RESIDENTS believe the decision to invite qualified residents to apply for the 51 vacant councillor positions was based on a populist move by Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.
It was decided on Thursday at the Selangor Economic Action Council (MTES) that “qualified Selangor residents” will be invited to apply for the vacant seat.
The invitation will be published in the newspapers, said Khalid.
StarMetro spoke to several resident leaders, professionals, non-governmental organisation leaders and former councillors on their thoughts.
Former Bukit Gasing independent candidate in the 2013 general election, Simon Lee views the move by Khalid as political in nature rather than a genuine act of inclusion.
“It may sound like a good gesture, but what happens if the state assembly was dissolved?
“It will entail a lengthy process of dissolving the councils, reappointment and handing over of work.
“The underlying issue is at the state level. It should be settled at that level in order to not cause undue interruption at the local council level,” said Lee, who is the son of former Bukit Gasing assemblyman Edward Lee.
Local government expert Derek Fernandez said the Local Government Act 1976 (Section 10) allowed appointment of councillors based on several criteria.
“The candidate must have achieved distinction in any profession, residing in the area they serve and has wide knowledge of local government administration.
“The councillors can be an eminent businessmen, trade expert, retired senior government servant or experts in local government,” he said.
He added that the focus should be on the criteria of the candidate to ensure the residents were well represented.
Fernandez was a former Petaling Jaya councillor from 2008 until mid 2013, appointed under the professional category quota.
He said the 25% allocation for non-party-based councillors must be respected and adhered to.
“These appointed councillors must strictly not be a member of any political party. This will enable them to make independent decisions,” he added.
Avenue 23 Residents Association president K.W. Mak said he would reserve his judgement over Khalid’s statement until he could see the advertisement calling for residents to send in their applications.
“If Khalid is serious and genuine, then it is a good move.
“With so few details, I will only believe his intentions when I see the advertisement,” said Mak, who was also a former Petaling Jaya councillor.
Friends of Kota Damansara chairman Jeffrey Phang said he welcomed the move but he too shared the sentiment as others that it should not be a populist move.
He said Khalid must institutionalise this idea with a published document stating the criteria to become councillors.
“The criteria should point towards democratic local council selection, where all councillors are selected based on merit and without political influence,” he added.
Petaling Jaya Section 5 Residents Association president Rafiq Fazaldin wants a local council election to be implemented.
He said this would avoid any form of favouritism.
“Where is the promised local council election made by Pakatan Rakyat in 2008? How is Khalid going to appoint the councillors if there are thousands of applications? It will become another fiasco.
“The fair and just manner is to hold local council election,” Rafiq reiterated.
Pet Positive president T. Anthony said Khalid’s plan might be short-lived as his future as Selangor Mentri Besar is uncertain and this would cause further chaos.
“I always welcome the move to appoint non-governmental organisation (NGO) representatives. Only NGOs know the people’s problems, compared to politicians who have their own political agenda,” he said.
Taman Megah Commercial Centre Association president Liew Hwa Beng urged the public not to fall for the new idea.
“Khalid should step down and then we can talk about the future of councillors,” he said.