THE news of a new Petaling Jaya mayor being appointed only by the end of the month has not gone down well with the city folk.
They are also not happy with the transfer of former deputy mayor Puasa Md Taib to head the Sepang Municipal Council (MPSepang), leaving the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) with no executive leadership.
Former councillor and lawyer Derek Fernandez pointed out that the council technically was afoul of the Local Government Act 1976, where Section 10 of the statute required the presence of a mayor and at least eight councillors at all times.
“This is a perennial problem, and on many occasions, MBPJ was allowed to run not in accordance with Section 10, as there were lack of councillors, and a lot of controversial decisions taking place,” he said.
There are two possible solutions, Derek added — one entailed Puasa taking on a temporary role as acting mayor for Petaling Jaya, as there are no legal restrictions to him holding two posts.
“Another is provided for in Section 25(2), where in the absence of a mayor or deputy mayor, the councillors can elect one among themselves to chair council meetings.
This was also pointed out by serving local councillor Lee Suet Sen, who nevertheless added that there were still other council mechanisms that required state direction.
“When it comes to signing off on tenders, contracts and other administrative documents, we will need the state’s direction on whether councillors can temporarily take up the mayor’s powers to execute such actions,” said Lee.
Additionally, actions such as presenting proposals to the State Planning Committee and at the regular state executive council meetings are also usually performed by the mayor, which the councillors are not usually involved in.
MCA National Youth Speaker Dr Kow Cheong Wei said Alinah’s replacement should be one who regularly goes down to assess the city’s situation for him or herself.
However, he questioned that as head of the local governing authority, there was no mayor to ultimately bear responsibility for the city’s management.
“While the council can still run for the most part the daily functions, who will take ultimate responsibility when residents complain if city management is going wrong?” said Dr Kow.
Former All-Petaling Jaya Residents Association (APAC) chairman Liew Wei Beng and Lorong Utara Residents Association chairman Datuk Lam Peng Chong, questioned the state government’s failure in the succession planning for MBPJ.
“Petaling Jaya is an important city in its own right and a suitable candidate should have been identified when Alinah was still in office,” said Lam.
“For eight years, there have always been problems appointing councillors, now it is extended to the mayoral appointment.
“And for Petaling Jaya, there are a lot of hot issues such as the proposed elevated highways, the local plan draft exercises and the one-way loop system,” said Liew.