Council-ratepayers row unresolved

THE row between ratepayers and the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council went unresolved even after MPPJ called for a last-minute meeting to explain the situation. 

In an SMS sent to various residents’ groups on Sunday night and Monday morning, the council had requested for residents to turn up for the meeting on Monday at 8pm. The meeting began an hour later.  

MPPJ president Datuk Ahmad Termizi Puteh, accounts department director Lulu Goh and legal officer Abdul Muttalib Mohd Ali took turns to explain the council’s stand on the issues involving the accounts and the assessment rates. 

Goh said the gazetted summary of the detailed accounts would be available for public scrutiny and that her department would prepare a copy for anyone to scrutinise if given enough notice. 

“We have received 70 letters from property owners objecting to the new rates. Thirty paid the new rate under protest while 40 owners paid the old rates.” 

Goh added that 45% of the property owners had yet to pay up their assessment, but said the trend was normal, as many residents preferred to pay at a latter part of the year despite the 5% fine.  

Muttalib said, while Section 53 of the Local Government Act 1976 specifically denied the public from accessing the accounts, it was his view that the law was “restrictive and also a specific provision on who is allowed to scrutinise the accounts.” 

“There is no point in arguing this as it is a matter for the courts to decide. If we get a court order, we will follow it,” said Muttalib. 

On the matter of the sports club issuing receipts for a book produced by MPPJ, Muttalib said the council gave the club permission to print the book at its own expense and therefore earnings from the book did not come under council revenue. 

With regards to the residents asking for the detailed accounts via Section 27 (which allows documents from any full board meeting to be made available), Muttalib said the detailed accounts were not part of the documents that were passed to the councillors.  

Despite the explanations, residents were not satisfied and most of their questions went unanswered. 

SS5 Rukun Tetangga representative R. Nadeswaran asked if there was any law that prevented the council from giving residents the accounts. 

Muttalib replied that there was none, but that his interpretation of Section 53 stood.  

Taman Mayang Jaya Residents Association chairman Liew Wei Beng wanted to know who he could direct his questions to after scrutinising the gazetted accounts. His question went unanswered. 

Section 5 Residents Association chairman Edward Lee then asked if the meeting was an official one with minutes that could be made available to the residents and if the council would give an official response to the letters sent to him. His questions, too, went unanswered. 

Residents were then given the opportunity to lodge their complaints on council services with deputy president Zulkifli Ahmad. 

Most residents left the meeting saying it was “a waste of time.” 

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