Of mayors and council presidents who become Little Napoleons

WITH government agencies that operate as top-down organisations, what happens when the head honcho does not even care a damn to the complaints brought to them by the media?

In the past, it was unheard of for mayors and council presidents to ignore the media but since former prime minister (PM) Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s time, things only went from bad to worse.

Most media practitioners can tell you that things started to deteriorate during Tun Abdullah Badawi’s time as they did not see the stern side of the Mr Nice Guy.

The former premier coined the label, “Little Napoleons” which has since stuck on as badges of some of the government agency heads who cannot care less to respond to the media.

In the past, every government agency head would publish their official contact details, especially the e-mail contact to facilitate correspondence but this is no longer true with the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) president Datuk Mohd Yazid Sairi.

Some would offer their private numbers to the media so that they could maintain good relations with the press. However, over the years, the culture has changed. Even now, the heads of department in MPS no longer publish their e-mail addresses.

Phone calls to the official number of the YDP are hardly answered. Not only that the president’s e-mail address is not listed, even his official statements are only signed off as “Council President” and no longer carry the name of the mayor.

It is interesting that on the same website, MPS publishes the Selangor state secretary’s e-mail address along with his direct line.

If the website can carry the state secretary’s e-mail address, the council president and heads of department of MPS should also make their e-mail addresses available to the public. Where is the delivery of service if taxpayers cannot complain directly to the head of department or council president?

Lackadaisical attitude

Regardless of whether this is a trend or just a specific case, it can lead to more government agency heads following suit if directives are not immediately issued by either the state administration or Putrajaya to make the local council presidents and mayors more customer-centric.

In the case of the Petaling Jaya mayor Mohamad Azhan Md Amir, he appears to be oblivious towards the latest developments under his care.

When the case of MBPJ dog catcher and 69-year-old senior citizen Patrick Khoo Kian Wui hit the headlines, it took a while before he dealt with the case.

It was only several months after the case went to court that he intervened by claiming that both sides – Khoo and the MBPJ officer Azizul Azzim Norehan – have resolved the matter amicably.

However, for the record, Khoo’s case is still going through pre-trial case management in the court for the fourth round on Sept 29. Such lackadaisical attitude cannot continue on especially since Petaling Jaya is now a city.

Mohamad Azhan Md Amir has been Petaling Jaya mayor since Oct 21, 2021

Mayors and council presidents who want to turn their municipalities into cities similarly cannot ignore complaints on the ground. They have to be on the ground all the time to supervise their staff who fail to deliver the quality of services to rate payers.

A good example which deserves an applause is the Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi who is always on the ground to solve a seemingly impossible task.

The people of Johor are now grateful to Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar and Hafiz for solving the congestion problem at the immigration checkpoint entering Singapore every morning.

Now they can breathe a sigh of relief after the perennial problem affecting their daily livelihood is solved.

With the Madani government having set up the Local Government Development Ministry, the major focus should now be on improving the delivery of services by the third tier of government.

A thorough reform of the Local Government Act should ensure greater transparency and accountability of the local council presidents, mayors and staff to the local residents.

If this is done properly, the entire population will have the unity government to thank for better delivery of services by the third tier of government which directly affects everyone’s standard of living.

Their failure will only reflect badly on the both the state government and the Local Government Development Ministry and Secretary to the Federal Government. – Aug 27, 2023

Main pic credit: Malaysiakini

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