Federal Territories Ministry in no-man’s land

KUALA LUMPUR: It has been a week since Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced his Cabinet line-up, but staff members at the Federal Territories Ministry are still in limbo.

They have no idea if their ministry will be retained in some form, parked under another ministry or scrapped altogether.

Besides overseeing the functions of Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), Putrajaya Corporation and Labuan Corporation, the ministry also oversees agencies such as the Kampung Baru Development Corporation, the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur Lands and Mines Office and the Federal Territories Sports Council.

The ministry may now find itself merged with another ministry or come under the Prime Minister’s Department as it was until 2004.

The ministry was first established in 1979 with the country’s third prime minister Tun Hussein Onn helming it. The post was then abolished in 1987.

Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor was put in charge of the administration of the federal territories when it came under the Prime Minister’s Department in the early 2000s.

In 2004, then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi revived the ministry, with Tan Sri Mohamed Isa Abdul Samad put in charge.

The last person to helm the ministry was Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim who has since quit Umno to join Bersatu under Perikatan Nasional.

National House Buyers Association honorary secretary-general Datuk Chang Kim Loong said one option was to merge the ministry with the Local Government Development Ministry (formerly known as the Housing and Local Government Ministry).

“Both ministries have overlapping functions and even housing projects like Rumawip and Prima Homes fall under the Local Government Development Ministry,” he said.

Local government expert Derek Fernandez, however, said DBKL, Putrajaya Corporation and Labuan Corporation could still function without the Federal Territories Ministry.

“These local governments have their own local authorities or equivalent bodies that exercise most of the powers under the Local Government Act 1976.

“They can be brought fully under the Act with a mayor, council president and 24 councillors,” he said.

Several Kuala Lumpur MPs said the absence of the ministry could be an opportunity for a more independent Federal Territories.

However, the big question will be: “What happens to the staff members in the ministry?”

For now, they are in limbo.

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