Monday, April 13, 2009

Positive response to Najib’s billboard call

PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s recent call to do away with billboards featuring him and Cabinet ministers has received positive response.

Selangor local government research and studies committee chairman Ronnie Liu said billboards should not be erected aimlessly.

He said the billboards should be able to furnish relevant information that would be of benefit to the public.

“There is no point in displaying a giant-sized image of the Prime Minister or ministers without the information needed,” he said.

Liu agreed with Najib who said that public funds were being wasted by having too many billboards that bear the image of the PM and his ministers.

He said the images of the individuals should not be overplayed as this would not serve the purpose.

Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail said that he would have to wait for further clarification on Najib’s call not to have faces of politicians on billboards and banners.

The mayor said 90% of billboards in Kuala Lumpur were owned by the private sector with the balance by various ministries.

“Billboard owners would normally get help from the private sector to put up the visuals including those from the ministries,” he said.

“We have to get more details such as does it include all politicians, including MPs, before we can proceed further,” Fuad said.

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had recently issued an ultimatum that billboards in Kuala Lumpur must comply with DBKL guidelines and owners who fail to do so were given a maximum of three months to take them down.

Fuad said the guidelines issued in December last year gave importance to factors like safety, location, design and visuals displayed, including aesthetic value.

He said a one-stop centre would be set up at City Hall soon to manage all matters related to billboards including licences.

Meanwhile, Petaling Jaya mayor Datuk Mohamad Roslan Sakiman said the city council would wait for directive from the government to take further action.

“We will have to wait for the directive or further clarification before taking the next step,” he said.

The billboard industry in Petaling Jaya was recently revamped in an effort to weed out unscrupulous operators with the launch of billboard guidelines that will be adopted by other local councils in the state.

Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lau Weng San said he had no objection to the Prime Minister’s call on not putting politicians’ photographs on billboards or banners.

However, as such billboards are normally contributed by the outdoor advertisers to fulfil their social corporate responsibility, they should still be used to spread social awareness messages.

“If the authority does not put up photos of politicians, the billboards should be put in good use to spread public awareness campaign such as anti-crime and road safety,” he said.

Najib’s call received immediate response from Perbadanan Putrajaya (PPj), the local authority for Putrajaya.

PPj city services director Datuk Ghani Ahmad said billboards erected in areas under the jurisdiction of the local authority were brought down soon after Najib made the request.

“However, we have no authority over similar visuals in private buildings and within office complexes or compounds,” he said.

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