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Election Watch

Local elections will be better

The Star
June 2, 2015

THE Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s announcement on the establishment of Residents Representatives Committees (JPPs) will be warmly welcomed by Malaysians throughout the country.

Why? Because as the Prime Minister explained, the JPPs could provide transformation and the necessary positive changes in urban areas.

The JPPs could instil good citizenship values, create high levels of neighbourliness and cooperation and enhance awareness of the surroundings of the urbanites, instead as the PM says, of the residents “complaining all the time”.

But why may we ask are these urban residents complaining all the time YAB?

It’s because of the poor and often deteriorating quality of public services that they receive repeatedly, in their voting constituencies.

Often the street lights are off, the garbage is not collected on time, the water pipes break down, electricity fails, telephones go dead, safety and security declines and inter alia, potholes and environmental pollution and the dreaded dengue keep rising.

So YAB, the people have to complain and do so profusely sometimes, in order to get the urgent attention of the relevant authorities, who often idly pass the buck from pillar to post in many government departments and sometimes sleep on the job.

Operations Rooms

For the 2,288 JPPs under 98 local councils, to really work for the public, the Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan and his Deputy Datuk Halimah Mohd Sadique,could start operations rooms in all the 2,288 residential areas, like we had for rural development under the late able Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak.

These JPPs, through the Ops Rooms, can undertake gotong royong or community development projects, that can help the residents and relieve the Government to some extent of its bureaucracy and the wastage for which residents have to pay through taxes.

The Ops Rooms could monitor the performance of the officials and the many little napoleons can also be brought to book for letting down their colleagues, the Government and more importantly the residents and rakyat.

People can assure the authorities that there will be fewer public complaints over poor public services if the basic public services are improved.

On the contrary there would be a more genuine appreciation for better Government services, as Malaysians are generally generous and fair minded.

But I would admit that we all get riled up with the increasing inefficiency in the delivery of public services.

All urbanites want is a better quality of life, which government authorities have the capacity to provide, if they want to.

Urban Happiness Index

The crux of the matter as the Prime Minister has suggested is that social justice must increase.

Although JPPs can help increase social justice, wouldn’t local elections help better?

Then these elected JPP members, could serve the public more efficiently.

Those appointed to the JPPs will usually not be as accountable, responsible and dutiful, if they are just nominated by friends and not elected by the rakyat and residents.

We see evidence of neglect by the authorities in Bangsar where I live and in many residential areas.

So why doesn’t the Government find out the truth by organising a “Happiness Index” survey in the urban areas? Then they will see the truth more clearly.

Local elections

Let’s support the JPPs and follow up by asking, why not go back to the glory days of local government elections and get our mature Malaysians to exercise the democratic rights at grass-roots level?

representatives and officials who do not perform can then be thrown out or be persuaded to resign by their peers and the public.

Then even Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya residents will experience more self-respect (maruah) and enjoy their democratic rights in local elections and welcome the challenges and opportunities to build on good community neighbourliness and cooperation, and at the same time strengthen national unity.

After all, these are the high aspirations that the Government wants to achieve too.

So let’s together ask for local elections soon, to better serve our people.

TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM

Chairman, ASLI Center of Public Policy Studies


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