MELAKA: The Melaka government is curtailing the power of four local councils in implementing or granting contracts to companies, especially in projects that involve the collection of money from the public.
This decision to apply a "chokehold" on the four local councils is believed to have come about after a Friday (Jan 4) incident in which residents reportedly torched a newly built parking booth in Taman Nirwana, Klebang Besar.
They were said to have been furious over the privatisation of the parking lot on Jan 1.
The new directive will be issued to the mayor of Melaka Historic City Council (MBMB), as well as the presidents of the Hang Tuah Jaya Municipal Council, the Alor Gajah Municipal Council (MPAG) and the Jasin Municipal Council (MPJ).
Once they receive the directive, they would henceforth have to obtain approval directly from the Housing, Local Government and Environment committee chairman Datuk Tey Kok Kiew before any contract is implemented or conferred.
Tey has been tasked with meticulously screening every document, even negligible ones, if it involves the interest of the grassroots.
He will also inspect the outflow of funds as well as policy changes made by the local governments.
Formerly, the awarding of smaller-scaled contracts and changes in less important policies was done through an open tender system, as well as via approvals at local councillor meetings.
However, the awarding of private parking concessions to 13 companies has led to the state government seriously looking into any approvals made at local council level of contracts involving the outflow of funds and the collection of money from the public.
The parking concessions at various commercial centres here were actually approved in 2017 but the contracts were only awarded in December last year.
Eight of the operators started collection on Jan 1, with five others ready to follow suit – until the state government's decision to immediately halt parking fee collection at all commercial hubs following the incident in Taman Nirwana.
Some community leaders, who refused to be named, told The Star that the contracts were mainly awarded to concessionaires who had put in their bids for the 13 sites during the administration of the previous state government.
“Only the name of the companies have changed.
"The individuals are the same who had tendered to collect parking fees at the 13 sites in 2017,” revealed one of the leaders.
Doubts also surfaced as to why the privatisation of parking lots in these 13 sites came with no public announcement prior to the commencement of fee collection five days ago.
When contacted, Tey acknowledged that the new directive was meant to improve the system and monitor mismanagement.
He said, previously, an executive councillor in charge of the housing and local government would mostly only look into major matters, but he would now have to scrutinise all matters, especially where contracts were involved.
“In a nutshell, each document should be viewed by me to enable the detection of ‘abnormal” development that need the immediate intervention of the state government,” he added.