

Accountability and transparency are the two major elements towards good governance in any public administration.

One of Abdullah’s trade-mark slogans as Prime Minister in the past three years was for the eradication of the “First-World infrastructure, Third-World Mentality” Malaysian malaise, which he elevated into a major national mission in the Ninth Malaysia Plan by calling for a “first-class mentality” among Malaysians

If Ikhwan’s view can be a representative view for majority of the officers running the offices of MPPJ, then it is a gross dismay that local government office bearers have to date failed to understand the real substance of celebrating a City Day is the enhancement of accountability and transparency.

MPPJ can actually become a role model for, not only local councils in Selangor, but also local councils nationwide, that by becoming a City, MPPJ itself is willing to provide greater accountability and transparency in any aspect of its administration, as well as providing greater consultation with the residents regarding to any local projects.

And it is the failure of MPPJ of doing so that turns the celebration into a meaningless, non people-oriented official fiesta with very little participation from the residents as they grossly does not feel the significance of obtaining City-ship if their voices, concerns and demands are not properly looked into.

Yesterday, it was reported from The Sun ( and The Star ( that “The All PJ Pro Action Committee (APPAC) will go ahead and lodge a police report against the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ), after the latter failed to give a satisfactory explanation and response to a memorandum raising concerns on alleged mismanagement of taxpayers' funds”.

All PJ Pro Action Committee (APPAC) chairman Edward Lee was also quoted as saying, “In compliance with the Local Agenda 21 precepts and as stakeholders and taxpayers, we are asking MPPJ to be allowed to attend the meeting for the hearing to consider the concession terms and conditions. This will give residents an opportunity to voice their objections to any unfair conditions that may slip through before approval is given for signature.”

Although the Mentri Besar had once advised MPPJ “not to go to wars with the residents”, the response from the residents clearly shows that MPPJ is heading for wars with MPPJ.

Therefore, in regards to the 15 years concession to be given to Seni Jaya Sdn. Bhd as well as issues concerning the agreement between the ministry and Poly Dimension Sdn Bhd to build overhead bridges and gantries along the Federal Highway in Petaling Jaya, DAP PJ Action Team will lodge a police report to demand full disclosure of the details from MPPJ.

The City Day celebration can only be meaningful if good governance, transparency and accountability are enhanced.

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