Monday, May 19, 2008

Restoring image of councils

VALLEY VIEW
By ELAN PERUMAL

KLANG Municipal Council president Mislan Tugiu received a call from Selangor State local government chairman Ronnie Liu last week to tell him to call off a bowling event between the council and media which was to be held during office hours.

During the telephone conservation, Liu told Mislan that he was surprised to receive an invitation from the council which stated that a friendly tournament would be held at 3pm on May 16 at the Klang Parade in Klang.

“I’m surprised that the game is fixed for 3pm. It is not proper to participate in such an activity during working hours. This will not reflect well on our good governance policy and we should not allow any room for the public to complain or make negative remarks. I hope the game will be held after office hours,’’ he told Mislan in a firm but friendly tone.
For good gevernance: Liu (right) told Mislan to carry out the bowling event after office hours.

From his side of the conservation, I was made to understand that Mislan apologised for his oversight and agreed to reschedule the game to 5pm. I was at his office to get a story when he was connected to Mislan on his mobile phone.

After ending the conversation, Liu looked at me and said: “I will not tolerate this sort of things and I know it is going to be very tough for me and the councils,’’ he said.

Liu decided to speak to Mislan only after he was unable to get in touch with the event organiser.

Hearing the conversation, I am convinced that the state government is serious about restoring the pride and image of the local authorities through good governance.

It seems to me that there will be no more golfing during office hours for government officers in Selangor. Gone are the days of playing golf during working hours for high-ranking government officials, including council presidents and their heads of department.

In recent years, golfing during office hours, especially on Friday afternoons, was a norm for many.

Liu cannot be blamed for his action as it is in line with Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim repeatedly stressing that the state government is determined to clean up Selangor of corruption by being transparent and through good governance.

And judging from the way things are going, especially with Liu getting the full backing of the mentri besar and his colleagues from the state executive council, I can only see ratepayers enjoying improved services from the local councils in the state.

Liu, who was the guest of honour at the bowling event which ended with a dinner at the Bandar Botanic Resort Club, said in his speech that the local authorities were the pulse of the state and that they were under public scrutiny.

He said the image of the councils had been marred by allegations of corruption and they now faced the challenge of winning the hearts of the people.

“We all know that public confidence in the local councils is low and that is why we have to work very hard and prove ourselves by offering friendlier and efficient service.’’ he said

In a move to free councils from the element of corruption, Liu had also recently announced that assemblymen and local councillors appointed under the political quota would no longer be allowed to sit on the tender boards of local councils.

I can only conclude that changes are sweeping through the 12 local authorities in Selangor and it will certainly be interesting to see how things turn out.
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