Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Billboard scandal – Land Offices in Selangor to bear the blame?

Although the Auditor-General’s report on Federal Government and it’s agencies activities were tabled simultaneously on 1st September together with 2007 Budget, the Audirot-General’s report on various State Government and their agencies activities were only tabled yesterday in the Parliament.

After spending one whole night to flip through the report, it is interesting that Auditor-General is also interesting in billboards in Selangor, when the Auditor-General Office discovered that there are billboards built on Government land without Temporary Occupancy License (TOL).

The Auditor-General has conducted an audit on the management of Temporary Occupancy License (TOL) in all the Land and District Offices in Selangor, only to discover that the Offices failed to fully adhere to the rules and regulations prescribed when processing the applications of TOL.

There are altogether nine Land and District Offices in Selangor, namely Gombak, Klang, Kuala Langat, Kuala Selangor, Petaling, Sabak Bernam, Sepang, Hulu Langat and Hulu Selangor. The Office of Auditor-General only audited six Land and District Offices, i.e. Klang, Kuala Langat, Kuala Selangor, Petaling, Hulu Langat and Hulu Selangor.

A total of 475 application received by the six Land Offices from 2003 to 2005, while only 38 applications were approved, 79 were rejected and 358 delayed.

There were 248 applications filed with the Petaling Land and District Offices, which mainly cover areas under the jurisdiction of Petaling Jaya City Hall (MBPJ) and Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ).

It was also mentioned that certain advertising companies did not know that they have to apply for TOL from the Land Offices before they can proceed with the applications for license from Local Councils.

It is also concluded that there is no coordination between the State Government, Land and District Offices, Land and Mineral Offices and Local Councils to ensure that billboard licenses be only issued when the applicants (advertising firms) prove to the Councils their proofs of obtaining TOLs for their proposed billboards.

There was also no action taken against billboards without TOLs.

The questions are:
1. Do Local Councils aware of the requirement for any advertising companies to apply for a TOL before they apply their licenses from Local Councils, thus advising the companies to do so as necessary?
2. Since most of these billboards stand on government lands, which are under the jurisdiction of the Land Office, why has the Land Office not taken any action against the MBPJ or the concessionaires?
3. The Auditor-General mentioned that such negligence had caused revenue loss for the State Government. Is there any projection or estimates of how much the losses could be?
4. Could this claim by the Auditor-General means that some of the so called “legal” billboards in Petaling Jaya, which is approved and granted with MBPJ’s licenses, are not legal in full as these billboards may not have TOL?
5. It was earlier reported from the press that there are 172 billboards which are deemed to be illegal and are to be taken down. Apart from the, there are several hundred other unlicensed billboards all over Petaling Jaya. It was reported widely in the press recently that only 282 out of 800 billboards erected in PJ were licensed by MBPJ (this means that there are at least another 518 unlicensed billboards). Could these mean that the actual number could be larger?

The billboard fiasco is a consequence of a serious lack of transparency, accountability and poor governance. The scandal has strengthened our legitimate call for the restoration of local government elections.

DAP PJ Action Team and DAP Selangor will attempt to get to the bottom of the matter and a thorough study will be conducted on the Auditor-General report.

No comments: