Friday, June 29, 2007

Local government election is the answer to the poor performance of local councils in Malaysia

Star Metro dated 27th June 2007 has come out with a write-up on Petaling Jaya City Hall (Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya, MBPJ) again.

MBPJ was reported to pioneer a Residents Representation Committee (RRC) in an effort to ensure the public is heard.

The Star Metro on the same day reported as follows:

“Mayor Mohamad Roslan Sakiman, when launching the seminar on the topic, said the RRC could help channel residents issues and suggestions directly to councillors.

“Many residents groups now come directly to me, but I may not be around all the time to solve their problems,” said Mohamad Roslan.

The RRC is divided into seven zones and is scheduled to meet once a month.

A councillor will chair each zone.

The chairman of each group will select a secretary and treasurer from among the residents while committee members will comprise members deemed suitable and each committee is limited to a maximum of 35 persons.

The duty of the committee is to channel related problems within the community to the proper departments.

Mohamad Roslan said the programme was a directive from the state government and is presently being implemented to ensure that residents were consulted and informed of the council’s plans as well as to receive feedback and suggestions.”

With regards to the proposal to form RRC, which was a directive from the state government, the DAP would like to reiterate our strong stand, that the only solution to improve accountability and good governance in local authorities is none other than to revive local government election.

It is only by making councilors accountable to the people, then they can perform a better job by watching closing over the daily operation of the council, including scrutinizing financial operation of the councils in order to avoid misuse of public funds in the councils.

Local councils in Malaysia are seriously plagued by insufficient funds and this can only be solved by providing stricter checks-and-balances at the local level.

DAP is particularly doubtful in whether RRC can fully perform the job. After all, RRC is only led by seven councilors while there are altogether 24 councillors in Petaling Jaya City Hall.

Why would there be only 7 councillors working in the RRC and the other 17 of them are not involved?

How is the City Hall going to convince the people that 7 councillors can work better than a bigger team consists of 24 councilors, excluding the mayor himself?

Is it a poor reflection of the accountability of the councilors when not all the councillors are currently residing in areas under the jurisdiction of the Petaling Jaya City Hall? What have they to prove to the taxpayers of Petaling Jaya when the councillors, who are appointed by their political masters, are not even staying in Petaling Jaya?

The abolishment of local government election has resulted in lacking of good governance among councillors as they not longer compelled to seek mandate of the people.

Clearly, what is needed in this country is a long-term solution to the disappointing performance of local authorities. RRC and other measures are only short-term remedy just for window dressing purpose.

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