TO ABOLISH or not to abolish – that is the question the 11 newly minted MPs of Kuala Lumpur are pondering over the fate of the Federal Territories Ministry.
Even as they are debating the relevance of the ministry that governs the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan, the MPs acknowledge that crucial matters need to be investigated and resolved before any decision is made.
The MPs unanimously agree that complex land matters and contracts must be reviewed.
“For instance, we need to look into Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP), which is the ministry’s welfare arm,” said Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng.
“There are many land matters and contracts such as parking contracts and billboard deals under Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) that need to be studied.
“These contracts will also need to be examined by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Attorney-General (AG),” he added.
Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil concurred with Lim, adding that there were still many things that required answers.
“The selection process and sale of affordable housing units like Rumawip are among numerous things that we feel need to be discussed,” said Fahmi.
“We are working towards greater participation and transparency in DBKL, to increase efficiency and reduce redundancies.
“As far as PKR MPs are concerned, we feel there is a need for the Federal Territories Ministry,” he said.
Seputeh MP Teresa Kok said that while there had been no meeting to discuss details of the matter (to abolish the ministry), she was of the opinion that it was a ministry that the city could do without.
“This is my personal opinion and I feel that there is way too much overlapping of functions between the Federal Territories Ministry and DBKL,” she said.
The five-term MP said she had witnessed many incidences of overlapping of functions since the ministry was re-established in 2004.
“The ministry drives DBKL, and the previous Federal Territories minister had influenced the running of DBKL too often when he was supposed to be neutral,” she noted.
She also highlighted that since the ministry was established and even though the mayor of Kuala Lumpur was in charge of the city, the final say in matters relating to policies concerning Kuala Lumpur was always with the Federal Territories Minister.
The Federal Territories Ministry was first established in 1979 to serve as a planning and development coordinator for Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley.
The establishment of the ministry was in line with the Klang Valley Regional Planning Council and the Klang Valley Regional Planning Working Committee.
In 1981, the status of the ministry was downgraded to a division under the administration of the Prime Minister’s Department, operating as the Klang Valley Planning Unit.
On March 27, 2004, following a Cabinet reshuffle by the then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Federal Territory and Klang Valley Planning and Development Division was upgraded to a full-fledged ministry once more.
Its responsibility expanded to include jurisdiction over the territories of Labuan and Putrajaya.
On Oct 23, 2009, during the 2010 Budget presentation, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the functions and responsibilities of the Federal Territories Ministry would be strengthened and expanded to include eradication of urban poverty in the country through the creation of a city welfare programme.
In this regard, Federal Territories Ministry became officially known as Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry on Nov 13, 2009.
After the 2013 elections, the urban well-being function of the ministry was transferred to the Housing and Local Government Ministry.
As such the Federal Territories Ministry’s name reverted to its original.
With a five-year plan to uphold pledges made to the rakyat, some of the MPs have already hit the streets and reassuring the people on a number of promises made including the pledge to reinstate local government elections and opening the door for an elected mayor.
The promise to reinstate local government elections and free DBKL from political interference has always been one of Pakatan Harapan’s core manifesto points in the general election.