Push­ing for lo­cal govt elec­tions

One of the prom­ises made in PH’s 100-day man­i­festo, lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions may fi­nally be re­vived.

The Star Malaysia - - Views - @KlangRed Brian Martin

“WE be­lieve it is a case of con­flict of in­ter­est.”

This com­ment from Ke­pong MP Lim Lip Eng in ref­er­ence to Yayasan Wi­layah Perseku­tuan’s in­volve­ment in land deals to­talling 170ha has to be the un­der­state­ment of the year.

Over the last five years, City Hall has sold 64 plots of land worth RM4.28bil in Kuala Lumpur to the foun­da­tion.

No open ten­ders were called and, al­legedly, most of the land was sold be­low mar­ket price.

Lim and Segam­but MP Hannah Yeoh lodged a re­port with the Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (MACC) on Wed­nes­day, call­ing for a probe on Yayasan Wi­layah Perseku­tuan.

Lim said most of the land had ear­lier been cat­e­gorised as open or green spa­ces but were sold for de­vel­op­ment with­out the charges be­ing paid to City Hall.

I have con­sis­tently called for Kuala Lumpur’s green lungs to be pro­tected and gazetted.

On March 24 last year in my col­umn, I raised the is­sue of a con­flict of in­ter­est in­volv­ing Yayasan Wi­layah Perseku­tuan.

I found it odd that then FT Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Man­sor, for­mer deputy FT Min­is­ter Datuk Loga Bala Mo­han and KL Mayor Tan Sri Mohd Amin Nordin Ab­dul Aziz were all trustees of the foun­da­tion, which is also the de­vel­oper of the con­tro­ver­sial Ta­man Rimba Kiara project.

How could the three key per­sons in charge of ad­min­is­trat­ing the na­tion’s cap­i­tal be also in­volved in de­vel­op­ing pri­vate res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial projects here?

Un­for­tu­nately, City Hall con­tin­ued to is­sue de­vel­op­ment orders for projects with­out prop­erly tak­ing into ac­count stud­ies for traf­fic, en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial im­pact as­sess­ment.

In the case of Ta­man Rimba Kiara, res­i­dents have taken the lo­cal au­thor­ity to court in a bid to stop the de­vel­op­ment of eight blocks of apart­ments rang­ing from 42 to 54 storeys.

In Ta­man Desa, the res­i­dent’s as­so­ci­a­tion has also sought le­gal re­course over City Hall’s ap­proval for high-rise projects in the area that would be built on pub­lic-use land, green lungs and even Te­naga Na­sional re­serve land.

In both in­stances, the lo­cal au­thor­ity ini­ti­ated di­a­logue ses­sions with res­i­dents but de­spite over­whelm­ing ob­jec­tions, went ahead with plan­ning per­mis­sion and de­vel­op­ment orders.

But it is heart­en­ing to note that this week, DBKL has put on hold all ap­pli­ca­tions for de­vel­op­ment projects on va­cant land and hill slopes.

Af­ter a meet­ing with the mayor, Lem­bah Pan­tai MP Fahmi Fadzil said all land deals would be re­viewed and all other sale of land in fu­ture would be done via open ten­der.

All the 11 KL MPs are ex­pected to meet with the mayor soon and I hope these newly minted MPs would also ini­ti­ate a dis­cus­sion on the rel­e­vance of the FT Min­istry.

Prime Min­is­ter Tun Dr Ma­hathir Mo­hamad has said that his Cab­i­net would con­sist of only 24 to 25 min­istries, far fewer than the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion. And one min­istry that might be abol­ished could well be the Fed­eral Ter­ri­to­ries.

Per­son­ally, I feel that there are over­lap­ping func­tions be­tween the min­istry and DBKL. I think the fi­nal say in mat­ters con­cern­ing Kuala Lumpur should best be left to City Hall and the mayor.

And as for the mayor him­self, there’s al­ready been calls to al­low Kuala Lumpur res­i­dents to elect their mayor, just like in other de­vel­oped cities. Lest we for­get, push­ing for lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions was one of the prom­ises made in Pakatan Hara­pan’s 100-day man­i­festo.

The 11th mayor of Kuala Lumpur, Mohd Amin’s ten­ure ends on July 8 next year, but leg­is­la­tion for lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions can be done as early as the next Par­lia­ment meet­ing.

Ac­tu­ally, for the past 20 years, MPs from the Op­po­si­tion, who are now form­ing the new Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment, have been col­lec­tively cham­pi­oning lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions for a more trans­par­ent and ac­count­able sys­tem of gover­nance at City Hall. And these elec­tions are not new.

The first such elec­tion in Kuala Lumpur was held on Feb 16, 1952, where 12 out of the 18 coun­cil­lors in the then Kuala Lumpur Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil were elected, with the re­main­ing six ap­pointed by the Sul­tan of Se­lan­gor.

The last lo­cal coun­cil elec­tions were held in 1963. Lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions that were sup­posed to be held in 1964 and 1965 were sus­pended. The of­fi­cial rea­son given by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment was In­done­sia’s con­fronta­tion with Malaysia.

The sus­pen­sion, sup­posed to be tem­po­rary, be­came per­ma­nent in 1976, when Par­lia­ment passed the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act which only pro­vided for ap­pointed coun­cil­lors, abol­ish­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions al­to­gether.

Bring­ing back lo­cal coun­cil elec­tions would hope­fully mean a City Hall that would only be ac­count­able to the peo­ple of Kuala Lumpur. And if we were to do away with the post of FT Min­is­ter, this would also mean less in­ter­fer­ence from politi­cians.

And since I started with a quote from Lim Lip Eng, I’ll end with one of his too.

“We need an elected mayor who is an­swer­able to the elec­torate and will pay more at­ten­tion to the needs of the peo­ple and not to those who ap­pointed them.”

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