NON-GOVERNMENTAL organisation Coalition of Good Governance (CGG) expressed their disappointment that the service delivery of local councils in Selangor had not met public expectations at a press conference in Petaling Jaya recently.
“Public participation as envisaged in the Local Agenda 21 has not been effective in extracting accurate public feedback and has become a window dressing exercise usually after decisions are made,” said Jerald Joseph, one of the board of directors of the Community Communication Centre Malaysia (Komas).
Jerald said the nomination of councillors by political parties had caused deterioration in the quality of councillors, with some not meeting the minimum qualification set by the Local Government Act 1976.
“Councillors are drawn from three political parties and they operate as individuals or at best, as three distinct parties and not as a team,” he said.
Jerald added that the team of appointed councillors did not take into account the proper mix of skills that was important to tackle multi-disciplinary problems that arose in modern city settings.
“Councillors are not held responsible to their constituents in which they serve, with a lack of key-performance indicators to measure their performance,” he said, adding that they wanted more transparency in how local councillors were appointed.
Also present were former MBPJ councillor Richard Yeoh, Friends of Kota Damansara chairman Jeffrey Phang, CGG legal advisor and former MBPJ councillor Derek Fernandez, Friends of Kelana Jaya Park secretary Esham Salam, Safer Malaysia committee member P.L. Fong and Friends of Kota Damansara member David Foo.
They said the removal of independent non-governmental organisation (NGO) councillors had taken away the check and balance mechanism of accountability and transparency.
“As the performance and decisions of local councils directly mitigate or contribute to disasters, we see it is urgent to advocate for local councils to be strict on their building plans, especially to be sensitive to global warming, heavy rainfall and landslides,” said Jerald, touching lightly on the flood situation in the country.
“Currently, councillors and councils address problems in an ad hoc manner as a result, they do not function as a team,” said Phang.
He highlighted the importance of the concept ‘Public Service Delivery Value Chain’ which was presented in the Selangor state budget, on how local authorities and councilors could work with a more structural framework to ensure that quality public service was delivered.
It was also highlighted that plans to reintroduce the local government elections have yet to come to fruition, with CGG pushing for local council elections to allow the public to play a role in the selection process.
Former MBPJ councillor Richard Yeoh said local council elections was suspended 48 years ago due to the Indonesian confrontation, adding that the state government’s promise to reinstate local elections, among other promises, has not been fulfilled.
Jerald added that while they realised Federal laws had impeded local council elections, the state could still work within the confines of the law.
Fernandez said that local council elections could still be carried out without amending the law through an informal election, and the state could agree to appoint the winner.
CGG hopes that for 2015, the new set of councillors should follow the following requirements:
1. All councillors appointed should meet the requirements set by the local government act
2. The NGO quota of councillors of 25 % that has been taken over by political nominees be given back to society for 2015 appointments
3. That nominations of NGO councillors be done by civil society with a list to be forwarded to the Selangor Menteri Besar
4. Public commitment that local council elections be reinstated in 2016