Local council polls a crucial check and balance mechanism to ensure effective management, says NGO

AN NGO has welcomed the call to reinstate Local Council Elections (LCE) especially in Kuala Lumpur, saying the LCE is an important check and balance mechanism for decision-making to ensure effective management of a city.

The Kuala Lumpur Residents Action for Sustainable Development Association (KLRA+SD) said in the past 60 years (1963–2023) and under the current system where the decision for KL City is solely under the prerogative of the mayor and minister in charge, KL residents have been facing increasing problems.

“Issues such as traffic congestions, flash floods, landslides, bad air quality, loss of green, massive hillside developments, over-development and economic downturn are all traced back to an ineffective governance system with an imbalanced decision-making process,” it said in a statement on Friday (Dec 22).

“Attempts to plan holistically are hampered by ‘town-hall’ sessions that ignore residents’ feedback. This results in a Kuala Lumpur that caters for the developers rather than for the people.”

KLRA+SD further acknowledged that the KL City Plan 2020 that was approved without following proper procedures, noting that the plan was now being challenged in the courts.

“Despite the fact that the KL Structure Plan 2040 is gazetted with town hall sessions, most of the concerns raised by the residents were ignored. This truly contradicts with the KL Structure Plan 2040’s theme which is ‘City For All’ when requests and voices of the KL citizens are not the prime consideration,” it asserted.

Meanwhile, the NGO also pointed to how many Federal Territories ministers during their terms in office had “abused their power and together with the mayor are giving wide powers to push through projects”.

“Unlike the other states that have three levels of governance namely MPs (members of Parliament), ADUNs (state assemblymen) and appointed councilors, residents of [the Federal Territories] have only MPs,” it said.

“The MPs have no power over the running of Kuala Lumpur. While MPs are tasked to enact Federal laws, they double as ADUNs and councilors attending to the local needs of KL residents.

According to KLRA+SD, residents in KL are seriously seeking a return of local council elections where councilors are elected rather than appointed and represent the wishes and needs of the people.

“The Selangor system of appointed political personalities to work as councilors had clearly shown that it has not achieved the quality of life that residents are demanding. Such appointed councilors’ priority is towards their party first and not the people.”

The Federal Territory in Malaysia consists of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan and the ministry was last led by Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim as minister before the Parliament’s dissolution on October 10 last year prior to the 15th General Election (GE15).

The Federal Territories Ministry was recently revived with former health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa at its helm.

The local government election was last held in 1963 before facing suspension the following year, which was supposed to be temporary, became permanent in 1976 when Parliament passed the Local Government Act resulting in the abolishment of the local government election altogether and only provided for the appointment of local councilors. – Dec 22, 2023


Main pic credit: Jay C Tours

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