Many in Selangor agree with Sultan's call for half of local councillors to be professionals

KLANG: Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has been consistently calling for 50% of local councillors in the state to be made-up of professionals.

His Royal Highnesses’ call had been well received by the people of Selangor who also wanted the same.

Women Inspiration Association Selangor president Norliza Ismail said having 100% politicians as councillors did not augur well for the people.

"Whatever they do will be for political gain. Sometimes this may result in them ‘working hard’ in areas that have a high percentage of their supporters while neglecting areas which had supporters of the opposing parties," said Norliza.

She felt that because they were recommended by state assemblymen, politically appointed councillors tended to pay more attention to being in sync with their bosses’ activities as opposed to serving the people.

Financial planner Mandy Chee said having 50% professionals and 50% political appointees would constitute a check and balance mechanism.

"The line-up will not be dominated by politicians and this is crucial because they (politicians) have a busy schedule and most of the time tend to talk more than they serve the people," said Chee who lived in Bukit Rahman Putra.

She said having non-politicians, especially retired professionals, in the line-up would also make it easier for the people to approach them whenever there was a need.

"I truly hope the state will adhere to the Sultan of Selangor’s recommendation for the sake of the people," said Chee.

Just like Chee, Santhi Gnanaganesan, who belonged to a resident’s association in Klang said a mix would create a good balance in the councillor line-up.

"Resident association presidents must also be given a chance to be councillors as they understand the problem on the ground and have experienced the shortcomings first hand," she said.

She added, having been at the receiving end of the many problems, non-politicians appointed as councillors would also have the urgency to settle the issues faced by residents.

Meanwhile, former Selangor executive councillor Datuk Teng Chang Khim said there was still a state circular, that he drafted in 2013, which required one-third of local councillors to come from non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

"Circulars are in force until they are either amended or revoked and hence the circular in question can still be implemented," said Teng who was exco in charge of local councils from 2013 to 2014.

He was moved to the investment portfolio when the late Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim was removed as Selangor mentri besar and was replaced by Datuk Seri Azmin Ali in Dec 2014.

Besides requiring one-third of the councillors to be from NGOs, the circular also made it mandatory for councillor appointees to at least have an SPM certificate or its equivalent and be fluent in Bahasa Malaysia.

"If they did not have the academic qualifications, they were required to sit for a Bahasa Malaysia test," said Teng.

Teng added he had also limited the appointment tenure to two terms (four years) in the circular.

Recently, in the royal address during the 5th Selangor Legislative Assembly, Sultan Sharafuddin reminded the local authorities to implement the suggestion for at least 50% of councillors to be professionals and that (the positions) not be monopolised by politicians.

"It is hoped that the people’s problems and complaints can be better handled through the initiative of going down to the ground to see the problems faced by the people," the Ruler had said.

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