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by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): I wish to challenge MCA President Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting to a public debate on his report card as Housing & Local Government Minister on improving integrity, accountability and transparency in local councils and why he should not bear responsibility for the corruption scandals and abuses of power by councilors. Ong should bear full responsibility as a Minister and not go through his underlings in trying to disassociate himself from the shameful appointment of 8 Majlis Perbandaran Klang(MPK) councilors even though.
8 BN politicians were appointed as MPK councilors even though they had not paid assessment or violated municipal by-laws for illegal buildings without submitting building plans for their homes, factories and restaurants. The 8 lawbreakers appointed as MPK Councillors are:
Both Datuk Zainal @ Zakaria and Faizal Abdullah subsequently rejected their appointment.
The other six lawbreakers, including Kapar MCA Youth chief Datuk Song Kee Chai, were among 18 people sworn in as Klang Municipal Council (MPK) councillors on 24.11.2006. MCA National Vice-Chairman Datuk Donald Lim and PJ Selatan MP had recently been severely criticized when he attacked the press for sensationalizing petty issues of appointing lawbreakers as councilors.
Even though Ong has kept silent, he can not run away from his responsibility as Minister to ensure that standards of honesty, integrity and complying with the law are maintained in the appointment of councilors. His failure to do so proves either his insincerity in demanding that wakil rakyats from MCA must be serious in their duties, honest as a person and clean as an official. Or that he is completely powerless and incompetent as a Minister to impose standards of integrity and honesty amongst local councilors.
Instead of responding personally, Ong had asked MCA Selangor State Secretary and State EXCO member Ch’ng Toh Eng as well as Ong’s own political secretary to defend him and make personal attacks against me that:-
First MCA has contradicted itself because how can Ong be serious about ensuring only those seriously committed, honest and clean MCA leaders be wakil rakyats be appointed when MCA still recommended Datuk Song Kee Chai as MPK councilor when he was one the 6 lawbreakers appointed. MCA should have immediately withdrawn Song’s appointment yet Song’s swearing in proves that Ong does not practice what he preaches and but practices double-standards in enforcing his own ethical standards.
Secondly the explanations that Ong has no powers under the Local Government Act mixes half-truths and deliberately focuses on the small picture by not focusing on the big picture. If one looks at the Local Government Act 1976 alone, nothing is mentioned about the appointment of local councilors by the Minister. However the Local Government Act 1976 does not exist in isolation because the source of all laws in Malaysia are derived from our Federal Constitution. And Ong clearly knows that any laws that are contrary to the Constitution is ultra-vires, null and void.
Under Chapter 7, Article 95A of the Federal Constitution provides for the establishment of a. National Council for Local Government consisting of a Minister as Chairman, one representative from each of the States and those appointed by the Federal Government whose number of representatives of the Federal Government shall not exceed ten. The head of this is Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Ong Ka Ting Should Stop The Exercise In Self-Deception And Mass Delusion
The National Council for Local Government has wide powers to control local governments including setting the criteria and ethical standards of the appointed councilors. Article 95A95) states:-
Clearly for Ong to deny he has powers or that the Federal government, including the Prime Minister, has no say in the appointment of councilors is an exercise in “self-delusion and mass deception”, is to ignore the powers available to the Federal Government under Article 95A of the Federal Constitution to promote, develop and control local governments. Ignorance of one’s duties, powers or responsibilities is wrong but pretending to be ignorant of one’s duties, powers or responsibilities is an unforgivable offence that requires the Minister to resign.
For MCA leaders like Ong and his minions to be so short-sighted and shallow as to look at only the Local Government Act without looking at the big picture alone is no different from the “the blind touching the elephant”. Their ability and capability of national leadership is questioned when one should seek truth from facts and not pervert truth or distort facts.
At the 55th National Council for Local Governments meeting on 25.9.2006, Najib had directed all local authorities to seek public opinion before making decisions which will affect them. As the Minister responsible, why did Ong not exercise the constitutional powers available and implement this directive requiring that the people in Klang or any parts of Malaysia to be consulted before the appointment of local councilors to ensure that they are accountable and transparent to avoid ethical problems like abuse of power and corruption.
Clearly the most effective method to obtain the people’s consent is to allow the people their democratic right to elect local governments. However Ong refuses to do so out of fear of opposition parties winning these elections and proving their effectiveness in good governance.
DAP does not believe that Ong has effectively expressed the views of the people to the Cabinet on the appointment of lawbreakers as councillors. If so why is it that the very same lawbreakers including one recommended by his own party continue to be appointed. Isn’t this another example of being powerless and ineffective if his views are not accepted by Cabinet?
If Ong feels that he has done his best to ensure integrity and honesty, then he should have the courage to have a public debate with me for a full accountability and report card of his performance as Minister. Failure to accept this challenge for a debate with me will show either that he is not the same leader like MCA Vice-Chair Datuk Ong Tee Keat or that he is afraid of showing his report card to the people of Malaysia.