WORKING papers have been drawn up once again to secure city status for Klang despite two previous failed attempts.
Klang Municipal Council (MPK) is making its third bid for city status based on its economic, cultural heritage and historical association to the Selangor royalty.
The proposal is currently still at council level.
Once recognised as a city council, MPK hopes to attract investment and get people to settle in the coastal town abundant with residential and commercial areas.
One of the oldest towns in Malaysia, Klang is rich in history and is known for its tin trade, colonial buildings as well as famous tourist attractions such as Little India, Pasar Jawa and seafood eateries in Port Klang.
In 2008 – when Datuk Mislan Tugiu was the council president – a bid for city status with the proposal for MPK to be known as Klang Royal City Council was approved by the Selangor State Executive Council.
The proposal was then brought up to the Public Services Steering Committee meeting, but it was subsequently shelved.
In June 2011, there was a suggestion for Klang to become a city, but divided into Klang North and Klang South.
It would mean redrawing new borders for council administration.
That idea fizzled out too.
In early 2015, the idea of applying for city status was revived but the council president at the time, Datuk Mohammad Yacob, called for the proposal to be put on hold.
He wanted MPK to first improve basic services, especially with regard to cleanliness because of illegal dumping and clogged drains.
Born and bred in Klang, Mohammad Yacob wanted MPK to beef up its enforcement, upgrade public infrastructure, especially drainage networks to overcome flash floods, and ensure people’s well-being was looked into instead of pursuing city status.
According to a senior MPK staff member, efforts were also made in 2020 for Klang to be known as a royal city.
The Housing and Local Government Ministry’s local government section, Selangor government’s local authorities section, Federal Department of Town and Country Planning and MPK held discussions, agreeing that the council had almost fulfilled the criteria for city status.
“But the discussions also found that there was no specific criteria for Klang to be classified a royal city,” she added.
The senior staff member opined that it was only fair for Klang to be accorded royal status as the Selangor royalty had moved to Klang from Jugra, Kuala Langat in 1903, and the Mahkota Puri Palace was built in Klang (later demolished in 1950) and replaced with the Istana Alam Shah where official functions were held.
It is learnt that MPK has also hired an experienced researcher to document the historical aspects of Klang to support the royal city status idea, with an estimated RM80,000 allocated for research.
Another senior council employee said Klang’s progress was visible.
“The municipality covers 573.8sq km.
“Located some 6km southwest from Klang and 38km southwest of Kuala Lumpur is bustling Port Klang comprising Northport, Westport and South Point, which offers robust economic growth and opportunities for the country.
“It is the gateway into Selangor,” she said.
She added that being a city would improve the status and standards for Klang.
In December 2019, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin, in a StarMetro report, said that to qualify as a city council, a municipality’s annual revenue must be at least RM100mil, have a minimum population of 500,000 and at least one university.
MPK fulfils all the mentioned requirements except for the university factor.
Its council president Ahmad Fadzli Ahmad Tajuddin said MPK’s total revenue as at December 2020 was RM258,636,154.
Currently, Klang’s population is estimated at 893,300.
According to a source, MPK has 26 multipurpose halls, sporting facilities, two stadiums, 10 sports fields and one futsal court that brought in good income during pre-pandemic times.
Currently, there are three city councils in Selangor — Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) which achieved its status in 2006, Shah Alam City Council in 2010 and Subang Jaya City Council in 2020.
When asked about Klang’s city status aspirations, Selangor local government, public transport and new village development committee chairman Ng Sze Han said he could not comment.
“It is too early for me to comment as I have not seen anything from MPK,” he said.
Taman Eng Ann Residents Association chairman Datuk Tan Hock Guan said time was ripe for Klang to become a city given its economic strength, good transport links, connectivity and strong historical identity related to Selangor royalty.
“I support the council’s decision but we need to have another government hospital to cater to the large population.
“Some have questioned the need for a university and I think that with the ease of transportation available and completion of the LRT3 project, students do not mind going to neighbouring districts for their studies,” he said.
Tan added that littering, illegal dumping and failure to clean drains were still major issues that needed to be resolved by MPK.
Kampung Sungai Kembong Residents Association, in Pulau Indah, president Hashim Sibelik was supportive of MPK vying for city status.
“Our population is high and we see a lot of new developments. The roads are also much better.
“We have the busiest ports contributing to the Malaysian economy.
“But I would advise MPK to engage with the ratepayers, accept people’s views and understand what is needed to improve basic amenities,” he said.
Hashim, 67, also hoped that MPK would not increase the assessment rates if accorded city status.
Bandar Puteri Phase 4 Jalan Kerongsang Residents Association chairman B. Gunasagaran, 54, who has lived in Klang for 20 years, said he supported the idea of Klang becoming a city.
He also hoped that services would be improved and MPK would be prudent in its spending.
“Basic amenities such as children’s playgrounds and outdoor exercise equipment must be upgraded.
“Our council must emulate MBPJ, which practises high standards,” he added.
Gunasagaran said Klang needed to emulate the culture and practices of cities such as Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya to become successful.